Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Conflation Problem - Enhanced Interrogation vs. Torture

A debate on whether or not enhanced interrogation led to the killing of Osama bin Laden has broken out. However, during the course of the discussion, enhanced interrogation (think waterboarding) has been equated with torture. So there has been a debate on the efficacy of "torture." I think that this issue requires clarification in the law, because we have a dangerous debate, namely, that the President should be allowed to violate the law, in order to enforce the law. Whether or not waterboarding is torture, or to what extent its application is torture is not a matter of settled law.

I would like to see the Congress establish the exact limits interrogation, to make the law clear. If waterboarding is deemed to be over the line, fine, but the law should be clear. It is more important to the preservation of our liberty that we strictly follow the rule of law than selectively decide when the law will be applied based on a perceived threat. If certain techniques that are close to torture require Presidential authorization to prevent their abuse, that too would be helpful. But conservatives do themselves no favor by arguing that we should violate treaty and liberals do themselves no favor by denying the efficacy of these methods.


  1. It really creeps me out to hear grown men talking about strictly obeying the rule of law while simultaneously demanding institutionalized criminal extortion that will lead to the destruction of our lives liberty and land. The law is perfectly clear on the matter of torture. It is called the 8th amendment to the US Constitution.

    I guess that law isn't clear and obvious enough for you. You need to give more power to ignorant power hungry bureaucrats to define it with a new 'better' definition... So now more power to the tyrants who get to now redefine the law instead of obeying the law that we already have.

    But you seem to require puffing hot air into an old and settled issue. Yo dude news flash, We already figured out that Justice is a tough business and we figured out the best way to handle it along time ago. It is called due process and this is derived from Common Law which is much older than this country. We do not need more splitting of words to redefine these concepts in this 'new age'.

    As TJ said, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

    We did not carry out proper justice for Osama Bin Laden and now look at the results. We have darkened the world by putting out the flame of Liberty and Justice as Americans cheered and danced on a day that showed us for who we really are, a country that no longer believes in the rule of law or proper due process.

    Your conclusions in these posts always bleed a lack of deep knowledge of Human Nature and results in a position of working within the current paradigm approach. Human Nature is an oldparadigm and history lessons teach us that the Governments ALWAYS become tyrannical. No splitting hairs just good ole fashioned justice. Due process, innocent until proven guilty, respect, and the never ending pursuit of truth. EASY

  2. Anonymous,
    Thank you for your extended comments. One rebuttal, the law is not settled, hence the controversy.
    I am generally sympathetic to your perspective, so I wonder why your tone is adversarial.

  3. Well, if we can have Congress decide what is and what is not torture, what would prevent them from saying a bunson burner to the genitals is not torture, but merely 'enhanced interrogation.' If the law supposes that, then the law is an ass.

    I guess I would take exception to the question of whether it is effective too. There are many examples of people starting to say what they think their 'enhanced interrogators' want to hear. The US was misled into believing there to be an Al Qaeda link to Iraq in this manner I believe. There is not hard evidence that torture provides higher quality intel than standard interrogation techniques.

    But there are also a number of unintended consequences, for instance this type of interrogation can create more enemies. 'Looming Tower' does a good job of defining how in many ways the Egyptian government created a much larger and more dangerous terrorist community through its use of torture, and can there be any doubt about the effect of the pictures at Abu Ghraib had? But the other thing is that you take the moral legs out from under the US government insisting on humane treatment for our soldiers. Finally, in a war, it makes enemies much more hardened; early in WWII the Germans scooped up huge numbers of POWs from the Soviets, but after hearing how then Nazis treated them Soviet troops frequently fought to the death. And then there is the question of whether torture damages just the victim, what toll does it take on the men we ask to fill this role? It also cuts at the credibility of the US, how can we complain about other countries abuse of human rights if we have this coded into law?

    Ultimately, even if it is effective, I think it is anathema to our founding principles.

  4. we need to take anon back to his planet and water-board him into reality. What an idiot.

  5. Hey Road Dawg. Try to waterboard me and see what happens to you. In defense of myself to such a threat to my existence and freedom I would see to it that the only thing left of you would be your brain, heart and your eyes. I would preserve those parts of your body so that you will live the rest of short life being able to see and comprehend the horror and destruction you brought upon yourself for attempting injure and innocent and integral man. As another one of your darling psychopathic terrorist said, Bring it On!

    I want real justice in accordance with the Law and you wish torture upon your fellow responsible caring intelligent peaceful man. You have shown yourself to the world.

    To the others who read this, notice the position that such a man takes as to wish injury to another man who cares about freedom and justice and only seeks thorough debate of the intent and structure of Law. Do not listen to these men as their short sighted vision will lead to your destruction. Do not blindly accept their tiny vision that has been induced by nothing more than television.

    Good luck with that Road Dawg. Thanks for making yourself irrevelent to fruitful discussion.

    B-Daddy I hope it is now clear why I am adversial. Any man gets adverserial when they have the knowledge and vision to see that the biggest threat comes from those small minded men amongst us who make claim to leadership.

  6. Hey Anon, your still an idiot. Don't take me so serious. I'm stuck in a crappy hotel room and climbed a 13/12 pitch roof yesterday. I get to have fun with you, part of my first ammendment rights. You wished my fate in a couple of comments. How does that square with your position? I have been through SEER training twice. CS gas chamber, naked in a concrete cell in Arkansas, sleep deprived, hungry, all in the name of training. I probably see torture a bit different. It's a gray area.