Thursday, October 26, 2006

A challenge 
Go out and find a DVD copy of the 1979 made for TV movie "A Man Called Intrepid."

Watch a young Barbara Hershey, playing a Canadian spy parachuted into France to work with the resistance in WWII, being waterboarded for information by Paul Harding, playing a Gestapo Colonel. It's about halfway through.

Then tell me how it is that waterboarding is not torture.

(It's a good movie, if you can get past the 1970s haircuts and stomach Michael York playing David Niven's effeminate "man-boy")

I hear your point, but I work with a lot of guys who went through SERE--and met a few who went through something quite different.

I hear you, but why that point on the curve? And why is it acceptable for your aviator and SOF brethren to get that and worse, just for training?

Not that *I* want to go through SERE...
Your point is well and clearly made.

I gather you on the whole support President Bush's approach to Iraq. Do you feel he might be honestly confused on this point, perhaps because he receives so much advice on so many complex issues? Or do you think he might have a good reason for being untruthful - or a reason he could plausibly consider good?

Unless I misunderstand your previous posts, you seem to on the whole trust and respect him.
I'm with Chap on this one. I understand your point, but if it's "good" enough for aviators and SOF operators to go through during SERE, it's good enough for terrorists.

To paraphrase Uncle Jimbo over at B5, "The U.S. government has been torturing thousands of servicemen, including myself."
Although I appreciate "torture" counter point: If our service men can go through it...then we should be able to do it. What is being missed by this arguement is that SERE is a training school. Meant to "train". To prepare it's participants for what to expect in a SERE situation. That's it.

No offense, but the counter point shows exactly what is wrong with this country right now. We are to devided. So devided we can't actually look at an issue without splitting down the middle and looking for any lame argument (once again no offense meant).

What training evolutions we subject our high risk "professional" military members to during a core training program is irrelevant to the anti-torture argument. Sorry, but those are the facts.

Yes, we do simulated torture on our own service men...but that is to prepare them for what is likely going to happen if they are captured. You can argue whether we should expand the training considering the modern battlefield and it's 4th Generation Warfare components...but you can not use our training methods of preperation to prove your point about what our policies as a nation should be.

If you would like to debate the issue of torture...by all means we should. But that is the wrong approach.

Clearly "water-boarding" is a torturous event. If it wasn't...we wouldn't be training our high risk personnel how to deal with it. But that does not mean that we should be using it, or anything close, in our efforts to gain intelligence from an unwilling prisoner. The two have nothing to do with each other.

By that argument, since we do not actually shoot our troops in training...we shouldn't shoot our enemies either. I mean...if that treatment isn't good enough for our own men...

On the whole, I agree with CL. The fact that we rough up our own volunteers at SERE school has zero bearing on the ethics or legality of waterboarding.

I've written a lot over the years which I won't recap here. I am willing to stipulate to the moral necessity of doing it in the event of a "ticking bomb" scenario, and I can grit my teeth and accept that.

I can also accept arguments that Al Qaeda has forfeited any expectation of protection under the laws that protect legal combatants. I think we should draw more distinction between the two - the left makes a policy of blurring the lines, using legitimate warriors - both pro- and anti U.S., as a sort of rhetorical human shield.

The line should have always been that we do not torture lawful combatants and maintain a certain strategic ambiguity concerning anyone else.

Maybe that was the original intent, on the part of the Administration, come to think of it.
But that's not anything like what they've been saying. They say with no ambiguity, strategic or otherwise, that we don't torture anyone. The only ambiguity is on something you've already stated you consider cut and dry - the administration objected to water boarding being codified as torture.

About Al Qaeda, what precautions if any do you think can and should be taken against torturing someone who we think is a member but later might turn out not to be? Your policy of calling waterboarding torture is more humane than Bush's of saying we would never dream of torturing anyone. If you were in charge you could set special conditions before water boarding was applied. It would be much harder to say special review is required before using 'alternative interrogation techniques' - isn't every interrogation different?
Is waterboarding torture? Who cares? Let's win this thing. Being kind and gentle to the enemy is not the way to do so.
It is quite important to try to hold off barbarism in war as much as possible. Whether what we call waterboarding in SERE and waterboarding in special interrogation procedures are both the same thing and both torture matters because we cannot sustain the necessary will to prosecute this war to victory if they are.

I would challenge that it is admissible to torture our soldiers as part of training. The weakest part of the anti-waterboarding position has been its adherents' reluctance to call for the end of waterboarding in SERE training. It's never been a secret part of the SERE training yet no moral outrage was vented for years until we extended the technique to illegal combatants.

I believe that in the recent past, the Wehrmacht had a scandal because they were using cattle prods on troops as similar training tools in 2004. They viewed it as torture and put a stop to it. Why the different attitude here?
I believe only troops who volunteer specifically for SERE, knowing they will experience torture and hoping to be more prepared to endure it from a real enemy, are exposed to it.

It's a war crime to take a civilian unwilling and put them in front of you in a firefight, but not to order a soldier to be on point when circumstances warrant.
That could be misunderstood - I agree to order a soldier to undergo SERE, or to send him not knowing at least he will be trained to resist torture by being subjected to it, should be and is a crime.
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