Waterboarding is Torture... Period (Links Updated # 9)

I'd like to digress from my usual analysis of insurgent strategy and tactics to speak out on an issue of grave importance to Small Wars Journal readers. We, as a nation, are having a crisis of honor.

Last week the Attorney General nominee Judge Michael Mukasey refused to define waterboarding terror suspects as torture. On the same day MSNBC television pundit and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough quickly spoke out in its favor. On his morning television broadcast, he asserted, without any basis in fact, that the efficacy of the waterboard a viable tool to be used on Al Qaeda suspects.

Scarborough said, "For those who don't know, waterboarding is what we did to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the Al Qaeda number two guy that planned 9/11. And he talked ..." He then speculated that "If you ask Americans whether they think it's okay for us to waterboard in a controlled environment ... 90% of Americans will say 'yes.'" Sensing that what he was saying sounded extreme, he then claimed he did not support torture but that waterboarding was debatable as a technique: "You know, that's the debate. Is waterboarding torture? ... I don't want the United States to engage in the type of torture that [Senator] John McCain had to endure."

In fact, waterboarding is just the type of torture then Lt. Commander John McCain had to endure at the hands of the North Vietnamese. As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school's interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.

The carnival-like he-said, she-said of the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques has become a form of doublespeak worthy of Catch-22. Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner -- it is torture, without doubt. Couple that with waterboarding and the entire medley not only "shock the conscience" as the statute forbids -it would terrify you. Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.

We live at a time where Americans, completely uninformed by an incurious media and enthralled by vengeance-based fantasy television shows like "24", are actually cheering and encouraging such torture as justifiable revenge for the September 11 attacks. Having been a rescuer in one of those incidents and personally affected by both attacks, I am bewildered at how casually we have thrown off the mantle of world-leader in justice and honor. Who we have become? Because at this juncture, after Abu Ghraieb and other undignified exposed incidents of murder and torture, we appear to have become no better than our opponents.

With regards to the waterboard, I want to set the record straight so the apologists can finally embrace the fact that they condone and encourage torture.

History's Lessons Ignored

Before arriving for my assignment at SERE, I traveled to Cambodia to visit the torture camps of the Khmer Rouge. The country had just opened for tourism and the effect of the genocide was still heavy in the air. I wanted to know how real torturers and terror camp guards would behave and learn how to resist them from survivors of such horrors. I had previously visited the Nazi death camps Dachau and Bergen-Belsen. I had met and interviewed survivors of Buchenwald, Auschwitz and Magdeburg when I visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. However, it was in the S-21 death camp known as Tuol Sleng, in downtown Phnom Penh, where I found a perfectly intact inclined waterboard. Next to it was the painting on how it was used. It was cruder than ours mainly because they used metal shackles to strap the victim down, and a tin flower pot sprinkler to regulate the water flow rate, but it was the same device I would be subjected to a few weeks later.

On a Mekong River trip, I met a 60-year-old man, happy to be alive and a cheerful travel companion, who survived the genocide and torture ... he spoke openly about it and gave me a valuable lesson: "If you want to survive, you must learn that 'walking through a low door means you have to be able to bow.'" He told his interrogators everything they wanted to know including the truth. They rarely stopped. In torture, he confessed to being a hermaphrodite, a CIA spy, a Buddhist Monk, a Catholic Bishop and the son of the king of Cambodia. He was actually just a school teacher whose crime was that he once spoke French. He remembered "the Barrel" version of waterboarding quite well. Head first until the water filled the lungs, then you talk.

Once at SERE and tasked to rewrite the Navy SERE program for the first time since the Vietnam War, we incorporated interrogation and torture techniques from the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia into the curriculum. In the process, I studied hundreds of classified written reports, dozens of personal memoirs of American captives from the French-Indian Wars and the American Revolution to the Argentinean 'Dirty War' and Bosnia. There were endless hours of videotaped debriefings from World War Two, Korea, Vietnam and Gulf War POWs and interrogators. I devoured the hundreds of pages of debriefs and video reports including those of then Commander John McCain, Colonel Nick Rowe, Lt. Dieter Dengler and Admiral James Stockdale, the former Senior Ranking Officer of the Hanoi Hilton. All of them had been tortured by the Vietnamese, Pathet Lao or Cambodians. The minutiae of North Vietnamese torture techniques was discussed with our staff advisor and former Hanoi Hilton POW Doug Hegdahl as well as discussions with Admiral Stockdale himself. The waterboard was clearly one of the tools dictators and totalitarian regimes preferred.

There is No Debate Except for Torture Apologists

1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one's duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.

2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim's face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration --usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.

Call it "Chinese Water Torture," "the Barrel," or "the Waterfall," it is all the same. Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought. These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen at Abu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo. No doubt, to avoid human factors like fear and guilt someone has created a one-button version that probably looks like an MRI machine with high intensity waterjets.

3. If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives. The Small Wars Council had a spirited discussion about this earlier in the year, especially when former Marine Generals Krulak and Hoar rejected all arguments for torture.

Evan Wallach wrote a brilliant history of the use of waterboarding as a war crime and the open acceptance of it by the administration in an article for Columbia Journal for Transnational Law. In it he describes how the ideological Justice Department lawyer, John Yoo validated the current dilemma we find ourselves in by asserting that the President had powers above and beyond the Constitution and the Congress:

"Congress doesn't have the power to tie the President's hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique....It's the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can't prevent the President from ordering torture."

That is an astounding assertion. It reflects a basic disregard for the law of the United States, the Constitution and basic moral decency.

Another MSNBC commentator defended the administration and stated that waterboarding is "not a new phenomenon" and that it had "been pinned on President Bush ... but this has been part of interrogation for years and years and years." He is correct, but only partially. The Washington Post reported in 2006 that it was mainly America's enemies that used it as a principal interrogation method. After World War 2, Japanese waterboard team members were tried for war crimes. In Vietnam, service members were placed under investigation when a photo of a field-expedient waterboarding became publicly known.

Torture in captivity simulation training reveals there are ways an enemy can inflict punishment which will render the subject wholly helpless and which will generally overcome his willpower. The torturer will trigger within the subject a survival instinct, in this case the ability to breathe, which makes the victim instantly pliable and ready to comply. It is purely and simply a tool by which to deprive a human being of his ability to resist through physical humiliation. The very concept of an American Torturer is an anathema to our values.

I concur strongly with the opinions of professional interrogators like Colonel Stewart Herrington, and victims of torture like Senator John McCain. If you want consistent, accurate and reliable intelligence, be inquisitive, analytical, patient but most of all professional, amiable and compassionate.

Who will complain about the new world-wide embrace of torture? America has justified it legally at the highest levels of government. Even worse, the administration has selectively leaked supposed successes of the water board such as the alleged Khalid Sheik Mohammed confessions. However, in the same breath the CIA sources for the Washington Post noted that in Mohammed's case they got information but "not all of it reliable." Of course, when you waterboard you get all the magic answers you want -because remember, the subject will talk. They all talk! Anyone strapped down will say anything, absolutely anything to get the torture to stop. Torture. Does. Not. Work.

According to the President, this is not a torture, so future torturers in other countries now have an American legal basis to perform the acts. Every hostile intelligence agency and terrorist in the world will consider it a viable tool, which can be used with impunity. It has been turned into perfectly acceptable behavior for information finding.

A torture victim can be made to say anything by an evil nation that does not abide by humanity, morality, treaties or rule of law. Today we are on the verge of becoming that nation. Is it possible that September 11 hurt us so much that we have decided to gladly adopt the tools of KGB, the Khmer Rouge, the Nazi Gestapo, the North Vietnamese, the North Koreans and the Burmese Junta?

What next if the waterboarding on a critical the captive doesn't work and you have a timetable to stop the "ticking bomb" scenario? Electric shock to the genitals? Taking a pregnant woman and electrocuting the fetus inside her? Executing a captive's children in front of him? Dropping live people from an airplane over the ocean? It has all been done by governments seeking information. All claimed the same need to stop the ticking bomb. It is not a far leap from torture to murder, especially if the subject is defiant. Are we —to trade our nation's soul for tactical intelligence?

Is There a Place for the Waterboard?

Yes. The waterboard must go back to the realm of SERE training our operators, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. We must now double our efforts to prepare for its inevitable and uncontrolled use of by our future enemies.

Until recently, only a few countries considered it effective. Now American use of the waterboard as an interrogation tool has assuredly guaranteed that our service members and agents who are captured or detained by future enemies will be subject to it as part of the most routine interrogations. Forget threats, poor food, the occasional face slap and sexual assaults. This was not a dignified 'taking off the gloves'; this was descending to the level of our opposition in an equally brutish and ugly way. Waterboarding will be one our future enemy's go-to techniques because we took the gloves off to brutal interrogation. Now our enemies will take the gloves off and thank us for it.

There may never again be a chance that Americans will benefit from the shield of outrage and public opinion when our future enemy uses of torture. Brutal interrogation, flash murder and extreme humiliation of American citizens, agents and members of the armed forces may now be guaranteed because we have mindlessly, but happily, broken the seal on the Pandora's box of indignity, cruelty and hatred in the name of protecting America. To defeat Bin Laden many in this administration have openly embraced the methods of by Hitler, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Galtieri and Saddam Hussein.

Not A Fair Trade for America's Honor

I have stated publicly and repeatedly that I would personally cut Bin Laden's heart out with a plastic MRE spoon if we per chance meet on the battlefield. Yet, once captive I believe that the better angels of our nature and our nation's core values would eventually convince any terrorist that they indeed have erred in their murderous ways. Once convicted in a fair, public tribunal, they would have the rest of their lives, however short the law makes it, to come to terms with their God and their acts.

