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« Single-Payer: Is Nationalized Health Coverage the Way to Go? | Main | Two Administrations, Torture, and National Security »

Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Everyone Should See TORTURING DEMOCRACY

In all the recent debate over torture, many of our Beltway pundits and politicians have twisted themselves into verbal contortions to avoid using the word at all.

During his speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute last week – immediately on the heels of President Obama’s address at the National Archives – former Vice President Dick Cheney used the euphemism "enhanced interrogation" a full dozen times.

Smothering the reality of torture in euphemism of course has a political value, enabling its defenders to diminish the horror and possible illegality. It also gives partisans the opening they need to divert our attention by turning the future of the prison at Guantanamo Bay into a “wedge issue,” as noted on the front page of Sunday’s NEW YORK TIMES.

According to the TIMES, “Armed with polling data that show a narrow majority of support for keeping the prison open and deep fear about the detainees, Republicans in Congress started laying plans even before the inauguration to make the debate over Guantanamo Bay a question of local community safety instead of one about national character and principles.“

No political party would dare make torture a cornerstone of its rejuvenation if people really understood what it is. And lest we forget, we’re not just talking about waterboarding, itself a trivializing euphemism for drowning.

If we want to know what torture is, and what it does to human beings, we have to look at it squarely, without flinching. That’s just what a powerful and important film, seen by far too few Americans, does. TORTURING DEMOCRACY was written and produced by one of America’s outstanding documentary reporters, Sherry Jones.

A longtime colleague, Sherry Jones and the film were honored this week with the prestigious RFK Journalism Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. TORTURING DEMOCRACY was cited for its “meticulous reporting,” and described as “the definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history.”

Unfortunately, as events demonstrate, the story is not yet history; the early chapters aren’t even closed. Torture still is being defended as a matter of national security, although by law it is a war crime, with those who authorized and executed it liable for prosecution as war criminals. The war on terror sparked impatience with the rule of law – and fostered the belief within our government that the commander-in-chief had the right to ignore it.

TORTURING DEMOCRACY begins at 9/11 and recounts how the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to make coercive detention and abusive interrogation the official U.S. policy on the war on terror. In sometimes graphic detail, the documentary describes the experiences of several of the men who held in custody, including Shafiq Rasul, Moazzam Begg and Bisher al-Rawi, all of whom eventually were released. Charges never were filed against them and no reason was ever given for their years in custody.

The documentary traces how tactics meant to train American troops to survive enemy interrogations – the famous SERE program (“Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape”) – became the basis for many of the methods employed by the CIA and by interrogators at Guantanamo and in Iraq, including waterboarding (which inflicts on its victims the terror of imminent death), sleep and sensory deprivation, shackling, caging, painful stress positions and sexual humiliation.

“We have re-created our enemy's methodologies in Guantanamo,” Malcolm Nance, former head of the Navy’s SERE training program, says in TORTURING DEMOCRACY. “It will hurt us for decades to come. Decades. Our people will all be subjected to these tactics, because we have authorized them for the world now. How it got to Guantanamo is a crime and somebody needs to figure out who did it, how they did it, who authorized them to do it… Because our servicemen will suffer for years.”

In addition to its depiction of brutality, TORTURING DEMOCRACY also credits the brave few who stood up to those in power and said, “No.” In Washington, there were officials of conviction horrified by unfolding events, including Alberto Mora, the Navy's top civilian lawyer, Major General Thomas Romig, who served as Judge Advocate General of the US Army from 2001 to 2005 and Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, a former senior prosecutor with the Office of Military Commissions.

Much has happened since the film’s initial telecast on some public television stations last fall. Once classified memos from the Bush administration have been released that reveal more details of the harsh techniques used against detainees whose guilt or innocence is still to be decided.

President Obama has announced he will close Guantanamo by next January, with the specifics to come later in the summer. That was enough to set off hysteria among Democrats and Republicans alike who don’t want the remaining 240 detainees on American soil – even in a super maximum security prison, the kind already holding hundreds of terrorist suspects. The president also triggered criticism from constitutional and civil liberties lawyers when he suggested that some detainees may be held indefinitely, without due process.

But in an interview with Radio Free Europe this week, General David Petraeus, the man in charge of the military’s Central Command, praised the Guantanamo closing, saying it "sends an important message to the world" and will help advance America’s strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In another revealing and disturbing development, the former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson, has suggested what is possibly as scandalous a deception as the false case Bush and Cheney made for invading Iraq. Colonel Wilkerson writes that in their zeal to prove a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein during the months leading up to the Iraq war, one suspect held in Egypt, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, was water tortured until he falsely told the interrogators what they wanted to hear.

That phony confession that Wilkerson says was wrung from a broken man who simply wanted the torture to stop was then used as evidence in Colin Powell’s infamous address to the United Nations shortly before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Colin Powell says everything in his speech was vetted by the CIA and that Wilkerson’s allegation is only speculation. We’ll never know the full story – al-Libi died three weeks ago in a Libyan prison. A suicide.

Or so they say.

No wonder so many Americans clamor for a truth commission that will get the facts and put them on the record, just as TORTURING DEMOCRACY has done. Then we can judge for ourselves.

As the editors of the magazine THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY wrote this week, “Convening a truth commission on torture would be embarrassing to the U.S. in the short term, but in the long run it would demonstrate the strength of American democracy and confirm the nation's adherence to the rule of law….Understandably, [the President] wants to turn the page on torture. But Americans should not turn the page until they know what is written on it.”


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Comments

It is a matter of National Security when a high federal official is “accused” of a criminal act (breaks the law). Those who Plan and authorize a crime are as guilty as those that perform the criminal act.

I will point out that the prisoners (vermin – most + the innocent) in the American prison at Guantanomo have never been found guilty of anything. They have not been subjected to “enhanced interrogation” for hours, days, weeks, or months but for years. Talk about total and utter failure. No evidence to justify “any kind” of court proceeding has been accumulated.

I find it ironic that if Dick Cheney is arrested (accused) for a criminal act (it is a matter of National Security) his lawyers cannot argue that the use of “enhanced interrogation” is illegal. Is it ok to bring the same interrogators (with medical staff) from Guantanamo to question him? Or for that matter, question any of the other “high federal officials” from the Bush administration accused of the same crime? It absolutely is a matter of “National Security”. Read the first sentence.

Ignorance of the law is not a shield. That is why all FBI investigators (interrogators) are lawyers. If the law was broken then “all” involved in breaking that law should be prosecuted. For those that acted from legal guidance, that is what Presidential pardons are for. We cannot fix something unless it is yanked into glaring unpleasant public view.

