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Currently viewing the tag: "Torture"

Leave it to the British to be adults about the whole Iraq/war on terror imbroglio. Official inquiries into torture, official inquiries into the ginned up intelligence and now this, from the former director of Britain’s MI5 intelligence service:

The former MI5 director general Eliza Manningham-Buller today delivered a withering assessment of the case for war against Iraq, saying it had significantly increased the terrorist threat to Britian.

Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Manningham-Buller said the threat posed by Saddam Hussein before the US-led invasion in 2003 was low.

But the toppling of Saddam allowed Osama bin Laden to gain a stronghold in Iraq and radicalised young Muslims in Britain, she said.

In evidence that undermined the case for war presented by the former prime minister Tony Blair, she was asked whether it was feared Saddam could have linked terrorists to weapons of mass destruction, facilitating their use against the west.

“It certainly wasn’t of concern in either the short term or the medium term to me or my colleagues,” she replied.

We really have a long way to go as a country, don’t we?

Hey Obama, adults “look back” to past events to try to make them not happen again.

Only the child-like among us willfully put on blinders and say “let’s not dwell on the past”.


The Associated Press is, as always, hot on the trail of heinous, despicable acts of torture:

An American geologist held and tortured by China’s state security agents was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for gathering data on the Chinese oil industry in a case that highlights the government’s use of vague secrets laws to restrict business information.

In pronouncing Xue Feng guilty of spying and collecting state secrets, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said his actions “endangered our country’s national security.” . . . Agents from China’s internal security agency detained Xue in November 2007 and tortured him, stubbing lit cigarettes into his arms in the early days of his detention.

Glenn Greenwald read the above and rightly called for the AP to apologize to China:

A few cigarette stubs into a forearm for a handful of days?  That’s it?  That’s “torture”?  Not according to the official definition of that term adopted by the U.S. Government, as explained by John Yoo:
Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture (under U.S. law), it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.

 Placing a lit cigarette on someone’s arm is unquestionably painful, but clearly does not rise to the level of pain “accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”  Moreover, any psychological harm would likely be fleeting, not of “significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years” — that’s at least as true as the psychological harm from being repeatedly strapped onto a board and drowned close to the point of death.

Given the standards of Good Journalism prevailing in the U.S. media, as taught to us just this weekend by high-level executives at the NYT and The Washington Post (and previously at NPR):  what right does AP have to “take sides” in this dispute by substituting its own judgment about “torture” for the Chinese Government’s?  Beyond that, given that the U.S. Government has officially adopted a definition of “torture” that plainly does not include a few cigarette stubs on an arm, shouldn’t that preclude any Good Journalist from using the term in this subjective and biased way?  I hope AP will be apologizing to the Chinese shortly for its act of journalistic irresponsibility.  It’s not the role of journalists to take sides this way.

Shame on you, AP.  Everyone knows that countries around the world are now able to enhancedly interrogate people with impunity.  Get with the modern paradigm already.

(h/t John Cole, who is shrill)

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Is there anything out there anymore that will somehow manage to shock our collective conscience again?

Physicians for Human Rights has just released a new report on the American way of torture. It sees real signs of illegal experimentation on imprisoned human suspects to refine torture techniques – a war crime. This is not exactly a surprise: Part of any torture regime is research into how torture techniques work, in order to refine them and to avoid accidentally killing victims (always embarrassing). The Nazis did this, as did the Khmer Rouge – and the Bush-Cheney administration followed this inevitable pattern, as every torture regime must.

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I am just so royally pissed off about the Office of Professional Responsibility’s granting of a get-out-of-disbarment-free card for the Torture Lawyers that I can’t even write a cogent post on it.

But I can pass this along, which is an excerpt from an OPR investigator interview with one of the authors of the Torture Memos:

At the core of the legal arguments were the views of Yoo, strongly backed by David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal counsel, that the president’s wartime powers were essentially unlimited and included the authority to override laws passed by Congress, such as a statute banning the use of torture. Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:

“What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? … Is that a power that the president could legally—”

“Yeah,” Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. “Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief’s power over tactical decisions.”

To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?” the OPR investigator asked again.

Sure,” said Yoo.


From the blog of Saint Megan, covering up torture is really really bad, and Republicans are not “ready to lead”:

I usually do not swear on this blog. But all I can think of is a quote from PJ O’Rourke on seeing young kids shot by the IDF: “This is bullshit. This is barbarism.” This is not how a decent country acts, which is presumably why we lied about it.

I expect tomorrow, if Brown wins, we’ll hear a lot of talk about a Republican resurgence. But unless the Republicans can come up with a more convincing program to keep stuff like this from happening–and a more convincing economic program than cutting taxes in the face of record deficits–I don’t think they’re ready to lead.

My conservative readers are no doubt winding up to tell me I’m a liberal sellout. But I don’t think it’s particularly bleeding heart to think that we shouldn’t have to fake suicides to cover up for abusing prisoners. In fact, I think that’s the stance of a hard core believer in law and order.

Via The Sully


Gherald’s new BFF appears to get a torture boner along with his Republican compatriots in Congress:

State Senator Scott Brown, the Republican candidate for US Senate, endorsed yesterday the use of enhanced interrogation techniques – including the practice of simulated drowning known as waterboarding – in questioning terror suspects.

Nice guy you picked to support, G.

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I really do weep for our country sometimes:

“I don’t believe that we should limit waterboarding – or, quite frankly, any other alternative torture technique – if it means saving Americans’ lives.”

GOP Rep. Aaron Schock

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