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  #21  
Old April 26th, 2009, 6:14 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

1. How would you define torture?
Causing pain and putting someone in a unhuman situation to harm them physically and mentally.

2. What are some examples that you can think of where a nation-state crossed the line?
Guantanamo Bay by the USA is the first thing that comes in my mind.

3. Are there any circumstances under which you would condone torture? If so, what are they?
None at all. Torture doesn't have any sense for me. It's inhuman and evil no matter what the reason for it is. I find that tasers are torture and should be forbidden. Means of torture gives other people power over other which they should NOT have. There are experiments that prove that people are torturing other people beyond any reason, just because other people tell them to. I try to find the link to an article.

4. Do you think that confessions made under extreme duress and / or torture are reliable?
No. Like pointed above people don't tell the truth when tortured. Many innocents were telling them what they wanted to hear so that they stop causing them pain.


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  #22  
Old April 26th, 2009, 6:34 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

Myself, I (almost always) draw a distinction between actions taken in the process of apprehending someone (when, by the nature of the act, the suspect is going from outside your control to inside your control) and actions taken once you already have a suspect. The discussion of actions taken while trying to place someone under arrest thus fall into the first category, where I give the apprehending authorities a bit more latitude to determine if their actions are to protect themselves or others. I'm also much more willing to go on a case-by-case basis rather than blanket statements when behavior while in the act of arresting someone is concerned.

To be honest, when I wrote the thread, hadn't thought about the issue of "torture while placing someone under arrest".


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  #23  
Old April 26th, 2009, 7:31 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

1. How would you define torture?

That's a difficult question, and depends, in my opinion, on the circumstances. Extreme physical pain, likely to cause death, permanent physical disability - anything which caused those I'd probably classify as torture.

2. What are some examples that you can think of where a nation-state crossed the line?

Every country on the face of the earth has tortured at one time or another.

And no - I don't think keeping someone up for long periods of time, exposing them to cold temperatures, or making them dance naked or staking them on top of other naked bodies is torture.

3. Are there any circumstances under which you would condone torture? If so, what are they?

Absolutely. If the person being tortured possesses information which might save lives, then torture away. Heck - if it'll save my kids lives I'll torture them myself.

4. Do you think that confessions made under extreme duress and / or torture are reliable?

Yes and No. It's the Yes that makes it justifiable, in my opinion, under specific circumstances.


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  #24  
Old April 26th, 2009, 7:45 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

1. How would you define torture?

Punishing a person both mentally and physically.

2. What are some examples that you can think of where a nation-state crossed the line?

Hitler's Germany, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Stalin in Russia.

3. Are there any circumstances under which you would condone torture? If so, what are they?

When the person/s have indulged in a crime that is so horrible. For example I would not mind if the Nazi leaders were tortured for information.

4. Do you think that confessions made under extreme duress and / or torture are reliable?

They might not be always be reliable.


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  #25  
Old April 26th, 2009, 7:53 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

4. Do you think that confessions made under extreme duress and / or torture are reliable?

No.

Wasn't this how they got people to confess to charges of witchcraft and whatnot, back during the Witch Hunts and the Inquisition?


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  #26  
Old April 26th, 2009, 8:21 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

1. How would you define torture?

Deliberately causing physical or psychological pain or distress to another person or animal.

For me, the crucial thing is that the pain or distress is one of the conscious purposes of the exercise, no matter what the underlying purpose is. E.g. if you shoot a man who's about to let a bomb off, the pain/injury/death you cause him is merely a side effect, so it's not torture - your only purpose was to stop him setting off the bomb. However, if you lock someone in a box with caterpillars or waterboard them, your immediate intention is to cause them pain and distress - you may have a deeper purpose (e.g. to get information which could potentially save lives), but deliberately causing pain and/or distress is an essential part of the exercise. That's why I think it's torture.

2. What are some examples that you can think of where a nation-state crossed the line?

I do think the US crossed the line with the Guanatanamo interrogation techniques (and the UK weren't any better - not using torture themselves, but happily accepting intelligence from other countries which they knew had been gathered from suspects who had been tortured).

