We’ll leverage our enhanced interrogation synergies going forward

Follow this link for pictures of a waterboarding apparatus that was used by the Khmer Rouge.

Waterboarding is an enhanced iterrogation technique that it is now fully legal to use, under U.S. law, against any one of us, should the President decide that he doesn’t like the cut of our jibs:

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda’s toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.

“The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law,” said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.

Jonah Blank, who took the pictures, explains in an email to David Corn:

The similarity between practices used by the Khymer Rouge and those currently being debated by Congress isn’t a coincidence. As has been amply documented (“The New Yorker” had an excellent piece, and there have been others), many of the “enhanced techniques” came to the CIA and military interrogators via the SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] schools, where US military personnel are trained to resist torture if they are captured by the enemy. The specific types of abuse they’re taught to withstand are those that were used by our Cold War adversaries. Why is this relevant to the current debate? Because the torture techniques of North Korea, North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and its proxies–the states where US military personnel might have faced torture–were NOT designed to elicit truthful information. These techniques were designed to elicit CONFESSIONS. That’s what the Khymer Rouge et al were after with their waterboarding, not truthful information.

Bottom line: Not only do waterboarding and the other types of torture currently being debated put us in company with the most vile regimes of the past half-century; they’re also designed specifically to generate a (usually false) confession, not to obtain genuinely actionable intel. This isn’t a matter of sacrificing moral values to keep us safe; it’s sacrificing moral values for no purpose whatsoever.

Torture is only used by Jack Bauer to find ticking bombs on TV.  Here in the real, material world of a United States where our real, material bodies are no longer worthy of the 700-year-old right of habeas corpus, torture is used by thugs and perverts to reinforce their authority.


23 thoughts on “We’ll leverage our enhanced interrogation synergies going forward

  1. Ananth

    Steve, what leads you to believe that these enhanced interrogation techniques are at all applicable to anyone in the United States? Is it your fear that it would lead to this, is it a line in the law that makes that anyone can be declared an Al Qaeda suspect?

    Aside from the debate over what exactly constitutes torture, I could understand if your fear was that perhaps an innocent would be exposed to these methods, but the idea that we are going to have a gestapo state in the US seems a stretch at best.

  2. Tom

    Dude, I don’t want anyone waterboarded but I think it’s pretty retardo to compare waterboarding with the horrible shit the Khmer Rouge did. The waterboard room was the Club Med of the Khmer Rouge camp.

  3. Steve

    Compare? Who’s comparing? Waterboarding is, in fact, some horrible shit that the Khmer Rouge did. Shit so horrible that lasting two-and-a-half whole minutes before breaking is considered to be an impressive feat.

    Jesus Christ, this isn’t Seven. You don’t score bonus points for being outré or gory. This is actual torture as used, practiced, and perfected by some of the most repressive regimes in history.

    And the United States of America. As permitted by law.

  4. Tom

    Yeah, I clicked the link later and realized that it was, in fact, done in the Khmer Rouge.

    I guess what I mean to say that even if the US and Khmer Rouge both waterboard, we’re still like, light years away. Seriously. The shit I read in this book:


    is literally too awful to describe. We’re nowhere close and it’s horrible to say that we’re even remotely similar. We aren’t at all.

  5. Eric

    Hey. The big JC gives you a GOP scandal wrapped in a bow and now you’re taking his name in vain. Our momma raised you better.

    Tom does have a point though. What constitutes cruel and unusual in this sense is kind of an important point. We’ve been fucking with people’s heads for years. You don’t think the CIA under Democratic presidents used sleep deprivation and other not very nice coercive methods? Waterboarding amounts to psychological torture more than physical harm. We suck and I’m moving to Toronto with my hot new roommate, but the US is not the Khmer Rouge just because we’ve slid farther down the slippery slope.

    Ananth, isn’t it a given that an innocent will be tortured at some point? Even beyond a reasonable doubt has locked people up for years and these suspects aren’t getting a trial first. Also, I’m not sure I understand your point about it being somehow more tolerable because it’s not likely to become rampant on US soil any time soon. We can’t label our “enemies” by their skin or passport. Anyone potentially having knowledge of terrorist activity could be brought in to have these methods used on them. I see no reason why at some point that might not apply to a US citizen.

    Graham, your point is also well made. It should be at least $15. If you’re going to fine someone at least make it a full 30-pack so they remember the lesson.

  6. Tom

    I made a comment last night and it got booted, though it might have hit your spam filter since it had a link in it.

    Yeah, I clicked the link and saw that the Khmer Rouge actually did use waterboarding as well. I guess my point is that they did so much other horrible shit that it’s stupid and irresponsible to compare them to the US. I read shit in this book:


    that is literally too awful to write down. Seriously. And I’m saying we’re nowhere near that. Not even close.

  7. pedro

    So because we’re not anywhere near the Khmer Rouge…we shouldn’t be concerned? That because we aren’t killing thousands of American citizens in the name of revolution and solidarity…we shouldn’t start screaming about it?

