Potomac Fever is the blog of the Hamilton College Semester in Washington Program.
Eric Holder is a great American. Why shouldn't the Department of Justice prosecute CIA officials who committed international and domestic crimes by torturing prisoners?
I don't understand this whole new conservative/ conservative media spin to make it seem like torture aka waterboarding and other advanced interrogation techniques, led us to bin Laden's location. The last time we used those techniques was 2006 I believe. I don't think they are getting this information from anywhere inside the government or reality, they just want to politicize something to make Obama look bad and Bush look good.
Why wouldn't we have gotten him earlier? I understand that some of the intelligence gotten from those techniques was useful, but I am a believer that they could have gotten that other ways. Also, I'm not totally anti-torture. If we had a 24 type situation (highly unlikely, I know, but I'm a big fan of the show) I'd be totally down with any interrogation or torture. I just don't like how us killing bin Laden is turning into an opportunity for proponents of certain policies to take credit for what happened.Also, totally unrelated, but here's a funny bit of hypocrisy from Bush official John Yoo, who seems to think that Obama requiring disclosure from government contractors is more a violation of law than the government crushing a child's testicles:http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/29/971038/-Yoo:-President-can-order-childs-testicles-crushed,-not-contractor-transparency-
Also, TJE, I didn't peg you as a pro-torture guy. Thought you were more libertarian on that kindof thing.
Already read that, TJE. I think Yoo is overestimating how much bin Laden could have/ would've told us. Also, someone who thinks it's ok to crush a child's testicles during interrogation loses some serious points in my book as a credible "expert".
Panetta said that enhanced interrogation techniques produced information as did Rumsfeld. I really doubt the people who gave up information would have given it up without some kind of threat or torture. Whether they could have found Bin Laden without this information is questionable. Given the fact that torture helped us find Osama I don't think it's unreasonable to reopen the torture debate. I think the left would have a better argument if they just said yeah, it can help us get information, but it is still wrong rather than freaking out that it was brought up at all and saying that it played no part in getting osama.I for one am not a big fan of torture. I just think Holder should have given this one up a while ago. These guys were following orders, and trying to keep us safe. Plus torturing prisoners is an international and domestic crime, but shooting an unarmed man in the head is not? I tend to think they are both acceptable in certain situations. War is not pretty.
PBM, I think you mischaracterize Yoo's response to a strange hypothetical,
I think PBM and Megan make good points. I agree with you to an extent Megan that if they were ordered to torture that is one thing (even though there are problems with that. What you are describing is essentially the Nuremberg defense.) Eric Holder should be prosecuting the people who sanctioned torture but Obama has not permitted him to. What I think has been missing from this debate is that even if the U.S. did get information from torturing the three terrorists and even if that information played a vital role in capturing obl (I am not confident that it did), the U.S. still risks too much by torturing prisoners. The U.S. can only argue from a higher moral plane if it follows through on its ideals (for instance one of the major marketing ploys of the Soviet Union was to say that Americans treat black people poorly and therefore are not worthy of the mantel of freedom that is so often given to them.) If America tortures prisoners than we risk other countries or groups torturing american prisoners. We also lose a tremendous amount of soft power as people dismiss our moral arguments out of hand. Will american prisoners get tortured regardless of whether or not americans torture prisoners? Probably. But how could we condemn those actions if we are practicing the same thing? I suppose in the hyperbolic hypothetical in which one person knows where a bomb is going to go off and will only divulge that information if tortured it might make sense to torture. But it is impossible to know whether the person does or does not. Additionally, people lie under torture. I know there are ways of asking questions you already know the answers to to see if you break someone, but doing this is tricky and the honest response "I do not know" will only result in more torture. In short, I think in very limited instances torture can work, but the problems with torturing prisoners far outweigh any benefits.
Panetta has been pretty unclear. Here's a Fox Nation piece taking what he says out of context, and then the actual script so you can see what hes sayinghttp://nation.foxnews.com/usama-bin-laden/2011/05/03/cia-director-says-intel-waterboarding-led-bin-laden-raid And I don't know about Rumsfeld. He left office in '05, and I don't know how he would know what happened. Up until now in his career, he has been a political animal as well, and in his autobiography, a bit of a revisionist of history, word on the street.Also, so enhanced interrogation is waterboarding, which was one of the main torture techniques used up until 2006 or 2007, but not after and not under Obama. I can see it playing a role in gathering overall intelligence, and we can talk about in a separate discussion if we think that is ok. But I think it is a little over the top to say that it led directly to bin Laden. Yes, it helped us learn more about al Quaeda and what not, but just from a timing standpoint, I don't see how it could have found bin Laden when it hasn't been used for the past 6 years. Who is to say we couldn't have put the al quaeda picture together with any other intel from 2001 until now and still found him? I don't think this is the time to reopen the torture debate, because that debate has been had and it was ugly and Republicans, or neocons, or whoever, already lost. This attempt to make this about George W. Bush and justifying his policies is just ridiculous to me. Can you just give Obama some credit. Bush botched an attempt to get Osama in 2001, then said in a news conference during Iraq that Osama really wasn't that important. Also, I think this is more a time to wind down the war in Afghanistan, and tone down the war on terror here. I certainly think terrorism will continue to be a problem, but torture is out of the picture and should be kept there, and every new regulation at the airport is a response to the last recent, most failed attack. And killing an unarmed enemy who is being pursued dead or alive, who has orchestrated an attack on 4000 people is much more justified than torture in my book.I agree with Ian on torture.TJE, I mainly meant it as a joke but you have to agree that if not hypocritical, Woo seems to have his priorities a little mixed up when you look at those two instances. I want to hear your thoughts on torture, not on Woo.
I think Obama showed a lot of leadership in getting Osama. I don't think bringing up torture is an attempt to discredit him. I also would love to see the war in Afghanistan wind down. Still don't think it's outrageous to bring up that some of those policies were helpful.
PBM, do you agree that music (including Barney theme song)is torture?
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