Saturday, April 2, 2016

Richard Brouillet — A Shocking 63 Percent of Americans Support Torture—Do They Understand the Social Consequences?


Poisoning the well, the water of which is liberty and the sanity that liberty requires to maintain it. The danger is that "you" as group, here a nation, become "them" as the one's you are opposing. This is playing into the hands of the enemy.

AlterNet
A Shocking 63 Percent of Americans Support Torture—Do They Understand the Social Consequences?
Richard Brouillet

32 comments:

Bob Roddis said...

The miracle of democracy. Who needs a firm non-aggression principle?

Random said...

"Who needs a firm non-aggression principle?"

The idea that everyone is nice and kind and no coercion is necessary is just total BS.

I stick with Neil Wilson:

"The basis of their nonsense - that people don't attack each other or gang up - is the same facile nonsense as the weed smoking left anarchist movement. And just as sensible - since it denies all ape culture that has evolved over about 5 million years. "

Bob Roddis said...

Random: How does focusing exclusively upon ACTUAL crimes of violence and theft make it less likely that those actions would be addressed and punished? Your opposing insinuation is baseless and mindless. Bad actors and people with what you conceive to be foul attitudes can be excluded from your presence and from your family's presence. Gays need not tolerate the Westboro Baptists in their midst while they would be safe from violence.

You are shooting with blanks. The masses just like violence and so do you.

Bob said...

63% support torturing other people.

Tom Hickey said...

In a liberal democracy, if the majority decided to impose law, regulation or policy on a minority, it is legal. Torture can be made legal, or a decision taken to allow with immunity from prosecution. The US could even decided to withdraw from the Geneva Convention.

The tyranny of the majority gives rise to a paradox of liberalism. Some see that as a problem for liberalism.

The answer within liberalism is the concept of minority rights including human rights, civil rights and constitutional liberties. What those rights are and their extent is a political issue, again subject to the majority. Moreover, there is little argument that even the constitution can be suspended in extremis, e.g., imposition of martial law.

Matt Franko said...

Article 1 section 9:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

http://www.annenbergclassroom.org/page/article-i-section-9

its already covered...

Calgacus said...

Austrians & many others are just confused about what is in front of their faces. A firm non-aggression principle is a nice thing. But it conflicts with the idea, their idea of property. The upholder of property rights, the one who defends his property is the one who initiates force. Not the reverse.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Looks like Trump is in good company if you're a Putin fan like myself:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/30/world/europe/russia-chechnya-caucasus-terrorists-families.html

jrbarch said...

The point of the article is that torture also wounds the perpetrator - like 'children who are cruel to an animal, and as an adult look back and are horrified at the thought of their own inability to control baser urges'. So 63% of Americans are children - probably much the same the world over. Do they get guidance? The change is not in the mind of the adult so much as in the heart. THEN the mind has more human thoughts.

John said...

Presumably they don't want to make it a universal principle? It's an exceptional right for an exceptional country, not to be made a universal principle for others to torture Americans if apprehended on their territory. It is possible that the busload of retired Mr and Mrs Joe Shmoes from Springfield, Ohio are not in fact on an archaeological trip to see the sights of Babylon. That is merely an excellent cover for the fact that they have been radicalised over the internet and are now a loyal brigade of ISIS suicide bombers.

Presumably they weren't informed that torture doesn't work: a victim of torture will be happy to tell you anything you wish to hear, no matter how ludicrous. That's the main reason most sane militaries and intelligence agencies don't succumb to it. As is well known, good intelligence is what's necessary, not the legal right and talent to pull fingernails.

The "ticking bomb" example is always the one given, as if it's easy to get hold of a nuclear bomb. Anyway, let us suppose there really is a ticking nuclear bomb in a major city. And let us suppose the detained suspect was willing to give you the deactivation code for the bomb, but on his conditions. Would you give in to terrorism? Remember, the clock is ticking, there's only one minute left, no time to rip out his fingernails or rape his disabled mother or skin alive his children. That's one of the reasons why all this "ticking bomb" stuff is a nonsense and a smoke screen for the real issues.


