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The Torturers and the ‘Ticking Bomb’: How Torture Became Routine in the Global War on Terror
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With all the media excitement focused on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, it comes as no surprise that some recent additional insights into how the United States became a torture regime have been largely ignored. It has been known for years that the George W. Bush Administration carried out what most of the world considers to be torture. Acting as if it really cared about illegal activity, the White House back at that time found two malleable Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Busby who would be willing to come up with a defense of torture. They discovered somewhere in their law books that it was possible to do anything to a suspect as long as it did not bring about organ failure. That became the bottom line for interrogations, though in practice some prisoners died anyway, which might be considered the ultimate organ failure. The only one who was subsequently punished over the illegal torture program was former C.I.A. employee John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on it.

Last week there was a hearing at a Guantanamo Bay courtroom in which one of the psychologists who devised the Central Intelligence Agency torture regime testified under oath. Psychologist James Mitchell was testifying in what was a preliminary hearing relating to the eventual trial of five alleged 9/11 conspirators He discussed how he and his business partner Dr. Bruce Jessup together developed the Agency’s torture program, which internal government documents described by employing the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques.” They were paid $81 million for their work and were able to produce a training manual that included waterboarding, stress positions and mock burials to physically and mentally destroy the target’s ability to resist. Both Mitchell and Jessup have asserted that their procedures were more designed to make a suspect uncomfortable rather than in pain and they blame interrogators who went too far for the physical and mental permanent damage that resulted.

To understand the depth of depravity that was part and parcel of “enhanced interrogation,” it is useful to consider Dr. Mitchell’s own testimony relating to the torture of prisoner Abu Zubaydah, a procedure that was implemented at one of the Agency’s secret prisons. The prison was likely the one located in Thailand, where current director of Central Intelligence Gina Haspel was in charge. Mitchell, who was also involved in the 183 waterboardings of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, personally participated in the interrogation. Zubaydah reportedly cooperated with his interrogators but then ceased to do so when the torture began. He was waterboarded more than 80 times while also being subjected to other “coercive physical pressure” including being buried alive over concerns that he might be hiding something. He survived and since has been held at Guantanamo for more than 13 years. The United States government has never tried him and has never even charged him with any crime.

Mitchell’s testimony states that he and the other interrogators had wanted the waterboarding to stop due to concerns that Zubaydah’s deteriorating mental processes were rendering any further interrogation unreliable. They sent a message to headquarters at Langley saying that “the intensity of the pressure applied to him thus far approaches the legal limit.” C.I.A. management ordered the interrogators to keep going as Zubaydah might be concealing details of an imminent terrorist attack along the lines of 9/11.

Americans have, of course, seen the use of “imminent” recently to explain away illegal actions that amount to war crimes. Another version exploiting a unknown imminent threat is the “ticking bomb scenario” which is based on the belief that a prisoner has knowledge of another terrorist act that is about to take place. It has frequently been employed by the Israelis to justify their wholesale torture of capture Palestinians. Israeli apologist Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz, among others, has cited the ticking bomb scenario to justify use of torture, but the problem is that there is no evidence to suggest that it has ever worked. No impending terrorist action has ever been prevented by torturing prisoners who have already been detained.

In the case of Zubaydah, C.I.A. even sent a senior officer to the torture room to make sure that no one was holding back on getting the job done properly. During the waterboarding Zubaydah was experiencing involuntary body spasms and was crying. Even the torturers and viewers were visibly upset. Mitchell’s testimony included “I thought it was unnecessary, and I felt sorry for him.”

Mitchell claims that he was pressured by C.I.A. management to always push harder during interrogations. At one point, Mitchell claims he sought to withdraw from the program but was told that “he’d lost his spine and it would be his fault if more people in the US died in a catastrophic attack.” Mitchell added “The implication was that if we weren’t willing to carry their water, they would send someone else who would do it, and they may be harsher than we were.”