This is not enough for our President. He apparently secretly ordered the core American values of fairness and justice to be thrown away in the name of security from terrorists. He somehow determined that the honor the military, the CIA and the nation itself was an acceptable trade for the superficial knowledge of the machinations of approximately 2,000 terrorists, most of whom are being decimated in Iraq or martyring themselves in Afghanistan. It is a short sighted and politically motivated trade that is simply disgraceful. There is no honor here.

It is outrageous that American officials, including the Attorney General and a legion of minions of lower rank have not only embraced this torture but have actually justified it, redefined it to a misdemeanor, brought it down to the level of a college prank and then bragged about it. The echo chamber that is the American media now views torture as a heroic and macho.

Torture advocates hide behind the argument that an open discussion about specific American interrogation techniques will aid the enemy. Yet, convicted Al Qaeda members and innocent captives who were released to their host nations have already debriefed the world through hundreds of interviews, movies and documentaries on exactly what methods they were subjected to and how they endured. In essence, our own missteps have created a cadre of highly experienced lecturers for Al Qaeda's own virtual SERE school for terrorists.

Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle need to stand up for American values and clearly specify that coercive interrogation using the waterboard is torture and, except for limited examples of training our service members and intelligence officers, it should be stopped completely and finally --oh, and this time without a Presidential signing statement reinterpreting the law.

-----

Updates by SWJ Editors

Links

Drowning in Questions - Newsweek Magazine

Voice of Experience: It's Torture - Military.com

Waterboarding Not Deemed Torture by US - Australian News

'Waterboarding' Not Deemed Torture - AFP

Expert Sheds Light on Waterboarding - Audio of NPR Interview with Malcolm Nance

Is Waterboarding Torture? - Audio of WNYC Interview with Malcolm Nance

I Know Waterboarding is Torture - Because I did it Myself - New York Daily News

Waterboarding is Torture - I Did It Myself - The Independent

Regarding Media - Los Angeles Times

On Torture, 2 Messages and a High Political Cost - New York Times

The Mukasey Test - Washington Times

A Crisis of Honor - The Daily Dish (The Atlantic)

Ace Interrogator: "Waterboarding is Torture... Period." - Passport (Foreign Policy)

Tortured Logic - New York Daily News

The Mukasey Test -- Washington Times

Target Mukasey - New York Post

Mukasey's Confirmation: A Vote about Torture -- Los Angeles Times

There's No Avoiding the Waterboarding Issue - Kansas City Star

Links with Comments

Malcolm Nance - Díºnedain of the Week - Stonekettle Station

Ex-Navy Instructor Promises to Hit Back If Attacked on Torture - TPM Muckraker

Waterboarding is Torture - Abu Muqawama

Waterboarding is Torture... Period - MountainRunner

Waterboarding is Torture... Period -- The Belmont Club

Politics - Tip-Toeing Around Torture - The AG (Time)

Tortured Answer - Slate

Target: Jamal al-Badawi - The Captain's Journal

We Legitimized Waterboarding - Swampland (Time)

On the Virtue of Waterboarding and Secret Prisons -- Blackfive

Waterboarding is Torture... Period - Mother Jones

Former Navy SEAL Instructor Offers Waterboarding Primer - TPM Muckraker

SERE Instructor: Waterboarding is Torture - Captain's Quarters

My Opinion is Fact, Period: On Rhetoric, Waterboarding, and Torture - tdaxp

10 Questions on Torture - tdaxp

Waterboarding is Torture - Outside the Beltway

Troubled Waters - Wizbang

Slow Motion Suffocation - Headline Junky

A Bluf that Needs to be Called, Part Two - Power Line

Waterboarding is Torture - Interact

Waterboarding the Senate - PrairiePundit

Defending Democracy Using of Khmer Rouge Techniques - The American Prospect

Barbaric - Total Information Awareness

SEAL on Waterboarding - Winds of Change

If You Read One Post About Waterboarding - The Plank (The New Republic)

McCain on Rudy on Torture. (Updated) - Comonweal

Waterboarding is Torture - The Raw Story

Waterboarding - Obsidian Wings

Meanwhile, Back in the Real World - Catholic and Enjoying It

Come for the Beaches, Stay for the Waterboarding -- MetaFilter

The Water Cooler - Inside Indiana Message Boards

Impressive Article on Waterboarding - Gun Broker Discussion Board

Waterboarding is Torture - Space Battles Discussion Board

Discuss

Small Wars Council

0
Your rating: None

Comments

"There may never again be a chance that Americans will benefit from the shield of outrage and public opinion when our future enemy uses of torture. Brutal interrogation, flash murder and extreme humiliation of American citizens, agents and members of the armed forces may now be guaranteed because we have mindlessly, but happily, broken the seal on the Pandora's box of indignity, cruelty and hatred in the name of protecting America. To defeat Bin Laden many in this administration have openly embraced the methods of by Hitler, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Galtieri and Saddam Hussein."

Just wanted to copy/paste your comments in order to ensure that I got your sentiments right.

Am sure the family/friends of folks like Daniel Pearl will rest easier tonight knowing that you want our country to ensure we don't offend any captives from the battlefield. Yep, you betcha, if we continue to keep the moral high ground our enemies will inevitably be convinced of the errors of their ways and, after throwing down their weapons, give themselves up to we, who IAW the best conventions of Geneva, treat every single sh*t head better than we treat our basic trainees.

We wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, would we?

Yeah, I read you entire comment, but it makes my point even more clear - if you purport to KNOW our enemy, then go get them tough guy and while you get all that necessary data after those of us who have risked our and other asses to go capture these knuckleheads, start providing some actionable intelligence!!

There are enough assets working that have -INT behind their nomenclature that are supporting efforts to stop bad guys. Do you deny that the guys that we chase, those being the guys who light people on fire and leave their bodies hanging out in public for local nationals to see as an example, are less likely to be returned to society as 'good citizens' and should therefore be treated with American-esque Constitutional rights?
You are a self-proclaimed former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California. Are you now of such a mind that you would 1) make a public statement that would reveal that a person such as yourself (high ranking and venerable) IOT benefit…oh what, stopping waterboarding of terrorist captured from the battlefield? or 2) decide on your own that revealing the things that we know about interrogation, and the TTPs that we teach, should be best revealed to our enemies thereby enabling them to prepare for the inevitable when they are captured? Gosh, I agree, it’s not enough that we put everything into a Joint Publication…let’s make sure we let the bad guys know that 1) we aren’t going to do anything bad to them, 2) that what they are going to face are things that are listed on the public manual, and 3) if they consider anything harsh, well, then by golly please feel free to contact an attorney – OH WAIT did we already offer that??? No, all the attorneys were busy helping the internet rights for those masked men who sawed off Daniel Pearl’s head with a dull knife. Gosh, sorry we couldn’t get back to you sooner. OH wait, shall we discuss female POWs like Jessica Lynch and her cohorts who were raped? Nah….that might lead us into a discussion of the systemic treatment of prisoners by those powers other than US or Coalition forces. We wouldn’t want to do that.

You said: The waterboard must go back to the realm of SERE training our operators, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. We must now double our efforts to prepare for its inevitable and uncontrolled use of by our future enemies. WHY in the hell would you train our forces for something that WE, for benevolent or other causes, wouldn’t employ against their captured forces?? My father never taught guys how to pull out POW fingernails or other nefarious things, but he DID mess with them hard IOT prep them for shoot downs/capture. Your premise is that we should screw with our guys as hard as possible, but we should NEVER (gasp) do it to a captured EPW. This makes NO sense.

Buddy, you are as wrong as the day is long. You are proffering the notion of training on something that our enemies “might” use against us, and in the same breath speak to how it is Verboten for us. That is almost as dumb as saying we shouldn’t be able to road march like the Infantry of our enemies. Should we say that they perhaps wait on us or, oops, it is inconvenient for them to beat us to a strategic location? Your position of a purported moral high ground yields the field to those who wish us ill. Beyond articulating what we will now legally do to folks in custody, you enable those against us by telling them that yes, we, the ‘great satan’ have feelings and are weak…we will make sure you are comfortable before we call your lawyer.

Daniel Pearl’s family, along with a bunch of other folks both American and other nationalities, would disagree with your premise that being “above it” will keep people (including military personnel) safe. If your notion, or if it is the TTP of the DoD to train high level SERE folks that getting wet is expected for them, but we cannot do it to captured personnel….well, how do you brief that? Where is the national outcry about putting our folks through this horrific event in preparation for…oh wait…something that we won’t do ourselves because we are above it??
I have no doubt you were a great instructor, but you are wrong in your premise. Don’t try to sell that crap in the open arena…there are too many people who will call bulls**t. Worse, don’t pretend that by taking the moral high ground the United States will ever protect its citizens. This is a historical fallacy. The bad guys have always done worse to ours.

Well let's just leave Ms. Lobo with the last word. Malcolm's not my type, but I follow the rest. :) God bless you, too, Ms. Lobo.

Our discussion board, Small Wars Council, is available to continue the conversation. Anyone can read it. With a free and simple registration, you can post and access a few extra forums.

Dear Chief Nance,

This evening I saw tape of some of your responses to the congressional committee members' questions; I also I sat enthralled and so perfectly glad of your testimony and interview answers to Ray Suarez on the PBS News Hour that I wept from pride and joy at your moral uprightness and honor. You're a Great American: handsome (okay, so I had to say that!), superlatively intelligent, erudite, experienced, articulate, courageous, and morally upright. I love that you have the heart and the spine to have unequivocally called "enhanced interrogation" techniques what they really are: torture. I love that you unequivocally spoke for total prohibition, under existing U.S. law as well as part of our heritage of honorable precedents set by every generation of American statesmen and warriors that came before yours and mine, against Americans ordering, conducting torture, and against Americans condoning or concealing or lying about torture committed by themselves or by other Americans.

