Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Living in a perfect world, torture-wise.

Unable to distinguish between reality and a TV show, Blogging Tory Paul E. Marek hypothesizes the most amazing hypotheses:

A child porn ring abducts your 5 year old daughter.

The police catch one of the abductors, who refuses to give up his fellow members. The police intend on using "enhanced" interrogation techniques to discover the whereabouts of your little girl.

But, in a fit of "progressive" high dudgeon you insist that the police do no such thing. Your child, as a result, becomes a rape victim and is never found again except as a star in kiddie porn videos, even though "enhanced" techniques may have saved her.

Wow, that is some kind of impressive. I am always amazed by how much is known with absolute certainly in these fictional scenarios:

  • You know your daughter's been abducted.

  • You know it was by a child porn ring.

  • You know the person you have in custody is one of the abductors.

  • You know your daughter's still alive.

  • Finally, you know that your only recourse is torture, despite the fact that offering someone a sweetheart deal to cut his sentence is sometimes an amazingly persuasive thing to do.

And yet, with all that absolutely undebatable knowledge at hand, you curiously have no idea where your daughter might be. None whatsoever. That's always struck me as a little odd but, what the heck, inventing wildly improbable scenarios seems to be the only stunt left in the torture apologist's bag of rationalizations.

Is anyone surprised?

BY THE WAY, has anyone else ever noticed that the people who are perfectly fine with torture because nothing could ever conceivably go wrong are the same ones who are furious with Canada's Human Rights Commission because the CHRC represents an out-of-control, unaccountable government bureaucracy whose arbitrary and unfounded accusations have the power to utterly ruin the lives of innocent citizens?

Really, the cognitive dissonance must be staggering.

WTF? Apparently, Mr. Marek understands full well the underlying fatal flaw in the justification of torture:

Enhanced interrogation works when the subject has important information to divulge. Enhance interrogation doesn't work when the subject has no important information to divulge.

And yet, after openly admitting that "enhanced interrogation" has no value when there is no information to be obtained, Marek still has no issue with torture.

The mind reels. Truly, it reels. I don't know what to say.


Anonymous said...

One suspect that Paul has secret hobbies and wishes...
A little like NAMBLA Dick....

Ti-Guy said...

Yeah. Someone check Marek's basement.

Lindsay Stewart said...

let's play scenarios!

your 21 year old nephew is on a foreign vacation after finishing his semester. he visits a bar in a sketchy part of town in that exotic country, he has a few drinks too many and goes outside for a smoke. while outside a police drug sweep takes place and he gets rounded up with the other folks that were in the area. in order to cut a deal and maybe make a quick buck, an informant fingers your nephew as a villain/junkie/whatever. the local constabulary, of questionable ethics to begin with, are under pressure to file a charge and make it stick.

with the accusation from a "reliable source" they drag your nephew out of a holding cell with the other mooks and toss him into a windowless solitary cell. to make their case they need a confession. two big fuckers enter the cell with your scared, drunk nephew. they proceed to beat the soles of his feet with a length of hose, push his face into the toilet water and hold him there until he nearly drowns. for a change of pace they take turns putting a phone book up to his rib cage and kicking it until he pisses blood. then his face goes back into the toilet as punishment for pissing. he isn't fed or allowed to sit let alone sleep. they keep this up for hours, days, weeks until he tells them anything that they want to hear, just to make it stop.

with the confession in hand they hurl him into a dubious system where he is further victimized by hard core felons and thugs. his health, both physical and mental, suffers. he becomes withdrawn, depressed and suicidal, he starts to lose his teeth. the consular process and diplomatic negotiations drag on endlessly while he languishes in prison. perhaps as part of some deal he is eventually released after, let's say three maybe four years. god bless the efficacy of torture. at least a make believe daughter was saved.

The Artful Nudger said...

Playing devil's advocate here, it could be that Paul is pointing out that there are conditions under which the most even-tempered rational person might feel the visceral urge to beat information out of someone. While I am emphatically against the use of "enhanced interrogation", if one of my loved ones were at risk I would feel a serious temptation - which is why I shouldn't, in such a situation, be the one doing the interrogation! Information received under duress is no more reliable than information given freely, because a person who is truly being tortured will tell you anything to get you to stop. Not necessarily true things, however.