Mitchell not unreasonably explained how post-9/11 there was a “climate of fear” over another imminent attack, possibly employing nuclear or biological weapons and he was unapologetic about his role in protecting his country. He said “I’d get up today and do it again… I thought my moral obligation to protect American lives outweighed the temporary discomfort of terrorists who had voluntarily taken up war against us. To me it just seemed like it would be dereliction of my moral responsibilities.”

Inter alia, Mitchell made clear that “C.I.A. was never interested in prosecutions. The C.I.A. was not going to let them set off another catastrophic attack in the United States. They were going to go right up to the line of what was legal, put their toes on it and lean forward.”

There are a number of things wrong with Mitchell and with the C.I.A. managers who first adopted his techniques and then repeatedly applied them in such a fashion as to insure both physical and mental damage. That is torture. Torture and abusive interrogation tactics are illegal under both US law and international law. Torture is prohibited under federal law, as are lesser forms of detainee abuse such as cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. On 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 5 states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Being patriotic is not a mitigating factor when one is carrying out torture, no matter what Dr. Mitchell might think. The United States is also a party to the Convention against Torture, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1984, as well as other treaties that ban the use of torture and other ill-treatment. The Convention against Torture requires countries to criminalize the use of torture within their own jurisdictions. Washington enacted such legislation in 1994, when Congress passed the federal anti-torture statute. The treaty also requires countries to conduct credible criminal investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for torture.

And then there is the “ticking bomb,” i.e. the American government’s claimed fear that another 9/11 was about to take place as a justification for its adoption of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The problem with that thinking was that the C.I.A. had no evidence suggesting that that another major attack might be impending, but it nevertheless grabbed people off the streets in some cases to “render” them to secret prisons where they were tortured. Many of them turned out to be innocent and it could reasonably be suggested that torturing someone “just in case he or she might know something” is no defense at all.

Finally, the United States government is obligated to prosecute those responsible for torture. That plausibly includes Drs. Mitchell and Jessup, but it certainly includes those Agency officers who were in place from 2001 through 2003 and responsible for implementing the program. They would presumably include the Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy Executive Director, Deputy Director for Operations, and the two Directors of CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center. All of those former officers are now enjoying comfortable retirements to include various sinecures with universities as well as national defense and security contractors and none of them has ever been punished in any way for their involvement with torture.

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Torture, War on Terror 
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  1. melpol says:

    Very few criminals act alone, they have accomplices. Police who demand information on crime partners use the toilet bowl technique. Pushing the head of the cuffed criminal into the toilet bowl quickly gets the names of accomplices. Toilet bowls are available in all police stations and are the number one torture device. Expensive torture providing facilities as Guantanamo are wasteful when an old toilet bowl does the trick.

  2. Lot says:

    “Jay Busby”

    Lol OK.

    Anyway, why is the CIA worried about another 9-11 so much, wasn’t it them and the dancing Israelis in the Mossad who did it?

    • Replies: @Oscar Peterson
    , @jsigur
  3. @Lot

    “Jay Busby”

    Lol OK.

    Anyway, why is the CIA worried about another 9-11 so much, wasn’t it them and the dancing Israelis in the Mossad who did it?

    Lot is a true purveyor of Jew pilpul.

    His “LOL” has no meaning except to take vague, undefined issue with the article.

    Then there is the vacuous, jokey attempt to set up a “conspiracy theory” piñata.

    This is a typical Jew pilpul technique. For those who read Linh Dinh’s pieces, we have seen the same thing there. LD wrote a handful of Jew-critical articles which amounted to a pittance among his large oeuvre. Almost immediately, conniving Jews AaronB and TKK showed up to whine about them and then stayed to attack further articles by LD regardless of the content. Once Jew-rage has been inspired in a Jew, he implacably attacks Shylock-style those who are “persecuting” him.