We, in this country, are blessed to have a Great American - you, Chief - stand up for what is true and right, not because of anything that's foul that our enemies are doing or may do, but because you grasp comprehesively that we Americans have the moral obligation to know and to do what is right for US to do, so that we do not ever shame ourselves, our honored dead, or our nation. God bless and keep you, Chief; you will remain in my prayers.

(Ms.) Jordynne Olivia Lobo (ex-AG3, USNR)

The issue of torture has greater implications for the prosecution of war than just the obvious moral dilemma's dominating this thread. As I stated in my last post, torture is really about punishment, humiliation, and control. But in practical terms, and as it relates to the issues first raised by Malcolm Nance it must be thought of in terms of the tactical or strategic prosecution of war. The proven concept is that an enemy combatant who can expect humane treatment from his captors is much less likely to fight to the death than someone who believes he will suffer a fate worse than death if captured. As CWO Wright correctly points out, the current enemy are no different than others we've faced in the past. Most are swept up to fight for a bankrupt ideology for which they have no allegiance other than a meal and money. The quickest way to harden them against us is to leave them no choice about which side to take.

How dare you accuse patriotic Americans of supporting the enemy?

That wasn't his charge; rather it was that we defend their rights. Defending someone's rights is nothing like supporting their cause or actions. And yes, I defend all rights -- what the dictionary defines as "Something that is due to a person or governmental body by law, tradition, or nature", and Wikipedia describes as "In jurisprudence and law, a right is the legal or moral entitlement to do or refrain from doing something or to obtain or refrain from obtaining an action, thing or recognition in civil society. Compare with privilege, or a thing to which one has a just claim. Rights serve as rules of interaction between people, and, as such, they place constraints and obligations upon the actions of individuals or groups (for example, if one has a right to life, this means that others do not have the liberty to kill him)."

Legally, all people are entitled not to be tortured (http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/05/24/usint8614.htm), and the law follows widespread views of moral entitlement.

Mr Evans, you seem like a reasonable and intelligent person, however, you are extrapolating your position from assumption and emotion - and that is precisely what got us into this war in the first place, and keeps us from being able to get out.

Additionally, you once again make an assumption about me that you have no basis in fact to assume. I do indeed remember 911, more personally than you can ever imagine, and I have read the Quran, in exhaustive detail. In fact I have a copy of it here on my desk, next to the Bible, the Torah, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers. I was a Navy Intelligence Officer, specializing in the Middle East and I spent a great deal my life there, or studying the region. I have personally interacted with thousands of Arabs and Muslims and found them to be, well, just like anybody else. As fanatical or as indifferent as any Christian here in the US. I have interacted with men who utterly hated my bleeding guts, and men who took me into their homes and served me coffee with their own hands. I was also involved in the capture of prisoners, for which I was decorated, but the commendation I am most proud of is the one I received from RADM Fox for saving the lives of 43 Iraqis. So let's stop assuming that I don't know anything about 'the enemy,' shall we?

Your arguments, in order:
First: This enemy is somehow different from other enemies we have faced. This enemy is more evil, more brutal, more intelligent, well funded, hates us more, etc and etc. False, demonstratably false. The acts of 911 were no more coldly brutal than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The murders, beheadings, and other evil actions are no more heinous than the Nazies extermination of the Jews, Gypsies, POWs, and other 'undesirables,' or the Japanese beheading of American Soldiers (or had you forgotten about that?), not even close. Treatment of Americans, both civilians and military, held captive by our past enemies have been just as brutal, just as torturous, and just as evil as anything perpetrated by the terrorists, and on a much larger scale. These people hate us, they intend to do us harm, so what? According to you, and the administration, they are almost mythical bogymen, but I have to wonder if you've ever actually met one of them? I strongly suspect you have not, and that your learned opinion of these men is in fact based on TV, rumor, and popular hysteria. This enemy is no different in any way from any other enemy we've faced. Just because they don't line up in pretty red uniforms doesn't change that, we've faced insurgents, terrorists, and freedom fighters before. Many times.

Second: Terrorist prisoners are different from other, legitimate, EPW's. That there is a difference between men captured on the glorious and honorable field of battle and those who skulk in the shadows. To some extent, I agree, and so does international convention. However, the treatment of all prisoners must be exactly the same, to the same standards. This is not out of any misplaced 'sympathy for these criminals,' indeed I have none. However, without trials, without proof other than self incrimination achieved via tortured confessions, you don't actually know that they are criminals, do you? In point of fact, several have been released because they were falsely imprisoned. It is for ourselves, for our own honor, for our own conscience, for our own dignity as a free and civilized people that we must treat each and everyone of them correctly.

Let me ask you something. You and others above have stated quite clearly that you feel it is morally acceptable to torture these individuals because they would do no less to us - and especially our families. Allowing that you are correct in this assumption, what if we change the word 'torture' to 'rape,' is it still acceptable? If a radical Islamist intends to rape your wife and daughters (your scenario, stated above) is it justified to in turn rape and brutalize his wife and daughters? I suspect, Mr. Evans, that you would be appalled by such actions. Wrong is wrong, no matter how pure your motive, no matter how right your cause, the end does not justify the means. That type of thinking leads directly to tyranny and war crimes such as Abu Garieb.

It comes down to this, Mr Evans, either you are a man who condones torture, or you are not. There is no middle ground, no gray area to hide in. And since you do seem to condone torture, at least in the case of 'these animals,' just how far would you go? You said you were thinking about service in the Guard, as someone who has seen the worst of the human condition and the field of battle, I'd advise against it - because someday you may find yourself a jailer, with absolute power over a man you utterly hate and despise, a man you don't see as human, and then, Mr Evans, without firm conviction and a full understanding of what Honor truly means you may learn something about yourself, about brutality, about evil, that you'd have been better off not knowing. And then it will be far too late.

Mr. Evans,

how dare you accuse patriotic Americans of "sanctimoniously defending", the enemy?

How dare you? How dare you?

"For all of you who are so concerned about the reputation of America; you who sit at your computer screen, sip your coffee and sanctimoniously defend the rights of the the most vile criminals on earth"

How dare you write such garbage?

How dare you accuse patriotic Americans of supporting the enemy?

Look, Conservative, Americans are tired of this nonsense. Americans see through you and your Republican friends' cheap attacks. Americans are angry with this type of nonsense. These cheap attacks. Accusing anyone who disagrees with your Authoritarian agenda - which includes granting the Government the Power to Torture - of loving the enemy.

You know who loves the enemy? Jesus Christ loves the enemy. Criticize him. I do not love the enemy - and I am offended by the accusations coming from Republicans such as your ridiculous accusation that, "either you support Torture, or you love the enemy".

Time and time again, the same old BS, the same old ridiculous arguments, defending policies that are 100% wrong. WRONG, about BUSH. WRONG, about IRAQ. WRONG, about TORTURE. And every time, the same silly attack - on patriotic Americans - accusing them of supporting the enemy.

To summarize: Nothing is evil of itself, but the spirit in which it is done.

Sorry, but convincing yourself that what you're doing is for a good cause doesn't let you off the hook of moral responsibility. That "summary" leads to killing abortion doctors, to suicide bombings, and to justifying torture.

Jared Nuzzolillo wrote something that, with a slight adjustment, is quite true:

The perpetrators and justifiers of waterboarding "should know better, and that they don't (or more correctly, that they refuse to admit that they do know better) is indicative of supreme and vile moral weakness. They are unwilling to follow their conscience, most likely due to a lack of courage, or perhaps at times as an excuse to seek revenge unfettered by moral constraints. Each time they raise their hand in violence, I suspect that deep, deep inside them, their conscience screams and they willingly deafen their ears to it."

"No one is going to read a post that is that long."

I read it, and it made a lot of sense. And it was only long because Mr. Evans post, to which zvelf answered point by point, was long.

If anyone believe that an innocent American stumbling into a group of Sunni Arabs planning violence would simply be 'Let go', then they are very naive.

Have you ever met a Sunni Arab? Do you think all Sunni Arabs are the same? Your white hat/black hat view of humanity is what is very naive.

our counter-productive to his/her argument and shift the focus away from his/her main point

My main point there was that all of us, even our enemies, even people who do terrible things, are human and have complex motives. For every Mr. Evans and Jared Nuzzolillo on "out side", there is one on theirs. The members of Al Qaeda generally think they are fighting the good fight and doing right, just as people here think so by justifying torture. They are both wrong.

"it is extremely difficult in some cases to treat a man, who just tried to kill you, humanly. However, if you are unwilling or incapable, if you lack the moral courage, of accepting this responsibility"

This nails it. Those who advocate torture lack moral courage. Their writing reeks of cowardice. They quake in their boots at the thought of the eastern hordes coming to get them, and are willing to sacrifice the foundational principles of our society to prevent that -- but, like anyone in a panic, their response is irrational and won't actually achieve the desired end. These people give everything up like someone on a waterboard, but while comfortably seated at their keyboards.

zvelf

No one is going to read a post that is that long. No offense, your probably a nice guy.

Truth Machine:

Point taken regarding your last post.

What truth machine says in his posts, I generally agree with. However, statements like the following:

"Well then, how can they feel anything but anger in response to ours?"

our counter-productive to his/her argument and shift the focus away from his/her main point.

Rules of engagement are followed by American Armed forced 99% of the time. These rules are pretty strict and are specifically designed to protect the civilian populations from harm in the countries we fight in. The rules are not perfect, and they are not followed 100% of the time, but they represent a code of behavior that is leaps and bounds ahead of most of our enemies.

