The latest from Lieberman: Please waterboard me!

Well, no, not really,but he does claim that waterboarding isn’t so bad, because “the person is in no real danger.” He voted Wednesday in opposition to a bill that would limit the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual which does not include waterboarding, as a permitted interrogation technique. I guess he knows better than the army.
The Conn Post reports:

“We are at war,” Lieberman said. “I know enough from public statements made by Osama bin Laden and others as well as classified information I see to know the terrorists are actively planning, plotting to attack us again. I want our government to be able to gather information again within both the law and Geneva Convention.”

In the worst case scenario — when there is an imminent threat of a nuclear attack on American soil — Lieberman said that the president should be able to certify the use of waterboarding on a detainee suspected of knowing vital details of the plot.

RRRRRRright. Except of course for the problem is that the best evidence is that torture does not actually give good information. To the contrary, all the best evidence is that torture does not provide good evidence. But let’s ignore that fact, shall we? Torture is not part of the Geneva convention, and furthermore, even if it were that wouldn’t be an acceptable reason for using it. Um, also, we’re not at war. But if we were, that is precisely, davka, the time when our worst impulses need to be reigned in by the rule of law. It’s not biggie to refrain from doing what one ought not at a time when there’s no pressure.

Here’s the best line of the article though, “Lieberman said that his position on waterboarding differs from that of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who he has endorsed as a presidential candidate. As a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam, McCain was tortured. McCain, he said, believes waterboarding is torture.”

So, let me get this straight, McCain, who has experienced this torture, calls it torture, but you, who have not, are okay with contradicting him? Well, okay. As long as we’re clear on it.

Also see here.
Could you please stop telling people you’re religious? It embarrasses me.

25 Responses to “The latest from Lieberman: Please waterboard me!”

  1. “RRRRRRright. Except of course for the problem is that the best evidence is that torture does not actually give good information. To the contrary, all the best evidence is that torture does not provide good evidence.”

    Really? Where on God’s Green Earth do some of the bloggers on JewSchool receive their information?

    Is it permissible under the Geneva Convention to crash planes into the World Trade Center, btw.?


    Jonthan · February 17th, 2008 at 11:31 pm
  2. So, let me get this straight, McCain, who has experienced this calls it torture, but you, who have not, are okay with contradicting him? Well, okay. As long as we’re clear on it.

    McCain was waterboarded? McCain was tortured. And he thinks waterboarding is torture (I tend to agree with him). But where does it say McCain experienced waterboarding?


    themicah · February 17th, 2008 at 11:37 pm
  3. Even if Congress makes waterboarding illegal, it’s still legal in response to a clear and present danger to innocent people (not legal advice, I am not a lawyer, but see below).

    The law generally says that you can use deadly physical force to save innocent people from being murdered. Normally this consists of killing the would-be murderer before he can perpetrate his crime. If you can legally kill someone to stop him from murdering innocent people directly, it follows logically that you can waterboard him to prevent him from committing murder by remote control, e.g. by allowing a bomb he has planted to detonate, or refusing to reveal where his accomplices have taken a hostage they plan to murder. Such cases are admittedly very rare but, as a juror, I would refuse to convict any law enforcement or military personnel for waterboarding (or even worse) a terrorist under these circumstances.

    Uniformed soldiers (like McCain) have the right to surrender and be treated as prisoners of war under the Hague and/or Geneva Convention (which means they have to tell us only their names, ranks, and serial numbers). Terrorists have no rights and can in fact be executed as spies if captured while disguised as civilians. This is something both the U.S. and Israel should put into practice.

    Someone needs to explain to McCain that he was captured while wearing his country’s uniform openly, and that the Viet Cong who tortured him were therefore the war criminals. A terrorist who disguises himself as a civilian is a spy and, if he perpetrates violence while so disguised, a war criminal as well.


    Bill Levinson · February 18th, 2008 at 12:52 am
  4. Dude-

    Waterboarding is a SERE tactic. It is a cold war technique taught to prevent captured soldiers from being brainwashed when tortured. It has nothing to do with intelligence. Tortured people will say anything, in general, to get it to stop.

    www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/011198.php

    Also, taking out a sniper is a lot different from a guy in custody. Perhaps the rules of war are different on a battlefield than with captured enemies. On a battlefied, you can kill your enemy. Once captured, you must afford them rights under the Geneva conventions. In other words, maybe you could torture a guy on the battlefield, maybe, but you sure can’t torture a detainee. It’s against the law, which should count for something.