    Here we see the same thing. Lot is enraged by PG’s truth-telling about Jew behavior. And even though this article has nothing to do with Jews other than to reference the ultra-odious Dershowitz, Lot feels compelled to attack it. But there being nothing really to attack, he simply uses pilpul to conjure up a visceral, content-free expression of his loathing for PG’s record of exposing Jew malfeasance.

    It’s amusing to see how consistent Jew behavior patterns are.

    • Replies: @Lot
  4. Lot says:
    @Oscar Peterson

    Too dumb to actually respond to a pointed question, just blah blah blah Jewspiracies against muh Unz truthtellers. This is why antisemites are jokes!

  5. @Lot

    Another totally substance-free comment.

  6. The problem with that thinking was that the C.I.A. had no evidence suggesting that that another major attack might be impending,

    Of course not. They and their other “Intelligence” pals Mossad, CSIS, MI6 etc. hadn’t thought one up yet.

    • Thanks: Lot
  7. @Lot

    This is why antisemites are jokes!

    Be kind to the Askenazim, their hatred of Semites is a psychological disorder.

  8. “the United States government is obligated to prosecute those responsible for torture.”

    Strictly speaking, in ratifying the CAT the US government has committed to prosecute or extradite individuals suspected of systematic and widespread torture. In a case like that of the US government, where the state is unable or unwilling to prosecute, complementarity provides for prosecution in any UN member nation, in special-purpose tribunals, or in the ICC.

    Under the CAT, supreme law of the land, nothing justifies torture. Why you did it doesn’t matter. Superior orders, ticking bomb, dogfood-commercial puppy tears, stick it up your ass, torture coward, there is no statute of limitations on universal-jurisdiction crime, it’s open season on you till you die.

    We can see how CIA is adapting to their criminal exposure. They put torturers on the bench to keep CIA torture out of the courts. And they made a torture coward DCI so she’s motivated to maintain CIA impunity. If US standing erodes much more and they have to sacrifice some shmuks to worm out of a losing war, Gina Haspel’s a good choice for the burnt offering. Sending a Jew up the river would fit right in with the CIA line, the Jews made us do it! Extradite her wizened pudenda to Pakistan. ISI will lean on her a bit and she’ll sing like a canary about how she waterboarded Abu Zubaydah till he said yup I did 911, not CIA, I turned off NORAD and DoS and DoD and FAA and the whole US government and made them all fuck up at once.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-politics-and-media-still-get-wrong-about-abu-zubaydah

    Under the Nuremberg Principles as codified today, Gina’s systematic and widespread torture apparat, though a crime against humanity, is merely a component of the highest crime of aggression, as Gina tortured to produce illegal war propaganda. It will be fun to watch Gina doddering for sympathy in the glass cage before she’s hung for three days in D-Chowk.

  9. Anonymous[276] • Disclaimer says:

    It has been known for years that the George W. Bush Administration carried out what most of the world considers to be torture. Acting as if it really cared about illegal activity, the White House back at that time found two malleable Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Busby who would be willing to come up with a defense of torture. They discovered somewhere in their law books that it was possible to do anything to a suspect as long as it did not bring about organ failure. That became the bottom line for interrogations, though in practice some prisoners died anyway, which might be considered the ultimate organ failure. The only one who was subsequently punished over the illegal torture program was former C.I.A. employee John Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on it.

    Jesus, to call the US a Banana Republic somewhere along the line became a criminal, inhuman understatement. You really have to scrape the bottom of that particular Banana Republic barrel to find similar examples. The US is to the World what Israel is to the Middle East.

  10. Tony Hall says:

    Many of the key conclusions of the wholesale frauds passed off as fact in the Philip Zelikow report, aka The 9/11 Commission Report, were obtained through the supposed evidence procured through the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), the chief 9/11 patsy. KSM was only cast in the role of chief “mastermind” of 9/11 after Afghanistan was invaded on the bogus claim that bin Laden did it and after 2003 when Iraq was invaded on the claim that Saddam Hussein was supposed to have helped do it and was said to be planning something much worse. Fact is, the “Global War on Terror” originating in the criminal and ongoing misrepresentations of 9/11 has been a fraud from its inception. It depends for its continuation on false information obtained through a variety of means including torture.

