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Author Topic: When is Waterboarding AWESOME?
scifibum
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quote:
Simply put, unless you believe something outside of the physical controls human thought processes, then that damage is physical.
I'm guessing that Tom's point was probably that the subjective experience was equally bad either way, during that particular slice of time, so the act isn't OK even if there is (hypothetically) no lasting damage.

The fact that it would be hard to create conditions where there is no lasting damage is important if you're designing torture methods, but probably not to the point being made.

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The Drake
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WP: The fraternity argument has been made before, and it has become no more relevant to torture. Fraternity brothers sometimes get branded as well, but I don't think anyone is saying that makes it okay to apply a hot wire hanger to someone's skin during interrogation.


EDanall:

I appreciate what you're saying. What are you going to do when you use your effective method to torture someone, and they still insist they are innocent and don't know anything about Al-Qaida? Are you going to own up to your mistake publicly, and give him a boatload of cash? Or will you dump him off in some remote country? Or will you simply continue to imprison and torture him?

There is an argument here for torture used similar to the death penalty. Sentence someone to torture based on due process, with real proof, not the word of some goat-herder in Afghanistan.

The reason why people like me figure this to become incorrectly applied or commonplace, is because the people making these decisions have already demonstrated how careless they've been. Or was everyone imprisoned in Abu Graib a terrorist? Were even the ones tortured all terrorists?

As Wayward said earlier, this is a dangerous power to give anyone. To give it to people with no oversight or process is simply reckless.

Wouldn't you feel absurd to propose building waterboarding into our process? Military tribunals declaring a prisoner qualified for "aggressive interrogation techniques"? I tend to think that we prefer it to be shady. We don't want our government to declare proudly that we waterboard regularly. And I think it is because we are ashamed that our fear has pushed us so far from our values.

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Daruma28
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quote:
And I think it is because we are ashamed that our fear has pushed us so far from our values.
My declaration of approval for waterboarding notwithstanding, I am starting to really come around to this way of thinking. I noticed CCTV everywhere in the UK and nanny-state PSA's plastered all over walls, billboards and buses...and I don't think the USA is too far behind.

Fred Reed writes in his most recent column:


quote:
“Went to the Marine marathon this morning and will go to the finish line later today, perfect weather for it. But so bizarre, cops everywhere, police boats in the Potomac, helicopters buzzing around. And something I haven't seen before, police dogs sniffing around and portable guard towers, like at the corners of prison yards, set up on high places with guys in armor and big rifles. Lots of them in the carillon. Possibly the highest security I have ever seen.”

More police with more powers, swatted-out, more militarized. (For a foot race.) Recorded warnings in subways to watch other passengers and turn them in if they behave strangely. More cameras everywhere. Blast-proof trashcans on Metro. Surly border guards, increasingly intrusive in their questioning, keep records of the books you read. Shoe searches at airports, confiscation of toothpaste and shampoo. Warrantless tapping of telephones. Warrantless searches on the subways of New York, with no pretense of probable cause.

Why this rush toward enforced conformity and regimentation? I figure it’s something in the water. Or maybe the country is just ready for thought-policed authoritarianism.

While I was initially in favor of the PATRIOT Act and warrantless wiretaps et al on foreign correspondance, what I used to shrug off as anti-Bush dementia, I must admit and concede that there has been plenty of reported instances where the powers sought by Bush to combat terrorism has been abused by Government agencies to investigate and prosecute American citizens.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by KonerAtHome:
Is waterboarding torture? As long as one person out there thinks that it is then yes it is and I agree that there shouldn't be any debate over whether it is or isn't torture.

You know, I'm not sure why so many people even ask this question. It's torture alright. Anyone thinking it's not torture can try it out. Put a few inches of water in the tub, lay face down and have your buddy tie your hands and stand on your back until he thinks you had enough - then have him stand there another 10-20 seconds before the lets you up. After you get through vomiting (and you most likely will vomit), he should do it again. Oh hell yeah, it's torture.

quote:
Originally posted by KonerAtHome:
With my personal history I doubt that I would be able to hold out very long and I would most likely sing like a canary if I were ever subjected to it. But perhaps because of my personal history I would be able to withstand it to great degree. Regardless, I would much rather be submitted to waterboarding than to any form of torture that causes more lasting physical pain.