During the past three years "The Journal" has posted two segments from "Expose'". Specifically, those stories about the two investigative journalists at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer who were researching - line by tedious line - Defense Department expenditures buried / hidden in the Defense Appropriations Bill. This was (is?) excellent work, and harkens to Justice Brandeis' words "Sunshine is the best disinfectant".

Any word, Bill, of what is going on with these gentlemen and their research team now that The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has shuffled this mortal coil?

I posted this on the other Moyers item dealing with torture so I’m posting it here also.

For the purposes of this post I will address the implications of interrogation methods that are legal under federal law.

Under the Bush presidency the Attorney General’s office repeatedly issued legal opinions (memos) declaring the interrogation methods used on the prisoners at Gauntanamo as legal under United States federal law.

Federal law trumps state and local law.

Can I expect my local police department to expand their interrogation facility to include a totally bare concrete refrigerated room equipped with strobe lights and massive sound system, a room with a chair equipped with shackles and bolted to the floor, a room for hanging prisoners by the hands, and not least a room equipped for water torture (defines the equipment)?

Do not scoff. Gauntanamo is an American prison. Those prisoners are awaiting trial. Besides information they are being interrogated to establish guilt for the purposes of trial. If the interrogation methods applied to those prisoners are legal then “they are legal any where”. If it is legal then it can and will be used.

Any arrested/ captured (military) US citizen can be interrogated with any of these methods because it is legal under US federal law. I am not just talking about foreign governments.

Your teenage daughter gets arrested (misdemeanor level) for a bag of marijuana. In the limited interrogation time before bail, the local detective wants the name of the drug dealer. So she is stripped naked (her cloths could get wet), strapped to a board, and subjected to the repeated torment of simulated drowning. Of course she is not really drowning. The mind knows but the body does not. So the body reacts normally in its usual violent way brutally traumatizing the mind. This method was used because it can be applied in minutes and at worse completed in a couple of hours. The other methods can take days.

When the word comes that bail has been met, she is dried, dressed, processed out, and handed over to her parents. Other than bruising from the straps and utter exhaustion she is physically intact. We all know that the mental damage and total utter fear of the police is permanent. The parents are angry and horrified at what the detective did to their daughter.

Of course what was done to their daughter was a legal interrogation method. So under the law the police did not brutalize her. Now, the police have a new enemy. As time passes it becomes the whole community.

Until the Bush reign, interrogation of a prisoner (civilian or military) was limited to those methods local police could subject the arrested too. The American people in consensus applied these limited methods to all local/state/federal interrogators. Our military (they are part of the American people) wrote them into their rules and regulations. They are imbedded in treaties and foreign policy statements.

The problem we are faced with is not about torture.

Prior to the Bush reign, the allowed methods of interrogation were so far removed from torture that it wasn’t even on the horizon. We did that to protect “our” prisoners of war and citizens wherever they may be. They insured that our communities and the police worked together.

We as a people and a society need to use our laws to codify those limits again. To set them in concrete so there is no ambiguity for the future.


Torture sucks, we shouldn't do it. Anything more severe than being forced to watch a daily hour of Faux News should be well within the definition.

As a side note, this is the first comment section I've ever read which feature flame wars using words so obscure that I can't even follow the dialog.

This verbally abstruse tennis match may boost a few egos but please be aware that no one is really interested.

Yea, that's right, I said it... abstruse! I can use an online thesaurus as well... aren't I special!

What does it take to wake up a sleeping society? When do people rise up? When their whole family have been killed? When they are hungry? How about overcharged and unemployed? Sick?

It amazes me how people just love to believe in someone because it makes them feel more secure. (see Obama)

If Obama is acting in American's best interest, he will eventually be terminated just like Lincoln and Kennedy.

If he isn't acting in America's best interests, he is evil personified.

My opinion is, yes he's got nice dark skin, but inside are festering maggots.

Remember, only the biggest rat ever gets to be head of the rat race.

I like to have faith in people, but I just can't have it for someone who has not ceased the murder and mayhem (which has been building since the 2nd WW).

Kennedy wanted full disclosure, accountability, and communication.
All I ever heard in Obama's ridiculous campaign was "change" as if that said it all. No, he was only warning us, life was going to get much worse.
Question all authority.

I remember Grenada, where all those medical students were in peril of being distracted from upcoming board exams. That tourist runway was just too big a temptation for Daddy Reagan to tolerate. We barely exterminated those commies in two hours with great risk and valor. Some of those dead Cubans were still firing their shovels after being decapitated. Such is the world of peaceful contractors who wire toilets and plumb control panels. Jeremy says we already educated some of those Chilean hash slingers at WHINSEC, and now we're providing them welfare jobs because torture is slow at home. People who juggle numbers of contractors are missing the point on sovereignty and on buggetary concerns as well as on dirty war.

I wonder if anyone at the program actually looked at the Pentagon's numbers.

http://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/hot_topics.html

The total number of ARMED contractors is only 14,854. Contractors provide expertise and service at all levels and of various disciplines throughout the government, the DoD included. The highlighting of the number of contractors being used in Iraq and Afghanistan the way it's done in this segment is quite ridiculous.

I watched this program about a week ago and was very close to pulling my hair out of my head! This program just proves Limbaugh and Hannity's point on how liberal our media is. The entire "documentary" was completely one-sided. You can call it torture, you can call it enhanced interigation, I call it a necessary evil. People talk about the Geneva Conventions and how this is a violation of that. Well the Geneva Conventions is supposed to apply to Uniformed Soldiers. Last time I checked, we were fighting people who masquerade as civilians, only to ambush our men without regard for our lives. They capture our men and torture them while they videotape it, only to have it aired on Al Jazeera. Liberals have showed their Anit-American spirit through this film as well as in your support for the actions of our facist president Mr. Obama. You seem to care more about the people who are killing our soldiers, than the soldiers themselves.

I wonder what would drive a person to be so cruel as to inflict such brutality on another living soul? We are not "civilized." What are human beings fighting to protect if they have to sink so low as to torture each other? And what about the men and women who are "trained" to brutalize others in the name of "national security?" What happens when those people return to their families? How safe are their own families and neighborhoods? Ever since 9/11 the United States has taken a nose-dive into greater inhumanity and less compassion. Osama Bin Laden doesn't need to attack us again. We are imploding from within. When we think the rules don't apply to our behavior we had better take a long, hard look at what has become of us.