    Because people subjected to torture can be forced to say pretty much anything, this means of procuring testimony is an integral part of keeping the whole ruthless scenario of US wars for Israel going. This war agenda includes the growth of the surveillance state which has transformed citizens into suspects en masse. As suspects we are all possible targets of the Soleimani treatment anywhere, anytime. Under these conditions any sense there there exists any more, any such thing as a “rule of law” is a sad hoax. Law exists these days largely as a means for wealthy members of the ruling cabal to fend off potential detractors and whistle blowers.

    I notice that most of the announcements of the shoot down of the high-tech spy plane/war operations platform in Afghanistan is said to have resulted in the demise of the Middle East’s Muslim Murder Inc specialist, Mike de Andrea. He is described as follows:

    Since 2017, D’ Andrea has run the CIA’s false flag and assassination programs in the Middle East, allegedly responsible not only for the murder of General Soleimani but the killing of 300 Iraqi demonstrators as well.

    https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/sources-murderer-of-soleimanai-killed-with-spy-plane-shot-down-over-afghanistan.651449/

    So false flags are acknowledged as a USA specialty that must be disguised as the work of “the enemy.” Torture is useful means of getting members of the targeted populations to create the supposed “evidence” to keep the Axis of Deception in business.

  11. @Lot

    (((Oscar Petersonwitzsteinbergfeld))):

    (((You))) forgot to invoke (((your muh Holocau$t conspiracy theory))). We’re disappointed in (((you))).

  12. @Lot

    ‘Too dumb to actually respond to a pointed question, just blah blah blah Jewspiracies against muh Unz truthtellers. This is why antisemites are jokes!’

    Actually, I’d score Oscar about 8/10 in that exchange, you about 0/10.

  13. @Lot

    I always thought that antisemite jokes went along the lines of… A man went to the doctor and was told that he had only 6 months to live. “Doctor” he said, “What can I do? The doctor said, “Marry a Jewish woman, it will seem like an eternity”.

    I’ve got more if you really liked it.

    • Thanks: Colin Wright
  14. So why bother torturing Al Qaida operatives if Al Qaida is a CIA creation?

    Is US fighting ISIS, Al Qaida, and other terrorist groups or is it not? What’s really going on then?

    This needs some explaining. So some of the terrorists start to actually believe the propaganda that they’re anti-American and want to act on it, and they are the ones that get tortured. Is that it??? Or is it just standard training for CIA’s terrorists so they can be prepared if caught and tortured by some other groups? And the ones that don’t pass muster are sequestered in Guantanamo forever while the others are released to do their dirty deeds. Sure, picking up innocent bystanders and passers by from the street and torturing them into becoming terrorists may work – I don’t know – kind of the way people used to be press ganged into armies and navies, and a cat o’nine used to do wonders, so is this just a novel version? I’m not clear what’s really going on here.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  15. onebornfree says: • Website

    Tony Hall says: “This war agenda includes the growth of the surveillance state which has transformed citizens into suspects en masse. As suspects we are all possible targets of the Soleimani treatment anywhere, anytime. Under these conditions any sense there there exists any more, any such thing as a “rule of law” is a sad hoax. Law exists these days largely as a means for wealthy members of the ruling cabal to fend off potential detractors and whistle blowers.”

    Precisely. Great comments, thank you.

    Regards, onebornfree

  16. Grr Grr says:

    Mike, the intent was not to radicalize them. It did not matter what they did or what they thought. The idea was to have a cage full of scary boogymen to frighten American mental defectives. You can’t look in the cage because it’s too dangerous. These are the dangerous, dangerous boogymen who demolished the WTC and blew a hole in the Pentagon and got illegal anthrax out of secure storage at USAMRIID.

    That is how stupid they think you are.

