Intellectual torture is back, generated by a fully partisan effort by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s insistence on releasing an executive summary of the, reportedly, 6,000 page report on CIA torture techniques is in severe question by leaders on both sides of the aisle, notably Gen. Michael Hayden and Secretary of State Kerry among others. The President supports the release according to Spokesman Josh Earnest in yesterday’s press briefing.

Putting aside questions of Feinstein’s motivations for resurrecting the issue, we have been at this debate for far too long; volumes of information and commentary has been released including previously classified legal memorandums from internal CIA sources, released by Attorney General Holder. The prevailing premise of the torture debate has changed little over the years.

Premise One: No torture, (read waterboarding) we need to set an example so that our people are not subjected to similar treatment. The primary counter point to this argument is the al Qaeda torture manual.

Response: We need only revisit the beheading videos for a reminder of what the enemy is prepared to do. The very theology they rely on demands stoning, cutting off of hands and feet for thievery and clitoral disfiguration. That’s for the believers! Imagine what’s in store for Infidels. Fact is, that actual torture occurs as a matter of course throughout the Muslim world: Syria, Iran, Hiz’bAllah, Hamas and Egypt chief among them. The outcry over those transgressions is nowhere to be heard nor are they impacted by U.S. policy or politics.

Premise Two: Other methods work.

Response: True they do, but only if you have time! If you believe there is a ticking time bomb, “other methods” will likely not get you there in time as they depend on a highly structured approach to interrogation. We have also publically advised our enemies what we will and won’t do as the Army Interrogation Manual is, by Presidential order, the only acceptable approach.

Premise Three: Torture is abhorrent to our values.

Response: True if you believe waterboarding is, in fact, torture; many are still at loggerheads over a definition of what torture actually is. If we use torture (waterboarding) to train pilots and special ops teams do we not have a logical disconnect that argues that all such training must be outlawed as illegal? There are a variety of “aversion” training techniques used across the military and intelligence communities. Is that training a bad idea? If so, what do we train and equip those folks with; snappy repartee?

Premise Four: Adherence to the Geneva Conventions:

Response: We must adhere to the Conventions related to anyone who has signed the Conventions. terror organizations do not worry about international conventions, in fact the Muslim world rejected the U.N. Convention on Human Rights to publish their own, the Cairo Declarations on Human Rights. Terror organizations are not states; they don’t self-identify as states and consider civilians to be valid targets based on no more evidence than they pay taxes in support of Infidel governments.

Premise Five: The Army Field Manual is enough.

Response: Maybe, if you have the luxury of time; The Army Field Manual itself acknowledges the limitations associated with time when criticality is at play. The manual instructs that ‘before” the interrogation begins the following preparations should be made: initial preparation, review of prior documentation, evaluation of current physical and mental state, determination of legal status, interrogation plan, definition of goals and objectives, review by superior officer (if possible) and determination of techniques to be applied, etc. Sounds time consuming; hopefully nothing goes BOOM in the meantime!

Premise Six: Rights of the incarcerated must be protected.

Response: Recall the mandatory preparations and protections that were place in advance of final approval of the waterboarding executed for three high value detainees. Those conditions were contained in the aforementioned CIA “torture memos” and included multiple levels of supervision that could terminate the interrogation at any time.

  • Psychologists were engaged to determine potential long term effects of sleep deprivation and other techniques.
  • SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape) trainers from the U.S. military with extensive experience in the application of waterboarding techniques were engaged to insure severe consequences were not generated.
  • The psychological impact of waterboarding on SERE trainees was addressed in detail by the SERE trainers.
  • A SERE trainer with experience covering 10,000 students reported two trainees dropped out of the training following the application of waterboarding techniques. Some delayed completion of the course but did eventually complete it.
  • In the nine years prior to 2001 26,829 SERE students went through Air Force SERE, 0.014% (37) students were removed from the training for psychological reasons, none reported long term effects. 26,792 did not report any long term effects.
  • The trainer (redacted) was aware of one letter over his 20 years of experience questioning the possibility of long term effects.
    • Medical personnel evaluated the potential for long term harm for all enhanced interrogation methods.
  • Medical personnel were present at all times with authority to stop the interrogation. Authority to terminate also resided with supervisors, trainers and senior officers present.
  • Medical evaluations were mandated in advance of interrogations and were utilized to guide the interrogation plan related to safely.