To the greedy ruthless oligarchy human decencies are only "Ciderhouse Rules."
Anna is right; beecham is right; What business is you in, Jack?" The "specialists" should fish that butt out of the vat, not be cutting us.
Maybe Bill Moyers has found a home,"Goodnight, Bill. Goodnight you Princesses and Princes of Maine, you Kings and Queens of New England. Goodnight Coco Taylor and David Carradine."

The only reason that there even can be a debate on torture in the US is 9/11.

Without 9/11 there is no

Afghanistan
Iraq
Patriot Act
Military Commissions Act
Homeland Security
Illegal Spying
Torture
Etc

This debate is built on false assumptions. The 9/11 story has been completely taken apart many times over. It is false. It is a lie. It is a scam. It is an insult to the people of this country.

To defend torture requires one to believe that those conducting the torture have noble motives. Besides the fact that it has been shown again and again that this government regularly lies and cheats its own population, noble motives can never be proven. And if a government was noble, what happens when it becomes corrupted? Will it then give up its power? No, it will demand even more power, as our government is now doing. Torture is an indication of corruption. Torture is not for some vague, ever-changing enemy that lives in a cave. It is for the people of the US. It is only a matter of time before we are debating that point.

Our dear friend from the military keeps speaking of the enemy. Enemy of who or what? Our government identifies anyone who in any way opposes its agenda as the enemy. Our own government is a far greater threat to peace and freedom than anyone living in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Osama and Saddam were nothing more than bogeymen to get the American people worked up, fearful, and willing to give up their rights to keep them safe, never realizing that it is our rights that keep us safe.

There hasn't been anything even remotely resembling a "just war" since the WORD "war" was empowered with the description "holy".

There is no other country in the world that has a propaganda machine humming along 24/7 guided by the ASSuption that people are "stupid". It's the first aspect of "popular" culture that visitors from civilized countries notice. The visitors who have a COMPLETELY different data base of facts about the "Third Reich" and "Bolsheviks" take "facts" fed the "stupid" people back home and use the information wisely.

Thanks, Grady and Jack for cluing us all in to the "macoutes". What to do with those who, even if you paid them more, would still get more enjoyment from promoting the iniquity that is torture as "genuine concern for discourse"?

Shadow governments with mercenary armies following protocols written at the turn of the 20th century - well, the HOPE was that USA would not have ended up in their hands.

It has. We need to make decisions based on the cards we were dealt. We The People do NOT have proper representation - 300 million USA citizens are NOT represented by 100 senators, under 500 congress people, and especially NOT represented in the Supreme Court which exists to protect corporate interests ever since HUMAN rights were transferred from humans to $$$ with the sneaky editing of a pen by a well-placed underling who's boss entrusted with reading and editing "laws".

"Genuine concern for discourse" DOES include a chat among a few "independent thinkers" on a PBS forum about what to do about a FREE-roaming, rich and permanent criminal class in the halls of "power". Freedom of speech, in the final analysis, is freedom of religion. The manufacturing of data for a "holy war", indeed, by definition, would have to use "torture" to manufacture it. So, yes, it was "effective".

Is that what the "specialist" wanted to discourse upon?

Yes, Sir, torture DOES achieve an end.

In response to me, Mr Howard writes,

"I do not disrespect any service member as an individual per se, but when one adopts Dick Cheney as their grandfather I naturally get upset."

I assume to adopt Dick Cheney as one's grandfather in this context means to accept or embrace him and/or his policies especially those regarding torture. Indeed, it is my opinion that most of his policies have been disastrous and uncritical allegiance to him is ill-advised. However, of all the critiques of his stance on torture I rarely if ever hear his detractors attack the effectiveness of torture. Instead his critics often ignore the issue of torture and effectiveness altogether and take torture's alleged immorality as a *given*. If I have failed to convince you of the unsoundness of your faux-arguments, I can only hope to have displayed a genuine concern for discourse.

Mr. Howard writes,

"I would not characterize my rebuttal as ad hominem, for it seems the provoking post was tactically placed to draw reaction, not to convince. It is bulls++t when you tell me how much decisionmaking an enlisted grunt does. (You decide whether to rape or torture, whether to kill their pets or threaten their loved ones? Whether to torch their gardens? I laugh in horror.)"

If by "bulls**t" he means false, then I cannot help but disagree. A great deal of testimony would do justice to the fact that servicemen and women cannot successfully operate within a hostile environment by refusing to think or by being ambivalent to thought. My illustration of the logical deduction of a conclusion from legal premises provides an inkling as to the responsibilities of servicemen and women in the field. They must employ the same technique for a repertoire of other rules and regulations. This is, however, only one example. How does Mr. Howard believe military units cooperate and coordinate their operations and actions? They nevertheless do it. Even the most verminous of military regimes in the past had to think a great deal in order to wage successful conquests (even if their campaignes were immoral). The obligations of today's serviceman are different however. He must ensure that his actions are congruent with just war theory as well as conducive to operational success, i.e., he must fulfill two broad ends simultaneously.

Regarding rape, torture, and any unlawful attacks against animals and people committed by military personel, the fact that it is unlawful demonstrates that it is incidental, in comparison to the conduct of the armies of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union who encouraged these acts. Incidental, criminal acts are those which cannot be completely eliminated - they may only be reduced. Mr. Howard's statement/question is nevertheless a smear though he should feel solace that he certainly is not alone in his belief, I can assure him.

Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army (-_-)

The "specialist " can apparently not imagine himself the resident of an occupied country. Neither can he imagine himself as a captive or enemy combatant. I took the automaton stance after hearing on Memorial Day that "our terroops" were "so intelligent" because of their good equipment. (I also heard that NASCAR is the perfect activity to exemplefy their service.) I do not disrespect any service member as an individual per se, but when one adopts Dick Cheney as their grandfather I naturally get upset. I would not characterize my rebuttal as ad hominem, for it seems the provoking post was tactically placed to draw reaction, not to convince. It is bulls++t when you tell me how much decisionmaking an enlisted grunt does. (You decide whether to rape or torture, whether to kill their pets or threaten their loved ones? Whether to torch their gardens? I laugh in horror.)

As promised I will not reply again to this macoute mercenary. Welcome back Anna D.. You have been missed. I try to write here just as I would speak to a coworker or another mass transit passenger, but of course I have the advantage of being 3'2" and 65 lbs. and rather the worse for wear.

Conversations in real life with real people are COMPLETELY different than what is going on on the internet forums.

Let's hope that you all are doing this for the money. Because if you are creating hell on earth just for fun (ie. "because I can") then there really is no hope - FOR YOU.