    (Need an example? The US tried, convicted, and executed WWII Japanese for waterboarding Americans)

    Last time I checked, even the Bible’s rules for war are more liberal than the above posters.


    OJ · February 18th, 2008 at 3:51 pm
  5. Also, the focus on waterboarding misses the point. The US employs other illegal techniques, some of which were photographed at Abu Ghraib. Waterboarding, for whatever reason, is just the technique the media talks about.


    OJ · February 18th, 2008 at 3:53 pm
  6. Actually it’s quite explicit from Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention that intelligence agents, saboteurs, terrorists and others who conduct partisan or military activities clandestinely and with intent to deceive do not receive protection under the provisions of the Convention. This is not a mistake–the Convention was deliberately crafted to disincentivize subversive military activity. There’s simply no protection under international law whatsoever granted to nonconventional combatants or other “irregular” personnel, even after they’ve been captured.

    Uniformed servicemen, on the other hand, clearly fall within the protected prisoner-of-war categories described in the Conventions.


    Eric · February 18th, 2008 at 8:08 pm
  7. Republican presidential candidate John McCain reminded people Thursday that some Japanese were tried and hanged for torturing American prisoners during World War II with techniques that included waterboarding.

    www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/29/politics/main3554687.shtml?source=RSSattr=Politics_3554687


    OJ · February 18th, 2008 at 10:46 pm
  8. Re: “Republican presidential candidate John McCain reminded people Thursday that some Japanese were tried and hanged for torturing American prisoners during World War II with techniques that included waterboarding.”

    Yes, but those American prisoners were uniformed soldiers who were entitled to the protections of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, unlike terrorists who disguise themselves as civilians while perpetrating war crimes. There is a huge difference between a uniformed combatant who fires at enemy combatants with Geneva Convention ammunition (jacketed, to prevent unnecessary damage) and accepts the other fellow’s surrender if he gives up, and a terrorist who sets off a bomb with poison-tipped nails. The use of a poisoned weapon is a war crime by itself, its use on civilians is yet another, and its use by someone who is disguised as a civilian is yet another.

    German spies captured in the United States were executed as such, and the appeals didn’t drag out for years. Germans who disguised themselves as American soldiers were also executed on the spot.


    Bill Levinson · February 19th, 2008 at 1:53 am
  9. john mccain voted against this anti-torture bill just like lieberman. i guess he only talks against torture. when push comes to shove he isn’t interested in banning it.


    sarah m · February 19th, 2008 at 8:49 am
  10. Some of the posters above are making a serious error. The Geneva ‘protections’ are not designed only with the weak victim in mind, but the perpetrator. The Geneva Conventions protect nations from falling prey to their own worst instincts.

    Even were one to concede that torturing a suspect is sometimes appropriate, what about the harm to the society that sanctions torture openly? Or that has a reputation of committing torture? US military and civilians are now at greater risk of ill-treatment abroad because of our use of torture.

    Call me crazy, but I think that committing torture is a sin, a vile crime, and would support ______________ against individual torturers, organizational entities that use it, and states that give if official sanction. Someday soon those chickens of torture are going to come home to roost. This could be averted through public and personal repentance.

    Bimhera m’yameinu, amen


    JewGuevara · February 19th, 2008 at 9:45 am
  11. áðåñó ìëê
    We also aren’t limited to (your interp of) the Geneva Conventions in determining what is proper conduct for our nation. It really doesn’t make sense that if the United States captures a Columbian Soldier, they can’t torture him, but if it captures a guerilla, they can.
    îàé ðô÷à îéðà?
    I mean, either it’s wrong or it’s not.
    In any case, even by your logic, the people performing the torture are uniformed US soldiers, which should limit them to the procedures listed in their manuals as limited by law and treaty.