Now, that notwithstanding, the example proffered is pretty farfetched. It kind of feels like a debate over fuel-efficient cars with an AGW denier: "Well, you COULD get a hybrid, but one day you could be driving and lose control of the car and drive it into the water and there could be a fault with the battery pack and it would fry you and your family - and then you'll be sorry."

M@ said...

One other thing that's known with absolute certainty in these scenarios is that you'll know whether the tortured person is telling the truth or not.

Unfortunately, here in the real world, we only know that information obtained through torture is absolutely unreliable.

These torture apologists never see that they're being played for complete fucking idiots. The only reason a government tortures someone is to get the answers they want in order to justify doing whatever the fuck they want.

Dance, puppets, dance. You're not much good for anything else.

Ti-Guy said...

Playing devil's advocate here...Why does that expression send me running for the Advil Extra-Strength lately?

Ti-Guy said...

Sorry, Artful. I should explain what I learned long ago about such improbable scenarios, namely: no jury on Earth would convict anyone of doing what they had to do in unbelievably singular circumstances. But to create a body of jurisprudence based on fantasies is madness.

liberal supporter said...

cjunk is just trying to create masturbation fantasy scenarios for writing more true crime dime novels. He's excited, imagining having an excuse to waterboard some victim 266 times a month.

The best torture victims are the ones who actually don't know the information you are seeking. Then you can gleefully torture them as long as you want. Just need to keep the doctor on hand so they don't actually die, otherwise you then need to find another victim.

As ti-guy points out, the best check on torture is to keep it illegal. The guy that stopped the thermonuclear detonation will be readily excused if he had to cut off someone's hands a knuckle at a time to do it. But most of the time, it's just sadism and they should throw the book at the unsuccessful torturer.

Is cjunk willing to have the torturers face the same tortures themselves if they do NOT save the little girl?

KEvron said...

- you know it's your daughter.

jer-RY! jer-RY jer-RY!


Ti-Guy said...

But most of the time, it's just sadismSomething the Americans revel in. Remember all the grinning in the Abu Ghraib photos?

...and KEvron's relentless torture of silly little bloggers is another case in point...

sooey said...

Good one, psa.

But the good thing about Americans being cool with torture is that they can no longer even pretend to have any moral authority.

Ti-Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ti-Guy said...

is that they can no longer even pretend to have any moral authority.


KEvron said...

"and KEvron's relentless torture of silly little bloggers is another case in point"

i object to the use of "relentless".


KEvron said...

"the good thing about Americans being cool with torture is that they can no longer even pretend to have any moral authority."

we've ceded that authority to canadians who are cool with torture.

KEvron, who knows his daughter is being held by rapists

Sunita said...


I'd like to know what would happen if, you know, the police used an "enhanced" method of interrogation - for example, a taser - and the known abductor died. Or what if he had a heart attack while being "specially" interrogated. Or what happened if the "known abductor", while being interrogated with "enhanced techniques" gave the wrong info.

Basically, what would happen if the only guy who's got the info died while being interrogated with "enhanced techniques".

Ti-Guy said...

"object to the use of "relentless."

Sorry; I should have written obsessive.Don't get me wrong; it's hilarious. But you do have bigger fish to fry.

KEvron said...

"obsessive"?! it's not like i visit them regularly.

i'm occasionally tenacious.

"But you do have bigger fish to fry."

says the guy without a blog.

no, i don't have any fish to fry. cracking wise is just a hobby. let's me harmlessly blow off steam.


KEvron said...

er, "lets"....


KEvron said...

"another case in point"

yes, america invented busting chops. right after jazz, but before rock and roll.


wv = "wenting".

The Seer said...

Events of the past fortnight have raised the issue of how senior American civil servants, leaders of Congress and administration officials could have approved use of the same specific kinds of torture Americans had condemned when Chinese Communists used these methods upon captured American pilots during the Korean Conflict to obtain false confessions to war crimes. I believe this question can be answered without questioning the morals or ethics of the decision-makers because I believe the procedure used to make the determination is inherently unreliable.