And the rest of us can move on from the delusion that if we paid you enough, you'd actually stop doing insane stuff and go back to being human.

Obviously, it's not just about money and power. It's just nuts.

Grady Lee Howard has responded to my previous comments regarding torture, but instead of arguing ad rem or "to the point" he has argued beside the point. He does this by suggesting that I may be indoctrinated or brainwashed:

"Lower ranks, like SPC, are subject to extreme indoctrination in boot camp and in other specialized training. Like a McDonald's fry cook they don't think, but move in a rehearsed way without thinking. If Lambeit were real would he be a well-placed intelligence operative, or maybe a subconscious time bomb set to explode on command."

Ad hominem attacks, by themselves, are not arguments. I assume he disagrees with my position on torture, given his vitriole and conspiracy-laden assertions. Given that he alleges that "lower ranks" act without thinking, one must conclude that he knows little about military service - and this is putting it charitably. Soldiers and marines must take the tactics, skills, and "jus in bello" doctrine they learn in training and apply them scrupulously within the field. For example, even the most basic of applications requires deductive reasoning:

-The rules of engagement are rules that all military personel must abide by.

-The discrimination between targets of military necessity and militarily irrelevant battefield phenomena is a rule of engagement

-Therefore, the discrimination between targets of military necessity and militarily irrelevant battefield phenomena is rule that all military personel must abide by.

Soldiers and marines must employ similar deduction in the application of a litany of various (and sometimes contradictory) rules of engagement. This belies Mr. Howard's assertion that the "lower ranks" refrain from thinking, as deduction is a most legitimate form of thought. Incidental acts of unreason on the part of military personel are just that - incidental (no doubt this is on the mind of Mr. Howard given the tone and content of his response, yet it would be an inductive fallacy - a stereotype actually - to assert that since some military personel act imprudently, that therefore military personel are unwise *in general* or that military personel are reckless *per se*, a fashionable but nevertheless invalid inference).

Now, even IF one would extend Mr. Howard credit and take his suggestion that my comments are merely the musings of an irreparably indoctrinated automoton as true, it does not follow that my argument that a normative evaluation of torture rests on an examination of its effectivness or ineffectiveness as an instrument to be used to safeguard Americans from foreign aggression - it does not follow that therefore my argument is invalid or unsound.

Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army (-_-)

Correspondents: Please stop playing "Michael Lambeit's" mercenary game. If he were an honest discussant he would not need the terms "SPC" or "US Army." The implications should be apparent to an intelligent person. Active military personnel are proscribed in their political discussion (especially officers). Lower ranks, like SPC, are subject to extreme indoctrination in boot camp and in other specialized training. Like a McDonald's fry cook they don't think, but move in a rehearsed way without thinking. If Lambeit were real would he be a well-placed intelligence operative, or maybe a subconscious time bomb set to explode on command. I assert that indentured servitude in the military is both unnatural and unjust, just like torture, another obedient evil in the service of the insatiable powerful oligarchy. I would thank those in uniform for their service had they been allowed to carry out anything but a mercenary mission for the wealthy class. Bad apples are made not born.

Forgotten, decontextualized, having no living links, crammed down the memory hole, irrelevent, a moral failure, a lost leaning experience for humanity= the academic exercise of history= elite uses of folklore.

1. Waterboarding= a euphemism for ritualized serial and mass murder methods methods including electro-shock, burning, rape and bodily invasion, vivisection, deconstruction of the mind through the degradation of the body. (See Michael Foucault's work to understand the deterrant and intimidation applications.) Obama censored the new photos because they include rapes and insertions, exotic and perverse experiments that show the nature of US underculture.

2.Tiannamen Square= After 20 years (I have heard our commentators guess 30 years.) an uprising for freedom now erased from Chinese cultural memory. (I'm sure a few silently recall as we recall our shames, like Mai Lai, the Warren Commission, the 9/11 Commission....) Tank man with his two shopping bags is highly related to our coming collapse of empire and hardship because we have failed to address questions of moral hierarchy.

3. The now forgotten fall of Soviet Russia and how it became resurrected into the model of oligarchy. No middle ground as Gorbachev had hoped, but only heartless speculative commerce: a freed market? (Who helped this monster escape?)
4."Never forget"-
a. The institutional racism intended as Zionists use the word "Arab" in a quest for real estate.
b. Elie Weisel's ("to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest crime of all") foundation funds disappeared in the Madoff sector of the Meltdown. Would these funds have been used to bring torturers to justice?
c. Racist hatred as vibrant and alive as lightning in the criticism of Sonia Sotomojor, attitudes reborn from the civil rights 60s. Bestowing permission to question nominees by sex and ethnic heritage. Take this in the context of captive Puerto Rico, in the context of modern off-shore US war history with many racist genocides beginning in the Spanish American War. And all so excessive when one considers Sotomajor as a co-opted and colluded advocate of corporate business rights. But then, if a Puerto Rican woman billionaire ever faces a tort she might get a "fair hearing." Xenophobic hatred is a tool of empire.
d. Late term abortion doctor shot in church: Did his killer act alone like Oswald, like Tim McVeigh? Oh, they always "act alone", totally outside the context of the cultural dynamic. The "bad apples" always act alone. They act alone even when receiving permission and instructions from "contractors", who receive it in a proper chain of custody from secret emissaries, who receive it from Dick Cheney's or Nixon's or FDR's toadies. They hang out to dry all alone, twisting in the wind. And you call discussion of what happens behind locked prison gates in the dark 12,000 miles away, in "our name", free and fair discussion. (What we have here on Moyers is discussion among apologists and disingenuous mercenary advocates, struggling for rhetorical advantage in a political game, burying the past.

5. Secretary Geithner gives a credit report to the Chinese elite. This doesn't concern the American public except as a diversion and implied threat. (We own your house. We own your body. A big tank is on the way.) "Never before have so many "owed" so much to so few." (We exist in a envelope of financial terror at the end of empire.)

6.Barack Obama speaks in a nation of entertaining newspapers, where the Islamic Brotherhood was invented for esoteric uses, a popular rendition destination, where the opposition "operates" in prison. Woe be unto the paper potentate who forgets the tableau of successive Egyptian empires. What kinds of forgetting ears receive his faint and ambiguous message?


More than puppet thugs and tools (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan .... administrations and minions) would have to be called to account to redeem and recalibrate an American Dream. This politico-economic system itself is a suicidal misama that refuses diagnosis, whose prime method is evasion of truth. We haven't been in touch with real events and conditions in a long time. They say it takes humanity 3 generations to totally forget. We can no longer keep the nightmare (where toture is useful and OK) just over the next hill. The sun'll come out tomorrow! We face a terrible demise if we don't confront our banal evil immediately. Prosecute the "bad apples" (as exemplefied by Cheney)and take our overdue collective punishment. The moral debt accumulates and is compounded continuously.