U.S. law is found in sections 2340 and 2340A of the Criminal Code. The statute requires that for pain and suffering to reach the level of torture it must be “severe” and carry the intent of inflicting severe pain. The mandatory predicates for “severe” and “prolonged harm” are:

  • Intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering.
  • Administration or threatened application of mind-altering substances calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.
  • Threat of imminent death.
  • Threat that any of the preceding acts will be done to another person.

Moral outrage over three instances of waterboarding demands that the premise on the left be reversed; your wife, husband, son, daughter, grandparent, friend is in imminent, time sensitive danger with the possibility they could be saved with information procured by aggressive interrogation? What do you do? Where does your moral center fall? That question, typically, renders the self-righteous Greek chorus mute every time!

Commentary cross-posted from You Decide Politics.


  1. I suspect we’ll have a lively discussion. It is no secret that I hate war, and that I value individuals and individualism above the state.

    (1) From a political standpoint, and therefore, most relevant to this blog, I have to say that I’ve never seen such an adroit series of actions by a party who’s had it’s butt whipped. The party that holds the presidency almost always suffers in the 6th year, and of course, the numbers were stacked against them, anyway, so there was no real question of the outcome. So maybe Dems must have focused all year on what to do after the election. It has been brilliant, tactically. The new Congress can’t start until next month, and Dems are putting them on the defensive in all areas. I’ve never seen that happen like this, before. Fascinating.

    (2) Historically, the United States tries to do the right thing. But there have been times when we violate our principles during a crisis. For example, we interned American CITIZENS who looked Japanese during WWII. Just ask “Sulu.” But we apologized, we acknowledged that we did wrong, and I think there was some reparation. Now, there is no question that we did wrong toward captives, most of whom were innocent. At this point, we need to say, “our bad,” and simply accept that at the time, we lost our heads. That is not who we are. We acted rashly in crisis. Sorry.

    (3) The most bogus argument of all of them is number 3–that al Qaeda is not a “state,” and therefore, al Qaeda deserves no Geneva Convention protection. Al Queda doesn’t deserve anything. This is a real “my dog ate my homework” excuse. The Geneva Convention was NEVER meant to protect nations. It was meant to protect INDIVIDUALS, and the only reason for it is that war was used as an excuse to act monstrously. The Convention just said, no, war is no excuse to be barbaric toward individuals. And, again, by signing the Convention, we pledged OURSELVES to act humanely. It doesn’t matter who the enemy is. We pledge OURSELVES to act like human beings toward human beings. Any opposing excuse is beneath contempt.

    (4) Your point three–seriously?? One of the worst examples of hateful propaganda is to call waterboarding “simulated” drowning. B.S. There’s nothing “simulated” about it. Did they use DRY water, for cryssake??

    The water is sucked into the person’s sinuses and lungs. Even if the person were capable of understanding that it would end, the body cannot avoid the horrible experience of DYING–slowly, painfully, and without defense.

    Let’s compare it to a firing squad. A “simulated” firing squad would be using all blanks. It would still be torture, in my opinion, which is “terrorism” (ie, “causing terror to achieve a goal”), but there would be no physical pain. But waterboarding DOES cause significant physical pain. An equivalent in a firing squad would be to have them use rubber bullets. Nothing “simulated” about that experience, either.





    And, finally, I object to this presentation. In every other topic, we are presented with a topic and what is being SAID about it, citing sources. It is not our blog saying things, we’re just discussing what (possibly idiotic) articles are being written.

