Does anybody really believe torture in the US isn't authorized from the top?

That’s the question Alan Dershowitz asked on an NPR interview this morning. And his tone of voice when he asked the question clearly showed it was meant as an rhetorical question – that no one would seriously advocate that the people who’ve actually been prosecuted for torture – like the grunts at Abu Ghraib – were acting alone.

So I thought I’d ask here. Do any Dopers wish to maintain that the Bush Admin. stands steadfastly AGAINST torture, and is shocked … SHOCKED … at what its people are doing in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo?

Well, I’m not absolutely, 100% sure that the torture in Abu Gharib was authorised by Bush, say- I think it far more likely that that was due to a commander in Iraq (no, not just a few bad apples, but not the “all-the-way-to-the-top” thing, either). There didn’t seem to be any real reason to construct the elaborate torture schemes that were performed there, if they just wanted to get information. I think that was more likely to be a combination of criminal negligence at one level, direct orders at the next one down, and sadism at the level of those who actually performed the torture.

Guantanamo, secret kidnapping (“rendition” be damned) and torture (“abuse” or “intensive interrogation” be damned, too)- I’d quite like to hear a defense of that, or a suggestion it is not authorised from the top of the tree.

When you get to define what torture is it is very unlikely that the people who are true believers to the cause will ever have to admit there is torture going on as the official definitions will just change to suit the current actions.

Nor will the true believers on the other side ever produce any evidence for their claims.


Well, so far, no one’s willing to say outright they don’t think the Bush Admin. is authorizing torture.

I doubt Gonzales, then WH counsel and now AG, [wrote that memo rationalizing torture]( wp-dyn/articles/A26401-2004Jun8.html) just as an academic exercise, do you?

I think it was probably a high level meeting where someone (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, some general) said something like: “we really want to get information out of these people (wink, wink). Nobody needs to know exactly how you do it (wink, wink). The press has no access to Gitmo (wink, wink).” The use of torture may not have been explicitly handed down from the top, but those at the top very likely made it clear that they would look the other way.

Speculation to be sure, but driven by the fact that Cheney has steadfastly resisted any and all attempts to place restraints on the use of torture and the Justice Department has basically redefined torture in such a way as to allow any mistreatment tnat does not lead directly to death.

Define “the top,” please. By name and/or office.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez.

What, the Abu Gharib photos don’t count?

What about US admissions that “interrogation techniques” (that qualify as torture in every book except those used by the US and its close allies) such as forced standing, intimidation with dogs and threats of physical violence, “water boarding” (ie. simulated drowning) and being stuffed into a sleeping bag and sat on (under which last torture technique one high-level Iraqi captive actually died- does anyone know if anyone had yet been charged with any crime in connection with this yet?). You may quibble that these count as “torture” but there is plenty of evidence that treatment that falls way outside the humane conditions alloted either to civillian criminals or POWs is going on.

Which can be rewritten as “So far, no one’s will to say outright that they think the Bush Admin. is authorizing torture.”

I personally seriously doubt it goes all the way to the top. If they wanted to use torture I hope they are smart enough that they have ways of doing so without needed to do anything explicit. So, I don’t think you’ll ever find any proof either way.

I don’t know if they wanted to, I suspect not as they would be aware of the obvious downside if it got out. And it always does. And it did. But I can’t be sure; this administration has done very poorly thought out things in the past.

Okay. Yeah, I’d believe one (or maybe more) of these guys “authorized” it. Either Rumsfeld or Cheney seems most likely. But whoever it was, did it in a deniable manner; one that won’t ever be proven to the satisfaction of any investigating body; one that’s entirely undocumented.

Not for proving the higher-ups authorized it.

Assuming arguendo such evidence exists, have you any suggestions as to how we might prize it out of the Administration, the CIA or the Defense Department?

So, Shodan, when you are tortured TO DEATH, is that torture? Or is that just still joking around? Is there maybe some more we should do to their bodies before the Geneva conventions comes into effect?,8599,1207633,00.html

I’d have to agree with this. Whatever you think about these guys, they’re certainly not stupid, so if they have authorized or condoned torture there’ll be no paperwork ever showing it for certain.

It is indeed encouraging to think that while the rulers of the world’s most powerful country may well be evil, amoral bastards, they are not stupid.

On the other hand, I’m remembering that memo Cheney (or was it Rumsfeld?) sent out where he said something along the lines of: “Why is six hours the maximum standing time for torturing (sorry, interrogating) suspects? I stand far more than six hours a day.” That kind of thing makes me think that maybe they’re not quite so careful as all that. Or, at least, I hope so.

Funny, I was just thinking the same thing when yojimbo said “when you get to define torture…” :dubious:

Yes, I suppose when we define torture down to, basically, imprisonment then yes, the Bush admin has certainly sanctioned that.

Abu Ghraib? Probably not, but I’m sure it makes people feel better to believe it.

Like Palpatine, their overconfidence is their weakness. :stuck_out_tongue:

The question is not, “Can it be proven in a court of law?” They have Gonzalez to advise them on how to avoid that. The question is, do YOU believe they authorized it? I mean, OJ wasn’t found guilty of murder, does that mean you believe he’s innocent? In a lot of cases, the answer to that question is “No.”