Obviously, waterboarding isn't in the same league as the Iron Maiden or sewing live rats inside someone's stomach, and there are countless regimes today who use much, much worse forms of torture, but IMO it's still wrong.

And, IMO, any intelligence gains (if, indeed, there have been any) made through the use of torture have been far outweighed by the setbacks our condoning of torture has caused in the struggle to win hearts and minds.

3. Are there any circumstances under which you would condone torture? If so, what are they?

No.

4. Do you think that confessions made under extreme duress and / or torture are reliable?

No.


  #27  
Old April 26th, 2009, 8:27 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pox Voldius View Post
Wasn't this how they got people to confess to charges of witchcraft and whatnot, back during the Witch Hunts and the Inquisition?
Yep. Sure was.

And it was just as wrong then as it was when the United States government performed torture on Muslim detainees for the express purpose of eliciting something that could be used to establish a link between al Qaeda, which attacked us on September 11, 2001, and Saddam Hussein, who didn't attack us and had nothing whatsoever to do with those attacks.

There are no persuasive arguments to justify sacrificing our own humanity by torturing another human being.

Quote:
Originally Posted by monster_mom
Every country on the face of the earth has tortured at one time or another.
This is the United States of America, the beacon of hope to the rest of the world, the moral leader of the free world. I'd have been quite happy not to see my country descend to the level of Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, and so many third world despots. This didn't have to be, nor should it have happened.

Quote:
And no - I don't think keeping someone up for long periods of time, exposing them to cold temperatures, or making them dance naked or staking them on top of other naked bodies is torture.
I had to think about that one for a moment. In the end, though, I can't agree with you even after some reflection. If someone did any of those things to one of my sons, or my four grandsons, I would consider it torture and I'd want them prosecuted for it. I'm pretty sure you would, too, just as the mothers, wives and daughters of Bush's victims surely do.


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  #28  
Old April 26th, 2009, 10:08 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

Quote:
Originally Posted by purplehawk View Post
This is the United States of America, the beacon of hope to the rest of the world, the moral leader of the free world. I'd have been quite happy not to see my country descend to the level of Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, and so many third world despots. This didn't have to be, nor should it have happened.
And I'd be thrilled beyond belief if every country on the face of the earth agreed to only use the tactics the US has to interrogate prisoners.

Perhaps a little perspective is needed - when US service men and women are captured by Al Qaeda and the like - their heads are chopped off. We keep known terrorists up for extended periods of time.


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  #29  
Old April 26th, 2009, 10:23 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

None of that is persuasive from where I sit, Mom. We've always held ourselves above that kind of thinking. In other places in the world, "water seeks its own level" might well apply in decisions over whether or not to engage in torture. In this country, it does not.

I'm not interested in seeking the lowest common denominator, nor am I willing to accept the child's argument that "everyone else is doing it!" I'm dead serious. I didn't let my kids get away with it and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure our government doesn't either. There just isn't any persuasive moral argument for doing it.


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  #30  
Old April 26th, 2009, 10:29 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

The only moral argument I could see is if the torture worked as in getting good info and saving innocent lives. Problem is it has been proven that people will give up false information in order to be left alone. It's human nature.

Morally it is just outright wrong imo as well. Is torture really worth it if all we are going to get is false info? Does that make us any safer? How about if the person turns out to be innocent? There are too many what if's imo.


  #31  
Old April 26th, 2009, 10:33 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

Quote:
Originally Posted by chparadise View Post
To be honest, when I wrote the thread, hadn't thought about the issue of "torture while placing someone under arrest".
One distinction I see is that torture, in my view, is not generally a defensive act. It might be seen as such by the torturers, but the tortured person is not an immediate threat and is not trying to hurt the torturer's. Police are in a difficult position because by the nature of their jobs, they're regularly put in positions where their lives are at risk and they may need to use force to defend themselves and others. And they have to do it responsibly. I'm very concerned about police brutality, but I can see how it's possible to unintentionally go too far when defending yourself, which is what I think some cases are.