    • Agree: Commentator Mike
    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  17. @Grr Grr

    Grr Grr,

    OK. But these were supposedly secret renditions and secret torture centres in foreign countries accidentally revealed by some plane spotter at an airport. That’s if what the media tell us can be believed at all. Spy stories tend to get convoluted so whatever.

  18. Zubaydah might be concealing details of an imminent terrorist attack along the lines of 9/11.

  19. The United States “government” is obligated to prosecute those responsible for torture.

    Lol…

    They already locked up Lynndie England for 521 days.

    What more could they possibly do?

    They got their bad apple torture mastermind.

  20. Grr Grr says:

    Part was illicit, right. Captures that could be cast as war stories were played up – we all remember poor pencilneck John Walker Lind & Talitot Omar Khadr – while disappearance and refoulement were suppressed because they can’t be justified if acknowledged.

    So we had fake punishment and coerced confessions for war propaganda, with a faceless crowd of “worst of the worst” to browbeat the fake courts into keeping them all locked up forever. CIA panicked when they couldn’t establish complete control over the courts, bugging lawyer-client conversations and yanking judges off the bench.

  21. Sean says:

    Alan Dershowitz, among others, has cited the ticking bomb scenario to justify use of torture, but the problem is that there is no evidence to suggest that it has ever worked. No impending terrorist action has ever been prevented by torturing prisoners who have already been detained.

    But if you oppose it in principle whether it works makes no difference. Can’t have it both ways.

    • Replies: @Oscar Peterson
  22. @Sean

    “But if you oppose it in principle whether it works makes no difference. Can’t have it both ways.”

    Yes, that’s a valid point.

    The real question for those advocating torture is whether they acknowledge the same right for all governments–not just the US–to employ it under broadly similar rationales of their own devising. Or is the underlying notion of the pro-torture sophists that only the US and its allies are “moral enough” to be allowed to employ torture?

    I rather think that’s exactly their position, though they are never put in the position of having to defend themselves on the issue by our complicit media.

    Your point about not being able to have it both ways applies to the pro-torture forces at least as much as to their opponents.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @anonymous
  23. Paul says:

    If the U.S. has a right to torture enemies it captures, enemies have a right to torture captured Americans.

    • Replies: @Biff
  24. Biff says:
    @Paul

    If the U.S. has a right to torture enemies it captures, enemies have a right to torture captured Americans.

    Yea, that is probably the number one reason certain governments don’t torture – it’s because they care about their own subjects. The fact that the U.S. practices torture is clue number one that they don’t give a flying fuck about their own personal that may be captured and treated in the same way. And when they do get some mangled fucker back they try and score political points by using his patriotism against him.

    In one of Obama’s State of the Union speech he drug out a deformed vet with head trauma that could barely talk and used him as a political prop, and everybody on both sides of the aisle fell in line to give the sorry prick a standing O. Sickening..

  25. Sean says:
    @Oscar Peterson

    Unless you disagree with the ticking bomb hypothetical then the correctness of precautionary torture has been accepted in principle, and it does not matter what the golden rule has to say, nor international law either.

  26. @Sean

    “Unless you disagree with the ticking bomb hypothetical then the correctness of precautionary torture has been accepted in principle,…”

    It’s not at all clear that it has been accepted in principle–even by those promoting the use of torture.

    All that has been accepted–and promoted–is the right/duty of the US to use it in defense of US citizens and US interests. That is not truly a justification on the basis of principle. It’s expediency masquerading as principle.

    When have you heard a defense of torture articulated as a universal principle independent of the needs of the US? I haven’t heard it.

    • Replies: @Sean
  27. Zubaydah might be concealing details of an imminent terrorist attack along the lines of 9/11.

    Someone held largely incommunicado for the better part of two decades has information on an “imminent” attack? OK, let’s suspend disbelief, yet again.

  28. Sean says:
    @Oscar Peterson

    Implicit in the phrase “a universal principle” is that principle not synonymous with universal. Nor should it be for if I would like to be given a lot of money, does that means I must give my own money away to be consistent? Not wanting to be tortured might mean not torturing other people if you accept the golden rule.

