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Author Topic: John McCain to Bush apologists: Stop lying about Bin Laden and torture  (Read 5782 times)

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Offline VekseidTopic starter

SENATOR JOHN McCAIN SPEAKS ON THE SENATE FLOOR ON THE DEBATE ON THE USE OF TORTURE

The relevant part of the transcript from:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/john-mccain-to-bush-apologists-stop-lying-about-bin-laden-and-torture/2011/03/03/AF10AnzG_blog.html

Quote
    “With so much misinformation being fed into such an essential public debate as this one, I asked the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon Panetta, for the facts. And I received the following information:

    “The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. We did not first learn from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed the real name of bin Laden’s courier, or his alias, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the man who ultimately enabled us to find bin Laden. The first mention of the name Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, as well as a description of him as an important member of Al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country. The United States did not conduct this detainee’s interrogation, nor did we render him to that country for the purpose of interrogation. We did not learn Abu Ahmed’s real name or alias as a result of waterboarding or any ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ used on a detainee in U.S. custody. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts, or an accurate description of his role in Al-Qaeda.

    “In fact, not only did the use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed; it actually produced false and misleading information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married, and ceased his role as an Al-Qaeda facilitator — which was not true, as we now know. All we learned about Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti through the use of waterboarding and other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ against Khalid Sheik Mohammed was the confirmation of the already known fact that the courier existed and used an alias.

    “I have sought further information from the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and they confirm for me that, in fact, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s real role in Al-Qaeda and his true relationship to Osama bin Laden — was obtained through standard, non-coercive means, not through any ‘enhanced interrogation technique.’

    “In short, it was not torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden. I hope former Attorney General Mukasey will correct his misstatement. It’s important that he do so because we are again engaged in this important debate, with much at stake for America’s security and reputation. Each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts.

Offline itsbeenfun2000

Good for McCain. He may be the last honest Republican left.

Offline Zakharra

 I wouldn't exactly call him honest, but he does stand for what he believes in, even if sometimes it is against his constituents.

Offline Trieste

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You can't really blame him for being against 'enhanced' interrogation considering he's been on the receiving end.

Offline itsbeenfun2000

That's why it was important for him to stand up against torture. If anyone will be listened to by the Republican senators it is him

Offline Xandi

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I don't normally post in the section. I usually do not voice my opinion in these situations but for some reason I find I am compelled to voice my opinion on this. I do not want to debate this issue. Everyone is entitled to there opinion and I in no way want to insinuate that my opinion is more important than anyone elses. I simple wish to state it.

On September 11, 2001 2977 people died in the worst terrorist attack on American soil. It has been 10 years in bring the mastermind behind those attack to justice. The face of America changed that awful day. Our ideals, our hopes for the future and our moral standards changed.

America is held to a higher standard, let face it we have obeyed the rules for years. What did that get us? 9/11/01 that's what. I don't think 'enhanced interrogation techniques' are the answer but I will say that as an American I would do anything to make sure that the people who were involved are brought to justice.

Torture has been and is used against the men and women who defend this country from terrorism. I am not saying that because we are treated badly that we have the right to mistreat others. What I am saying is that it is naive to think that the people we entrust in public office with the defense of this country will not face this debate over and over again. The hard decisions have to be made. Sometimes there is no time to debate. We have to entrust our safety to people we trust will do whatever it takes to keep us safe and be willing to give them our support.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to voice my opinion.

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Interrogation is a tricky business whether it's in war-time (military) or peace-time (police).  The most important thing about any interrogation is that truthful information comes out. 

In the case that lead to Brown vs. Mississippi in 1936, the suspects were tortured with whippings, and one was even held by his neck from a tree while being whipped.  The SCOTUS ruled unanimously that 'A defendant's confession that is extracted by police violence cannot be entered as evidence and violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.'  Even so, modern, non-violent interrogation techniques can still lead to false confessions.  The McCarthy-era trials resulted in many people being falsely accused of being 'communists' and losing their livelihoods.  Michael Crowe was not tortured, but the interrogation techniques that were used on him resulted in a false confession to the murder of his sister in 1998.  As a result, the real killer didn't face trial until 2004. 

