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Blog against torture day - Zer Netmouse
March 28th, 2008
09:15 am

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Blog against torture day
So today is the day when we're supposed to influence the world by blogging against torture. I kind of feel like when I'm asked to write to my congressman to tell him how I feel. My senator is CARL LEVIN. I don't have to tell him how I feel --he and I are AS ONE on the political spectrum and my asking him to vote on something a certain way will not change his vote because it was already going to be what I was going to ask for.

Here, I'm sure a wider group of people read this, and I don't expect us to be AS ONE, but still. You guys all get this, right? Torture is wrong and it doesn't work. Making it doubly wrong.

We have a number of documents both internal to the US and international that supposedly stand to tell us and the world that torture is something we WILL NOT DO, not to our own citizens, and not to others. We also have a president and administration who like to ignore most of the pieces of paper that have writing on them abridging their power to diddle wherever they like. But we're going to fix that, right?

Right?

Because it's WRONG.

That and it's STUPID if we want a solid basis from which to argue that OUR soldiers and ambassadors and everyday citizens should not have to fear torture in other countries. Which of course they should not. Nobody should have to fear that. It should, like, go away. Bzzt. (Imagine that Ruby Red radio guy in the Fifth Element waving his hand there. Go Away. Bzzt.)*

Are we all clear on that? Does anyone have a different opinion/perspective,etc.? Because I sure don't want to believe I'm preaching to the choir when there's actually someone who needs speaking to.

So speak up if you disagree.

* reference corrected. Thanks Matt!

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
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From:plasmonicgrid
Date:March 28th, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC)
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Are we talking "waterboarding" as a form of torture, or something that's really torture like?
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From:netmouse
Date:March 28th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)
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Is waterboarding that thing where you pour water steadily down someone's throat until they're forced to inhale water and they feel like they're going to drown and you could drown them if you felt like it but you probably won't?

How do you define "really torture like"?






[User Picture]
From:plasmonicgrid
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, that's waterboarding. It sucks to be on the receiving end. But, when it comes down to it.. I'd take a a couple weeks of that over 10 mins of some of this shit: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0524072torture1.html

I'm under the understanding that torture based information gathering doesn't guarantee reliable information. I'd admit to just about anything to make the gentleman on the other end of that blowtorch believe me. Why, with enough patiences and attention to detail, I bet he could get me to admit that I was his lover for 10years, and that I needed to apologize for breaking up with him.

I've found that I'm more of a fan of pharmaceutic based interrogation. You restrain the prisoner, shoot them with a cocktail of drugs.. All of a sudden, he thinks I'm god standing in front of him, and all he wants to do is tell me about anything I want to know about. Not much in the way of physical damage will occur.. and no where the amount of psychological trauma to the prisoner, or to the one doing the torturing (which I haven't heard that much about).

However, If we get to the point where we no longer use torture at all, we'll move to those drugs. Not so bad then? If it works that well with prisoners of war, what's to stop them from deciding to start implementing that on the populous? (yeah yeah.. men in black breaking in and kidnapping innocents, and other conspiracy stuff)

I'm not terribly thrilled at waterboarding, and remarkably less so with other forms of torture. But I'm a bit scared of where some of the alternatives could lead.
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From:plasmonicgrid
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:10 pm (UTC)
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I don't have a better suggestion, aside from everyone being nice to each other for a change.
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From:vylar_kaftan
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
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Are we counting things like American Idol and waiting in line at the DMV?
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From:netmouse
Date:March 28th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
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Heh... well, if American Idol was being forced on you in an involuntary setting...


Our secretary of state's office has actually gotten pretty efficient. A friend of mine was just telling me about the other day when she got in line there and had her guy go get her a coffee next door and she almost got to the front of the line before he went back. Of course, her story was supposed to illustrate how long getting coffee too...
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From:knightlygoddess
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
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(Imagine the bad guy in the Fifth Element waving his hand there. Go Away. Bzzt.)