Remember the Navy SEAL who just received (posthumously) the Congressional Medel of Honor. The reason he was killed is because, after 3 unarmed goatherders descovered their camp by accident, rather than killing them, they let them go, and the only reason they let them go was because one of the SEALS insisted it would be morally wrong to kill them. They did this knowing full well the goatherders were loyal to the taliban and would immediately alert the approximately 250 taliban in the villiage below to their presence. These Navy SEALS spent next 3 hours fighting for their lives against 250 allies of Bin Ladan. All of them died except 1. If anyone believe that an innocent American stumbling into a group of Sunni Arabs planning violence would simply be 'Let go', then they are very naive.

Mr. Evans, you wrote:

have you ever considered how you would respond if members of your own family were kidnapped and held by terrorists? If the only way to obtain their location was by water boarding, what would you do? Would the discomfort and duress of your detainees supercede the lives of your own family members in that case?

This is a naked appeal to emotion and is not at all analogous to the issue at hand. How many potential torturers families are held captive by terrorists? How do you know the ONLY way to obtain their location is by waterboarding (talking about setting up your straw man)? Why do you highlight "duress of your detainees" as the central concern when it isnt?

And to all of the posters who are so concerned about the welfare and discomfort of detainees, I have another question. These very same men come from the ranks of those who would slash your throat and then rape your children while you lie on the floor bleeding to death. Forgive the graphic description, but I think we tend to forget who we are dealing with here.

I dont actually think Al Qaeda is all that interested in raping our children, but are you actually saying we should be more like them to counter them?

Yes, we have our reputation to consider, as well as our moral integrity, but let's bring this down to more personal terms. If a murderer attacks your family with a machete, do you quibble with yourself about what would be the better method of defense? Do you worry what the neighbors might think if you should cause harm to come to the murderer, or do you put all that aside and do whatever must be done to protect your family? Or would you rather feel satisfied with your moral superiority as you step aside and allow your family to be hacked to pieces?

Your argument is clearly not an appeal to reason because your analogies simply dont hold water. But here you reveal yourself. You think we should "do whatever must be done." That is, we should "put all that aside," and be more like our enemy to fight them.

But what do we do when we encounter an enemy that clearly does not value human life, and that continues to attempt to inflict death and suffering on a massive scale. How do you deal humanely with men who will intentionally target schools and hospitals, and who operate under the assumption that their enemies do not deserve to live simply by virtue of the fact that we do not believe as they believe? How do you deal in good faith with an enemy who refuses to even acknowledge your own humanity? How do you reason with men who allow twelve-year-old boys to decapitate a human being and broadcast it on the web?

By not acting like them. By maintaining our moral compass. What evidence do you have that we are going to lose if we dont "do whatever must be done."

Also, for all of the concern and anxiety about the comfort and welfare of these men, I rarely ever hear an acknowledgment that they are indeed evil, savage human beings who commit the worst kinds of attrocities.

Some are evil and savage. Some arent. Do you know every enemy combatant you face personally? What about Khaled el-Masri who was apparently kidnapped by CIA agents in Europe, held and tortured in an Afghan prison for four months, and then released in a case of mistaken identity and given a few words of regret from Condi Rice?

It is very easy for us all to sit back and armchair quarterback, from either side, while we remain safe in our homes.

Isnt this what youre doing right now?

>Yes, these are all hypotheticals, one-in-a-million scenarios, but I am trying to understand where a certain threshold lies.

Principles cant be based on one-in-a-million scenarios that may or may not prove to be exceptions. Isnt that really what you are trying to do? Trying to find one instance in which tortures ends justify the means and then making the claim that, "Hey, torture is okay after all."

what I always seem to sense in arguments such as yours is a sort of empathy for the accused. It is the same mentality that drives the desire to excuse criminal behavior, while completely ignoring the rights of their dead or maimed victims. Does it betray a sort of guilt complex that seems to pervade those on the Left?

Youve been listening to a lot of Rush Limbaugh, havent you?

Again, I try to think of it in personal terms. In other words, what would I do if I was faced with making the tough decisions? What would YOU do?

Again, youre making an emotional appeal, the way you keep talking about making things "personal." Right or wrong isnt based on personal feelings in extreme situations. Id argue those are instances in which were least in our right minds and when its most important to be.

Don't get me wrong, I tend to have a very idealistic streak when it comes to the principles upon which this nation is founded. However, unfortunately, the realities of world conflict make it exceedingly difficult to remain unstained and continue to exist.

Please give me evidence of when weve had to compromise our principles in order to ensure our nations survival?

My point is, it is good to have ideals, and to stick to them. Unfortunately, you have to at least be willing to meet aggression with some kind of physical force, or you're going to get your bell rung.

Straw man. No one is talking about becoming total pacifists and disavowing physical force. We are discussing whether torture should be condoned.

Also, while it is good to be liked, it is sometimess more beneficial to be respected. When you are dealing with hostile enemies, "respect" is simply another term for "fear."

Who are you, some comic book supervillain like Dr. Doom? Are you more afraid of the North Vietnamese for torturing John McCain and hence, respect them more? I think their actions sordid and deserving of no respect whatsoever.

Why is killing ok, but not waterboarding?

That you even have to ask this question says worlds about where youre coming from. When you kill in the midst of war, its either you or them. When you waterboard, they are your prisoners that you have at your mercy. Furthermore, killing your enemy leads to winning the war. In the vast majority of circumstances, waterboarding does not. The ability to discern that rare instance in which waterboarding would contribute to significant actionable intelligence is so difficult as to be unworthy of breaking the principle not to torture.

Think about why we are even having this debate in the first place: it is the nature of the enemy that we face. When I think of the types of acts that they commit, I can barely contain my anger. Admittedly, anger is not always conducive to solid decision-making, but how can you feel anything BUT anger in response to our enemies tactics.

Because some of us are more level-headed than you are and anger does not justify torture or anything else for that matter.

What makes me the most angry is that so many of you are so concerned about the welfare of these criminals, seemingly more concerned than about their prospective victims.

This is a discussion about torture. If this were a discussion about victims, then you would see concern about victims. If youre trying to argue that the very existence of these victims justifies our employment of torture, most posters here apparently do not agree, so again, the lack of talk about victims. However, not sharing your belief that these victims justify torture does NOT mean that we do not care about the victims. Now who's sounding sanctimonious?

Just curious, any of you remember September 11th, 2001?! Remember how almost 3,000 innocent men, women and children were incinerated, or plummeted to their deaths, not to mention those who had their throats slit by box cutters? Remember February 26, 1993, when they tried the first time? Where is our concern for THOSE victims, and possible future victims?

Our concern has been misdirected by politicians into a poorly managed memorial that has yet to be completed and a misguided and also poorly managed war with Iraq. In any case, you have yet to make a convincing link between an endorsement of torture and how that expresses a concern for all these victims.

For all of you who are so concerned about the reputation of America; you who sit at your computer screen, sip your coffee and sanctimoniously defend the rights of the the most vile criminals on earth; where is your concern for the innocents who die at the hands of these men? Why are we not debating THAT?!

Is there a debate to be had? And I dont drink coffee. Frankly, this is what it sounds like to me - you are angry, very angry at "these" people and you endorse torture as a means to lash out with your anger. That would be the least responsible justification of torture Ive heard here yet.

The argument here is as simple as this. When we fight against our enemies, what are we fighting for? Our way of life, right? What makes the difference between our way of life and theirs? Is it our beliefs or is it our actions? I think quite clearly its the latter. All the high-minded rhetoric in the world wont make a lick of difference if you dont convey them in action. Torture is not or should not be our way of life. Therefore it is a line we should not cross regardless of whether our enemies use it or how awful they are. Its one of the things that defines us from them, and if we act just like them, regardless of our stated intentions, then we will have lost what we are fighting for.

I have no sympathy for the hate filled crazies that routinely use women and children as human shields, lie to the media, doctor photos, and try to perpetuate blood, violance and civil war by detonating explosives in crowded markets.

So has every person we subject to waterboarding done all these things? Or are they all guilty of them by association? Are we all guilty by association of every bad thing done by any member of any group we are a member of?

One of the ways people rationalize evil against others is by caricaturing and demonizing the others, lumping them together and not treating them as individual human beings with complex motives. Not only does this lead to doing evil in the name of fighting evil, but it doesn't eliminate the evil in the first place, it just leads to more of it. To defeat an enemy you need to accurately understand the enemy, and you need to be smart. The defenders of torture do not display those characteristics.

However, if I knew an Al Queda operative was being subjected to waterboarding, and was about to reveal a critical peice of information regarding a future terrorist attack, and I was the only one who could stop the brutal interrogation, I would probably walk pretty slow to where it was talking place before I put a stop to it.

Then you would damn your soul, if what you say you believe is true.

[Aside from that, your scenario never happens -- you can't know that such information is about to be revealed, or that it would be valid.]

"Admittedly, anger is not always conducive to solid decision-making, but how can you feel anything BUT anger in response to our enemies tactics."

Well then, how can they feel anything but anger in response to ours?

The intellectual dishonesty pours out of the writing of people like Mr. Evans. They insist that what they advocate is justified because the other side is pure evil, even while what they justify is evil. As Forrest Gump might say, "evil is as evil does". It isn't limited to one religion or ethnicity, or one side of a conflict. No one is exempt, not Americans as individuals or the U.S. as a nation. Doing bad things is bad, no matter who you are or who you do it to. This would be true even if people like Mr. Evans weren't fabricating scenarios and making rash assumptions about what our subjects of torture know or might know. But such fabricating and making assumptions in order to justify evil behavior is itself evil. Do no let this sort of moral relativism pass as "American" -- it goes against all the Enlightenment principles on which this nation was founded.

Well, maybe I wouldn't walk slow, but I sure wouldn't run.

Chris

I sympathize with Mr. Evans. If not for my religious convictions, I would agree with him.