I do think it's very possible for police to torture a suspect, but I would be more likely to see it that way in a case where police were not reacting against a clear threat from the suspect (ie; if the suspect was being cooperative).

Quote:
Originally Posted by monster_mom View Post
And no - I don't think keeping someone up for long periods of time, exposing them to cold temperatures, or making them dance naked or staking them on top of other naked bodies is torture.
Honestly, I think for a lot of people it would be easier to be killed than to be forced to do something degrading or that went against their morals. I know that the things you mention are not things I would ever wish on my worst enemy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by monster_mom View Post
Perhaps a little perspective is needed - when US service men and women are captured by Al Qaeda and the like - their heads are chopped off. We keep known terrorists up for extended periods of time.
So this makes it okay for us to do immoral, painful, or degrading things to people? There's a difference between imprisoning a dangerous person and torturing them.


  #32  
Old April 26th, 2009, 10:42 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

Quote:
Originally Posted by monster_mom View Post
Perhaps a little perspective is needed - when US service men and women are captured by Al Qaeda and the like - their heads are chopped off. We keep known terrorists up for extended periods of time.
And thereby you subscribe to the philosophy of every terrorist: they were beastly to us so we'll be beastly back. Of course that justifies an unending cycle.


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Last edited by Wab; April 26th, 2009 at 10:45 pm.
  #33  
Old April 26th, 2009, 11:09 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

1. How would you define torture?

Any intentionallyand repeatedly inflicted discomfort, either physical, emotional, or both, placed upon one being by another for the purposes of pleasure, interrogation, punishment, or political gain.

2. What are some examples that you can think of where a nation-state crossed the line?

North Vietnamese/VC tying POWs to trees, and planting bamboo below their buttocks. Bamboo grows at a rate of 1-3 inches per day. YEOWCH!!!!

Spanish Inquisition using a variety of physical tortures to force confessions of witchcraft or heresy. Those that died before confessing were thought to have been telling the truth. Those that confessed were then burned at the stake...

3. Are there any circumstances under which you would condone torture? If so, what are they?

I am conflicted about this. I have my prinicipals that all are entitled to their day in court, and have the right to remain silient. But, if lives are at stake, when should the principals be suspended.

Personally, I believe that we should practice what we preach. If we want the world to take us with credible insight then we must accept a certain amount of sacrifice. We should suspend physical torture techniques. I have no problem with waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and manipulation to gain information when lives are at stake, but electroshock, burnings, beatings, whippings, use of drugs, etc...are overboard.

4. Do you think that confessions made under extreme duress and / or torture are reliable?

Waterboarding is perfectly acceptible in my eyes if it is to save lives. The intelligence community seems to think it works, while members of the general populous find it heinous and yielding only unreliable intel. I am inclined to side with the intelligence community who have used these techniques and believe they yield results over the common Joe who has no experience in these matters. I even disregard the opinions of psychiatrists and psychologists who claim the results are tainted, especially when they are not directly involved with the interrogations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wab View Post
And thereby you subscribe to the philosophy of every terrorist: they were beastly to us so we'll be beastly back. Of course that justifies an unending cycle.
Good point and I agree. We must live by our principals which we have set forth to the world to be more righteous. As such those principals must be adhere to even if we don't find them convenient.


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Last edited by rigdoctorbri; April 26th, 2009 at 11:11 pm.
  #34  
Old April 26th, 2009, 11:17 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rigdoctorbri View Post
[ The intelligence community seems to think it works, while members of the general populous find it heinous and yielding only unreliable intel. I am inclined to side with the intelligence community who have used these techniques and believe they yield results over the common Joe who has no experience in these matters.
That isn't accurate. Trained interrogators, both military and FBI, have said that torture often yields unreliable information and hasn't been shown to get any information that couldn't be gained by conventional means. It's also been a powerful recruiting tool for Al Qaeda and related groups. The more important fact is that it's completely immoral.