I'm totally there. ;)

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From:scottij
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
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Writing to Carl Levin may not change his mind, since as you said he's a great Senator and already agrees. But then again, it always helps for him to know how many people support his position.

And of course, you could write to the President and Vice President to express your concern. You probably won't change their mind either, but it would help for them to know how many people oppose their position. Imagine 5 million letters from 5 million people saying they oppose the use of torture.

And for the other poster, yes, waterboarding is torture. Just because there are worse forms of torture doesn't mean it isn't still torture.
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From:netmouse
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
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nod. I do write to Carl about some things, still, or call the office, but mostly I wish other people would get their Senators in line. And I should write to Dingell, too, I'm just still pissed about losing Rivers...

I used to write to the White House fairly often, but it's been years. Maybe I should renew the habit.
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From:knightlygoddess
Date:March 28th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
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I've written to the White House 6 times this year, and gotten 6 form letters back. It angers me because I feel like they treat actual letters of concern and/or opinion like fanmail.

I write to my Representative more than I write to the Senators. My representative actually hand-wrote me a reply once (sure, it might not have been him, but it's still possible that it was), and I feel like when I write to him I actually might be reaching a person with some power to represent my views.
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From:matt_arnold
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
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I strongly agree.

Except I totally disagree about the Fifth Element! It was not Gary Oldman as Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg who made that noise and gesture in that movie, it was Chris Tucker as Ruby Red!

I guess that's the only argument that torture is appropriate.
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From:netmouse
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
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oo eek! you know, I wondered if I had that right...

From:nicegeek
Date:March 28th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
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I agree with the sentiment, though I suspect that focusing attention here isn't likely to be productive: The current administration isn't going to change its policy, and there's no way that Congress is going to get the votes to override a veto to force it to do so. Since all of the remaining Presidential contenders are strongly against torture, the issue is almost certainly going to go away next January.
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From:netmouse
Date:March 28th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
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well, we also need to get rid of all the congresscritters etc who support the president. Replacing the president is important but inevitable, I agree. Wish we could do it faster, but it doesn't seem likely.

I suppose one value of speaking out against it is that someone not in the US might notice and discover the fact that most of us disagree with the administration. I'm always sad about how many people out in the world seem to think the administration and the country's views are as one.
From:nicegeek
Date:March 28th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
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Well, from many of the interviews I've seen, a lot of foreigners initially assumed that it was just Bush and not the American people. However, once he was re-elected, they (understandably) broadened their blame.
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From:cos
Date:March 28th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
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Since all of the remaining Presidential contenders are strongly against torture

If McCain really were as strongly against torture as his public image, it would've ended already. He was a key part of a Senate uprising that almost forced its way on the Bush administration in the last Senate, but then Bush won him over and he caved in on a compromise that preserved his ability to say he voted against torture while preserving Bush's authority to ignore it. Weak and unprincipled. Recently, he gave up even the ability to clearly say he voted against torture, when the US Senate passed a strong bill clearly limiting the CIA to the interrogation techniques approved for the army, and McCain voted against it. That bill would have prohibited waterboarding and other forms of torture the CIA is currently allowed to use, except that Bush vetoed it anyway so it didn't become law.

Don't trust McCain on this. Ever since he converted to Bushism in 2004 he's been completely unprincipled and unreliable. The McCain of 2000 lives on in the public mind, but that McCain is gone.
From:nicegeek
Date:March 28th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
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Ever since he converted to Bushism in 2004 he's been completely unprincipled and unreliable.

I think that assertion is painting with too broad a brush. For one thing, it suggests that one should only consider the last four years of a 25-year congressional career. It would, however, be very interesting (though I haven't the time) to examine the voting records of the three candidates to see how often each had voted against the majority of their own party. I'd be willing to bet that McCain has stood up to the Republicans on more issues than either Clinton or Obama have dared oppose the Democrats on. Climate change, campaign-finance reform, torture, judicial filibusters, stem-cell research, immigration, and affirmative action, to name a few.