    But this page says, yes! “We” love torture! It’s great! And there is no pretense at objectivity, or merely wanting to begin a conversation about it. “Case closed.”

    I object.

    • And, finally, I object to this presentation.

      Noted. But I cross-post so rarely (this is the second time) and Landreaux (a personal friend) writes on some excellent topics that deserve more attention/discussion from a wider audience.

      • Yeah, I remember Landreaux. He was the computer that controlled the population of Beta III in the Star Trek episode, “Return of the Archons.”

        Anyway, then, from what you just said, we’re talking plagiarism, here, too. . .

          • It’s credited to you if you post it without giving credit to anyone else.

            Yes, Landru. There was one flaw in that episode, as I recall. The cloaked enforcers pointed a tube at people, who immediately fell to their death. At the end, Spock determines that they were hollow tubes, “with no mechanism,” but that the population believes in their power so much, that victims die, presumably of a heart attack. Yet, at one point, sparks fly out of one “hollow” tube. Apparently, nobody told special effects (such as they were) to read the script. [Technically, pointing the tube would not be physical “torture,” but would still qualify as emotional “torture,” producing sufficient stress to cause physical death.]

            Anyway, I’m mostly yanking your chain, but preserving the integrity of the site, as well as avoiding plagiarism charges are still two powerful reasons why you should at least use quotation marks, and preferably say within the passage who wrote it.

            • Would you CHECK the author spot? It’s not credited to me. My name isn’t there.. It’s cross-posted from another political site I own and operate. There is zero plagiarism involved.


              I don’t simply plagiarize content for fun.. Ladreaux writes primarily commentary (with a conservative bent) which is posted on You Decide Politics. Occasionally I see content that I want to also post here to spawn discussion. The last one was a post he wrote on Ebola back in October.

     (formerly was the very first presidential-themed website I ran back in ’08. This current site is from ’12 and now moving to ’16. I’ve picked up a lot of domain names along the way..

            • The author “D.E.Landreaux and I had a lengthy and in depth discussion on his original post of this title (see link above) and it would take too much time to re-write it all. Which is just as well we did since I am not that informed about “Star Trek.”

            • Just a criticism of format. I would have done an introduction and offered Mr. Landeaux’ commentary, for consideration. If you were older, I could use Rod Serling as an example from the original Twilight Zone, “Submitted for your consideration.”

              The fact remains, whether it’s yours, or “The Nate and DE Show,” it weakens the integrity of the site to offer a screed (TLDR, by the way) as a conclusion, as opposed to an opinion to be discussed.

            • “It weakens the integrity of the site”? The point of my above sarcasm was you going off on a tangent about a “Star Trek” episode doesn’t weaken it? Have you read some of the comments from our “Tin Foil Hat” friend?

              I find the post by Landreaux insightful, thought provoking and well written even though at times we disagree as we do here. As Nate said he deserves more attention and discussion from a wider audience. What difference does it make if we are commenting on an opinion piece or adding our own opinion to a news report Nate writes? Lets broaden our views not confine them by limiting them to sources we are comfortable with. Perhaps it isn’t a case of his writing weakening the site but adding a new dimension to the site by getting gray matter stirred and fires lit again that is frightening?

            • Bob: You’re missing the point. The format of this site has been for the host to find trending political views. He then presents them for discussion, but he does not present them (intentionally) to proselytize.

              The problem with this thread is that Nate didn’t say, “I found this interesting, what do you think,” which is the format. Instead, he just dropped in the article, without any introduction or explanation.

              We just walk into the rant, and it’s presented as “true,” since there is no effort at objectivity. THAT is the complaint we have with bad journalism–that opinions are presented as fact. That is what is going on here. If a screed like this were in the news column of a paper, you would object, too, since you say you disagree with the opinion.

              Another problem is that we are not given any information about Landreaux–not even his name. No gender. Is he or she French, with a name like that? The most recent thread notes that a “report from the Associated Press says–.” We know who the Associated Press is, so we know how to evaluate what they have to say. We do not have any idea who Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss/Dr./Rev. Landreaux is, and why we should care what he-she-it has to say.