In response to my inquiry ("Are you sure that you KNOW that torture is immoral?") to a critic who refused to even attempt to offer proof or evidence supporting his/her claim that torture was immoral, "guccilittlepiggy" writes,

"Seriously? You're serious? That makes me very very sad. All of you defending the Bush Administration's policies on torture and "enhanced interrogation" are naive, uninformed, and a very bad representation of Americans."

A request to provide evidence confirming the assertion that "torture is immoral" is NOT a defense of the Bush administration, its a attempt to elucidate discourse and to identify another's premises. A blanket allegation, i.e., a claim made without evidence, that is, an arbitrary claim, is a useless one. From my laymen perspective, I'm open to ARGUMENTS as to whether torture is effective or not (I consider the moral evaluation of torture as contingent upon an investigation of how *effective* torture is in defending Americans from foreign aggression). I'm not open (and nor should anyone else for that matter) to ASSERTIONS about tortures without evidence.

I'd hate to be living in a nation who's jurisprudence were as capricious and unreasonable as the argumentative standards exhibited by many on this forum. Thankfully, in law we have got something called the burden of proof. Litigants who make initial allegations against others must fulfill the burden of proof, the duty to publically demonstrate, by appeals to evidence, that their allegations are true, i.e., that they correspond with the facts of reality. Failure to fulfill the burden of proof results in a dismissal of the initial allegation.

In argumentation, we have the same principle. Exclamatory utterances can't pass as informative statements; in fact, they, with a few exceptions, may often be considered as epistemologically equivalent to noise. People may certainly BELIEVE that torture is immoral, but without an appeal to evidence and logical inference, a person who believes that torture is immoral (or that torture is moral) cannot KNOW that torture is such. Belief without knowledge is not a substitute for possession of knowledge.

Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army

"Are you sure that you KNOW that torture is immoral?"

Seriously? You're serious? That makes me very very sad. All of you defending the Bush Administration's policies on torture and "enhanced interrogation" are naive, uninformed, and a very bad representation of Americans.

That someone will say anything to stop the torture is very true. However, I don’t think decisions are made based on torturing one person. If the interrogators have learned from cops, they cross reference information from multiple sources. They mix in questions where they know the answer with those they don’t. I am disappointed that simplistic arguments from people like Jesse Ventura are never challenged.

That said, I am against how our government used torture. It’s what happens when inept ideologues are put in charge with no oversight. I think the benefits of information gained, are outweighed by the cruelty to innocent people and the damage to the image of the US. On the question on whether all forms of torture are bad, I just don’t know. Each side of this debate only gives their side of it. It’s hard to know what’s true.

It’s unfortunate that this show is, at its core, not much different from so many others. It’s so much better than the garbage I hear on the TV talk shows, that I will continue to watch it. However, I don’t trust it. Excellent research, great depth, well presented – it’s a shame it’s so biased.

The United States government is nothing more than puppets for the real power that is American corporations whose only loyality is to the all mighty dollar and could not care less about anything else.

Dear Bill Moyers,
You ended the Torturing and Democracy program on 29 May with a favorable comment about Truth and Justice Commissions. With respect, and as a university lecturer (UC Berkeley) of International Human Rights Law and Policy, I would like to offer a counter-view.
1) Truth Commissions, more than 30 of them, have been utilized in post-conflict societies, and where a stable government is not in a position to offer remedies from within the system. The USA does not qualify on either ground. We demean our system of justice to behave as though justice cannot be achieved within it.
2) Truth Commissions (TCs)
do not intend to lead to prosecutions of acknowledged crimes. Torture is a non-derogably prohibited crime, under both domestic and international law (Convention Against Torture, duly ratified by the US in 1994 and therefore qualifying under Article VI of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land), and the doer is automatically the committer of a criminal act.
3) TCs offer a minimal approach to fulfilling rule of law; there is no prosecution, no firm date and place of hearings, and an implicit message to the US public that a criminal act cannot be handled under the US system of law, but must be buried in an anomalous system outside the many legal processes available.

Why, then, I ask myself, do such trusted figures as yourself, Patrick Leahy, Dennis Kucinich, and Barbara Lee speak favorably of a Truth Commission?
I can only imagine that this is a way of trying to go along with Pres. Obama's stated wish to 'move forward' and not to ruffle too many feathers (cf. his visit to CIA HQ, assuring CIA agents that they will be kept safe from prosecution even if in the course of their duties they committed or were party to the commission of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.).

Shades of Nuremberg! Everyone found guilty of committing a war crime, crime against humanity, etc., must be judged and penalized accordingly. Since long before 2001, all agents of the US were instructed in their responsibilities, as have the armed forces in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and all of them - as professionals - must not be treated as though untrained or ignorant of their duties.

Respectfully but firmly,
Rita Maran, Ph.D., Lecturer of Intl Human Rights Law; author: Torture: TheRole of Ideology in the French-Algerian War
1326 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley CA 94709
phone 510-540-8017

Shame on you Bill Moyers. War is nasty, horrible and frightening. It is simply us against them. When the enemy has no conscience, no comprehension of fair treatment, and has only an appreciation for torture how else can we get the information we need to protect our nation and more importantly our troops? Few people understand that anymore. In this presentation you have stacked the deck against us by making us look like monsters. How sad that these prisoners went through such misery. Why don't you dare to show the apparently more acceptable beheadings or floggings of young women perpetrated by those we are fighting. Never again will I pledge to PBS. You have committed a treasonable act.

Paul, don’t worry. Bill Moyers is here to rescue you. He and Johnson’s Great Society well help you. Moyers married Judith Suzanne Davidson and has three children. His son, William Cope Moyers (CNN producer, Hazelden Foundation spokesman), struggled to overcome alcoholism as detailed in the book Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption. “My Father would leave for days at a time.” Leaving me in a singular room with the light on all the time. Tortutous.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been a leading critic of the Bush administration for authorizing the "torture" (waterboarding) of three captured al-Qaida leaders, despite the fact that former Vice President Dick Cheney says the interrogation methods yielded valuable information from men who had not previously been forthcoming, leading the terrorists to spill the beans on planned attacks that could have killed thousands more Americans.

Now it appears Ms. Pelosi knew all about the methods being used, and raised not a peep of objection. Unless she wants to argue she was dozing during CIA briefings.