  29. @Sean

    Sorry, but I don’t understand what you are saying here.

    • Replies: @Sean
  30. Sean says:
    @Oscar Peterson

    In 1963 the philosopher RM Hare said

    Put as briefly as possible, to think morally is, at least, to subject one’s own interests, where they conflict with those of other people, to a principle which one can accept as governing anyone’s conduct in like circumstances.

  31. @Sean

    OK–I guess I understand.

    The “principle” is that torture or whatever violence seems needed to address our perceived problems should be used as expedience dictates, because the “Golden Rule” is for chumps. The underlying idea is that the US has enough power to use torture on others and simultaneously deter them from using it–at least on Americans. Is that right?

    So in that case, the “principle” is merely a restatement of Thucydides’ formulation that the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

    In any case, the focus on the “ticking bomb” makes little sense to me. It’s a scenario so unlikely that to base a torture doctrine on is seems quite absurd. Virtually none of the torture that the US has used since 9/11 has involved such a scenario. But I suppose in an Orwellian world, using absurd scenarios to rationalize preferred courses of action has a kind of logic of its own–yes?

    I just saw your latest reply. So do you agree or disagree with Hare’s assertion? It seems to be directly opposed to what you’ve said so far.

    • Replies: @Sean
  32. anonymous[144] • Disclaimer says:

    Paying those “psychologists” so much was a waste of taxpayer money. Not that they care, of course. All they needed to do was go over the Spanish Inquisition and they’d have plenty of how-to material handy. The US has torturers on it’s payroll although the job description would be more oblique in print. No government apparently has ever had trouble finding people willing to commit murder, torture, brutality, drop bombs on weddings and funerals or any other depravity imaginable, the US included in this along with all other despotic regimes. No need to import foreigners to do the jobs Americans won’t do here.
    The US is always on some high horse lecturing others about human rights with continual media shows about nazis and commies even as those two haven’t been in existence for many years. It’s the US that’s destroyed the lives of millions of people around the world. It’s the US that’s terrorizing the world in the present day yet most Americans can’t see what’s right in front of them.

  33. Just to keep the baked dorm-room pseudo-philosophical bullshitting down to a dull roar, here’s the relevant law, to which all levels of government must come into conformity:

    Convention Against Torture, supreme law of the land under Constitution Article VI Clause 2, equivalent to federal statute per the Supreme Court’s The Paquete Habana decision,

    https://ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CAT.aspx

    With HRC General Comment 20 as authoritative interpretive guidance, in case some waterheads can’t comprehend the utterly obvious,

    https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/Training/Compilation/Pages/a)GeneralCommentNo20Prohibitionoftortureorothercruel,inhumanordegradingtreatmentorpunishment(article7)(1992).aspx

    And the most recent of serial declarations on torture, state and federal common law per the Supreme Court’s The Paquete Habana decision and Charming Betsy canon.

    https://ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/DeclarationTorture.aspx

    And common-law standards for objective investigation (what Durham was hired to worm out of,)

    https://ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/EffectiveInvestigationAndDocumentationOfTorture.aspx

  34. Wow–I always wondered whether torture was illegal under US law. And now I know.

    Are you expecting a Scooby Snack for dropping this at our feet?

  35. Fun fact: No one can be prosecuted for torture in the US. DoJ and State dreamed up legally void red tape to prevent prosecution so cops, screws, and CIA agents can keep on doing it. CIA even forced Congress to remove its two favorite torture methods from the War Crimes Act.

    US torture policy begins and ends with legal pretexts for manifestly illegal acts – Nazi-style procedure as justification, institutionalized by bona fide Nazi Reinhard Gehlen in his postwar CIA job.

  36. anonymous[144] • Disclaimer says:
    @Commentator Mike

    So why bother torturing Al Qaida operatives if Al Qaida is a CIA creation?