    OJ · February 19th, 2008 at 10:26 am
  12. Oh, and
    1) it’s well-known torture doesn’t even give good info
    2) we’re not even always torturing the “right” guy viz. extraordinary rendition of innocent Canadians

    As Jews, remember Hillel said:
    îä ãòìê ñðé ìçáøê àì úòáéã
    What is to you hateful, to your fellow do not do
    Sanhedrin 4:5
    For this reason, man [i.e. the first human being] was created alone to teach that whoever destroys a single life is as though he had destroyed an entire universe, and whoever saves a single life is as if he had saved an entire universe. Furthermore [the first man was created alone] for the sake of peace among men, so that no one could say to another, “My ancestor was greater than yours” . . . [Yet another reason] was to proclaim the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, for when a human being strikes many coins from one mould, they all resemble one another, but the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, fashioned every man in the stamp of the first man, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow.
    ñðäãøéï ã,ä
    ëéöã îàééîéï òì òãé ðôùåú: äéå îëðéñéï àåúï, åîàééîéï òìéäï, ùîà úàîøå îàåîã, åîùîåòä, òã îôé òã, îôé àãí ðàîï ùîòðå, àå ùîà ùàéï àúí éåãòéí ùñåôðå ìáãå÷ àúëí áãøéùä åáç÷éøä. äéå éåãòéï, ùìà ëãéðé îîåðåú ãéðé ðôùåú. ãéðé îîåðåú, àãí ðåúï îîåðå åîúëôø ìå; åãéðé ðôùåú, ãîå åãí æøòåúéå úìåééí áå òã ñåó äòåìí–ùëï îöéðå á÷éï, ùðàîø “÷åì ãîé àçéê, öåò÷éí àìéé îï äàãîä” (áøàùéú ã,é), àéðå àåîø ÷åì ãí àçéê àìà “ãîé àçéê”, ãîå åãí æøòééåúéå. ãáø àçø, “ãîé àçéê”, ùäéä ãîå îåùìê òì äòöéí åòì äàáðéí. ìôéëê ðáøà àãí éçéãé áòåìí, ììîã ùëì äîàáã ðôù àçú, îòìéí òìéå ëàéìå àéáã òåìí îìà; åëì äî÷ééí ðôù àçú, îòìéí òìéå ëàéìå ÷ééí òåìí îìà. åîôðé ùìåí äáøééåú, ùìà éàîø àãí ìçáøå, àáà âãåì îàáéê. åùìà éàîøå äîéðéí, øùééåú äøáä áùîééí. ìäâéã âãåìúå ùì îìê îìëé äîìëéí, ä÷ãåù áøåê äåà, ùàãí èåáò îàä îèáòåú áçåúí àçã, åëåìï ãåîéï æä ìæä, îìê îìëé äîìëéí ä÷ãåù áøåê äåà èåáò àú ëì äàãí áçåúîå ùì àãí äøàùåï, åàéï àçã îäí ãåîä ìçáøå. ìôéëê ìëì àçã åàçã ìåîø, áùáéìé ðáøà äòåìí. ùîà úàîøå, îä ìðå åìöøä äæàú, åäìåà ëáø ðàîø “åäåà òã, àå øàä àå éãò; àí ìà éâéã, åðùà òååðå” (åé÷øà ä,à). àå ùîà úàîøå îä ìðå ìçåá áãîéå ùì æä, åäìåà ëáø ðàîø “åáàáåã øùòéí, øéðä” (îùìé éà,é).


    OJ · February 19th, 2008 at 10:36 am
  13. >>Some of the posters above are making a serious error. The Geneva ‘protections’ are not designed only with the weak victim in mind, but the perpetrator. The Geneva Conventions protect nations from falling prey to their own worst instincts.

    Let’s be serious–from Cambodia to North Korea to Rwanda to Bosnia to Iraq to Sudan it’s extremely unlikely that the Geneva Conventions have stopped any nation from falling prey to anything. They’re a fuzzy “framework” that is unenforceable and primarily allows signatory nations to feel good about themselves.

    >>We also aren’t limited to (your interp of) the Geneva Conventions in determining what is proper conduct for our nation. It really doesn’t make sense that if the United States captures a Columbian Soldier, they can’t torture him, but if it captures a guerilla, they can…I mean, either it’s wrong or it’s not.

    Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention isn’t an “interpretation”–these provisions are explicitly and deliberately written into the text.