Torture has been used throughout history to get the information that the interrogators want to hear.  If that is consistently shown to be unlikely to be the truth, I find it to be of dubious benefit at best, whether that's to keep our people safe, or to track down other terrorists.  A properly trained interrogator can come to the truth without resorting to torture.  The apologists need to learn from history.  It didn't work in 15th century Spain, it didn't work in 1930's Mississippi - and they shouldn't claim it works now.

Offline Trieste

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I personally don't approve of bending my rules and my values because someone punched me in the face. I have found that when I am angry, if I bend my values to get back at someone, I feel a whole lot worse later than if they had simply hurt me. It feels like I let them make me compromise myself, and that is unacceptable.

I really admire McCain for speaking out about this. I think it took guts, since he is often seen as a hardline GOPer.

Offline Xandi

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I would like to add one more thing. I admire anyone, whether I agree with them or not, who will stand up for what they believe in. It takes courage and determination to do so.


Online TheGlyphstone

I'd judge it as a mixture of guts, personal beliefs, and simple political opportunism myself, though that is through my instinctive "politicians=scum" mental filter. I don't doubt that he is personally against torture, but he is also a smart person, and if he has any remaining ambitions of running for the Presidency again, he knows that it'll be essential for him to distance himself from Bush as much as possible. This is another step along that path.

Offline Zakharra

You can't really blame him for being against 'enhanced' interrogation considering he's been on the receiving end.

 Agreed.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Admirable, and I would agree with Trieste on why it's rooted in his own personal experience.

Quote from: Trieste
You can't really blame him for being against 'enhanced' interrogation considering he's been on the receiving end.

And it matters that it's he of all people. Many within the GOP who would instantly shrug off comments from Amnesty International, from Susan Rice or Gore Vidal will still have regard for McCain on this matter.

Considering that it took ten years to find bin Laden, and that the grounds for suspicion against some of the people who used to be at Gitmo (like, having 100$ bank notes in one's wallet or a certain brand of cell phone, and having been to Pakistan, Lebanon or the UAE) were more than flimsy, the case for using torture as an ordinary interrogation technique doesn't look very steady. If you waterboard someone or threaten to send them into a dark hole full of rats running around they will, in many cases, say anything to avoid it.

And if some people. like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were waterboarded 190 times, then it's not something the interrogators spent a lot of time thinking about and grabbed only as  last resort: they were just running down a lane that had been opened up by a directive from above. A directive which seems likely to have been issued by none other than George W Bush personally.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 06:00:44 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Yorubi

As much as I dislike politics and how bad things are with general corruption and likes being a fundamental part of how its run, there are still a few glimmers of hope where they do stand up for what they believe in and actually show they do have a human side behind them. I just wish something like that was common place and not some very rare occurrences.

Offline Callie Del Noire

I don't always agree with Sen. McCain's outlook on somethings, hell there isn't a politician I agree with 100%, but we are of an accord on 'Enhanced Interrogation Techniques." Some, like sleep deprivation (to a DEGREE) are valid and help break down resistance, but you can't tell me NEARLY drowning a man repeatedly or inducing near hypothermia works to bring out the truth. You are water boarding a man till he tells you want you want to hear.. nothing more.

Sorry.  You can't convince me that rendition, water boarding or things that Saddam might have done will work to our benefit.

Addition: I put Senator McCain in the same box as the late Senator Kennedy and Helms. They did a LOT of things I don't like, but I can respect ONE thing. They looked out for their voters. They did what they THOUGHT was best for their constituents. That's rare these days. Today it's all about 'which PACs and Lobbyists can make me the most'.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 09:20:48 PM by Callie Del Noire »

Offline Lyell

I'm on the fence on this issue. The common arguement seems to be that interrogation only produces false confessions or bad information. Interrogation intended to procure verifiable information used to save lives is often overlooked.