    Are you kidding me? Seriously? You guys must be kidding. An atrocity is an actrocity. It doesn’t matter that there are worse atrocities we could be committing. It matters that we are committing an atrocity. Christ. I can’t believe what I’m reading here.

  8. Tom

    Goddamn it, I’m not saying that the place we are at is an ok place to be, I’m saying that it makes liberals seem like uneducated retards if we go around saying that we’re currently living in a Khmer Rouge or Nazi regime.

  9. pedro

    Here is what you are doing:
    The US is behaving like the Khmer Rouge, but the Khmer Rouge was a lot worse! That’s a ridiculus thing to say! We’re not as bad as the Rouge!

    Here is what I am saying:
    The US is using techniques that the Khmer Rouge used and I find this appalling. Torture is bad bad bad and we shouldn’t be doing it! The longer we let this go on, the worse it is going to get.

    Does anyone but me see the difference?

  10. Ananth

    Eric Pedro,
    I had written a response yesterday that disappeared, so here I go again.

    I do think that probably an innocent may get tortured, and that’s why I am against torture. I do think it unlikely that innocent would sing like Beyonce if one of those camps without the need to be cooercive, but that is a different story. I wasn’t make a point that since it won’t be rampant in the united states it is tolerable, I was making the point that if you are going to get your panties in a bunch get them in a bunch about something that is plausable. Considering that this was primarily designed for the CIA was allowed to do, and the plethra of laws and guidlines on what intelligence agencies can actually do on domestic peoples (trust me its a lot, I get training on it 2 times a year), there is little chance that domestically, people are going to be rounded up and coercively interrogated.

    My feeling is that torture really needs to be limited to that of actual physical harm. It is definition that easy to understand, and easy to follow. Once we get in things that are pyschological and emotional, as damaging as it may be, we start opening up the absurd claims of cruel and unusual punishment becuase of second hand smoke in the jail cell, or that being interrogated by a woman denegrated a muslims honor so badly that amounts to torture. I don’t feel like indulging terrorists with those kind of rights, when these people would love to cut off my head since I happen to be an idolotor…..

  11. Steve

    Does anyone but me see the difference?

    Me. But you knew that, even if everyone else needs to play, “But I’m not one of those shrill liberals like that Michael Moore!”

  12. Tom

    I see the difference. I’m just saying that stupid hippies at Emerson will never put this on a placard, “The US is using techniques that the Khmer Rouge used and I find this appalling. Torture is bad bad bad and we shouldn’t be doing it! The longer we let this go on, the worse it is going to get.”

    They will instead write, “Bush is Pol Pot!” or “Gitmo is the new Dachau!” and lower the level of debate to intellectually sloppy slogan-ism; the liberal equivalent of shouting buzzwords like, “flip-flop” or “cut and run” instead of substantive arguments.

    Pres. Bush Sr. and Clinton are here today and a group of protesters just walked by and one of the retards was yelling, “Get out of the Matrix and join us!”

    I want that dude out of my party, is all I’m saying. Nader can have him back.

    The shrill liberals DO suck and drag the party down. Do you think the strength of their arguments really pulls anyone on the fence towards the Democrats? Our gold standard should be built on the model of guys like Albert Camus writing, “Defense of Intelligence” in the underground newspaper, “Combat.” The blog world is a perfect modern day equivalent as long as we shake off those who aren’t even really Democrats, but anarchists who are too stupid to know that they’re anarchists.

  13. Graham Campbell

    For Christ’s sake, we have republican kid touchers and a coverup by the GOP leadership, and mark my words the Democrats won’t be able to capitalize. Makes me sick sometimes.

    Oh, and Tom for the win.

  14. Ananth

    I know you guys are all giddy about Foleygate and what not but before you go off on calling the guy a kid toucher, maybe you should all wait until the facts come out, since as of yet there is no evidence of any touching of other people at all thus far. I know how disappointed you were with your Fitzmas presents, and I really don’t want to see it happen again.

    Also, Bravo Tom.

  15. Steve

    I give up. Put it on my gravestone, “At least he was never unseemly.” That’s how I’ll know I’ve lead an honorable life.

  16. Steve

    I was going to write a post about it, as a matter of fact.

    And I was, of course, being sarcastic. If I ever decide that the appearance of detached blase-ness is more important than my basic humanity, don’t bother putting anything at all on my gravestone; dump me in the ground and leave me to my shame.

  17. Eric

    So Tom and I don’t care about basic human rights because we’re not as visibly fired up as you?

    The Republicans have shown it’s effective to speak only in black and white, but no matter how much I hate the current administration I still see in grey (admittedly that is sometimes an inability to get off the fence about an issue, but not in this case).

    Expanding on what you (and Graham in his Red Sox fan whine above) are saying I think most people in the US are used to us being the #1 perfecto nation, and don’t want to believe history’s atrocities could ever reach these coasts. This leads to apathy, inaction, and a denial about how far down that slippery slope we might be.

  18. Steve

    Lindsay: Thanks. That means a lot, coming from a blogger I admire. (Sorry your comment hasn’t appeared until now – it was languishing in the spamtrap for reasons mysterious to me.)

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