Here's an editorial by a military intelligence officer responsible for the interrogations that enabled the US to kill Zarqawi, the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. And here's another one.


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  #35  
Old April 26th, 2009, 11:25 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

Quote:
Originally Posted by rigdoctorbri View Post
I am inclined to side with the intelligence community who have used these techniques and believe they yield results over the common Joe who has no experience in these matters.
I'm yet to hear of an independent member of the defence/intel community say that. Quite to the contrary, in fact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Counterpoint
Paul Comrie-Thomson: The press reports have said that water-boarding produces actionable intelligence, it gets people to speak the truth. Why don't we ask you, as a former interrogator and the author of the ADF interrogation manual, does torture really produce useful intelligence?

Neil James: It tends not to, for the simple reason that if you torture someone they'll tell you anything to stop being tortured. This is a principle long known in moral philosophy and indeed in the history of torture. If you go back and you look at the controls they had over the use of torture in Tudor and Stuart England, you found that one of the main objections to it was that you didn't actually get truthful information. This is the thing about intelligence. Intelligence, to be useful, has to be first of all accurate, and secondly it has to be timely, and here you get the problem and the arguments over the use of torture. Torture may help you in some cases produce something that's timely but in most cases it won't produce something that's accurate.
"Who is Neil James?" I hear you ask.

He literally wrote the book on military interrogations. Among other roles he's a former Australian Defence Force interrogator and he's also the author of the ADF interrogation manual.

Counterpoint


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  #36  
Old April 26th, 2009, 11:44 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

Obama's Intel Director says harsh tactics did work

Sorry Wab, but this guy is sticking his neck out, even when Obama campaigned on issues against harsh tactics of interrogation.

Obama says US will no longer torture


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  #37  
Old April 26th, 2009, 11:46 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

1. How would you define torture?
Harming an individual (or group of individuals) for purposes such as extraction of information, punishment, cruel entertainment etc.

2. What are some examples that you can think of where a nation-state crossed the line?
Personally, I think torture of any kind is wrong, yet I doubt there are many places that haven't at least once used a form of torture, so...there are many examples.

3. Are there any circumstances under which you would condone torture? If so, what are they?
No. I think torture is wrong, and we live in a world today where it is no longer right. Maybe in past times torture was seen as right, but today we seem to have a concrete definition of what is humane and what is not. Torture is never humane, and I would never condone it.

4. Do you think that confessions made under extreme duress and / or torture are reliable?
No. Although torture may lead to some correct information, not everyone is going to take torture for extended periods of time and if those being tortured really do not know any information they may say anything that they think will stop the torture. So it may be reliable, it may not, but I don't think risks of that nature should be taken.


  #38  
Old April 26th, 2009, 11:53 pm
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Re: Torture in today's world

All that stuff about tasers remind me of something. Exactly what is the point of a taser? I can understand it as an alternative to guns because generally i guess they are less lethal, but after that to be used to make someone do someething, threat of gunshot wounds is still pretty convincing


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  #39  
Old April 27th, 2009, 12:13 am
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Re: Torture in today's world

Well, the electroshock torture to which I am referring has less to do with a tazer and more to do with a car battery and jumper cables...lol

Besides, some of these people would much rather die, so threatening them with a gun is ineffective. But, to repeatedly zap them in the nads with 600 cold cranking amps...? Even the toughest 72-virgin-seekers will give up eventually!


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  #40  
Old April 27th, 2009, 12:25 am
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Re: Torture in today's world

Quote:
Originally Posted by rigdoctorbri View Post
Obama's Intel Director says harsh tactics did work

Sorry Wab, but this guy is sticking his neck out, even when Obama campaigned on issues against harsh tactics of interrogation.
Dennis Blair is a bureaucrat, not a professional intelligence officer.

Plus his action in Indonesia and conflict of interest in the F-22 issue are nothing to be proud of. Chas Freeman should have got the job.


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Last edited by Wab; April 27th, 2009 at 12:35 am.
 
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