Quote
KSM’s revelations helped authorities arrest at least six major terrorists:

* Ohio-based trucker Iyman Faris pleaded guilty May 1, 2003, to providing material support to terrorists. He secured 2,000 sleeping bags for al Qaeda and delivered cash, cell phones and airline tickets to its men. He also conspired to derail a train near Washington, D.C., and use acetylene torches to sever the Brooklyn Bridge’s cables, plunging it into the East River.

* Jemaah Islamiya (JI) agent Rusman "Gun Gun" Gunawan was convicted of transferring money to bomb Jakarta’s Marriott Hotel, killing 12 and injuring 150.

* Hambali, Gunawan’s brother and ring-leader of JI’s October 2002 Bali nightclub blasts, killed 202 and wounded 209.

* Suspected al Qaeda agent Majid Khan, officials say, provided money to JI terrorists and plotted to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, detonate U.S. gas stations and poison American water reservoirs.

* Jose Padilla, who trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, was convicted last August of providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to kidnap, maim and murder people overseas. Padilla, suspected of but not charged with planning a radioactive "dirty bomb" attack, reportedly learned to incinerate residential high-rises by igniting apartments filled with natural gas.

* Malaysian Yazid Sufaat, an American-educated biochemist and JI member, reportedly provided hijackers Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi housing in Kuala Lumpur during a January 2000 9/11 planning summit. He also is suspected of employing "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui. "The 9/11 Commission Report" (page 151) states: "Sufaat would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he helped set up near the Kandahar airport."

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2009/04/12/tough-interrogations-saved-lives-debunking-allegations-of-bush-era-quot-torture-quot/

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I'm on the fence on this issue. The common arguement seems to be that interrogation only produces false confessions or bad information. Interrogation intended to procure verifiable information used to save lives is often overlooked.

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2009/04/12/tough-interrogations-saved-lives-debunking-allegations-of-bush-era-quot-torture-quot/

No - bad interrogation leads to bad information.  Skilled interrogation leads to good information.  Bad = use of physical or emotional pain to elicit a response.  After a certain point, people will say anything just to get out of the situation.  This is why police interrogations should be recorded - so that the conditions that lead to the information can be reviewed.

Offline Lyell

No - bad interrogation leads to bad information.  Skilled interrogation leads to good information.  Bad = use of physical or emotional pain to elicit a response.  After a certain point, people will say anything just to get out of the situation. 

The same man and method that procured the information that led to those arrests are what produced the false information that was mentioned at the start of the post.

Quote
This is why police interrogations should be recorded - so that the conditions that lead to the information can be reviewed.

I've expressed my approval of this in its thread.

EDIT: Or atleast, I thought I had. Nevermind.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 02:43:34 AM by Lyell »

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It's more a matter of luck than anything else if bad interrogation leads to correct information.  In bad interrogation, the interrogator goes in with a preconception of what the answer 'should' be.  The questions are leading, and the subject may be threatened or subjected to physical pain.  ('And then you shot her, right, Johnny?  With that gun you found in the dresser?  You know what they do to scum like you in prison, Johnny...')  The interrogator does not let up until the desired answer (or an answer that fits the preconceptions) is achieved.

In good interrogation, the subject is given non-leading questions, and the answers are compared with the evidence that the interrogator has already acquired.  ('What happened then, Johnny?  Uh-huh...  The guy who did this made a mistake, Johnny.  He left his blood on the glass where he broke the window.  You know about DNA, Johnny?')  The information retrieved can then be verified, and hasn't been inadvertently (or intentionally) fed to the subject.

Offline Lyell

So it's absolutely undisputed certainty that bad interrogation questioning was performed in both instances?

