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View Diary: Rumsfeld's Revenge: Army Field Manual to Allow Torture (217 comments)

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  •  but haven't courts (5+ / 0-)

    pretty consistently denounced the idea of "unlawful enemy combatants"?  so wouldn't that invalidate any appendices outlining acceptable treatment of "unlawful enemy combatants"?  am i missing something?

    "Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 02:00:52 PM PST

    •  I don't think it matters. (7+ / 0-)

      I don't really think that the torture policy is set to end under the Obama Administration either.

      This is me of little faith, but torture unfortunately is only new now because it is openly and enthusiastically being used - it was always going on in the background to some degree or another.

      There is a reason why no one wants to look back and it ain't to make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy inside - it is to keep their options open in the new Administration.

      •  Once upon a time, most torture ... (11+ / 0-)

        ...was carried on by U.S. surrogates, although, in the shadows, U.S. agents often stood by, giving more than a wink or a nod. The CIA created a torture manual for its Central American proxies in the 1980s (death squads, military and the contras), and, in Vietnam, torture was carried on quite widely both by ARVN surrogates and U.S. agents. It's nothing new, as you say, except for the attempt to legitimize it by Cheney-Bush.

        Americans do not like to think of themselves as aggressors, but raw aggression is what took place in Iraq. - John Prados

        by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 03:02:34 PM PST

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        •  I think the threat of prosecution probably (10+ / 0-)

          helped keep it to a dull roar.  At the moment, it is clear that there are many, many people including some fairly well-known Senators who want it to be all the rage - a first resort rather than a last.

          I get the impression that they have established a precedent that we won't be able to reverse - because basically no one was prosecuted prior to the Bush/Cheney era - but they knew they could be - now it is the defining moment and it seems we are likely to define ourselves as torturers - and the fact that even if Dems do not have the backbone to prosecute - we all know down to the core that there will not be the slightest hesitation amongst the Republicans to prosecute Democrats who engage in this practice - therefore it must be made legal now.  It is gross, despicable, frustrating and soul-killing stuff, but it will be done now without any threat of retribution.  Until of course this nation falls and the irony is that we've never probably been nearer to that possibility given our incredibly precarious situation internationally, economically, legally, and emotionally.

          The British Empire bit it - the Incans and Aztecs imploded - the Romans - etc.  We would just be one in a long list of great societies that ultimately did ourselves in with excess and stupidity...

          •  You are so right (8+ / 0-)

            This is the defining moment. The power has shifted in the White House. The "good guys" are now supposedly in charge. If they leave torture standing, if they let torturers off the hook, then what will have been "defined" is something too terrible for me to want to consider. It will mean the downfall of our society. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but the moral rot that is already far advanced will continue, until the entire edifice is destroyed.

            War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

            by Valtin on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:32:05 PM PST

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          •  The Incas and Aztecs saw 75+% of ... (4+ / 0-)

            ...their populations wiped out by disease first; they never really paid for their attempts to expand their empires until the alien others arrived from across the sea. But the Maya did themselves in.

            Americans do not like to think of themselves as aggressors, but raw aggression is what took place in Iraq. - John Prados

            by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 05:17:35 PM PST

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          •  On January 10, Charles Taylor Jr. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Was sentenced to 97 years in jail for torture, conspiracy to commit torture, and firearms charges IN FLORIDA.  Sound familiar to what BushCo did?  Charles Taylor, Jr. was born in Boston, MA., so he is a US citizen.  Kinda like Bush.

            Here is an excerpt from the CNN article:  "Taylor, also known as Charles McArthur Emmanuel, was convicted October 30 of torture, conspiracy to commit torture and firearm charges.

            His case, tried in Miami, was the first brought under a 1994 U.S. law saying those accused of committing torturous acts overseas can be tried in a U.S. federal court, as long as the person is a U.S. national or is present in the United States, regardless of nationality".

            Below is the link to the CNN article:


            We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. -Martin Luther King.

            by Eyes Wide Open on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 09:51:10 PM PST

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            •  And your point is? (0+ / 0-)

              Charles Taylor may be a US citizen, but he is not a former US President or a member of a former US Presidential Administration.

              While I like to imagine the Hague jumping in if our government fails to seek justice, I know that that scenario is a total pipedream - it will never happen.  Because the prosecution of an American President in an international court would be viewed as a serious compromise of our autonomy as a country - imagine how other countries feel - but Americans don't do that - anyhow my point above was that if we continue to irritate our neighbors around the world by prosecuting them - invading them - plucking people out of countries and holding them at secret or public sites without any effort to try them - and protecting our own when they break the law - and our economic status continues on a downward spiral then we lose ultimately - that's my opinion anyway.

        •  Oh yes, it matters a lot, inclusiveheart (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, Creosote, Valtin, bigchin

          MB says it's nothing new, except for the attempt to legitimize it ... But that THE most important change with regards to "restrain" torture impulses.

          Even if "it's nothing new", the step to legalize torture, changes the climate drastically, in which torture can blossom.

          "It's always going on in the background to some degree or another" you say, yes, but usually with the backing of the Geneva convention you could count that at least some people, who heard about the torture, felt ashamed and outraged and some might be willing to talk truth to power and accuse the torturers. May be the people themselves, who tortured, felt at least somewhat guilty and ashamed and fearful of the world's judgement, especially if it could lead to a trials or war crimes later on.