Either torture is morally wrong or it isn't. If it is morally wrong, who defines morality. If morality (and nobility) is not defined by a 'Benevalent Higher Power', then it is meaningless because then we all all animals and whatever morality we make up for ourselves is just that, made up and completely subjective.

If torture is not morally wrong, then the only argument against it is that it will encourage our enemies to do the same. I have already addressed this. Japan, North Korea and Vietnam all tortured American POW's back when we did not practice waterboarding.

However, I do believe torture is morally wrong. Furthermore, and as dumb as this sounds to many of you, I beleive a people that shun such practices will be blessed and supported in the long run. I realize that kind of argument is totally meaningless to people who don't beleive the way I believe.

However, if I knew an Al Queda operative was being subjected to waterboarding, and was about to reveal a critical peice of information regarding a future terrorist attack, and I was the only one who could stop the brutal interrogation, I would probably walk pretty slow to where it was talking place before I put a stop to it. I have no sympathy for the hate filled crazies that routinely use women and children as human shields, lie to the media, doctor photos, and try to perpetuate blood, violance and civil war by detonating explosives in crowded markets.

Chris

"My arguments will surely ring hollow to those who lack the means or desire to understand and accept that morals are indeed objective and that proper moral action can be discerned within a reasonable and actionable degree of certainty."

Indeed, all intellectually honest persons can discern that waterboarding interrogees is morally wrong, and that presenting the sort of sophistic arguments you do is also morally wrong. the moral relativism is all yours, sir, excusing evil when you find (in your imagination) the ends justified.

CWO Wright, I appreciate and respect your argument on this subject. I truly do. I agree with your argument about taking prisoners in time of war (especially after watching "The War" by Ken Burns). But I am not talking about soldiers that are captured on the field of battle, at least not as that is commonly defined. The scenario you lay out applies to the rules of conventional combat engagement. You must realize that we are not dealing with a conventional enemy, whose only desire is to do immediate harm to other soldiers on the field of battle. Think about why we are even having this debate in the first place: it is the nature of the enemy that we face. When I think of the types of acts that they commit, I can barely contain my anger. Admittedly, anger is not always conducive to solid decision-making, but how can you feel anything BUT anger in response to our enemies tactics.

What makes me the most angry is that so many of you are so concerned about the welfare of these criminals, seemingly more concerned than about their prospective victims. These are not just innocent farmers and merchants whom the U.S. government has decided to round up and harass for fun. These men are savages, of the same ilk who commit the WORST kind of atrocities against those who have no means of defending themselves. Are any of you familiar with what happened in Beslan? No? Then go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beslan_school_hostage_crisis. These were Islamic terrorists, who rounded up and killed CHILDREN, raped CHILDREN, threw CHILDREN'S dead bodies out windows. They and the Bin Laden terrorists get their tactics from the same playbook.

This same kind of inhuman act is being planned for us by the jihadists as we speak. They are constantly devising measures of attack that would make Hitler and Stalin blush. No one is off limits to them. To them, we are all infidels, and thus we deserve death by the most violent means possible. They find their justification in the Qu'ran. Go read it! Here's a sample "When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore STRIKE OFF THEIR HEADS and strike off every fingertip of them." (Emphasis, mine) This is bred into these men from the time of their birth. We cannot convince them otherwise, because we are the Great Satan!

Just curious, any of you remember September 11th, 2001?! Remember how almost 3,000 innocent men, women and children were incinerated, or plummeted to their deaths, not to mention those who had their throats slit by box cutters? Remember February 26, 1993, when they tried the first time? Where is our concern for THOSE victims, and possible future victims? Do none of you understand that the men that we have in custody are not innocent lambs, but the very same men who cheered when the towers fell. And they are the same men who would plan to see even worse mass murders perpetrated on us. We KNOW that they are planning more attacks. These are actual men, not straw men, and they will not be dissuaded with logic and reason, because to them, logic and reason come in the form of death and destruction. They will rape, murder, decapitate whoever they deem to be an infidel. They are jackals who have no conscience. Does that make them less human? Of course not. But, it does mean that they are most likely not eager to offer up information that may prevent further atrocities from occurring. Most of them do not understand the language of compromise and empathy. The only language that they understand is violence. I implore you all again to go to thereligionofpeace.com/, where you will find detailed evidence of the brutal nature of this enemy.

For all of you who are so concerned about the reputation of America; you who sit at your computer screen, sip your coffee and sanctimoniously defend the rights of the the most vile criminals on earth; where is your concern for the innocents who die at the hands of these men? Why are we not debating THAT?! I believe that we are a great nation, and that we should treat others humanely. We admittedly have our shameful moments, especially in times of war. But I think it is a mistake to put waterboarding in the same category as the bombings of Dresden or Hiroshima, which were shameful atrocities on a massive scale. And yet, I wonder how many of you would argue that those events were justified.

For me, there is a lot of gray area in this waterboarding debate, but not when it comes to who I prefer to protect. I take no pleasure in the idea of human suffering, but there is no question in my mind whose suffering I prefer. I am not talking about vengeance; simply torturing to inflict pain. I am talking about interrogation. Yes, even interrogation that causees the recipient to be frightened enough to offer up information. That is a FAR cry from the brutality that other innocent victims have been subjected to at the hands of these men.

And at THAT, I must excuse myself from this debate for a while. I will leave you to shake your heads and wag your fingers.

I agree with the author. Waterboarding is a form of torture. It should be avoided because Americans do not torture people. I was however, a little annoyed at some of other reasons the author gave for not engaging in waterboarding, reasons I felt were irrelevent and only give Americans a false sense of their own non-existent moral leadership in the world. The author believes that our acceptance of water boarding will embolden our enemies to embrace it. I doubt it.

The problem is that most of our enemies (and even future enemies - maybe China or Russia, North Korea) have no problem whatsoever with torture. They are NOT influenced by our moral leadership with regard to torture one way or the other. They see America as, at best a competing culture turned soft and are proud to be different, or, at worst, they see America as a contemptable moral wasteland, and have felt this way since long before 9/11.

To think our stance on torture will influence Al Queda (who holds us in utter contempt) or possibly China in the future (who also believes we are soft and ready to be challanged economically or militarily in the next 20 years) is naive and pridefully assumes our same cultural morals on civilizations that are very different from us.

Americans do not torture people because it is wrong. The argument that we can influence terrorist groups or other future enemies to abandon torture simply perpetuates the lame narrative that we can love and nurture religeous extrimists, genocidal dictators and other extremists to abandan their contempt and/or hatred of us and be more like us.

Conservative Republican Authoritarians are always pushing us down a slippery slope, saying "if you're against the slippery slope then YOU SUPPORT THE ENEMY". Always comes down to that basic Authoritarian argument, repeated over and over. One size fits all argument. If you don't believe in _______, then you support the enemy.

Anna,

Do you have a reference / link to your dissertation? I'd love to read it!

"That's not my understanding of the situation. While "torture doesn't work" sure makes for pleasant-sounding sloganeering, I am quite sure we've received actionable intelligence through the use of enhanced interrogation techniques."

Mr. Nuzzolillo, the author of the article has two decades experience in this field, and according to his judgment, "Torture. Does. Not. Work." Can you please provide a similarly experienced and credible source within the military that has said torture does, in fact, work? Or an actual instance where "we've received actionable intelligence" through torture? Doing so might lend some credibility to your stance that torture is justifiable so long as it saves lives or prevents an attack.

The reason I ask this is that I have yet to hear from a single currently serving or previously serving member of the military with hands on experience in this field that has asserted torture is effective "to meet the goal of preventing unjustified violence against the undeserving."

Also, anyone else who is of the opinion that torture is moral and legal provided it results in information that actually saves lives, I ask you to do the same as I asked of Mr. Nuzzolillo.

To be frank, while the arguments here all appear to be well thought out, the fact is that I don't want to hear from those who have neither knowledge or first hand experience as to the efficacy of torture. I do, however, very much want to hear from those that have both.

Such as Mr. Nance.

CWO Wright I wish to thank you for your comments and for the clearness with which you answered Mr Evans. I found your words and explanations direct and clear. I hope they may help some of the persons who have been writing here understand that they must take a stand and stop wasting time splitting hairs about a subject that has no other solution than the one Malcolm Nance defined and is explaining in any interview in the media (be it TV, newspapers, radio etc.) and tomorrow before Congress. Luckily many in the Country (and abroad), including you, believe it is a duty to defend the honour of your Country, and this means being responsible citizens in a world driven by too many neo-cons who consider their own and their friends businesses and interests above the wellness of any social group. Greediness and lust for power when there are no intellectual or moral restraints can only lead to what we are witnessing.

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States"

Torture is illegal by US law and US international treaty. There are no allowances or exceptions for creative or unusual definitions of torture.

Officers of the armed forces and all active members of US military and US government and US state governments are required by oath to obey and defend the Constitution and thus the people of the United States.

The holding of office is wholly contingent on the Constitution's defense but the office is forsaken the exact moment the holder forsakes the Constitution, regardless if, or when, others discover the crime of the former office holder.

I implore all good men and women, please, do not allow yourself under any circumstances to be persuaded to join the membership of the unfortunate and very small minority who apparently have knowingly violated the Constitution and who may already illegally pretend to retain their former office, in great offense and danger to their colleagues, and to the people of the United States.