            • Bob: All I was saying is that Nate should have dropped in a sentence or three at the beginning, as the objective host, saying something like, “With all the talk of torture, it seems like a good time to hear what one side has to say. Here’s a tract by [name], [title], [background]. What do you think?”

              That’s all I’m asking for–a separation between the host, as objective observer, and a slanted (and I think, weak) partisan.

            • Goethe:
              This was obviously an opinion piece which even if I saw it in the newspapers I would expect to see it in that section of the paper and not the news section. You are assuming the position of Managing Editor and ownership of this blog by demanding to know more about the author. You aren’t hiring him (it is a “him” by the way). I don’t know about you but most times I’ll read an article and then at the end read what the authors background is not the other way around. Tell me how much do any of us know about each other and we have been having discussions for years now. Most of what comes on these comments sections are in the head scratching realm as opposed to the thought provoking. You can “Object” all you want but you don’t own this site nor edit the content. Perhaps if you aren’t satisfied you could ask for a refund from Nate on your subscription price?

          • Sam: So good to hear from you. We are all trying to get used to the new format. I believe what the site meant was that you have to go to the far bottom-left of the page. There’s a small word that just says, “subscribe” for each thread. It’s in gray and doesn’t look important, but it is. Click on “subscribe” and fill in your email address, then it will turn green. You have to do that for every thread.

            Upside is that we don’t have to post, “I’m just watching” in order to get notices of comments.

            Please get back into the rotation, here, my friend.

          • Sam — good to see you back! Hope all is well with you and yours (we were worried about you).

            Merry Christmas in advance!

          • Sam; Looking forward to hearing your take on issues again. Hope all is well……or the best that can be expected………………….”B”

  2. Back to politics, outgoing chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, spoke today, saying that the Bush Administration (mostly Cheney) DID know that there was no connection what-so-ever between 9/11 and Iraq, yet still spread the fantasy.

    I see this as yet another Democratic attempt to throw crap against the wall, to see what sticks in the public consciousness–before the GOP can come in and set any kind of agenda.

  3. Have Bush, Cheney, Kerry and the CIA director waterboarded — and if they spill their guts on the criminal crap they’ve done over the years, we’ll know if waterboarding is torture.

    It’s that simple….

    • We do have the example of the loud-mouth supporter of torture say that he’d be waterboarded to show it’s no big deal–but once it was done, he flipped 180 degrees on the topic.

      So, yeah, anybody who says it ain’t torture ought to try it before speaking further.

  4. Even more productive to save American lives is to allow all US Police to waterboard any suspect. Since not a torture, all police should be allowed to waterboard all suspects — imagine the American lives to be saved by finding out who wants to murder their spouse, neighbor, etc.!

    These Muslim terrorists represent an imminently clear and present danger to the foreign state of Israel — since they surround it!

    We, the USA, however, are surrounded by Canadians and Mexicans (therefore, are geographically protected by thousands of miles of ocean from navy-lacking crazy Islamists).

    Therefore, we should concentrate our waterboarding on all these LOCAL invaders of Our Nation who are here in the millions illegally destroying our economy, our way of life, and sucking our nation dry!

    Waterboard all Canadians here now!

  5. I believe in law. And I believe in individual rights and responsibilities.

    When we were going through this, I was vocal against the “enhanced (fancy word for illegal) techniques.”

    Here’s why: I believe that the United States of America should be–and be seen as–both humane and law-abiding. Gitmo and Abu Grahib showed us to be monsters.

    Now, then, the argument is that we NEED to be monsters when dealing with monsters–that is, if there is an immediate crisis to be averted, we should check our humanity at the door. Maybe, maybe not. But I believe there is a right way to do things, and I believe that the United States of America should do things the right way.

