As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Enhanced-ly Interrogated To Death

Burma has taken to using Bush Administration tactics to "get actionable intelligence" out of people.

A Myanmar opposition leader who was arrested during last month's mass protests against the junta died due to torture during interrogation, an activist group said on Wednesday.

In Washington, the United States threatened new sanctions against Myanmar after media reports of the death of Win Shwe.

Maybe they call it "enhanced interrogation techniques," too.

The fact is that societies who use torture aren't actually using it to obtain information. It's easier to get genuine information through a battle of wits or earning trust or a variety of legal means. Torturers employ it to dispose of enemies and intimidate anyone else from speaking out. And apologists in this country will refuse to admit that we are headed right down the same path.

Bret Stephens performs the favorite conservative trick of defending the use of torture by defining methods of torture which he favors as "not torture":

"For the record, count me as one who does not object to the interrogation to which KSM was reportedly subjected, including waterboarding. This is not because I take the use of waterboarding lightly (although I have a hard time concluding that a technique, however terrifying, to which CIA officers are willing to subject themselves experimentally can properly be counted as torture). It's because I take the threat posed by KSM seriously."

Waterboarding is torture. It was devised by torturers as a method of torture. CIA officers subject themselves to this torture as part of their training to withstand torture. Bret Stephens supports torture.

So does the US government, though it's sacrilege to admit it if you're Jimmy Carter.

And another thing. I'm sick and tired of politicians like Hillary Clinton trying to play it both ways, rejecting torture while giving a wink and a nod to defining what torture really is. Obama and Edwards have been crystal clear. Hillary is keeping her options open ever so slightly, though in the full context of her remarks it kinda sorta sounds like she's taking a bright line. The fact is that waterboarding is torture, we pretty much know that the United States has been waterboarding, and you can safely come out and say that we're torturing, and that this makes us no better than the junta in Burma or despots around the world. Hillary is trying to somehow appease wingnuts and hold fast to a notion of amassing executive power by defaulting to "we don't know exactly what's been going on." Obama is right to attack her over this.

Barack Obama thinks that America's policy on torture needs to be a lot more explicit than the winks and nods she has seemed to put forth on this important issue.

It's about drawing lines in the sand and being unequivocal. Torture is wrong. Those who engage in it or oversee it should face the fullest extent of the law.

A Roman Catholic priest accused of collaborating with the Argentine military dictatorship more than two decades ago was convicted Tuesday of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison.

(Christian Federico) Von Wernich was accused of passing on to authorities sensitive information gleaned from prisoners and others who trusted him as a priest. He also was the confessor of a provincial police chief who was notorious for overseeing the arrest, torture and killing of suspects considered "subversive."

The prosecution said Von Wernich abused his clerical status by offering spiritual comfort to prisoners, then informing on them to the police. The prisoners later were tortured and killed.

There are some things that aren't negotiable.

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