          If it's legalized, nothing stops the masses to behave like mass murderers, and any inhibition is gone. If your own sense of shame is gone, your own moral compass is destroyed, and that it what makes people capable of torturing the enemy with conviction and compassion, because the mind of the torturer believes that he is doing "the right thing", may be he believes that the torture he engages in is "a God-given mission".

          Obama folks need to look at the Field Manual's text. I remember the discussion over the rewrite of the Manual and because it's so complicated and got not much press back then, it's even more important.

    •  Good question, but answer is no (12+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately, "unlawful enemy combatants" is a category with status in the laws of war.

      However, the controversy has been about determining who is such a combatant, and what rights they might have.

      Re rights, that's what all the hubbub was about re the application of Common Article 3 to the Gitmo prisoners. They denied them coverage of the POW Geneva Convention (Convention III), and also of the Civilian Convention (Convention IV), which they should have. In Appendix M, for instance, the Army goes out of its way to deny POW coverage to the "Separation" techniques. Just because they claim they adhere to Geneva, btw, doesn't mean they do.

      The other controversy as to do with determining who is or isn't a combatant, and of what sort. In the Vietnam War, the U.S. used Article 5 hearings, almost 1200 of them, to determine status of captured individuals. Article 5 determination hearings are described in Geneva III. Here's a sample of the current right-wing opposition to Article 5 hearings, which the ill-fated Military Commissions Act seems also to have doomed.

      Instead, BushCo relied on Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT), which critics have rightly called a rubber stamp for the military. Some of the Gitmo prosecutors who resigned cited the flawed CSRTs as a reason.

      For a good, if a little dated discussion, see Joseph Margulies' book, Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power.

      I enjoy getting these difficult but relevant questions. Thanks.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 02:19:02 PM PST

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      •  not really Valtin (6+ / 0-)

        unlawful enemy combatants is not a legal status.  If somebody takes part in hostilities and that person is an "unprivileged belligerent" (the proper term), that simply means that they do not enjoy the full protection of GVA III.  They then become a civilian taking direct part in hostilities. In that case, they are subject to protection of the 1V convention, in the case of occupied territory, and in any even the full panoply of human rights protections afforded to any other civilian.  What they lose is only their immunity from prosecution.
        There is no third category - every person is either civilian or combatant.  That is the view of the ICRC and most states.
        Otherwise, excellent diary.
        The army field manual is the wrong way to go.

        a further point...
        There is no way to define torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by enumerating forms of acceptable or proscribed techniques.  Even the most benign procedures become ill-treatment when used in a certain context.  For Guantanamo detainees (not to mention those in secret detention centers), even if they had not been subject to interrogation at all, their prolonged and indefinite detention in a setting like Guahtanamo would consitutie proscribed ill-treatment under international law.

        "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

        by normal family on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 03:03:44 PM PST

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        •  You have clarified it (6+ / 0-)

          That's why I did say they should be covered under the civilian convention. I was relying on attorney Joseph Margulies, who writes that "unlawful combatants" and "unprivileged combatants," or "unprivileged belligerents" are really the same things. He argued Rasul v Bush before the Supreme Court, so who am I to disagree?

          The main point is that all prisoners not POWs would be civilians, as you note, covered by the Fourth Convention.

          I am correct that the term has some history. The Bushies relied on Ex parte Quinn, which says:

          Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful.

          Furthermore, the Military Commmissions Act has now written the label into U.S. law. -- I just want you to know where I got my understanding of the issue.

          But I don't think we really disagree on anything essential at all. As I wrote in the diary:

          Every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third [POW] Convention, [or] a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention.... There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:04:14 PM PST

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          •  yes-thank you (6+ / 0-)

            Of course, Quinn, for all of its other difficulties, was decided before the elaboration of 1949 Geneva Conventions (and subsequent international humanitarian law) and modern human rights law.   The dominant international law view is that they should not be tried by any military jurisdiciton, but by ordinary civilian courts.
            The Military Commissions Act was one of the worst pieces of legislation ever!


            "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it."- Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"

            by normal family on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 04:29:13 PM PST

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    •  no, due to wink-wink clause (12+ / 0-)

      The AFM has the general rule that torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment is banned. BUT, then it says the following:

      5-75. If used in conjunction with intelligence interrogations, prohibited actions include, but are not limited to—
      • Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a
      sexual manner.
      • Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee; using duct tape
      over the eyes.
      • Applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or other forms of physical
      • "Waterboarding."
      • Using military working dogs.
      • Inducing hypothermia or heat injury.
      • Conducting mock executions.
      • Depriving the detainee of necessary food, water, or medical care.

      The methods on this list constitute torture, as determined by the US government officials, either in isolation or when used in some permutations of combinations.

      Why would the AFM have section 5-75 when there is a general rule against torture and CID?

      The entire section is prefaced with this proviso:

      If used in conjunction with intelligence interrogations

      Thus, wink/wink, if these actions are used for some purpose other than interrogation, they might be permissible even though the AFM has a general ban ostensibly on both torture and CID.

      "Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans." -- Jacques Cousteau

      by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 02:32:00 PM PST

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