British lawyers like to tell each other that the history of liberty is the history of the transition from status to contract, following Maitland; American lawyers like to tell each other the history of liberty is the history of the development of reasonably reliable procedures to make well-informed decisions, following Frankfurter. In the case of the torture decision-making, the administration established a procedure in which only a limited number of “principals” were involved, only a limited number of civil servants were involved, and prohibited each participant from discussing the issue with anyone outside the room, under penalty of law. It appears we could count the members of the entire decision-making body, up to and including the vice-president and possibly the president, on our fingers, without resort to our toes. It seems that the Secretary of Defense was excluded from the process for fear that he might send a deputy to an important meeting who might, in turn, notify military lawyers of the contemplated action. By the time the vice-president sought approval, it seems clear, he knew military lawyers uniformly opposed the program.

Common law lawyers believe the most reliable procedure for determining contested facts retrospectively is the adversarial trial. Civil law lawyers prefer a procedure modeled upon the Inquisition. Save that issue for later.

The US Congress has led the way in developing a procedure for well-informed decision making for prospective action that is so simple it is often overlooked. In the administrative sphere, in the rule-making process, it is called the “notice and comment” hearing. Decision-makers replicate Congressional procedure by publishing notice that they intend to adopt a certain regulation in a certain form, as if it were a bill introduced in Congress, and that they will accept comments on the proposal from the pubic until a certain date. As in Congress, they often set forth a date for oral testimony but, again as in Congress, the oral hearing is essentially ceremonial. The meat of the process is the submission and review of written presentations by interested parties. This process almost always flushes out foolish mistakes.

As an aside, a truncated form of notice & comment hearing is employed to protect the president from making foolish mistakes ion major speeches. Copies of the proposed speech are “staffed” to senior civil servants and political officials in affected departments. Hence, the pushback against Bush claims that Iraq had attempted to obtain yellow-cake from Niger.

If even a truncated notice & comment procedure had been permitted in the torture decision-making process, I believe that someone would have come forward with the history of SERE (Search, Evasion & Rescue) training, why the program had been instituted and what made use of these methods unreliable as a source of intelligence, contrary to the Geneva Convention and US law, foolish, and a repudiation of US military tradition and policy dating back to the War of 1812.

The procedure employed to make the torture decision deliberately were designed to impede reliable decision-making.

Ti-Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ti-Guy said...

yes, america invented busting chops. right after jazz, but before rock and roll.

Black people invented those things. The only art-form indigenous to White America is animation.

...cartoons, in other words.


KEvron said...

"Black people invented those things."lol! nice ontology!


Ti-Guy said...


Memo to the rest of the World: Don't fuck with Americans; they're all psychos, every last one of them.

KEvron said...

"they're all psychos, every last one of them"

i thought you were off on-line analyses, you mercurial crank.


wv = "bringen"

Mike said...

Even if Papa Junker's nonsense could even be remotely true, under torture people will confess to anything and sometimes everything.

Whether the person actually has the information or not, torture doesn't work because you can't tell whjat is true and what isn't.

What if the guys tells you about a farm house outside of town? And after a SWAT raid, it turns out not to be the case - its an abandoned farm or the home of a cop he doesn't like?

Worse, what if he give up everything completely honestly - fopr a few hundred years information extracted under torture is inadmissible as evidence. Everyone walks as a result.

Well done Paul, well done.

Instead of being worried about a hypothetical daughter in a hypothetical situation that would never occur, he should be worried about his actual son lest he be captured by the Taliban. Paul might not be such a fan of "enhanced interrogation" then...

Sauce for the goose and all that Paullie.

Ti-Guy said...

"you mercurial crank"

Hey, that's what my parents used to call me.

Niles said...

Well, I do like the first presumption there. That the *cops* are going to torture the 'suspect' in custody, ladeedah. And that it's a public enough sporting event that the *parent* will be aware of it and/or have any say in the process as to inciting or stopping.

Here I thought NorAm law enforcement had advanced to the point they simply farmed out torture to prison inmate committees, especially in cases of child rapists. The old 'co-operate with us or we'll put you in gen-pop' promise.

24 aside, it's no wonder torture is considered a game winner when such ingrained acceptance of prison-based torture is an unofficial staple of legal punishment.

vw: tonters