Bob Roddis said...

Calgacus said...Austrians & many others are just confused about what is in front of their faces. A firm non-aggression principle is a nice thing. But it conflicts with the idea, their idea of property. The upholder of property rights, the one who defends his property is the one who initiates force. Not the reverse.

Right. So when the Ku Klux Klan shows up at the house of a poor black family to murder and lynch them and burn down their house, the poor black family initiates force by defending themselves and must be punished.

Associating that type of "deep thinking" with MMT will certainly make MMT appeal to average people

Malmo's Ghost said...

Liberals say torture can't work. Conservatives say it can work. What does science say? Not pseudoscience either. And anyways, who the hell outside of super secret entities like the CIA or KGB types knows for sure?

Tom Hickey said...

Naomi Klein, Torture’s Dirty Secret: It Works: When it comes to social control, nothing works quite like torture, at The Nation.

There are various uses of torture from punishment and revenge to mass intimidation.

Punishment, revenge, and intimidation are key features of extreme authoritarianism, which have been justified historically based on nationalism.

Authoritarian nationalism is, needless to say, incompatible with liberalism. It is the basis of fascism.

Calgacus said...

Right. So when the Ku Klux Klan shows up at the house of a poor black family to murder and lynch them and burn down their house, the poor black family initiates force by defending themselves and must be punished.

No, in your scenario, the Klan is showing up to murder & lynch too, so they're initiating force. But what if the Nonviolent Klux Klan came there to do a nonviolent sit-in, to prevent the family from quietly enjoying their own home by singing hearty racist songs in their backyard? The poor black family - or the cops - might have to use force minimally, reasonably, justifiably to evict the NKK. Like I said, it is a legal truism - perhaps an obscure one in a world that gets so much backwards, but it is the person defending property who initiates force. And often enough, imho & the eyes of the law & societies it is justifiable.

Malmo's Ghost said...

I'm not advocating for torture, but I am interested in it's effectiveness one way or the other (will probably never know for sure). Let's face it, if it works (forget the Naomi Klein angle) it's going to be used into perpetuity.

Bob said...

Property owners are the biggest initiators of force on the planet.

John said...

Malmo: "And anyways, who the hell outside of super secret entities like the CIA or KGB types knows for sure?"

That sounds right, but the giveaway are all those who agents and analysts at intelligence agencies who come straight out and say how useless and counterproductive it is (usually after retiring from the service and are now in a position to tell unpleasant truths), unless you want the tortured suspect to say what it is you want to hear rather than the truth (like waterboarding that Al Qaeda dummy eighty times until he admitted that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11). Many of those against the use of torture aren't a bunch of pussies. They'd be arguing for it if it worked. Others aren't for it because it puts their own citizens in the torture chamber. Few are against it on purely moral considerations.

The issue of torture is a political game: politicians can claim to be "tough" on terrorism or "tougher" than their opponent. It's also a way of refusing to engage with the causes of terrorism and how to deal with it. The question has been framed in terms that are most conducive to political goals: curbing civil liberties and the right to spy on everybody, and more generally as a way to argue for war, invasions and keeping certain dictatorships in power so as to stop terrorism.

As I've said elsewhere, the intelligence agencies know what they're doing. They're damn good at their jobs. The politicisation of intelligence is not their fault. Having to follow bad political orders isn't their fault either, and the idea that they're out of control or a law unto themselves is nonsense: they do what they're told to do, nothing more and nothing less. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for them to ordered to do stupid shit. Explaining to politicians the danger and/or stupidity of foreign policy is pointless, and they are in no position to gracefully decline. If the intelligence agencies say we need ten thousand more agents and analysts, fine. Ten/twenty/thirty thousand agents and analysts is a damn sight better way of keeping the country safe than spending billions of dollars on fighter aircraft and aircraft carriers. Or ruminating about whether torturing suspects is useful or digitally spying on everybody in the world. It's all utterly useless and puts us all in danger. What is needed is good intelligence.