The basic premise used by the contemporary advocates of water-boarding; that it is an effective and expedient means of gaining information, is fundamentally flawed. The lesson we were taught in SERE School is that torture is primarily a method used to control a prisoner through punishment and humiliation. Information, particularly tactically useful information, is perishable. Once captured, everything you knew from an operational standpoint is essentially history. A combatants knowledge of future plans is contingent on the success or failure of today's mission and the enemy's disposition. Once out of this loop you are left with the your unit, tactics, and the technical specs of your weapons and systems. Information you can get out of Jane's. John McCain was tortured because his Father was an Admiral. They tried to humiliate him and discredit the war effort by forcing a confession. Stockdale was tortured because he was the senior ranking officer and refused to cooperate, everyone else was tortured for reasons that had nothing to do with gaining information and everything to do with the sadistic obsession of their North Vietnamese captures. The lesson from these men is to resist as best you can without getting killed. To make it so difficult to get you to cooperate that they will leave you alone and find a guy they can more easily bully and break and use. Not for information, but to control. Stockdale, McCain, and the rest resisted to survive and maintain their sanity. What they said, and everyone said something, was irrelevant. Malcolm Nance makes this clear when he states that "anyone strapped down will say anything, absolutely anything to get the torture to stop". Torture however is just part one of a two part process. The counterpart or bookend to torture is the soft sell. The threat of torture juxtaposed with the promise of humane treatment and privileges in exchange for cooperation. The whole process combined is designed to break the will and sanity of the captive. To reduce a man to an insane wreck not so he can be used as a fountain of information to be turned off and on at will, but rather to be taken in and used as part of the sadistic and barbaric machinery of the prison. It's easy for tough guys to talk tough when what they say is credible. It is quite another thing when tough talk is spoken by those who have no clue about what they speak. If somehow we are to believe that water-boarding has become the more humane counterpart to the soft-sell than were the ropes, whips, and beatings used by the North Vietnamese, we still miss the point that the process itself has nothing to do with gaining information.

Mr Evans, in response,

#1. You accuse me and others who oppose granting the US Government the power to torture, of "sympathy for the enemy".

response: WHAT can I say. Typical Republian nonsense, and anything I say is obviously just a waste of time. I hate Al Qaida, I hate the 911 attackers, I hate Osama Bin Laden, I hate the Anthrax killer, I want them all to DIE. Don't believe me? Fine - I'll take that as a compliment.

#2. You acknowledge that maybe giving the US Government the power to torture people is a slippery slope that we shouldn't go down.

response: BS. YOU DO want us to go down that slippery slope, otherwise your position on torture would be "AGAINST".

#3. You claim that America won the Cold War by resort to unclean deeds.

response: Nonsense. The Vietnam war didn't give America one pawn's advantage in the Cold War, while the "unclean deeds" of supporting Saudi Wahabbis going to jihad in Afghanistan, blew back in our face, as did the "unclean deeds" of helping Saddam Hussein attempt to invade Iran. Unclean deeds did little to advance America's position in the Cold War, they have come back to haunt us, and last I checked Russia was still in the game and - given the failed wars America is bogged down in - holding their own if not in fact gaining ground on us.

CWO Wright,
This is what I hate about these online chat-posting-blog forums, lack of familiarity and context. I'll take you at your word about the military service, and you have my complete respect and admiration for it. I have nothing but respect for those who serve our country. I myself am currently considering the National Guard.

But sir, since you have indeed seen active duty, and, I assume, have taken part in the killing of other human beings, why the strong stand against a procedure that does not kill? Don't get me wrong, I understand that killing is an inevitable, albeit regrettable outcome of warfare. I also assume that you understood when you enlisted that you would be required to possibly kill those who were deemed to be hostile enemies by our military. Do you still believe in the objectives of our armed services as it applies to the issue of killing, or have you disavowed any beliefs in such military objectives? I'm not trying to get cute, I really am curious. Why is killing ok, but not waterboarding? I fully understand that witnessing death and destruction would make one second guess an institution whose primary objective is the facilitation of those very things. But why now the concern for the welfare of enemy combatants, especailly when you know, better than most of us posting, what they are capable of? This is not the same kind of enemy that we have faced in previous wars. They do not follow the Geneva Convention. They have no compunctions whatsoever about killing innocent women and children. Many in this debate are making it sound like we're picking up random farmers and tailors and just dunking them in water tanks for kicks. If THAT was the case, then I'd be right there with you in complete and total opposition.

With that, I think I will bow out of this debate for a little while, and let the rest of you sort it out. CWO Wright, with all sincerity, you have my respect and admiration for your service to our country. I also respect your opinion in this matter (even moreso now). I hope that you don't take any of my comments as an affront to your service.

As a final note, I must disagree with the posters that state that this is a black-and-white issue. I'm afraid that this has become all about semantics. Yes, torture is wrong, but interrogation is necessary. From where we sit, it may seem black-and-white. However, the closer you get to the center of the storm, the more gray things become.

Mr Evans, you are correct in your first assumption regarding my past, I was involved in operations that resulted in the deaths of human beings. I am proud of my actions, and those of my team, during those actions. However, you are incorrect in your implied assumption that I now second guess, or am opposed to, such actions because I witnessed death and destruction and, in fact, was responsible for some of it. I retired from active duty not because I became morally opposed to war, and it's associated killing of human beings, but because I am no longer physically capable of performing the duties required to lead from the front, and my continued service might have put my own team at risk. The honorable course of action was to retire. However, if I were still capable, I would cheerfully return to combat duty, and I feel guilty that I'm home safe with my family when many of my men are not.

You asked specifically why I find killing (in combat) acceptable, but not waterboarding (and you may correctly assume that I am opposed to torture in any form), since the (assumed) objective of torture is not to kill. The answer is simple, and black and white. Killing in combat, when facing an armed and capable enemy, is a necessary evil. Your own life, and the lives of your teammates, are at risk. Force is applied until the enemy is no longer a threat - or you die. This is the nature of conflict, it is horrifying and brutal and nothing at all like the movies portray it to be (though Band of Brothers comes close). However, there comes a time were it is necessary to take life in order to preserve the greater good.

However, once the enemy becomes a prisoner and no longer has a means to resist you become solely responsible for his or her life, well being, and treatment, both by our own code of conduct and by international agreement. This may be more difficult than actual combat, it is extremely difficult in some cases to treat a man, who just tried to kill you, humanly. However, if you are unwilling or incapable, if you lack the moral courage, of accepting this responsibility, then you have no business leading the men and women of the US Armed Forces. I am opposed to torture for four main reasons: 1) the prisoner is no longer a threat. Yes, he remains a potential threat, which requires vigilance, control, and restraint. He is not entitled to anything other than the basic necessities of life, i.e. food, water, medical care, shelter, and protection from further harm. If you are unwilling or unable to provide such, don't take prisoners (and you may interpret that last however you like). 2) There are many means available to obtain information from the prisoner other than torture. I was an intelligence officer, I speak from experience. We have compromised our own honor by becoming torturers, what has it availed us? Name one major success derived strictly from information obtained via waterboarding - this conflict was supposed to have been about 911, those responsible for financing and planning the attacks are still free and remain a significant threat. Waterboarding and torture have achieved us nothing accept the disgust and revulsion of free nations the world over. 3) It is hypocritical, dishonorable and contrary to the ideals of the Constitution, military regulation and the UCMJ and international agreement. Our government spent considerable time, effort, and money telling the world what a brutal, mass-killing, torturing tyrant Saddam was and why that justified our invasion even though the original bogyman of WMDs was found to be false. If torture is morally repugnant when our enemies do it, it is the height of hypocrisy for us to resort to the same methods. By resorting to torture, we have given legitimacy to every tyrant throughout history. By this faulty logic, Saddam was perfectly justified in his use of brutal torture against the Kurds, for example, in order to preserve national security with in Iraq. Sounds pretty dammed repulsive when held up to the light of day, doesn't it? 4) and finally and most importantly, performing torture - no matter what euphemism you use or justification you use to rationalize it - makes you a torturer. Period. And it makes America a nation that tortures human beings. Period. You can not escape this truth, it is black or white. Either we are a people who torture others, or we are not, there is no middle ground.

Now is the time to choose. Now is the time to determine what legacy we will bequeath our children, and whether our children will see us as free men and women who upheld justice and took the high road, or whether we are little better than Saddam Hussein himself. You must choose what kind of American you wish to live in. Refusing to decide is a decision in itself. Americans are responsible for their government's actions. Decide. Act. Tomorrow, Malcolm Nance will testify before Congress. He's made his decision, as have I. Now it's your turn. Take a stand.

Mr. Katzman:

I meant to sound tendentious. I wanted to be tendentious. Waterboarding is torture and torture is wrong and I am against it.

It is wrong to tie somebody down to a board and do thing to them. Like Gian Gentile says, all those long paragraphs filled with clever words doesn't change that.

Al Queda has lost a considerable sympathy because of the way they have treated prisoners. They aren't nearly so quick to cut off heads anymore. They are doing worse in Iraq than they were and their savagery is part of the reason.

I did read "Bravo Two Zero". I also read "The Real Bravo Two Zero" and I don't put much stock in what Mr. McNab has to say.

I am skeptical that treatment of prisoners improving as wars draw to a close is a widespread phenomenon. The treatment of Union prisoners at Andersonville didn't improve, the treatment of Soviet prisoners in the hands of the Germans didn't improve nor did the treatment of Germans in Soviet hands, the Hutus didn't slow down the slaughter of the Tutsis when the RPA was on the verge of victory.
I don't think it legitimate to wave away what the Japanese planned to do to Allies POW's by dismissing them as a "death cult".

When we complain to an enemy about what they do to our guys, I would prefer we not be met with the rejoinder "you do it too."

Like Gian says, this is a simple black and white issue of right and wrong. Torture is wrong.

Chief Wright:

Thank you for your service.