    So here’s the solution: IF there is a need to go rogue, it should be an individual choice. If some Jack-Bauer-wannabe wants to take the law into his own hands, fine. But the United States of America should then judge whether the individual was JUSTIFIED into taking the action.

    And that’s my problem with the whole situation. In order to avoid the law and personal responsibility, the administration said “we no longer follow the law, and we no longer value human rights.” We did not have to do that to get the desired effect.

    If, in fact, there was some immediate crisis, then the United States of America should judge the rogue agent regarding his or her actions, intentions, and results. We should not have announced to the world that NO American agent is responsible for anything.

    • Goethe — good post.

      Some thoughts:

      Sadly, nowdays the “Law” is only applied to private citizens, not the Government or their minions. This creates the justified mistrust that our Gov punishes only civilians, never their own.

      1) How the “Rule of Law” applies only to private citizens:

      a) A while back I gave the example of a surf fisherman, fishing next to me, that caught the “wrong” shark (a “protected” specie that looked not much different than the “legal” to catch thresher sharks). This kid was so proud of catching something, that he posted from his phone pics on Facebook, and kept on fishing — a few hours later the State Police came in armed to the teeth and arrested him. Handcuffed he was hauled to jail as if he were a murdering criminal (all his gear and his shark were taken into custody) and his truck was towed away — just for catching the “wrong” fish!

      Don’t have video proof of this (since I don’t take a camera when fishing) only my own witnessing this ugliness. Here is a similar case, though:

      *Man, too poor to pay fishing fine, sent to jail*

      b) Armed police is raiding private businesses across the nation for selling RAW MILK — with guns drawn, ready to shoot who…private citizens that represent what ” criminal danger” to our nation…?

      c) State Raids Lobster Operation — destroys the legal business of a civilian, and kills his 500,000 lobster babies:

      d-z) *John Stossel’s Illegal Everything* is perhaps the most vivid indictment of the US Gov gone CRAZY — unconstitutionally making nearly all we do “ILLEGAL” by the Big Brother Gov that has insinuated itself in this New Zionist Owned America:

      This clearly shows that the MIGHT of US “Law” Enforcement is geared up to strike down, destroy the property and intern any US Individual that is a private citizen — thus depriving us of Life, Liberty, Property and the Pursuit Of Happiness — for the silliest infractions!

      2) How the “Rule of Law” NEVER applies to “our” Government and its paid Minions:

      The examples are in the several millions (just note the near 1/2 billion NEGATIVE Laws passed by sell-out politicians telling us what we can NOT DO — versus the few POSITIVE laws left from what’s surviving of the US Constitution (which IS ALL ABOUT Positive Laws for the citizens — meaning We, The People, have All the Rights, while the Gov has NONE)!

      To stay on topic — Government sanctioned CIA can torture, and get away with it. A cop can choke to death a citizen for selling loose cigarettes (what danger to our Republic…?) and get away with it.


      Rand Paul, or Revolution!

      Or, kowtow to a murderous Gov and forever remain slaves to the ever-growing Zionist State of America — can we save the USA, or are we going to be permanently choked to death, where WE CAN NO LONGER BREATHE FREEDOM, as Free People, by the ZSA..?!

      Like this American being choked to death FOR NOTHING (selling loose cigarettes is now a deadly sin…?!?!) — by their minions:

      Or this American PREGNANT woman being choked by police for barbecuing the family dinner..?!?!:

      Is choking Americans the new method of Cops gone Wild, since shootings are so messy (and ballistics are traceable)?

      Shame on all of US, for allowing a militarized Police State to replace our Rule Of Law — the US Constitution!

  6. Nate, Goethe, Bob, Sam: (the gist of it) Torture to possibly save future innocent lives?

    Thus accepting “The end justifies the means” premise…in plain English.

    “Finis finem iustificat” — in Latin —worked very well for the Roman Empire.

    I have no problem with that, as long as we publicly declare that we are no longer a Free Republic constrained by the Rule of Law, but have become an Empire that is Dictatorial by the acceptance of such a behavior by our rulers.

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