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Top US Officials Approved Torture — Do You Care?

So by now many of you have heard about evidence that top Bush Administration officials participated in explicit conversations in the White House regarding torture techniques to be used on suspected terrorists. Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sat around — in a series of meetings of potential war-crime defendants — discussing specific methods of harsh interrogation, and issuing their approval.

The Associate Press reports that CIA officials demonstrated tactics to "make sure the small group of 'principals' fully understood what the al-Qaeda detainees would undergo. The principals eventually authorized physical abuse such as slaps and pushes, sleep deprivation, or waterboarding."

What recourse is left for an average American who wants to see the US uphold international law? Are you outraged that top US officials discussed and approved techniques widely considered torture in the White House?


Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 9 years
Great articles Iceterp - thanks so much!
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Harmony i think you summed everything up best! :medal:
lcterp lcterp 9 years
Here are some commentaries concerning Human Rights & Torture that I thought you guys might be interested in. They are from a website I work on at my law school that keeps track of legal news: Report from Guantanamo: torture memo example of authorized prisoner abuse by Deborah Colson of Human Rights First The Yoo Torture Memo: Break the Silence of the Lambs by Benjamin Davis of the University of Toledo College of Law
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Harmony: "It's just a matter of whether we think the information is more important than the use of torture." That's in in a nutshell. If an act of so-called "torture" saves one life, it is worthwhile.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Yay for Harmony!
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
auntie coosa...clearly you are not a fan of Obama. I'm not a very big fan either, but I don't think it's necessary to accentuate his middle name every time you talk about him. As far as everything else goes....we HAVE gotten useful information from torture. It's just a matter of whether we think the information is more important than the use of torture. Whichever act is less horrendous should be the one that prevails. I for one would be able to forgive "torture" if it prevented another 9-11. As cabaker said slaps, pushes, and sleep deprivation sounds like bootcamp. I survived that just fine and didn't feel tortured. To me waterboarding is the only act they approved of that could be considered torture. AND every military member that goes through SERES training experiences waterboarding as a preparation for possible capture. I don't think that we would use it on our own troops if it were extremely dangerous. It's not pleasant I'm sure, but neither would be another huge attack on our soil. There is no right answer here. There's wrong....and a little less wrong.
Auntie-Coosa Auntie-Coosa 9 years
nyaradzom2001 I'll take that waterboarding right now with a pitcher of Sam Adams and a chaser of Gentleman Jack. Got a head cold and need my sinuses cleared . . . Netty Pot or Waterboarding, it's all the same to me. This is war, we are killing people, other people are killing our people, we are fighting to bring freedom to a Country where Shiite Policemen and Military will run away rather than confront other Shiites with guns. What's wrong with that picture? If it had been Sunnis, they'd have had no hesitation. That means that the Shiites are racist. They're not being "tolerant" and I defy any one of you to agree with the idea of tolerance whole heartedly because that means you have to be tolerant of every thing. Tolerant if 'my' religion tells me to shoot you. Don't run, it's part of my religion to carry this 9mm gun and shoot one person a day, and you're it. And if you start yelling, I'm gonna say "freedom of religion" and "tolerance" . . . as I thought, suddenly "tolerance" isn't as "sweet" as you thought it was. We Do Not Tolerate Evil. Period. Who defines Evil? That's why we have a Constitution, a Bill or Rights and a Judicial System. Which is why we're discussing Waterboarding and Torture. Because YOU want to be tolerant, then YOU gotta tolerate people who fly airplanes into buildings and kill people OR you gotta tolerate a little torture to get people to talk about their plans to turn the USofA into the 12th Caliphate. Of course if Barack Hussein Obama, Jr, becomes President, he'll turn us into the 12th Caliphate and there goes a good discussion. I gotta go find a waterboard for this sinus . . . .
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I don't know about not being effective. The threat of it has opened many tongues...