!SCHLOCK JOURNALISM!
Moyers ends the segment with “… and his death was ruled a homicide, or so they say.” “or so the say?” That’s not journalism, that’s two old perfumed hens telling gossip after church. (Some Journalist. HA!)

Mr. Montano please take note:

An Open letter to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President,

I enjoyed the "back door" debate you had with ex V.P. Cheney. My personal views on terrorism and anti terrorism methods and policy are strongly coincidental with yours.

However, not-with-standing the rhetoric of "National Values" how do we square our ideals with the systemic corporate terrorism that is ongoing in all the developing countries that have allowed U.S. corporations access to their labor markets?

All but a few corporations, who bear the banner of the land of the free and the home of the brave, have invaded the third world for as long as I can remember, pillaging their resources, enslaving their labor, corrupting the governments and laying waste to the environment, as they went, hell bent for profits. If there has been any act that can be pointed to as a cause for the rise of local indignation and outrage against the United States, one has to consider this at the top of that list.

It is my hope that, someday, all U.S. Corporations will come under all laws of the United States, no matter where in the world they choose to set up shop, and any foreign corporation that sells a product in the United States will, de facto, be subject to the same laws.

With my greatest respect and admiration,
George L. Monahan


This documentary makes no sense. Our enemies do not believe in democracy, they live under all types of tyranny. They do not belong to any specific country, although, they are not a country army. They hate us because what we represent and our history and they are not going to rest until they destroy us. With documentary like "Torturing Democracy" they will have more "arguments" to attach and try to kill us. They are please seeing our stupidity. They bombed our embassies and killed our solders in time of peace and they will do it as many times they can in the future. Do make this any sense; it is right to undermine our government our military and our own moral. It is clear, this police (this documentary) only favor our enemies. PBS is given a poor service to our democracy and great help to our enemies.

I think torture has and will continue to benefit Americans.

American ingenuity has always been first to lead the world in advanced technologies from the automobile to space ships, cell phones and the PC but it has always been some other country that perfected American ingenuity.

That PoS g. w. bush has provided the world with a legal document that gives all countries the legal right to kidnap and torture anyone!

Those that give praise to that PoS g. w. bush on their knees today shall find themselves on their knees tomorrow.

Thank you Bill Moyers for airing this film. Otherwise, I probably never would have even known about it.

I looked for the date this program would air again on my PBS station (they usually run a repeat within a couple of days). But it is not sheduled. I guess the locals had enough spine to broadcast it once, but not twice. How sad: In the waning days of democracy, we're going out not with a bang but a whimper.

Jean Gowland, below, says that she/he watches both NOW and Moyers Journal because these are practically the only programs “worth clicking onto amidst the never-ending torrent of…dumbing-down TV”. I find I agree with this myself and Friday watched NOW just before watching Moyers Journal on St. Louis based PBS. And on this week’s NOW I was thrilled to learn that Van Jones is working with President Obama to make the Green Jobs economy successful. I have been aware of Van Jones innovative work for about 10 years through Bioneers network and annual conferences. And have his book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. This is wonderful important news.
That said, I am wondering if Jean Gowland, who adds that she/he is Canadian, knows the history of NOW. It was a program which Bill Moyers started immediately following 911 to help Americans understand what happened. It was about the present. It initial programs were with Bill meeting and exploring Muslim leaders from around the USA to understand how they viewed what happened on 911. Then after a few years of truly excellent programs with Bill Moyers leading NOW, it is my understanding that the Bush Whitehouse told PBS they could not continue to have Bill Moyers heading NOW program. The general information at the time was that the President (GW Bush) didn’t like what Moyers said and didn’t want Moyers to be able to continue as an anchor. So Moyers agreed to let someone else anchor NOW and for a short while was not anchoring any program. I am not sure how Moyers and PBS got around GW Bush to start The Journal, but am very grateful he and PBS were able to do that – because the programs are very important for America. Including the one on Torturing Democracy – which I have already expressed my support be earlier on this blog. I just thought that Jean Gowland may not be the only person who likes both NOW and the Journal and doesn’t realize that they were both Moyers creations to help Americans in the 21st century. At the time of 911, if my memory is correct, Bill Moyers had left PBS and was doing his own independent film projects. Again, if my memory is accurate, Moyers came back immediately following 911 in response to nation-wide requests among his fans asking him to help them and America understand and cope with 911 – the reality, the wounds and future.

This show is a good example of why all people hired, appointed, or elected to any office or position in the United States Government must be:

1. Born as citizens of the United States to parents that are 100% Citizens of the United States.
2. Must have always remained 100% citizens of the United States.

Torture is wrong. It is, in fact, so wrong that it is not even an issue to theorize, fantasize or debate over. There are no gray areas when it comes to torture. I refuse to ever be anything but assertive on this issue. You don't have to like it. That's just the way it is.

Torture and Democracy is singly, the most disturbing broadcast program that I have ever seen. George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, David Yoo, Alberto Gonzalas, Condoleezza Rice and their cabinet members are America's most heinous war criminals.
I intend to introduce this broadcast to as many people as I can, in the hopes of putting pressure on Congress and the Justice Department to bring charges against these individuals. If I don't act... then I am indeed part of the problem.

As a Canadian I shall not comment on last night's airing on U.S.torture except to say that Bill Moyers Journal and NOW are practically the only t.v.programs worth clicking onto amidst the never-ending torrent of ill-informed punditry, political guessing games, give-away programs and other endlessly revamped dumbing-down degeneracies of T.V.show-biz. Within this sorry melage these two programa are as light in the ever-enclosing darkness and thanks are overdue to PBS for encouraging Moyers and Brancaccio in the dying art of investigative journalism as opposed to the minute-by-minute ill-researched regurgitations of news-anchors and their hastily assembled accolytes, all of whom owe their first allegiance to others rather than to "the people" as served best by PBS.

Michael Labeit

The point of this discussion is of torture and government as it exists, not how it could exist in theory.

I reject the official explanation of 9/11 and further say that the official myth is absurd nonsense and an insult to the American people. Therefore the invasion of Afghanistan is not justified. The invasion of Iraq is not justified. The Patriot Act is not justified. Spying is not justified. Torture is not justified.

The government is at this point totally corrupt, and cannot be trusted on anything, certainly not on subjects as important as torture.

But even only speaking of theory, I reject torture. It is simply too dangerous to trust that the government has noble motives. No one should have that kind of power.

How can the governments motives be proven? How can the government be held responsible?