I wouldn't last long either but your personal history nor miine has nothing to do with it. I've never been waterboarded but I have been forcibly held down underwater for repeated and extended times. Drowning/suffocation is an innate human fear to which none of us are immune (ranks up there with burning to death). A couple near drowning experiences is more than enough to loosen your tongue. Nobody lasts long when being drowned - it's pretty damn scary. Subsequent near drownings are even worse than the first one; the anticipation is a real killer.
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Jesse
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So, if waterboarding is ok, why isn't forcable sodomy with a foreign object?

Or, is it?

Both can be performed without lasting physical harm, or anything aproaching organ failure or death.

[ November 06, 2007, 09:13 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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KnightEnder
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quote:
Originally posted by Kent:
I'm pretty sure that the fate of the world hangs on the balance of what we here on Ornery decide on this matter. I, for one, put my lot in with

You're right. And a thousands boards and millions of people around the world. [Frown]

Global Community. Are we the Shining City on the Hill or The Evil Empire?

KE

[ November 06, 2007, 09:58 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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cherrypoptart
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Just in case anyone is curious, Tom Clancy had a book in which a suspect was interrogated in a sendep tank, was kept in complete darkness without sensation for a very extended period of time, until he believed the only voice he heard must be God, and he spilled the beans. No lasting physical harm. Torture?
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Jesse
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Are you aware that the brain is an organ?
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velcro
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The Drake has a good point. If torture really works, and is really necessary, then it should be institutionalized. Get a judge to publicly approve torture (method unspecified) for a particular person (preferably specified). After 10 years the value of the information obtained could be made public as well, so we could evaluate the effectiveness. (Note: I am personally not in favor of this. I do not want the government performing torture for my benefit, even if it may save my life or the life of my family.)

Alternatively, government operatives could use torture in emergency situations, and turn themselves in for committing the crime of torture once the emergency is over. If it will really save many lives, any public servant should be willing to throw themselves on the mercy of the court after the fact. But if you are afraid that torture isn't *really* necessary, you will think twice about doing it.

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Jesse
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Option two works a lot better, and - hey presto - we already have it. Jury nullification is a double edged sword.

No jury will convict if it can be shown that the torture really resulted in lives being spared. No way, no how.

As far as institutionalizing "limited" torture and using special torture warrants, Israel tried that. I'm sure Ricky can tell you how well it worked out.

Starts out with an immediate grave threat requirement, winds up with 12 year olds with torn rotator cuffs 'cause they wouldn't give up their rock chucking buddies.

After two decades, and those wonderfull protective results we've witnessed on cable news channels for that entire period, the Israeli Supreme Court put the kibosh on it.

In a few limited circumstances, it probably saved a few lives short term, but the long term result was more folks willing to die rather than be captured.

________________________
Why were the Germans so much more willing to surrender en masse to us than to the Soviets?

Why was the Iraqi Army so willing to surrender en masse to us?

Because of our reputation of treating prisoners well. When you wish to change the behavior of others, what works best is a carrot and a stick.

Stick - we'll blow you to tiny bits.

Carrot - you live, and play shuffle board and get three hot meals a day untill this is over.

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cherrypoptart
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Another alternative is that this could go on in secret and we never know about it until we all eventually end up in death trapped cubes. Are there wartime secrets that should never be made public? If we wait until ten years after this war is over, that's probably going to be ten years from the abolition of Islam, which may well be over 2010 years from now.
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potemkyn
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Gentlemen,

Some perspective from history.

In the mid-1200s, most of continental Europe employed legalized, standardized, and regulated torture for capital crimes. What is incredible, is the degree to which theoretical torture was developed and thought out. There are reems of journals on the subject and some of the most brilliant legal minds of the times sought ways to develop Christian means to torture.

A bit of background on the 'necessity' of torture in the middle ages. Legal practice required the "queen of proofs" in order to judge someone guilty. This "queen" was either a confession by the accused or eyewitness accounts (preferably two). According to the legal practices of the middle ages, in the absence of such evidence, there was no way to convict anyone of a crime. Thus without eyewitnesses to a crime, there was no way to convict a criminal without them confessing to the crime.