    Secondly the question of morality or good sense is separate from the legal framework that the Geneva Conventions attempt to establish. And the Conventions are very clear that there is no legal protection extended to spies or other irregular combatants. It’s not an accident or an omission–the provisions were intentionally crafted that way and formally “agreed to” by the signatory nations out of a recognition of the havoc and destruction that such irregulars could wreak upon everybody. Therefore the Conventions explicitly establish that only regular, uniformed soldiers are legally entitled to protection–anyone who breaks those rules is not. Foreign militaries and governments are only obligated to treat uniformed enemy soldiers in accordance with the Conventions–they are under no such legal obligations with regards to spies, undercover saboteurs, etc. etc. That is not an accident.


    Eric · February 19th, 2008 at 12:47 pm
  14. When the U.S. Government tortures, terrorists are given carte blanche to torture Americans. The U.S. should be a moral authority in the world; it should not behave like a rogue nation.


    dj · February 19th, 2008 at 4:13 pm
  15. dj, I think you’re missing Eric’s point. The conventions don’t prohibit torturing extra-governmental terrorists, and since we can, we might as well. It’s an excellent technique that efficiently produces the best information, and without leaving a mark, what do they have to be sore about anyway? As long as we keep them short of organ failure, you can do what you want, some lawyer said so. Saying that other nations will see this as permission to treat our soldiers the same way is just speculation. In any case, those soldiers volunteered, so they knew what they were getting into. Anything we want to do is justified by fears of an imminent attack on our soil, even if past administrations considered it wrong, or liberal psychologists disagree.
    àì úñúëì á÷ð÷ï àìà áîä ùéù áå


    OJ · February 19th, 2008 at 6:00 pm
  16. I’m not asserting that we “should” do anything at all, and I’m making no claims about the efficacy or inefficacy of torture and various “pressure” techniques in generating useful information. (I’ve heard logical claims made by intelligent people on both sides of that argument.)

    But I am saying that the terms of this debate should be clear. Opponents of harshly interrogating / torturing terrorism suspects are on the thinnest of thin ice when basing their stand on the Geneva Conventions. They should simply drop that line of argument if they want to be taken seriously–the Conventions explicitly and very deliberately do not support their position.

    You may be able to make much stronger arguments, however, on other grounds (moral, tactical, strategic, etc.) upon which a real debate can take place. That is where the issue of “should” or “shouldn’t” becomes relevant.


    Eric · February 19th, 2008 at 9:49 pm
  17. Can someone name one incident in which an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil was stopped by evidence obtained from torture?


    dj · February 20th, 2008 at 2:07 pm
  18. Can someone name a case in which an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil was stopped by information obtained from torture?


    dj · February 20th, 2008 at 2:09 pm
  19. dj-waterboarding was only used 3 times that we know of in cases where there was a strong assumption that the terrorists knew when an attack would take place


    yisroel · February 20th, 2008 at 9:39 pm
  20. Can someone name a case in which an imminent terrorist attack on U.S. soil was stopped by information obtained from torture?
    No, they can’t because there never was such a thing. All the best evidence we have indicates that one does not get accurate information through torture. QED


    Kol Ra'ash Gadol · February 20th, 2008 at 10:51 pm
  21. dj, believe him or not, but Bush specifically said waterboarding extracted important info that prevented damage to America – I have to think there truth to that because with the CIA leaking like a sieve, one of the antiBushites there would have leaked that the info was bogus if it hadn’t been truthful.


    incorrect · February 21st, 2008 at 12:28 am
  22. Actually, the “intelligence” that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Al-Qaeda was largely based on testimony gained under torture. Look what that intelligence brought to the war on terror.

    Amongst the many assumptions that supporters of torture make (leaving aside the legal and moral questions) is not only that it works, but that the right people are being tortured.

    There is far too much evidence that many of the people being detained in U.S. run facilities where torture is taking place were, at best, tangentially connected to terrorism, and are often times found after they have been tortured and detained for years to have no connection at all to terrorism. There has simply not been due process to ensure that the detainees who have been subjected to this treatment are involved with terror.

    The entire “ticking time bomb scenario” depends on too many what-ifs: 1.) The captured individual is a terrorist who knows about the bomb; 2.) Torture is the only means of providing information in a timely manner; 3.) the testimony provided under torture will be truthful. This is simply not how reality works (see the above example about the Saddam Hussein/al Qaeda connection.)