And who or what gives the government the right to torture? People have rights, not government. The government is the servant of the people, not the other way around. And all people have inalienable rights, not just Americans.

I disagree with you about Bush. I believe he intentionally lied about WMD and that he couldn't care less about democracy.

Jesse Ventura (of all people, but he was a SEAL) had the best last word on this subject. He's supposed to have said,"Give me Dick Cheney and a waterboard in a room for one hour and I'll have him confessing to the Sharon Tate murders."

Cheney and Rumsfeld need to be indicted, prosecuted and imprisoned for the rest of their natural lives.

Thank you for the eye opening report,to bad the mainstream networks haven't the cajones to put this info to the rest of the public. I want my Bush vote back,I was hood winked.
As requested by the writer above,I wish to do my part:
In short, the Truth Will Win Out.

The list of leading American War Criminals must be repeated again and again and again:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Condoleezza Rice
Donald Rumsfeld
Alberto Gonzalez
John Yoo
Jay Bybee

Karma.

Would someone PLEASE prosecute everyone who signed the bill allowing torturous "alternative methods of interrogation," the attorneys who used legalese to justify it, as well as he who held the golden shield (Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld) with WAR CRIMES! We cannot allow this to have been done in OUR NAME! Italy, GB, someone, please!

Bush was so caught up in his legacy he failed to realize this is it. He is a torturing war criminal, period. I am so disgusted by their behavior, not only was it was pure evil to the core, but puts all US residents, service people and allys at risk of the same or worse behavior. How can anyone who voted for Bush live with themselves?

When we undermine our own rule of law and do what the enemy does(i. e., torture, have no respect for our constituion), the enemy does not really need to attack us, we are attacking what is most precious about our democracy--the rule of law and respect for our constitution and the belief in human dignity. If America wants to protect itself, it first needs to restore our rule of law and investigate and prosecute (assuming grounds for prosecution are found) all torturers, promoters of torture, and authorizers of torture. To do less means we are giving in to the enemy and acting like them . We really can't say we are the America of the ideals our founders tried to institute in law.

I watched the “Torturing Democracy” piece on the Journal last night and was once again sickened by the sight of human beings being blatantly tortured, dramatization understood.
I’ve continue to read much about what has gone on and still goes on at Gitmo and in Afghanistan, along with reports of the black CIA sites in other countries.
Jane Mayer’s book, The Dark Side, provided an excellent background to the Bush administration’s use of the US Judiciary to approve of the torture techniques that the Geneva Convention, US law, international prohibit. Cheney and Rumsfeld were the primary architects of the illegal policies, using Bush as a puppet and face for the policy.
It seems to me that the US Congress should bring charges against Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld as war criminals. They should convict them, fine them substantially, and then have the US military bozos at Gitmo hang them by their wrists for 48 hours with no water, nor food, with two speakers blaring AC-DC songs continuously and a strobe light flashing continuously. They deserve much more…
The punishment should include a commitment from each of these three criminals that they travel from colleges and universities around the world making sincere amends for their illegal actions.
Next, Cheney must have had some under the table kickback, let say $50 million, from Halliburton for the contracts they received on a no bid basis in Iraq for seven years. I think a fine of $40 million seems appropriate for the penguin.
Finally, Halliburton should pay some kind of restitution to those individuals who were wrongly accused, tortured, and ultimately released…$1 million a piece sounds fair to me.

After hearing several times "treated like animals" in reference to those being horribly tortured, I turned off your Journal. Why is it that we are to assume that it is an appropriate and normal part of life for humans to torture other species but not their own? The constant comments "....just like an animal" cannot be construed to mean anything other than that it is perfectly normal to torture animals other than human. What has humankind (man) become to take that stance as an everyday assumtion? Do you know anything about the studies which prove that torturing and killing humans almost always begins with torturing animals? Does "just like an animal" compare human torture with mean puppy mills, beating horses, burning cats, or torture in slaughterhouses?
Are we to assume that torturing other species is justified so that we have a comparison to use when measuring torture of humans?

Beecham writes,

"Why do you assume the government is acting on behalf of its citizens? And again why do you assume that torture is carried for the reasons authority figures claim? In the case of the government, what is the difference between belief and objective fact? When does the government ever have to prove its claims? It doesn't."

I gave a description of how I thought government SHOULD act, a theory on the proper conduct of government, NOT an illustration of how government HAS acted. Regarding torture, I presented a series of conditional propositions concerning a proper approach towards the tactic of torture. I surely did not say that "torture is carried for the reasons authority figures claim." I don't extend politicians that sort of credit.

A belief is simply a subscribed-to claim, a proposition that one holds as true. An objective fact is merely an aspect of reality. I hold that government ought to identify objective facts and that government officials ought to believe in claims only when they are supported by other facts. In addition to this, I believe the government must always prove its claims, i.e., must only make allegations that are buttressed by objective facts. Nothing government does should be done through mysticism, i.e., through belief without evidence or in defiance of the evidence, in my opinion because we cannot KNOW by simply believing - we can only ascend to truth by proving, by appealing to observation and logic.

Beecham further writes,

"I and many others reject the official government explanation of 9/11. There is no evidence whatsoever, that Osama Bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Officials in the government have even admitted this. While I in no way support the actions of groups such as the Taliban, that doesn't change the fact that it is the US that is in the wrong. The countries of the Middle East may be imperialist, but they couldn't hope to compare to the imperialism of the US. Again, why do you assume that the US invaded for the reasons authority figures claim?"

I suppose, with all these loaded questions, that you're going to further ask me if I have stopped beating my wife (single and happy however) or if I have finally told my parents that I'm gay (staunch heterosexual).
While I did not "assume that the US invaded for the reasons authority figures claim" I do believe that Bush believed that Saddam possessed WMD and I do believe that Bush believed that democracy was necessary for Iraq. However, since Saddam possessed no WMD apparently and since democracy - the tyranny of the majority - is a lousy social system, it can be asserted that the Iraq campaign was a failure.

Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army

Beecham writes,

"Why do you assume the government is acting on behalf of its citizens? And again why do you assume that torture is carried for the reasons authority figures claim? In the case of the government, what is the difference between belief and objective fact? When does the government ever have to prove its claims? It doesn't."

I gave a description of how I thought government SHOULD act, a theory on the proper conduct of government, NOT an illustration of how government HAS acted. Regarding torture, I presented a series of conditional propositions concerning a proper approach towards the tactic of torture. I surely did not say that "torture is carried for the reasons authority figures claim." I don't extend politicians that sort of credit.