There were two ways around this problem. One, scrap the whole thing, like the English did, and just accept circumstantial evidence. Or you allow for limited and 'humane' torture to be practiced.

These forms of torture included the rack, waterboarding, and the strappado (being hung by your hands for an indefinite period). Any torture which would result in permenant damage, bloodletting, or death was expressly forbidden. Additionally, if the tortures violated any of the many rules surrounding torture, then the case was to be thrown out and ended there. Lastly, torture was to be a one time deal only. In theory, torture was supposed to give the legal system a way to catch criminals while also not hurting the innocent permenantly.

This sounds good, but it hardly was this way in practice.

Now, add to this formula a threat of an unseen enemy who threatens the very fabric of society. An enemy who can appear without warning, kill without regard for their own personal safety, and uses fantastic and creative means of disrupting life. I am of course refering to witches.

The same methods used by the United States against Khalid Sheik Mohammed netted thousands of witches throughout Western Europe in the Middle Ages and into the Renaisannce. They signed confessions in droves, and if you read them, you'll be impressed by the level of detail and sheer force of will given to these stories. They sound real. They have explinations and rituals which are repeated by multiple people all over Europe. But it's all bogus. It's all a fraud. Some people are stupid and make up stories because they think they can get away with it. Some just go nuts and are egged by overeager prosecuters. Most are scared and just do what their jailers tell them to do because they are tortured for days, weeks, or months.

Some final thoughts:
1) Torture always gets out of hand because by using torture on someone you assume they are guilty. Once you assume that, it becomes a moral imperative to get the confession/information. Torture will almost always yield some information, but if the person is not guilty, you better believe that information will be false. But if the information must be had, then it is a sure bet that the 'niceties' of regulated torture will be bent.

2) Witch trials in which torture was used had significantly higher conviction rates than those without them. Abuse of the torture led to an almost 100% conviction rate. Coincidence? Most likely not. Still, were there really any witches back then? I'm going to go with no.

3) Because torture assumes guilt prior to trial, it is completely contrary to the American judicial system and legal code. It goes against American norms. This assumption leads to police abuse and general miscarriages of justice.

4) Jesse is right that torture shows an incredible degree of seperation between American professed Christianity and physically expressed Christianity. That makes me sad.

5) You will always get results from torture. It's just impossible to tell whether you are netting 40 witches or 40 terrorists. Or even if they are one and the same.

Potemkyn

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Torture?"

Reading Tom Clancy.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"But how far down can you define torture? If waterboarding is torture, then a bunch of kids in this country have been tortured by their friends and siblings while rough-housing around cushions and pillows, or in the pool, and gone on being friends afterward."

But it wasn't legally sanctioned by the highest authority in the land.

"Anyone have a good source on what makes torture, torture?"

Deliberately inflicting pain for the purpose of inflicting pain. It's really simple.

War is projection of political power by force including lethal measures. It is hideously vicious in execution, but rational and often nobly aimed. (See: 10,000 reasons for invading Iraq.)

Because it has a specific and easily verified result (conquering the other nation's willingness to continue fighting) it can be morally rationalized, that is, we can creates Laws of War. Geneva Convention, et cetera.

Torture is something else. It's bullying. Sadism. ****ing with someone. It consistently eludes any attempt to be rational, morally or otherwise, because raw pain is inchoate and has only one meaning: !STOP! (Even masochists pursue pain with the purpose of reaching the point of stoppage.)

Torture is used to:

a) punish

Children need only one brief tiny taste of the stove to learn what punishment by pain teaches.)

b) coerce

This is slavery.

c) extract confessions

This produces wildly irrational gobbledygook in which truth and anything goes are given equal weight by the confessor since the confessor has only one goal: make the pain stop.

d) **** with people

This is aptly summarized by the pulling of wings off living flies.

People do this kind of stuff all the time. One of the main reasons governments are tolerated by the people is because a) they are tortured into it (despotism) or b) it protects them from torture (humane governance).

Who condones despotism?

Who wants humane governance?

It's really very simple.

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WarrsawPact
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quote:
Anyone have a good source on what makes torture, torture?

Deliberately inflicting pain for the purpose of inflicting pain. It's really simple.

Not really.