Matt Franko said...

Mal as long as a competent analyst is informed that the intel was acquired via torture, they may still be able to get something out of it even so... it would just be a conditional aspect of the intel... granted not all are competent...

Tom Hickey said...

I'm not advocating for torture, but I am interested in it's effectiveness one way or the other (will probably never know for sure). Let's face it, if it works (forget the Naomi Klein angle) it's going to be used into perpetuity.

I doubt there is a study on it or that one will be published anytime soon. So it boil down to conflicting beliefs. But those involved seems to agree overwhelmingly that torture doesn't work at least very effectively, and there are huge tradeoffs involved in using it, even if it is (somewhat) successful. On balance the military doesn't seem to want to be involved in it, so it is relegated to the clandestine services.

The brigadier in charge of Abu Ghraib at the time the torture was reported was busted, even though she knew nothing of it and it was a CIA operation.

Matt Franko said...

"even though SHE knew nothing of it "

Dont send a female to do a male's job.... not qualified... some hick affirmative action Clintonista appointee I'd assume...

Tom Hickey said...

Dont send a female to do a male's job.... not qualified... some hick affirmative action Clintonista appointee I'd assume...

1. Very difficult to get flag rank without being highly competent. The military promotion system is highly competitive. Gen. Karpinski was cited for not being on top of things in her command, but it's obvious that she was not supposed to be

2. The point is that it was a clandestine operation she was not supposed to know about or be involved in. Information in the government is based on a need to know basis. owing to the people involved — CIA and MI. In fact, if she had poked her nose where where it wasn't suppose do to be she would have been replaced with someone who understood.

Seymour Hersh, Torture at Abu Ghraib-American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?, at The New Yorker.

None of the actual controllers (CIA and MI) were ever cited or prosecuted. They were not called to testify at court-martials of lower ranking personnel involved. There is no record of entries on their periodic fitness reports. The whole thing was scapegoated.

Bob said...

Was she the highest ranking officer to be punished?

Imagine if the Nuremburg Trials used that approach.

John said...

Karpinski got the rawest of raw deals, but then the people in uniform always have to carry the can for the civilians who give the orders and can go safely home, put on their slippers and know if the whole thing is a gigantic mess, some hillbilly shitkicker (Lynndie England, for example) can take the blame, and to make things complete a senior officer (Karpinski) will be found in dereliction of their duty or some such gibberish.

The maniacs in Washington then, as Mike said elsewhere, then say "Thank you for your service". That nobody has vomited over a Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Obama, Clinton, etc, when they've said this vile lie is a testimony to the American service personnel's collective stomach.

Tom Hickey said...

Was she the highest ranking officer to be punished?

She was the only officer. It was based on the principle that the officer in command is responsible for whatever happens in that command, regardless. She lost a rank.

The only people actually punished were the low level soldier who were courtmartialed.

The story was a few bad apples and a commander who wasn't in charge.

Complete BS.

Matt Franko said...

Tom I have relatives from Fayette Co., PA...

Walk by once and get spit on...

Walk by twice and get urine thrown on...

Walk by 3x and get jisim thrown on and you are going to get a REEEEAAAALLLLLY GOOD beating and its on...

(btw Fayette Co., PA poorest Co. in PA...)

Matt Franko said...

Tom my accountant was Air Guard...

She was UH-1 Medivac left seater...

Unit lost budget for flight ops and became MPs....

Deployed within months to train Iraqi MPs on how to be MPs meanwhile they were for previous decade UH-1 Medivac unit and knew nothing about being MPs....

Moron Rummy: "You go to war with the Army you have....."

I dont know how you can think these people are competent or know what they are doing....

Tom Hickey said...

I actually served in the military, during the years of conscription before the professional military. It was a very effective force given what they were working with at the bottom, mostly conscripts and some enlistees many of whom had no intention of making the military a career. The officer corps was well educated and highly trained with many of the more senior officers veterans of WWII or Korea.