I also have to ask, is good humane interrogation that yields no information better than bad interrogation that leads to some good and some faulty information?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 03:51:25 AM by Lyell »

Offline Xenophile

Torture has always been known to be a dubious way to get information, and the greatest argument for it's use has been "they're barbarians and won't understand reasoning, and need to be pressure with violence" since antiquity. Good interrogation has a better chance to yield good results, but asking "Torture with some chance of good results vs No torture and no results" is such an unrealistic hypothetical question that it isn't a good question when we already know that torture is a flawed technique without having discussed or looked over the other interrogation techniques. It assumes the results.

Offline Lyell

Interrogation and torture are two different things.

Humane interrogation, question drilling, sleep deprivation, things that don't cause lasting harm, whatever. A strong mind can persevere.

Khalid wasn't subjected to waterboarding until it was evident his patience would outlast their timeliness in getting what they needed out of him. Last resort.

So no, my question wasn't entirely hypothetical.

Offline Xenophile

What you filed under humane interrogation does leave long term damage. Second, you assume their minds are strong enough to withstand it. Is less harmful methods less evil if the recipient is better at withstanding it? It only means that they need to use harsher methods to make him crack eventually anyway, so that argument is moot.

Last resort torture is still torture, and did that method provide any usable information on all of the other instances? A handful of successful cases have been mentioned, but there are nigh innumerable instances when it hasn't, and done nothing but harm and promote the USA as yet another uncaring imperial power. Are we even certain that the waterboarding in Khalid's case -was- made as a last resort?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 07:33:17 AM by Xenophile »

Offline Lyell

Sorry, but you lost me at evil.

Good, evil, right, wrong - black and white terms for people who see the world as one or the other. One root thing is assigned a value and anything connected to it falls under that same value. There's no room for intent, only absolutes. This is why I can't debate on this forum. "You're either 100% with us or against us."

Offline Xenophile

Sorry, but you lost me at evil.

Good, evil, right, wrong - black and white terms for people who see the world as one or the other. One root thing is assigned a value and anything connected to it falls under that same value. There's no room for intent, only absolutes. This is why I can't debate on this forum. "You're either 100% with us or against us."

Congratulations for understanding that the world isn't Black & White, though I should have done a better job at specifying, I still get the feeling that you misunderstood my intentions when using the word "evil". I rarely do use it seriously, but when other people use words as "immoral" and unethical" to describe torture,it isn't that much of a far stretch to call it "evil" as well.

Offline Trieste

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Sorry, but you lost me at evil.

Good, evil, right, wrong - black and white terms for people who see the world as one or the other. One root thing is assigned a value and anything connected to it falls under that same value. There's no room for intent, only absolutes. This is why I can't debate on this forum. "You're either 100% with us or against us."

There is evil in the world. Whether there are genuinely, irrevocable evil people, I don't know, but there are evil, evil deeds. (I would hold the case of Baby P up as an example.)

That said, you asked about the trade-off between bad information, good information, and varying interrogation techniques. What you're asking about is essentially a value, a personal belief that is held sometimes without logic. I personally don't believe it is ever right to torture another human being. Causing permanent physical and mental damage in someone because you think they might know something useful which may or may not help you - it's unacceptable in any situation.

You asked, I answered, and I'm happy to discuss - but if you try to debate it with me, I'm going to ignore you. There are some values that can be evaluated, discussed, and examined, but sometimes they really do come down to "I believe this is just wrong."

Another example, just to throw it out there, would be the hypothetical statement that, "I believe killing someone is wrong in any circumstance." Now, the person may think that killing in self-defense is one of those situations where it's wrong but you can't do much else. The person may believe that someone who got the death penalty deserves to die; the values are not mutually exclusive. But some things do come down to a moral judgement that something is wrong to do to another person, an animal, whatever.

This is one of those debates that is tangled in morals, which makes it extremely difficult.