I agree 100% with your response to Mr Evans. Unlike others who have posted on this issue but like i think with you I do see this issue of waterboarding and torture as a simple black and white issue. It is wrong and we do not need to be constructing clever, legalistic or moral rationales to justify a technique like waterboarding that is in fact a form of torture.

gentile

Mr. Evans,

Oh for crying out loud, save the whole "You don't know what it's like in the rest of the world" bit, would you? I just retired after 24 years on active duty, I fought on the ground and on the water in both this war and the last one. I've been just about everywhere in the Middle East and Africa it's possible to go. My ideals have been tested, many times, and you know what? Honor, Duty, Moral Courage, and Commitment carried the day, every time. It's real simple, lead from the front and uphold your oath as an Officer. And the best part? I can be proud of my service, I did my job, I upheld the Constitution, I led by example and trained the next generation - I don't have to hide any deep dark secrets, such as torture of enemy combatants. My ideals have served me just fine, Mr Evans, and I suspect they will continue to do so.

And for the record I've got no problem whatsoever with putting terrorists up against the wall following a lawful trial, but I do have a major moral issue with torture. I led my men through a lot of crap, but I never, not once, put them in a situation that they had to be ashamed with their actions after it was over. And that's what happens when you use scare tactics and strawmen as justification for dishonorable actions. Which is exactly what happened at Abu Girreib.

And strawman I said, and strawman it is. In your first post you implied that we are justified in our torture because these men intend to break into our homes and kill our families. In your reply to me, you shifted the threat to some unspecified "other part of the world." Please, knock it off, this kind of moving target logic is what got us into this idiotic mess in the first place.

Mr Evans. Just so I'm clear on this, the best you can do to justify torture as US National policy is prop up a strawman? Nice use of the Rumsfeld scare tactic. Or do I have it wrong? I do live in Alaska and haven't seen much in the way of terrorists here in the Great White raping and murdering family members while the husband lies bleeding on the floor with his throat cut. Got a couple of concrete examples I could read about?

Strawmen aside, I will say you are spot on when you said "The goal of these people is to destroy us and our way of life, by ANY means neccessary (sic)" That's exactly what they're doing. Mr. Evans, with the help of people like you, the current American administration is turning us into them. It's dishonorable in the extreme, but I guess people like you wouldn't know much about honor then, would you? Revenge, that's what we need around here.

-------

Senior Chief Nance, one initiated Chief to another, well said. Keep saying it.

Mr Evans, you can't talk about waterboarding without talking about some horrific torture method, because waterboarding is some horrific torture method.

Mr Evans, you attempt to justify torture by pointing out that terrorists are evil people.

1. Ted Bundy was a serial killer, convicted of mass murder, convicted of multiple rapes, he was sadistic and sick. Was he tortured? NO.

2. The people you want the Government to Torture, are merely SUSPECTED of torture, absent some rock-solid evidence. Just because George Bush says you are guilty of having Weapons of Mass Destruction, does not make it true. Consider the source of the accusation.

The Government should not have the power to torture. Torture terrorizes the governments critics and makes monsters of the individuals illegally ordered to carry it out.

Mr Evans, Authoritarian Torturers are really really civil. They enjoy their smug attitude, calmly and confidently meting out suffering. I really wish that this was a less civil discussion, because frankly I have nothing civil to say to Americans who want to get rid of America's previously unstained commitment to Human Rights!!!

My intention with the family-in-imminent-peril analogy is merely an attempt to whittle down the debate to a more digestible morsel. I find, in these kinds of debates, moral and political speculation replaces the real human core of important issues.

I am no proponent of torture. I have a hard time even watching torture scenes in movies. I do not revel in the suffering of others, even those who may hate me. I value all human life, and I believe that the value of human life is a hallmark of our American society. But what do we do when we encounter an enemy that clearly does not value human life, and that continues to attempt to inflict death and suffering on a massive scale. How do you deal humanely with men who will intentionally target schools and hospitals, and who operate under the assumption that their enemies do not deserve to live simply by virtue of the fact that we do not believe as they believe? How do you deal in good faith with an enemy who refuses to even acknowledge your own humanity? How do you reason with men who allow twelve-year-old boys to decapitate a human being and broadcast it on the web? Yes, you can attempt to engage them on an intellectual level, but you'd better have a back-up plan in case the olive branch gets slapped out of your hand.

Also, for all of the concern and anxiety about the comfort and welfare of these men, I rarely ever hear an acknowledgment that they are indeed evil, savage human beings who commit the worst kinds of attrocities. Should we waterboard them for that reason alone? Of course not. But we are fighting against men who use brutal tactics. We cannot simply assume that being nice to them and asking for their assistance will persuade them to offer up vital information. If you bring a knife to a gunfight, it's pretty clear who the winner will be. Again, I ask you to go to http://thereligionofpeace.com/

It is very easy for us all to sit back and armchair quarterback, from either side, while we remain safe in our homes. How many of us will ever have to make a true life or death decision in our lives? Those of you who, with such moral certitude, state that the American government is unnecessarily "torturing" people, you are the very same people who accuse our government of not connecting the dots before 9/11, and not doing more to prevent it. And what if they had connected the dots? What if they had someone in custody who had information about the wheres, whens, and hows of the event. Would you then have approved of waterboarding to prevent what happened on September 11, 2001? I'm not even talking about some horrific torture method, such as some of you have detailed. I'm talking about waterboarding!

Yes, these are all hypotheticals, one-in-a-million scenarios, but I am trying to understand where a certain threshold lies. Too many of us are framing this in black-and-white terms.

Finally, I will have to say that I appreciate the civility of most of the debate within this forum. It is extremely thought-provoking, not to mention necessary!

Ah, the hackles are rising!
AX and CWO, what I always seem to sense in arguments such as yours is a sort of empathy for the accused. It is the same mentality that drives the desire to excuse criminal behavior, while completely ignoring the rights of their dead or maimed victims. Does it betray a sort of guilt complex that seems to pervade those on the Left?

CWO, I'm glad to hear that you don't have to worry about being harmed by such men way up in the Great White North. Fortunately, you will never have to face having your ideals truly put to the test in that way. Unfortunately, there are those in other parts of the world for whom such atrocities are very real. Go to http://thereligionofpeace.com, and you'll see what I mean. There is nothing "straw" about the men that carry out those acts.

AX, you make a good point about government-sponsored torture. I do not want to go down that slippery slope. This is the part that I struggle with. Of course, it's very easy to make bold pronouncements when you yourself will never be in a position to directly affect the law in this matter. Again, I try to think of it in personal terms. In other words, what would I do if I was faced with making the tough decisions? What would YOU do?

But AX, while I agree with you that Human Rights should be our goal, don't kid yourself into thinking that we have an "unstained record"! Don't get me wrong, I tend to have a very idealistic streak when it comes to the principles upon which this nation is founded. However, unfortunately, the realities of world conflict make it exceedingly difficult to remain unstained and continue to exist. Like it or not, if we were not ready to back our rhetoric with agression (oops, I meant "aggression") during the Cold War, then we would very likely be having this dialogue in Russian. Actually, we wouldn't be allowed to have this dialogue!

My point is, it is good to have ideals, and to stick to them. Unfortunately, you have to at least be willing to meet aggression with some kind of physical force, or you're going to get your bell rung. Also, while it is good to be liked, it is sometimess more beneficial to be respected. When you are dealing with hostile enemies, "respect" is simply another term for "fear." I wish like hell that we could sit down with the leaders of Al Qaeda or Hamas and have a real working dialogue with them. In a perfect world, we would be able to. But these groups have made it clear, in no uncertain terms that they want only our death! If YOU think you can go over there and have a nice chat with them, then be my guest. By your own account, you are barely able to contain your civility with ME. How do you expect to have a working dialogue with someone who would rather just cut your head off?!

So yes, I struggle with all of this. Believe me, I'm not the kind of guy who goes around picking fights for no reason, and I find myself reluctantly accepting the fact that something like waterboarding may be a necessary evil. Believe me, it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Of course, I know that you pure-of-heart idealists will only scoff at that admission, and see it as an affirmation of your obviously superior views!

Finally, if you would like examples similar to the one that I stated, then I AGAIN direct you to http://thereligionofpeace.com/.

Interesting article to say the least. And the discussion has been even better.

Either way, the principle that "perception is reality" is king on this subject, right or wrong. Most people consider it torture, and therefore it had might as well be torture.

Many have said "If waterboarding isnt torture, what IS? Where do we draw the line? And if waterboarding is torture, what ISNT? And when do the ends justify the means?" I believe this is the crux of this complicated issue, as it applies to the real world. Whatever your opinion, let's not jump on the guys who approach this, and perhaps support it, rationally and logically, rather than emotionally ("it just FEELS wrong!") They are trying to find that very same line. This is a subject which MUST be broken down into it's basic philosophical elements, no different than religion, abortion, etc. It's that complicated and that important. To do otherwise is to surrender to blind faith, the same disease afflicting many of those we are fighting.

PS: Shame on those of you who wrapped yourself in the flag with your comments. We can either have a rational discussion on a real world issue, or we can self righteously spew rhetoric about lofty ideals and impugn people's patriotism, citizenship, and humanity just because their opinions don't jive with your interpretation of "what right looks like". You're not helping anyone, least of all this discussion, O Noble Patriot.

SWJ Blog trivia!!!: If cut and paste into a Word document, Mr. Nance's original, firestorm creating, post (minus the links) extends to 7 pages. The comments eat up 92 pages! Bring it up at your next party!

Mr. Evans, America does not torture. People have been convicted and sent to prison for slashing people's throats, raping people's wives, BUT America has not tortured those people. Furthermore, America has NEVER tortured those guilty of murder and rape, because America DOES NOT Torture, AND, America would certainly never torture those ACCUSED and not yet convicted.

The Government should not have the power to Torture, it is a power the Government will abuse.

Mr. Evans, people convicted of rape and torture are the kinds of people who would slash your throat - yet we don't torture them. Why? It's called American values.

A question. The enemy uses a number of techniques. Why was waterboarding picked for SERE, and not others?

