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May 05, 2011

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WHAT IS TORTURE?

The problem is we can't agree on what torture is and when interrogation methods can be ramped up to get information that fits the situation(threat). For example I am allergic to poison Ivy. I would be far more likely to admit to secrets if you threatened to rub it on me than I would if you questioned me for hours. And, is it torture to threaten to do something versus actually doing it? Waterboarding is in a way a threat to drown the suspect. We never actually drown him but we make him think we might or do we just make him uncomfortable knowing full well that we will not kill him?
Even you, Harrycat, in your piece against torture throw in the possible exception of imminient danger implying that you, yourself, might find a case that ok's torture. So that alone negates your argument and simply turns it into a case for us to determine when should harsh techniques be used and what is the limit on those techniques. If cutting off someones finger will save NY city from nuclear attack is it ok? What about 2 fingers? An Arm? And on and on---
So we will argue this issue to death as well. To me, if I can shoot a man who is holding a knife to a baby's throat to save the baby then it stands to reason that I can make a terrorist uncomfortable to get what he knows about threats to hundreds or thousands of people. Ever see the video of the beheading of the American by these guys? Make you want to waterboard anyone? If it were your son make a difference?
The reason we have a President and commanders who we hold acccountable for their actions is to make these judgements in the time of crisis. No real reason to bind their hands with rules and make them hide their actions in foreign countries. In the time of imminent danger they will take whatever action the deem necessary anyway and risk the consquences. You nor anyone else can define the precise boundaries of interregation and the situations in which extreme measures are necessary to implement. Can you?
For some reason, harrycat, I find it difficult to resist your challenges. Maybe Bill will address this issue soon.

What is it that prompts some of those on the right (or left) to insist that torture contributed to the killing of Osama bin Laden? Can't we agree that torture is illegal and immoral and should not be done? (I understand the case of imminent danger - a possible exception). The connection is very thin, so why insist that it is so?

Why do some now grasp at any thread to tie themselves to these dispicible acts? Perhaps because they didn't speak out during the last administration, or perhaps they considered torture reasonable then. But given hindsight, can't now we agree that this was a dark road and a stain on our national honor? If so, why hang onto the notion that torturing human beings was a good thing because it supposedly led to OBL? Or, can some not face their deeds and/or thoughts and for their and live in continuing denial?

Comments?

WHERE DID SECRECY GO?------

In my 12 years of work in the Top Secret intelligence area we committed to keep the country's secrets and kept our word. After the attack on bin Laden and the success that followed I feel like the flood gates have been opened on telling it all. Who did the attack? Who planned the attack? Where did the inteligence come from? What did we take away from his house? What did we learn? Who are the new leaders? What pictures can we see? Who made the decisions? Why is Hillary looking so scared? Are we going to reverse our Waterboarding policy? Are we going to pullout of Afghanistan? What signals did we intercept? What is that funny tail on the helicopter? Did he have a gun? Did he hide behind his wife?

Almost immediately Biden confirms the attack was made by Navy Seals. We have confirmed virtually every detail of the attack. The President is a fixture on 60 Minutes making sure that we know he not only made the decision to attack but he was actually helping to plan it. We have confirmed that the helicopters were stealth type. And, who flew them. We know how many computers and files we obtained. We have been told that there was a planned 9-11 Tenth Anniversary attack planned. We know how much money was sewn into his coat. Etc.

Now don't get me wrong--I'm happy we got him. But I'd like to get as many as we can. And, secrecy helps. If we are going to go back to waterboarding I'd like them not to know. It is beginning to appear that we are campaigning on one success. But, campaign on the results not the details. Last night one Navy Seal was quick to point out that it would be nice if the media would leave the Seals alone so that they can maintain their low profile, focus on training and do what they do best: hide in the dark and get ready for their next mission. There is a little hypocrisy in liberals who so quickly chasitzed everything Bush did to get elected are now so quick to divuldge every detail of their kill to get some credablity as hawks. We were working on stealth technology in the 60's. It did not come out until the '93 Gulf War. That's the way it's supposed to work. They call it National Security for a reason. Just a thought.

It deserves to be noted that torture is illegal under American law and immoral by any religious standard that I am aware of. Those who support it (such as at last nights Rep debates) have abandoned the high ground and spoken to the worst of our instincts. We all should demand more of ourselves and our representatives.

In addition, the thread of waterboarding to the death of Bin Laden is thin indeed. Old fashioned spook work got it done. It is a mighty stretch to credit the previous admin for this result. Instead they should be condemned.

Dick, I disagree. Bill has written a conservative view of the circumstances and the prior actions of both administrations. I see no great distortion of the facts or even much negative conjecture in Bill's comments. In the end whoever got bin Laden be it Bush, Obama or another country was assurred the appreciation of the US, the west and likely most of the Muslim community who have been put to shame by this man. Obama pulled the trigger and deserves the credit for doing so. It was done on his watch and therefore the Lion's share of the credit goes to his administration. But, none should forget that the Bush administration in the first response and in the month's and early years following the 9-11 attack set in motion the security and intelligence changes that have kept us very safe ever since and kept bin Laden and his terrorist pals in hiding ever since. Let's move on. Liberals will always have liberal views and conservatives will always have theirs. We will not agree on all approaches to our problems. But, we can appreciate good work by both sides when it occurs. nothing personal here but just because Bill presents thoughts you disagree with does not diminish his credability in my view. Thanks for your thoughts.

Bill: This one is really unfair. Bush blew it in Tora Bora. Obama did it and showed great courage. Even Dick Cheany said it better. I hate to see such a partasian take on a straight forward foreign policy issue. It tells me that no matter what Obama does, he can't do anything right in your mind. Frankly, that's very harmful to your credibility. Such a positing is particuarly discouraging from a person I so highly regard. Enought said. Dick

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