You go on to describe the actual intentions of torturers. Punishment and coercion can be rationalized, even if they're not just. Using torture to extract good information, if it can be done even a fraction of the time, can be rationalized too. F***ing with people, as you put it, can have political ends.

But is the intention what defines torture? Is it a certain level of pain, or any pain at all? Or is it any form of compulsion, including an inducement of panic or some other fear? How long must the pain or other reaction last before it graduates to torture?

I ask because I've seen people deliberately cause others pain for all those purposes (yes, including extracting confession), without it approaching anything that a bystander would call "torture".

I'm not trying to frustrate any and all definitions of torture. I just want a solid concept.

[ November 07, 2007, 02:16 AM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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Of course the means of deliberately inflicting pain can be assigned rational ends. But so long as one approaches those rational ends through the raw inflicting of pain, rationality there is not.

I know insane people who are seriously rational about their hallucinations and delusions.

But they're still insane.

Torture is deliberately inflicting pain. Whether you twist the young boy's ear to make him obey or electrify a woman's genitals to create a rumor of terror upon her release from jail, the only rational aspect is that you know it will hurt ande have some idea of how much infliction will cause how much pain.

"I ask because I've seen people deliberately cause others pain for all those purposes (yes, including extracting confession), without it approaching anything that a bystander would call "torture"."

I thought you wanted a solid definition, not an impression from The Man on the Street.

As for when deliberate infliction of pain is torture, there is no objective definition but what we consensually agree on within a sphere of authority.

As for subjective definitions of torture, well, that's between you, your neurology, and your torturer.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"But is the intention what defines torture? "

Behold:

"Deliberately inflicting pain for the purpose of inflicting pain. It's really simple."

One can kill a man with every effort to cause as little pain as possible. Icepicks are good for that. Ice picks are also great for creating intolerable pain. Assuming average knowledge of anatomy, the main difference is intent.

Deliberately causing pain to extract a confession is deliberately causing pain. One could deliberately cause identical pain in one's subject in order to provide sexual stimulation for a sexual sadist.

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WarrsawPact
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quote:
I thought you wanted a solid definition, not an impression from The Man on the Street.

As for when deliberate infliction of pain is torture, there is no objective definition but what we consensually agree on within a sphere of authority.

I do want a solid definition. But torture is a more defined concept than what you've presented, I think.

And as for your next post: thank you, we've already covered the fact that torture must be a deliberate act. What I'm more interested in is your use of the words, "for the purpose of".

And "what we consensually agree on within a sphere of authority" is pretty weak. We don't seem to agree on it. We're struggling with the concept. It's a hot political and ethical issue. So let's have us an argument about why someone would accept a particular definition as useful.

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0Megabyte
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So, in search of a definition:

What do people consider torture?

If we all saw someone being strapped down and electrocuted, would we call it torture?

If we saw people being whipped, is that torture?

If we saw someone semi-drowned, is that torture?

The rack? Why?

Hot coals? Why?

Forcing one to take drugs, then not giving them the drugs they are not addicted to? Why?

Forcing one to consume vast amounts of water or alcohol? Why?

Etc.

Which of these is torture? Is it obvious? Why are the ones you consider torture, torture, and what is the difference between those that are not?

Serious questions, I added a couple that might not be obvious amongst a few obvious ones. But your obvious ones and mine might vary. That's why I'm asking.

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Straygaldwyr
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See... torture helped us stomp out witches so well that it has taken all this time for them to reemerge...imagine whole generations thinking there never were any terrorists! A beautiful thing...
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DonaldD
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Am I the only one who wonders whether stray is being humorous here?
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Funean
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I've been unable to parse the seriousness-to-satire ratio for days now. I think my parser has been shorted out.
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Omega M.
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This doesn't make it right, but if we've been "torturing" people since 9/11, doesn't it suggest it's working? I mean, maybe I just don't want to believe the worst about Americans, but I can't imagine our interrogators would be using harsh methods all this time just because they want to see some Arabs suffer.
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Everard
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"This doesn't make it right, but if we've been "torturing" people since 9/11, doesn't it suggest it's working?"

There weren't any witches in salem after the salem witch trials. I guess torture worked then, too?

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Paladine
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quote:
There weren't any witches in salem after the salem witch trials. I guess torture worked then, too?
Were there witches before the Salem Witch trials?