The flag officers were impressive and they were treated like gods. Navy captains and Army, AF and Marine colonels were pretty impressive, too. I knew some others who desperately wanted to be career, but got passed over twice are the rank of major (Navy lieutenant commander) and had to retire. Quite a few people I thought were pretty good, too, retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel (Navy commander).

People that get promoted to general or admiral move through the ranks pretty quickly because they stand out, and the competition is tough.for the increasingly limited number of higher ranks. Even during war time they don't need to "reach down."

That was fifty + years ago. After ending conscription and converting to the prose, the military got much better overall. I am very impressed with even the lower level personnel I run into today. The military did relax standards to meet recruitment quotas during the Iraq war but that was temporary and I think they learned from the experience.

Regarding Gen. Karpinski, being a woman is a handicap in the military and only the best and brightest get to the top. It's not a matter of "reaching down" and picking a token "girl."

Where the military is different now is twofold. First, there are about an equal number of contractors to military, if not even more behind the scenes. This complicates the chain of command somewhat, since all the participants in a theater are not under the direct command of local commander. Secondly, the clandestine services and special services play a more more active role operational, since contemporary warfare is both asymmetrical and hybrid.

In my day, the regular military would not be running a torture center staffed by CIA and MI that did not report directly to the commanding officer and the commanding officer was not even supposed to be in on what was actually going on for plausible deniability. In my view, this is a perversion of the military that will have serious repercussions. It's similar to using jihadis. Crazy dumb.

Of course, this is anecdotal and my experience is limited. Others may have a different view based on their experience.

Tom Hickey said...

Unit lost budget for flight ops and became MPs....

Deployed within months to train Iraqi MPs on how to be MPs meanwhile they were for previous decade UH-1 Medivac unit and knew nothing about being MPs..


The role of MP has shifted. Back in the day, MP were largely rotational. I served as an MP officer for a couple of short stretches when it would our ship's turn to send one. The full time MP force was small and the role of MP was strictly policing the troops.

Now the role of MP has changed to be "AP" — all purpose in "nation building." The military is designed for fighting and not nation-building. That's a contemporary boondoggle that has been spectacularly unsuccessful. I don't regard this as the fault of the military as much as the civilian leadership that is asking the military to do things for which it is not designed or trained.

Look at Syria. The US military is not there to win a war but to reconfigure the country to the specifications of US political leaders. Of course they will fail, just as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. IN Syria they can't even fight the bad guys because form the politicians post of view they are "our" bad guys.

Nutty.

John said...

Tom: "Of course, this is anecdotal and my experience is limited."

But it also happens to be what is reported in specialist books on intelligence and the military. Outside of specialists reading specialists, not many people read this kind of literature but it seeps through into the media and general international politics books.

On the whole, what you've said is right: the military and intelligence services are highly effective and professional. It's the politicians who are the problem, with their absurd chants of "rebuild the military". How about refraining from giving them dangerous and stupid orders? As much as the military is respected by the general public, as soon as a politician points the finger away from their own dangerous policies to the failures of the military, the public fall for it!

Bob Roddis said...

CIA torture report: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

World View: Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/torture-it-didnt-work-then-it-doesnt-work-now-9923288.html

Bob Roddis said...

CIA 'torture report': Agency conduct was driven by pressure to link Iraq to al-Qaeda following 9/11 - - The White House wanted to justify the 2003 invasion

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cia-torture-report-agency-conduct-was-driven-by-pressure-to-link-iraq-to-al-qaeda-following-911-9924552.html

We always hear this nightly on Fox News and in the MSM, right?

John said...

Bob, it proves what the specialists already know: the politicisation of intelligence and torture is policy driven not knowledge/fact/truth driven. Politicians aren't interested in the the truth. They want to bend, twist, manufacture "intelligence" so that it accords with their dangerous policies. The agencies pretty much know the truth. Unfortunately the truth is unacceptable. And still people believe the politicians, no matter how nonsensical their claims! How many more examples of manufactured "intelligence" do we need? Apparently it is "unpatriotic" to say your government/politicians are liars. Too many sheeple about.