High voltage electric shocks are a widely-used technique that leave no permanent marks, for instance, and can also be administered in a controlled way under a Doctor's supervision. Is there any reason that we might feel uncomfortable making them part of SERE training? What reaction would the military get if it did?

Bamboo splinters under the fingernails also cause no lasting damage. Is there any reason we should feel uncomfortable about making them a routine part of SERE training? What reaction would the military get if it did?

What were the specific criteria used when selecting the specific methods that would be used in SERE? What should those criteria be?

carl,

Point "A" about 'the right thing to do' is irrelevant to the article's claims I am discussing. Nance made a specific argument re: enemy treatment of Americans that bears on his credibility. That is the question I am dealing with.

"Our complaints had some credibility with the world because we tried to treat our prisoners properly. If our public policy had been "we torture when we feel like it" there would have been no credibility."

As illustrated by the lack of credibility that al-Qaeda's treatment of prisoners earned them, because they torture when they feel like it, which is why issues of claimed torture generated no pressure on their behalf when they complained.... oh, wait.

Interestingly, one can point to other instances of prisoner treatment improving toward the end of a war. Read McNab's "Bravo Two Zero" for another, and note that Vietnam was fought in a Cold War world where the only significant foreign influences on Vietnam were Soviet and Chinese. Both of whom are known to care so very much about (a) the ethics of torture; and (b) American complaints.

I'm afraid your contention has no credibility, either. If you had reordered your response so that "A" was 'B', you would have sounded much less tendentious - since the point about doing the right thing would look less like a blatant diversion from a factual discussion, and more like a fall back that remains true even if Mr. Nance has in fact injured his own credibility.

Prisoner treatment tends to improve toward the end of a war (resources permitting) because it bears directly on one's ability to end hostilities, and helps ensure that the war does not start again immediately afterward. There are many examples of this phenomenon. I presume Mr. Nance is familiar with them since he was devising key training courses on the subject, and such awareness would be part of basic professionalism since it's an important 'edge' for US troops to spot.

Note that death cults may be exempt from this rule, however, vid. Japanese plans to kill all Allied prisoners if Japan was invaded.

"Please consider the possibility that the President was weighing national security against the legal and moral implications and that - just maybe - he did not begin from all of the same assumptions that you begin with."

If that was the case, then not only did he disregard the oath he took upon assuming office:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

but he also failed in his constitutional duty to see that the laws be faithfully executed (such as the Convention against Torture).

Also, what many are losing sight of is the difference between personal moral agency and the function of employees of the government. Those employees all take a similar oath to that of the president, which is an oath to uphold the consititution. They owe no similar moral duty to my family that I do.

So while the question of what I would do if confronted with some kind of one-in-a-million situation that for example Mr. Evans refers to, where I could save my family by committing torture, I can't honestly say what I would do in that situation. Perhaps I would commit what is undeniably a *wrong* in the hopes of saving my family. But if I did it would be because I believed that I owed such a moral obligation to my family.

But even in that case, I would also have no reason to expect legal immunity or even leniency. Seeking legal protection strips the entire exercise and justification of its moral profundity. Either you think your moral justification trumps the law or you don't. Having official and legal approval doesn't make your action a morally trenchant decision, it makes it following orders.

There is no evidence of a similar moral duty owed to citizens by employees of our government. They may believe it is so; but that does not make it so. They are acting in their capacity as our employees. If we wish to empower them with that ability, we should undo all of the laws on the books forbidding such behavior and withdraw from all treaties that do so as well. People may attempt to graft that moral obligation to MY family onto our servants in government, but that merely represents an attempt to win by visceral reaction, rather than logic. Yes, I would probably HOPE that some random interrogator would save my family by torturing a suspect, yet I have no legitimate reason for expecting it. In this respect the analogy to WW II Germany is apt: a German interrogator may have been able to morally justify torturing a captive in an effort to save his family (say by gaining information about a planned bombing raid in Dresden), but he should not expect to escape legal liability at Nuremberg.

As far as the practical results of torture, I would say that the use of torture could result in increase peril to our troops in battle because opposing combatants who thought they might be tortured would be more apt to fight to the death rather than surrender. There was a good reason why the understood rule among German soldiers in WW II was to run west not east if they found themselves behind enemy lines or separated from their unit.

Finally, also from a practical point of view, I would ask that people examine the case of Ahmed Ressam, the captured millenium bombing plotter:

http://corrente.blogspot.com/2005/08/terrorizing-judges.html

A sample:

"Ahmed Ressam became a terrorist turncoat.

On May 10, 2001, FBI Agent Fred Humphries questioned Ressam, the first of dozens of interviews. The information was invaluable -- and terrifying. He explained how he was recruited in Montreal and funneled into the bin Laden camps. He talked in detail about training with Taliban-supplied weapons. He informed on Abu Zubaydah, Abu Doha and other top al-Qaida operatives. He provided the names of jihad fighters he had met in the camps. He revealed that he had contemplated blowing up an FBI office and the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C....

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Ressam's solitude has been broken by a stream of visitors, often FBI agents such as Fred Humphries, but also investigators from Germany, Italy and elsewhere.

With federal public defender Jo Ann Oliver at his side, he is told names and shown photographs of suspected terrorists and asked if he knows them.

On several occasions, Ressam has been flown to New York City for similar questioning. There, he is held in a detention center just blocks from Ground Zero.

Ressam did not recognize any of the 19 suicide hijackers from Sept. 11. But he was able to identify student pilot Zacarias Moussaoui of Minneapolis, now in U.S. custody, as a trainee from Osama bin Laden's Khalden camp.

Ressam informed on Abu Doha, a London-based Algerian who was the brains and money behind Ressam's Los Angeles airport plot. He identified Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who ran the Khalden camp, and Abu Sulieman, who taught bomb-making at the Darunta camp.

Most importantly, Ressam named the previously little-known Abu Zubaydah as a top aide to bin Laden. That helped smash the notion that Zubaydah, also now in U.S. custody, was little more than a travel agent for terrorist wannabes making their way to the al-Qaida camps.

Ressam is expected to testify at the trials of these and other suspected terrorists.

So it is that Ahmed Ressam -- the boy who loved to fish in the Mediterranean, the teenager who loved to dance at discothèques, the young man who tried and failed to get into college, who connected with fanatical Muslims in Montreal, who learned to kill in bin Laden's camps, who plotted to massacre American citizens -- has become one of the U.S. government's most valuable weapons in the war against terror...

Ressam's information was given to anti-terrorism field agents around the world _ in one case, helping to prevent the mishandling and potential detonation of the shoe bomb that Richard Reid attempted to blow up aboard an American Airlines flight in 2001"

And to all of the posters who are so concerned about the welfare and discomfort of detainees, I have another question. These very same men come from the ranks of those who would slash your throat and then rape your children while you lie on the floor bleeding to death. Forgive the graphic description, but I think we tend to forget who we are dealing with here.

The goal of these people is to destroy us and our way of life, by ANY means neccessary. Go to http://thereligionofpeace.com/ and you'll see exactly what I mean. Yes, we have our reputation to consider, as well as our moral integrity, but let's bring this down to more personal terms. If a murderer attacks your family with a machete, do you quibble with yourself about what would be the better method of defense? Do you worry what the neighbors might think if you should cause harm to come to the murderer, or do you put all that aside and do whatever must be done to protect your family? Or would you rather feel satisfied with your moral superiority as you step aside and allow your family to be hacked to pieces?

I realize that I may be over-simplifying, but I do so for the sake of framing the debate in more personal terms that we may all be able to relate to.

I just listened to the RadioTimes interview with Mr. Nance. I just have one simple question. Forgive me if this has already been addressed.
Mr. Nance, have you ever considered how you would respond if members of your own family were kidnapped and held by terrorists? If the only way to obtain their location was by water boarding, what would you do? Would the discomfort and duress of your detainees supercede the lives of your own family members in that case?

USN_RET, you claim that SERE instructor Nance has endangered our troops by saying that SERE trains troops how to resist waterboarding.

Do you recall that it was Torture apologists on FOX News that revealed this, when they were downplaying waterboarding? "We do this to our own troops, so why shouldn't we do it to the enemy"

Besides, it is ridiculous, and it is in standard Republican fashion, to accuse good Americans of "helping the enemy". HOW does it help the enemy if they get tipped off that American troops are being prepared for waterboarding? WHAT is the enemy going to do? Use some other technique besides waterboarding, because they know that American troops have been prepared? What a bunch of nonsense.

However Nance's claim that when the Attorney General says that Waterboarding is OK - that does endanger our troops, because it gives the enemy an excuse. "I can waterboard Americans because Mukasey said under oath in the Senate that I won't be charged with a crime"

Americans, look at who we are dealing with!!!! Again and again, Americans who speak the truth are ATTACKED, ACCUSED of helping the enemy!!!

Nance has NOT helped the enemy in any way whatsoever. Nance is a hero, Nance has spoken the truth. He hasn't given the enemy zilch they can use that FOX News didn't already tell them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"The USA's treatment of enemy prisoners has not affected enemy treatment of Americans one jot"

A. My parents taught me you do the right thing because it is
the right thing, not because you are going to be rewarded for it.
The USA should do the right thing because it is the right thing,
not because we will get anything for it.

B. I disagree that decent treatment of prisoners hasn't helped our
people when they fall into enemy hands. The treatment of US
prisoners improved dramatically in the later part of the VN war,
after we began to complain loudly and publically about the treat-
ment they received in North Vietnam. Our complaints had some
credibility with the world because we tried to treat our prisoners
properly. If our public policy had been "we torture when we
feel like it" there would have been no credibility.

It is true that our treatment of enemy prisoners has not stopped
abuse of our people in enemy hands. But that is an impossible
goal. I don't think it wise to give up the power to influence world
opinion to the benefit of our guys by torturing enemy prisoners.