    Even if this were how reality works and thanks to extreme tactics, the hypothetical city was really saved from the “ticking time bomb” we have all sorts of legal processes by which the city-saving hero who got his or her hands dirty does not have to serve prison time: Judges, juries, and investigators recognize extenuating circumstances when it comes to saving or protecting lives; Presidents give pardons.

    There is no reason to undermine conventions regarding human rights, legal protections regarding due process, and general accountability for an unlikely scenario when there are in fact procedures for dealing with unlikely scenarios.

    Oh yes, Sarah M is correct that McCain’s actual voting record indicates support for torture.


    Ian Thal · February 21st, 2008 at 5:31 pm
  23. dj wrote, “When the U.S. Government tortures, terrorists are given carte blanche to torture Americans.”

    The terrorists torture innocent victims no matter what we do or don’t do to them. Did all our nice legal procedures prevent terrorists from beating Navy Diver Robert Stetham to death, throwing Leon Klinghoffer off a cruise ship, or sawing off Nick Berg’s head?

    The Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual PUNISHMENTS, and also the use of torture to FORCE SOMEONE TO GIVE EVIDENCE AGAINST HIMSELF. It does not prohibit the use of a steel-cored rubber hose on someone who refuses to tell authorities or rescuers where he has planted a ticking bomb, or where his accomplices have taken a kidnapping victim.

    A perfect, although fictional, example appears in “Dirty Harry” with Clint Eastwood. The bad guy says he has buried his kidnapping victim alive with only enough air to last a few hours. The detective shoots him in the leg and then refuses to get medical attention for him until he tells where he buried his victim. This is neither a punishment nor extraction of a confession, but the justifiable use of force to protect an innocent person. On the other hand (as happened in the movie) nothing the bad guy said was admissable as evidence, because it WAS extracted under torture.

    Ian Thal wrote, “The entire “ticking time bomb scenario” depends on too many what-ifs: 1.) The captured individual is a terrorist who knows about the bomb; 2.) Torture is the only means of providing information in a timely manner; 3.) the testimony provided under torture will be truthful.”

    (1) Just as is the case with deadly physical force, you (law enforcement, Armed Forces, armed bystander) had better be SURE you are hurting a perpetrator and not some innocent bystander. There are very exacting standards under which it is “reasonable and necessary” to use a deadly weapon on another person, and merely suspecting him of wrongdoing is not among them.

    (2) Asking the terrorist nicely, “Where did you plant that nail bomb?” is not going to get results before the bomb kills or maims dozens of innocent people.

    (3) The terrorist is told that, if the nail bomb is not where he said it was after he was waterboarded, he will be waterboarded again (or worse).


    Bill Levinson · February 22nd, 2008 at 3:33 am
  24. Bill Levinson:

    (1) Just as is the case with deadly physical force, you (law enforcement, Armed Forces, armed bystander) had better be SURE you are hurting a perpetrator and not some innocent bystander. There are very exacting standards under which it is “reasonable and necessary” to use a deadly weapon on another person, and merely suspecting him of wrongdoing is not among them.

    Me:

    My point, is that we have a lot of evidence that with the “Extraordinary Rendition” and torture programs authorized by the Bush administration, little effort was made to determine if detainees had any useful information, or were even perpetrators whom it was necessary to detain.

    Bill Levinson:

    (2) Asking the terrorist nicely, “Where did you plant that nail bomb?” is not going to get results before the bomb kills or maims dozens of innocent people.

    Me:

    However, most experts on interrogation techniques, are convinced that waterboarding is even less effective. Real life is not “Dirty Harry.”

    Bill Levinson:

    (3) The terrorist is told that, if the nail bomb is not where he said it was after he was waterboarded, he will be waterboarded again (or worse).

    Me:

    Except, a.) there’s no due process to ensure that the terrorist is really a terrorist; and b.) a real terrorist only has to resist until the nail bomb goes off.


    Ian Thal · February 22nd, 2008 at 10:51 am
  25. A perfect, although fictional, example appears in “Dirty Harry” with Clint Eastwood.

    Just as a reminder: Dirty Harry is a movie.That means that when torture is applied, the characters from whom information is desired can be written into the script to provide it. This is not reality.


    Kol Ra'ash Gadol · February 25th, 2008 at 9:46 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik