Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Democrat Panetta admits water-boarding works.

February 04th, 2013 by Bookslinger

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2272860/Defense-Secretary-Panetta-admits-CIA-used-information-waterboarding-capture-Osama-Bin-Laden.html

When asked directly if water-boarding led to finding Bin Laden, Panetta responded “… yeah, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time”, and that “most of the intelligence” that led to finding Bin Laden came without having to resort to enhanced interrogation.

Here’s a direct link to the Clip on Youtube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXyufICYrW8

Comments (11)
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February 04th, 2013 11:12:11
11 comments

Zen
February 4, 2013

I am unswayed.

Torture is something that belongs in Communist countries and the Inquisition (literally, it was one of the 4 ‘methods’ the Inquisition used). Use of torture is a blot on our country. We can’t honestly believe we are any better than a common dictator like Castro or Saddam, if we act like they do. It hurts us far, far more than it helps us.


Vader
February 4, 2013

I waffled far too long on this before coming around to Zen’s view.

The British tortured no Nazi spies they caught in England, in spite of the fact that the Nazis were as evil as any Islamist. Instead, they politely gave them a choice between prompt and humane hanging or turning. Most turned. Those who didn’t were hanged for espionage, using the measured drop, which is arguably the most merciful form of execution around.

I say we give the Islamists the same choice. Turn, or be hanged for crimes against humanity.


Adam G.
February 4, 2013

I am against torture on traditional grounds (Anglo-Americans have traditionally been agin it) and visceral grounds, but I’ve never seen a reasoned case of what torture is and how it differs from punishment that inflicts pain or suffering. I would like to.

The argument that waterboarding doesn’t work always seemed to me the weakest argument in its opponents’ arsenal and probably more a form of wishful thinking than even an argument. I would far rather see a thoughtful discussion of what torture is and why its wrong, applied to the case of waterboarding.


John Mansfield
February 4, 2013

The moral of the story could be that those arranging service assignments need to go about it so that people don’t feel like they’re being asked to do the same thing every week. Don’t send the clipboards around every week, and try some other methods like personal one-on-one invitations.


John Mansfield
February 4, 2013

Sorry, my above comment was meant for elsewhere.


Bookslinger
February 4, 2013

Ya’ll remind me why I often need to belabor points, though I regretably do so in usually pedantic and anal-retentive ways.

The point I was trying to make was not whether or not water-boarding constitutes torture (I don’t think it does) or whether water-boarding can ever be justified (I think it may sometimes be), or if it should be admitted to (I think its use should have been denied , as a matter of national security), or if any form of torture is acceptable under any circumstances (I’m not addressing that).

Regardless of one’s position, this fact has now been established and admitted to: It works. Moreover, it has been admitted to by someone on the “side” (Democrats) which was most vociferous against water-boarding when it was used during the administration of the other “side’s” president.

The claim that water-boarding doesn’t result in obtaining useful information can no longer be used; by anyone.

If ya’ll want to take the comment thread on tangents, go ahead. I’ve done so many a time.

Vader, do you suppose that the British didn’t know how to keep war-time secrets? I wouldn’t put it past them to have tortured those spies who refused to cooperate and then hung them after obtaining information.

Wars and spying are based on lies and deception, by all sides.


Zen
February 4, 2013

I am not sure that we want to bother arguing that it CAN give us useful information. The information obtained that way, however, is far less reliable than other methods. We might get useful information, but how useful or true it is, is anyone’s guess.


Vader
February 4, 2013

Books,

I’m no naif about British ruthlessness when fighting the likes of Adolph. However, none of the turned spies subsequently complained of having been tortured. It’s possible, I suppose, that the British might have only tortured those they planned to hang, but I doubt it. There would have been no point: They didn’t have information that was all that useful, and the threat of being made to dance Danny Deever had already failed to turn them.


Adam G.
February 4, 2013

Zen,

I have my doubts that its far less reliable. Seems that would be context and method dependent. If you have any arguments I’d like to hear them, but I’m pretty sceptical on that point. My guess also is that the question of ‘less reliability’ is ‘compared to what,’ so in a situation where you don’t have alternative sources of intelligence, it only needs to be more reliable than random guessing.
What I’m really saying is that I think Books. et al have a winning hand on this particular question and I’m more interested in the tangent.


Bookslinger
February 4, 2013

Vader, that’s what I’m saying. If they didn’t want outsiders to know that torture was used, they could easily dispose of the bodies as executed spies.. There was no need to torture the collaborators. They would be worth more alive. The deaths of the non-collaborators was expected anyway. The cleaned-up and fully dressed corpse of a hanged non-collaborator, shown to another captured spy, might have even been used as a method of convincing the doubters among the other captured spies.

Zen, I think you’re confusing or conflating physical torture designed to get a predetermined “confession” (as in the Inquisition) versus the psychological and physical means used by those with plenty of psychological and medical knowledge to break someone down. The former is simple brute force, merely applying force until the subject says what the interrogators want him to say. In the latter, bits of information can be drawn out little by little, and those bits which can be verified can be used to determine when the subject has finally broken, making further information obtained more reliable. Reliability of information can be tested cheaply, it’s not like your side has to take a huge gamble on it before commiting lots of resources. It can also be cross checked beween several prisoners, or other sources.

Granted, many despots have used torture as reprisal, and as a means of subjugating people through fear. Sadistic jailers have used it for their own sick pleasure, as in Abu Graib. (As a slight defense of those jailers, the overall culture of degrading prisoners to break them was probably put in place by those in charge, and the jailers took it too far.)

In 1976 I spoke with a former Navy pilot of the Vietnam war era who went through POW training. He told me that he was taught that *everyone* eventually breaks down. So even back in the 60’s, the Vietnamese/Russians/Chinese had torture/interrogation down to a science. He also said the goal of the person under torture, the POW, was to delay as much as possible and make the enemy work for the information. And I’ve spoken with an actual US Army veteran who was held POW by the North Vietnamese. Do some research about POW Bobby Garwood in relation to John McCain’s stint as a POW. McCain collaborated more than Garwood, yet Garwood was the one court-martialed. That was a big controversy. Most former POWs hate McCain’s guts because he actually served as a radio announcer for North Vietnam on propaganda that was piped to the POW camps in the North.

The thing about getting information from a prisoner is down to a science. The militaries of the world have been using modern psychology for a few generations now. Those who are willing to use whatever means it takes, can pretty much get what they want. There have been enough wars and conflicts and opportunity for all the big players, East and West, to have built up the science. Compared to some of the things I’ve heard and read, waterboarding is actually humane in comparison.


Michael Towns
February 5, 2013

” Compared to some of the things I’ve heard and read, waterboarding is actually humane in comparison.”

Yes.

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