I'd agree that he's sometimes compromised on issues where I wish he wouldn't have, but that's a long way from becoming "completely unprincipled and unreliable". Sometimes, being willing to compromise is the only way to get something done in politics.
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From:cos
Date:March 28th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
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I don't think either of those metrics is really meaningful. Mere voting doesn't tell you a whole lot unless you know the context: what the bill meant, what amendments were and weren't offerred, what other options were being discussed, who tried to organize what with other Senators, etc. Voting with or apart from the majority of one's party is even trickier. In both cases, it depends heavily on who's in the majority, since the party that controls the chamber can decide what legislation goes to a vote in what order, and can arrange that to either drive wedges in the minority party's voting (if they want to make something "bipartisan" or overcome a filibuster threat) or to unify the other party, if they want a strict party line vote on something. There's also, of course, the substance of the legislation: in general, I support most of the legislation that a majority of Democrats have supported in the past several Congresses and therefore I want to see a Senator who voted for those pieces of legislation most of the time (so I would prefer a Democrat who voted with his/her party more often).

As for McCain, no, I've followed him closely for years and the brush I paint him with is entirely fair. I used to respect him a lot (though I mostly didn't agree with him on policy) and was extremely disappointed when he made his big choice in 2004 to make peace with Bush and actively campaign all-out for him. That also entailed a bunch of other things, like dropping his opposition to the Christian right, something I used to respect him for. And, yes, it entailed dropping his opposition to torture, too, which is unconscionable. He did it all for the Iraq war. To him, supporting the continuation of the occupation of Iraq was such a high priority that it was worth compromising most of his principles and repudiating much of what he stood for in the past. He is a sad, sad man, and contemptible, despite his occasional flashes of good.
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From:cos
Date:March 28th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
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In the 110th Congress, Obama has voted with the majority of Democrats 96.7%, Clinton 97.2%.
McCain has voted with the majority of Republicans 88.3%. Though, you know, some bills get voted on 30+ times while others only get voted on a couple of times, so the percentages don't mean as much as knowing which votes those were. Still, voting with the 100th Congress Republicans 88.3% of the time sounds pretty awful to me (though not as bad as voting with them more often), considering the things they've been voting for/against :)
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From:arkaycee
Date:March 29th, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC)
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It's a sad commentary on American life that the TV series 24 has, according to some surveys (sorry, don't have any links available @ the mo; these two things were months apart and I just this second put them together) both helped Americans' comfort level with the possibility of an African-American President, and also helped convince more Americans that torture is absolutely necessary and protecting us constantly from nuclear holocaust.

Yes, if there ever REALLY is a case where we have one hour to find and defuse a nuclear bomb, and the one person who really knows where it is is holding out on us, I'd say sure, torture him. Torture can still be illegal and the law can recognize extenuating circumstances when the torturer is tried. HOWEVER, that sort of scenario hasn't been shown to be the case in any of the people whom this Government has tortured -- I'm sure if it were true, they'd have found a way to crow about it as an example of the effectiveness of torture, rather than just make vague "well, it's saved American lives" statements (our Government has become quite good at saying "trust us, this {insert policy that goes against human rights, privacy, and dignity) has saved lives" without ever giving anything more concrete.

Indeed, some of the stories I've read/heard on the news have shown that our torturing done exactly what torture tends to do -- gotten those tortured to spin sexy-sounding yarns that have sent our Government on wild-goose chases.

And even waterboarding, while causing no long-term physical damage, has been shown to cause lifetime post-traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks. Those arguing for it say "well, these people are the worst of the bad," yet in some cases we've grabbed the wrong person; also, most of those Gitmo detainees were captured by soldiers, ya know, 17-year-olds in the heat of battle who have acted as judge and jury because when the soldiers shot, those being shot at shot back. Or we offered money for them to turn in al-Qaeda members, and gee, amazing, people were sent to Gitmo or Abu Ghraib based merely on tales of "yes, he is al-Qaeda all rightee... I saw him consorting with black cats ... I mean Osama ... now where's my $500?"
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