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
Torture is WRONG. And illegal. And waterboarding is (along with many other things) most definitely torture. And it's not likely to be very effective at getting useful information, so that's no excuse. They need to be held accountable, by all means. It's called voting.
brookrene brookrene 9 years
I agree with torture when it's obvious the other side of the fence is torturing our men. If they're not, then we shouldn't either. I f the other party isn't following the Geneva convention, we shouldn't either. I gotta admit I dont have a problem with what they do to any of Al-Qaeda (these people are the epitome of evil by first attacking the US, for no good reason), torture them, burn them with hot oil, I dont care! I'd like to say kill them all off, but then they'd get the piece of mind of being with their god and all their virginal women in the afterlife. They deserve the worst amount of punishment possible, and i'd be happy to inflict it if I came across one.
jvpdc jvpdc 9 years
to Hypnoticimix - thanks for your thoughtful are clearly a leader in this discussion. The whole notion of "torture" and if the administration used it is about intelligence gathering - do you really think they order this kind of stuff for fun? They are trying to determine what methods can be used to gather intelligence. In extreme cases - like 3 - something like waterboarding as been used to extricate information on previous and potential future attacks. Attacks have been stopped because of the work that has been done by the CIA - that is a fact. One of the reasons why the administration has gone to great lengths to keep their methods secret is not out of a desire to violate the constitution - it is to prevent our enemies from knowing what our methods are. If you honestly believe the terrorists haven't struck again because they have chosen not to...I don't know what to tell you. There is a trial going on in England right now for the people who tried to blow up airliners in the summer of 06. They were stopped because of intelliegence gathering - and not torture. Have you ever heard of the Bataan Death March? Now THAT's torture. God Bless America - where we can have these discussions!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
3 cheers for Syako!
syako syako 9 years
While I agreed with your last paragraph mat, when you say this "And that my friends is why our country is falling apart." I think you've got it ALL wrong. The whole fact that we can have different opinions and openly debate those ideas is why we're in this country in the first place. If we wanted to live somewhere where everyone had the same ideas as us we'd live in Communism (IMO) in the Soviet Union. Personally, I'm very happy that's not where I lived, and I'm very happy I live in a place where I can have a completely different opinion than everyone else around me and still NOT get persecuted for it. That's the great thing about America.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
raciccarone - I definitely agree with your last couple of comments. Not going to quote them here, but amen. Stephley - Your comments were VERY well put, and shed a lot of light onto things, woot! hypnotic - If I were a man, I'd ask you to marry me :) As for the Constitution starting off with "We The People".. I hate to nitpick, but there is a distinct difference between the Constitution being written "by the people and for the people" and the Bill of Rights applying to everyone or just citizens. Read the Bill of Rights. It applies to the Federal Government's powers, and I quote: "The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution." IE: The States wanted to be clear that the Constitution could not be used to abuse the power of the states, nor the people. And to whomever mentioned that it's disgusting that we only care about whether or not our citizens are being tortured: Some of us may only care about that, but there are many of us who think torture is wrong, regardless. I'm one of them. Whether it was against the Constitution or not, I'd still be fighting it, because I believe in upholding human rights and in treating people as human beings, not as piles of refuse. Yes, they're torturing our soldiers. Yes, they're committing unspeakable acts, but all we have done by committing acts of torture is proven that we are no better than they are, and how can we say that we're in the right, and that we're the good guys, when we're sinking as low as they are? Now then, I'm out of this debate, as all we're doing at this point is beating a dead horse. Those of us who are against torture aren't about to change our minds and those who support it with their "at all costs" rhetoric aren't about to change theirs either. And that my friends is why our country is falling apart.