    Anybody they grab is declared a terrorist, Al-Qaeda member, enemy combatant. And we have to take their word for it, right?

  37. @Sean

    Whether you accept the “ticking bomb principle” or not, has no effect whatever on the international law accepted by the UN and signed up to by the US. I would add that the use of torture by the US does (obviously) NOT give any country the right to torture captured US personnel. A crime is a crime.

  38. anonymous[508] • Disclaimer says:
    @Oscar Peterson

    If some hostile force swept up 5 000 Americans random poll-like, from across the country, and subjected them to torture on any of a dozen questions of geopolitical import, 4995 of them would not be able to state a reality-based fact if their life depended on it.

    The majority of Americans are so ignorant and/or brainwashed they are “torture-resistant.”

    A genius scheme, really.

    Post script: re Gehlen & “bona fide Nazi”. Likbez 123 АБВ @ 36
    Not entirely accurate.
    wikipedia says Hitler fired him
    and that US / Allies hired him.
    He was German, but his skills were put to the use of Allies

  39. jsigur says:
    @Lot

    liars must create a climate of belief that supports their lies. of course fessing up about 911 would essentially make everything we’ve done concerning the war on terror a horrible crime. A great demonstration of the existence of a world government is demonstrated by te fact that all western governments and most others push the obvious lie that MUSLIMS were behind it and Jews never do anything wrong

  40. jsigur says:
    @Sean

    the torture question became relevant when governments used human rights issues to get elected and undermine the divine right of kings.
    we quickly discover when observing actions behind the curtain that those ruling over us respect human rights only in their political speeches but must sell the con since they sold the public the merits of the idea with the emergence of the oProtestant Revolution (necessary to first undermine the power of Catholicism and then the goy monarchs after their power was enhanced as a result)

  41. Sean says:
    @Oscar Peterson

    I agree that Hare gave a good definition of philosophic moral thinking, but torture was abolished under the influence of Christianity long before he wrote. It is only recently that people expected a reward in the afterlife and so pure moral arguments such as Hare’s are very modern. The way the terror suspect is tortured as a matter of course is not universalizable, for who wishes to be treated like that? But I don’t think moral thinking does heavy lifting in real world decisions, especially between shared fate groups.

    The underlying idea is that the US has enough power to use torture on others … ?

    If one does not have the power, then the question does not arise, and if torture does not work then the pragmatic rather than moral argument would then do the heavy lifting. Altruistically advocating against torture while saying it works would be a pure moral argument, but no one ever does that.

    A common assumption is that morality is both logical and synonymous with unaggressive courses of action, yet both John von Neumann and Bertrand Russell advocated a nuclear strike, or the threat of one, to prevent the Soviets acquiring their own atomic weapon capability.

    People, especially the collective groups of them called states, tend to do what they think will get them the extra power that is the only margin of safety in an uncertain world, but human calculations entail evolved “diminishing returns” assessments, which confer a basic aversion to risk. Subliminal conclusions that something is “too difficult and dangerous and would incur prohibitive retaliation” become articulated as “it would be immoral” in the conscious narrative.

    People thought torture was outlawed in Western society because it was immoral, but then a Western government officially ordered prisoners to be tortured just in case, which showed pure (secular) morality had been nothing much to do with why torture was abolished.

    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/what-trump-taught-us-about-american-democracy-214596
    Taboo-like rules usually have a history in two stages, MacIntyre argued. In the first stage, the rules are part of a social context that makes them intelligible and authoritative. In other words, they’re part of a worldview that gives them meaning and power—it might be a traditional religion, or it might be a political culture. But cultures change, and when they do, the rules that once made sense within them start to seem alien, outdated and pointless. This is the second stage: “Deprive the taboo rules of their original context and they at once are apt to appear as a set of arbitrary prohibitions, as indeed they characteristically do appear when the initial context is lost,” writes MacIntyre. “In such a situation the rules have been deprived of any status that can secure their authority.”

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