Were there terrorist attacks on American soil before 9/11?

This analogy doesn't work.

--------------------------------------------

quote:
This doesn't make it right, but if we've been "torturing" people since 9/11, doesn't it suggest it's working? I mean, maybe I just don't want to believe the worst about Americans, but I can't imagine our interrogators would be using harsh methods all this time just because they want to see some Arabs suffer.
Correlation doesn't prove causation. A multitude of changes have been made since 9/11. Consequently, to ascribe the lack of successful terrorist attacks on American soil to any one of these measures, either in whole or in part, is to take a radical leap of logic, absent the demonstration of some *causal* rather than correlative relationship between the two variables.

You could just as easily ascribe the lack of terrorist attacks to the wars in the Middle East, the color coded alert system, tightened airport security, or the fact that I've had a driver's license since 2001.

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TomDavidson
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Paladine, I think you missed the original point and Ev's sarcasm. [Smile]
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Paladine
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No, I quite understood both. Ev was saying that Omega's statement was just about as valid as saying that torture worked in Salem because there were no witches after the trials. My point was that there were no witches before the trials either, where there really *were* terrorist attacks before 9/11. What do you think I was missing?
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Omega M.
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What I meant to say was, if our "torture" methods weren't giving us useful information, would we really still be using them? I would think (but maybe I'm just hoping) that if the information we were getting from the tortured individuals wasn't useful, we'd stop torturing them.

I wasn't saying that the lack of terrorist attacks in America "proves" that torture is working.

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TomDavidson
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No, see, you missed Omega's point. He wasn't arguing that the lack of attacks since 9/11 proves that it works -- because that's silly -- but rather that we wouldn't still be torturing captives after four years if we weren't getting something out of it.
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Paladine
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Whoops! Thanks for clearing that up guys. Going on no sleep. [Wink]

I actually don't disagree with Omega in that case.

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RickyB
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OK, deleted due to being a dumbass who doesn't read the thread prior to posting.

Omega - please, please read "The One Percent Doctrine". We torture people, go chasing their lies all over the world, and keep doing it. You really have to understand the One Percent Doctrine - it's not about results. It's not about logic. It's about "everything is a certainty and so everything is ok, regardless of efficacy, cause we're just gonna throw the kitchen sink at the problem".

[ November 07, 2007, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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TommySama
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Should I read it, too??
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WeAreAllJust LooseChange
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Daruma,

You are a despicable human being for expressing the opinion that waterboarding is AWESOME!

I don't feel safer since 9/11
I don't feel more "protected" from terrorism
Just the opposite.

As an American I feel even more hatered towards our country and towards our government since our practice of torture and the practice of Extraordinary Renditions (kidnapping people off the streets to send them to 3rd party countries to be tortured) were revealed. Not to forget Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay prison and all the nice things we do to "protect" our "freedom".

Have a lousy day!

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DonaldD
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Oh come on - Daruma is a despicable human being, but that has nothing to do with this thread.
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cherrypoptart
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The people whose lives were saved by these methods would throw the people who used these methods to save their lives into jail. And would deny that these methods saved anything. Now that's gratitude for you.
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WeAreAllJust LooseChange
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Donald - you want me to argue if torture is torture?

We can argue all day long what is actually what (and some has been doing this for ages...).
What is freedom? What is murder? What is love?
I think what we should argue is what we want to become as human race and what we want to achieve in the future.

Patching never fixes the problem, same way as killing couple of "terrorists" and torturing even more people will not fix the underlying issues that cause extremism in one direction or another.

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Daruma28
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I don't know if I can live with myself any longer.

WAAJLC just told me I'm a despicable human being.

And Donald just agreed.

I could just die.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The people whose lives were saved by these methods would throw the people who used these methods to save their lives into jail. And would deny that these methods saved anything. Now that's gratitude for you.
That's also basic logic.
If you don't grant that someone's methods saved your life, or don't want your life saved by those methods, why should you be grateful to someone for using those methods?

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KnightEnder
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I still like you Daruma.

KE

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DonaldD
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me too, Daruma. I don't care if you are despicable. [Smile] (I thought the dripping sarcasm directed towards WAAJLC was obvious, but just in case)
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