stephley stephley 9 years
I just got back from the movies so I'm feeling mellow - Hypno's is a pretty good summation, I'll bow to him.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Sorry I just don't buy the what ever it takes argument. If we're not going to be genuine to what it means to be American than why the hell bother. Why are we asking people to sacrifice their lives for a disingenuous cause? What's made America courageous noble respected in the past is our unwavering commitment to a certain standard. By choosing to make it a standard of convenience rather than a standard of allegiance we mock ourselves, our words become hallow, our deeds suspect, and our love for liberty ironic.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I recommend a very provocative film entitle "John Tucker Must Die". It's a humorous story revolving around three spurned high school girls who exact revenge on the eponymous lothario. I understand it's quite entertaining.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Before I make any other comments, I should point out that I’m not a huge fan of strong interrogation techniques, but consider it to sometimes be a necessary evil. If lives are at risk, and we don’t have the luxury of time to extract information that may save them, then we must resort to stronger tactics. And I *do* have a *major* problem with people being picked up and warehoused in Guantanamo without being tried, or released without proper accommodations being made. (i.e., released to their family, assuring that they have some home to return to, compensated somehow if they were not charged with any wrongdoing). And if I’m ranting on too much, just let me know, I’ll shut up. I just think it’s an important and valuable discussion, and there are some well-informed and thoughtful folks here. raciccarone: A fundamental rule of communication is that you must make your statement in terms the listener can understand. I think that principle applies here, too. I may not like the methods, but enlightened questioning over tea does not seem to be effective. Also, waterboarding and Abu Ghraib are entirely separate issues. Jubex and hypnotic: It’s not that anything is permissible if used against non-Americans. It’s a matter of which legal document applies to which situation. The Constitution does not, in the opinion of many of us here, apply to non-citizens. I see that you are Portuguese; do you not remember the train bombings of innocent civilians in Spain? Stephley: Thanks for spending the time to detail your argument. I truly do appreciate it! There *is* a definition of “soldier”. The Third Geneva Convention’s definition of an enemy force includes having an organized command structure, carrying arms openly, and conducting operations in accordance with the laws of war. This is not the case with most of the combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, Abu Ghraib was unconscionable. I don’t believe anyone would disagree with that. However, the trials and penalties resulting from that gross misconduct were issued by US, not international, authorities. It was never elevated to the level of a violation of any global agreements. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) I’ll update my earlier remarks. I’ve read in another source that the US *has* ratified the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, as well as the UN’s Convention Against Torture. It also quotes Alberto Gonzales as saying: "Both the United States and Iraq are parties to the Geneva Conventions. The United States recognizes that these treaties are binding in the war for the liberation of Iraq." I think there is still debate concerning whether the Geneva Conventions apply in this specific case. The combatants are not conventional military, nor are they civilians. In many cases they are not even citizens or residents of the country in which they are fighting. Common thinking is that everyone must be one or the other. However, IMO this new breed of fighter, an “unlawful combatant”, is something entirely beyond the scope of existing international agreements. This question needs further international review. Even Human Rights Watch acknowledges the distinction in a background paper on the matter: “While nonprivileged or unlawful combatants cannot claim the same protections under interrogation as POWs, they are, like all detainees, protected from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment...." The UN Convention Against Torture loosely defines “torture” in Part I, Article 1, item 1. “For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.” Okay, I’m even finding *myself* tedious at this point. Of to do some menial household chores for a while! Hugs to all!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
What do you want to see? I could really go for a mindless comedy
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well in that case yes. O.K. lets all go to a movie.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I am not condoning what was done at Abu Ghraib, and the government is openly condemmed it as well. That was not even interrogation. That was a bunch of soldiers with a little too much leeway, doing incredibly stupid things. To blame the current administration for the actions of those soldiers is ludicris. Before anyone says that the President is responsible for the actions of his armed forces, I would like to say I agree with that. This argument isn't about what mistakes were made at Abu Ghraib, it's about what interrogation techniques were agreed apon by the US, and whether there was any illegalities with those techniques.
jubex jubex 9 years
abu ghraib? (i don't know how to spell it)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I agree that both of those would fall under the category you stated earlier. However, the US has not condoned either of those. When and where did you read that we stripped people and set attack dogs on them? I hadn't even heard of that accusation.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I think filling someone's body up with water until they believe they're going to die is probably in the serial killer territory. Also, stripping people naked, putting bags over their heads and setting attack dogs on them would fall under psychotic behavior. Can you defend that?
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
"Call me old-fashioned but I'm still uncomfortable using the same methods of interrogation as Nazis, old KGB and serial killers. America really should stand for a better, more enlightened way of life and you can't really compromise on that. Either you torture another human being or you don't. It's not subjective." What methods are we using that the Nazis used? What serial killers used interrogation techniques? The people you listed did torture their captives, I won't argue that. But let's please not compare American techniques to those, unless you have proof that shows the two are identical, or are at least similar. Thank-you
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