McCain on Torture

You won’t believe me, will you believe someone who’s been tortured?


End of debate then?

Huh? I already agreed with that. Some people do seem to take the “ticking time bomb” hypothetical too seriously, though.

Oh, there are plenty of people who will call for or support torture anyway, and completely ignore whatever McCain has to say on this subject.

Here I come … (but I think I’ll surprise you a little)

Without defining “torture” the point is that it doesn’t provide a better grade of intelligence.

However, one could take that argument to it’s extreme and then say that there is no point in doing any kind of interrogation because no one will tell the truth. Or that even though you get some truth you also would get too much disinfo.

Mightn’t there be a level of “coercive” tactics to get more info or to get info that might not otherwise have slipped out. You still need to qualify the info. You’re still back to defining what reaches the level of “torture”.

John McCain was a Packers fan?

And that’s actually thr isue. The law doesn’t really say what it’s talking about. What’s torture? Annoying someone? What the minimal level of comfort it wants? A standard hotel? A supermax prison?

The law, as written, doesn’t really say anything. And that’s the real issue with it. Anything unpleasant can be construed as torture.

Actually, McCain’s proposal is to make the Army Field Manual the standard for all government agencies. The problem with the debate is that anyone who disagrees is called “pro-torture”. And, until we know what Cheney specifically wants the CIA to be able to do that isn’t in the AFM, then it’s hard to know whether he’s right or not.

I’m open to the idea that the CIA should be able to go beyond the AFM, but I want to know specifics. Both sides are oversimplifying the debate by making it about “torture”, when it’s really about what interrogations techinques are allowed and which aren’t.

Fair statement.

Interesting. The problem here is the view that the lives of the people we have captured are worth less than other life. The problem with this logic is that our American ideals should be teaching us to assume that people are “innocent until proven guilty,” or at least I thought that was a huge part of the democratic ideals we are spoonfed since birth. Even assuming we have no legal or moral obligation to treat suspects with a degree of humanity, there are more practical reasons.

I recently, for another messgae board, posted thsi bit of practical information, it seems pertinant:

Final note: Thank’s to John McCain for standing up for standards and decency.

That applies only to a court of law. We, the citizens of the US, are not, for example, required to find Orenthal Simpson innocent because 12 people were persuaded by Johnnie Cochran. Simpson is guilty as sin in fact, legal presumption or no.

More to the point, the people which we are talking about right now are captured are, at best, guerrillas engaged in murder and insurrection against a soveriegn government, which has a defacto alliance wiht the U.S. of A.

Not quite accurate. That is indeed part of the law, but McCain’s bill goes way beyond that. The relevant sections are these:

These latter two sections are not very clear. Taken strictly, it could prohibit all interrogation. Interrogation is always degrading on some level, isn’t it?

US Reservations

The short version is that there are no specific reservations right now, but theoretically we could take some at any later date.

Soo everybody we have detained are guilty of something?

This is utterly ridiculous. The “slipper slope” analogy is actually very rarely applicable, and this is an example of where it’s absolutely irrelevant.

That’s like saying that you shouldn’t take iron pills because too much iron will kill you. “Taking an argument to its extreme” is usually nothing but an exercise in diversionary debate.

Too bad that Cheney has absolutely zero credibility on this issue. He is not a man I would trust with walking my dog, let alone determining the appropriate level of interrogation pressure that can be used (secretly, mind you) against terrorist suspects.

I’m not sure why people say torture doesn’t work, torture definitely works at extracting the information you want, but it depends on external factors.

Firstly, torture is useless as a general exploratory tool. Anything a subject gives out during just “generalized” information seeking is worthless. Because most of it will be stuff you could never confirm.

Torture is also worthless when you’re asking about information that cannot be confirmed.

When can torture be useful? There’s several situations where it could be useful.

Let’s say you’re tracking members of a terrorist cell. You know these are members of a terrorist cell, but you don’t know exactly where in the city they are operating out of (let’s assume this is some random city.) You capture one of their members.

You know he’s in a terrorist cell, and knowing he’s in the cell you can safely assume he knows where the base of operations is. Simply ask him for the address. If he doesn’t give the information, ask him harder. “But he’ll just say anything to stop the torture, it won’t necessarily be true!?” Yes, but in this case it’s pretty easy to confirm when he’s lying, and you can make it much worse for him every time he lies. If he gives out a nonsense address, you’ll know he’s lying within a few minutes, it doesn’t take long to confirm if a given address actually EXISTS.

I can guarantee you this. If you capture someone in this condition, he KNOWS the address to the cell, he WILL give it up under torture. No human can withstand torture forever, and that’s what he’d be subjected to in this situation until he gave real intelligence, because it’s very easy to see when the subject is lying in this example.

Obviously the subject could still give out a real but incorrect address. But you certainly wouldn’t have to go breaking down the doors of every location he gives you to confirm or deny his truthfulness.

Anyways, the behavior of a terrorist cell proves the case, here. If one of their members gets captured they don’t hang around for long, they relocate. Because they know very well that once one of their members gets captured it is only a matter of time before this person gives them up (either trying to cut some kind of deal or trying to stop the pain from being inflicted upon him.)

Anyone read that case about the teen runaway that was captured, tortured, and raped by someone she thought was a “friend.” This “friend” then made her become a prostitute, working for him.

If torture and abuse can force a person to do something like THAT, do you honestly doubt it can’t force someone to give out information?

Again, though it has to be within the proper constraints. Basically when you KNOW that someone knows something, torture can be used successfully to get at the information. If you don’t know enough of the specifics already then your success rate with torture will probably be fairly low.

Also I have to say any evidence by “experts” claiming torture doesn’t work always seem to be focused on the fact that subjects are just going to be spewing out information that’s unreliable, that you’ll never be able to tell if they’re lying to you etc. Most of the articles I’ve read all work on the assumption that the person being tortured isn’t being asked about highly specific, confirmable, information. But rather generalized information.

I understand the motivations of people that want to generally dismiss the idea that torture can work to get information.

However I personally feel that if you feel torture is morally wrong, then you should be opposed to it whether it works or not.

I agree, and have said as much in other threads. If a thief breaks into my house, threatening bodily harm to me (torture) unless I give him the combination to my safe, I’m going to give him that combination. I don’t buy the “torture doesn’t work” meme. Sure it does-- you just have to know how and when to use it.

Further, prehaps you don’t want the preson you’re detaining to know that you are forbiden to torture him. The threat of torture, or retaliation to his family might be enough to obtain some useful information.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I think Cheney really does want to use techniques that cross the line into torture. Even so, the whole subject is more complicated than many people are making it.

let us see one great recent “success” from torture, at least for the Bush administration:

Yep, torture works. :smack:

Well, if there’s a ticking time bomb, Keifer Sutherland can be brought in to find it.

That way, we’ll be absoutly sure that the people tortured deserve it, but also that the bomb will be found before it goes off, and everything will be wrapped up withen 24 hours.

John Mace, how reliable would the information you provide be on the combination to your safe if for some reason only your wife knew the combination?