A belief is simply a subscribed-to claim, a proposition that one holds as true. An objective fact is merely an aspect of reality. I hold that government ought to identify objective facts and that government officials ought to believe in claims only when they are supported by other facts. In addition to this, I believe the government must always prove its claims, i.e., must only make allegations that are buttressed by objective facts. Nothing government does should be done through mysticism, i.e., through belief without evidence or in defiance of the evidence, in my opinion because we cannot KNOW by simply believing - we can only ascend to truth by proving, by appealing to observation and logic.

Beecham further writes,

"I and many others reject the official government explanation of 9/11. There is no evidence whatsoever, that Osama Bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Officials in the government have even admitted this. While I in no way support the actions of groups such as the Taliban, that doesn't change the fact that it is the US that is in the wrong. The countries of the Middle East may be imperialist, but they couldn't hope to compare to the imperialism of the US. Again, why do you assume that the US invaded for the reasons authority figures claim?"

I suppose, with all these loaded questions, that you're going to further ask me if I have stopped beating my wife (single and happy however) or if I have finally told my parents that I'm gay (staunch heterosexual).
While I did not "assume that the US invaded for the reasons authority figures claim" I do believe that Bush believed that Saddam possessed WMD and I do believe that Bush believed that democracy was necessary for Iraq. However, since Saddam possessed no WMD apparently and since democracy - the tyranny of the majority - is a lousy social system, it can be asserted that the Iraq campaign was a failure.

I am very glad Bill brought this to everyone's attention. I had hoped that Obama would take this up directly. As he has left it to the House and Senate to act on (so that he only has to act further on this if they push), I am very glad other people are bringing up the truth about Torture and the need for all Americans to know the truth about what happened. This means now pushing the government to investigate to find the truth and confirm the truth about America’s actions in the past 8 years in this area. I have been aware of the information in general on this, but did not know there is a new film. So I am very glad Bill shared it with us. I am very glad it has been made and is out there for people to see and learn from.

In a very closely related topic, I have also been learning more about 911 from a group of Architects and Engineers who have been pushing for a truth investigation about 911. Their web site is: http://www.ae911truth.org/

The back story about building 7, I believe it is, which they have investigated, is shocking. Every American needs to know the truth not just about the Bush teams actions taken and actions ordered on Torture but also the full truth about what happened on 911. I suggest you all look at the ae911truth web site to learn about this and encourage Bill to invite them also to his Journal so they can share what they have learned in their own investigation about what happened on September 11, 2001.

Michael Labeit

Why do you assume the government is acting on behalf of its citizens? And again why do you assume that torture is carried for the reasons authority figures claim? In the case of the government, what is the difference between belief and objective fact? When does the government ever have to prove its claims? It doesn't.

I and many others reject the official government explanation of 9/11. There is no evidence whatsoever, that Osama Bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Officials in the government have even admitted this.

While I in no way support the actions of groups such as the Taliban, that doesn't change the fact that it is the US that is in the wrong. The countries of the Middle East may be imperialist, but they couldn't hope to compare to the imperialism of the US. Again, why do you assume that the US invaded for the reasons authority figures claim?

Jan,

You employ proof by assertion. Simply reasserting a claim won't make it true.

"If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law."

While this is a true proposition, where lies the claim that the ONLY thing prohibiting me from torturing others is the law?

If re-quoting is your fetish, re-quote these:

-If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law (the law banning torture).

-If torture is INeffective, I advocate refraining from using torture.

-If an individual has NOT initiated the use of physical force NOR has threatened to use such force, I advocate refraining from using torture.

-If it has been objectively determined that it is highly UNlikely that an individual is withholding sensitive information which, if divulged, could possibly aid in the protection of American citizens, I advocate refraining from using torture.

ALL of these hypothetical considerations prohibit me from using torture.

I have explicitly made all of these assertions throughout my previous writing. I make them again here in a dummy-proof fashion for your convenience and reference.

Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army

It's clear who were the perpetrators of the crimes. No matter how the Right wants to spin these stories, the Bush-Cheney Adminstration violated its own laws and the Geneva Convention. Our real challenge as a society - if we hold any thing dear and sacred to our Constitutional values - is whether Congress will fully investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent possible those who committed these crimes. Otherwise, we have ceded our moral standing to the likes of the Nazis, Imperial Japanese, Sadaam Hussein, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Peron, and many other dictators who embraced torture.

You're right. I made a mistake in not copying your other comment.

You: "I also do not know how you derived the claim that the only thing constraining me from torturing others is the law. What an odd assertion."

"Your quote.

"If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law."

My quote.

"To think that its only the law that would stop you from torture is rather alarming. Since Bush developed an official torture policy does that make it still "against the law" in your mind?"

I repeat. A mendacious attempt at rhetorical skills. Knock yourself out. I have better things to do.

Jan,

Simply juxtaposing a quote of mine with a quote of yours makes a poor argument. Indeed, "If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law." However, from this how can you infer that it is the ONLY thing obstructing me from torturing others? You essentially say that "the illegalization of torture is a sufficient condition for Michael Labeit's reluctance to employ torture." This is a false assertion. As I noted earlier, even IF torture is legitimate, a proper government must first prove an individual is an objective threat before a government can morally even apprehend him, let alone torture him. In addition to this, any possible utility from torture could only come from those who withhold important information. IF torture was legitimate, it could only logically be used against those who refuse to divulge such important information, i.e., information that could be used to defend the rights of American citizens. Most people therefore don't qualify as worthy of torture even IF torture was legitimate.

My purpose is not to impress. If I have failed to do so it is because it was not my intention to begin with.

SPC. Michael Labeit, U.S. Army

Dear Paul

Until Bush and Cheney aided and abetted by a republican majority congress did their thing, you were nothing but a fringe group, a minute fraction of the mideast population. (If you really want to play the point a finger game...)

(A letter home)
Life just isn’t fair.
I was born in Saudi Arabia. I hate Americans and I am going to alienate the United States. I have money and I train people to kill Americans. I capture American soldiers in foreign lands and torture them. I mean real torture. I really hurt these people. I don’t put women’s panties on their faces or pour water on them. I pull out their organs while they are alive and that sort of thing, then when I have what I need I cut their heads off and video it.

Now I have been captured by the Americans. Life is so unfair, I am cold and cannot sleep. They keep playing loud music and flashing lights. Last week they even had me tied up naked with another prisoner. Yesterday they poured water on me and I thought I was going to die. The mental anguish is really tuff, but I don’t have one bruise on me. I have plans to explode power plants in the US and armed sleeping cells there, but I am not going to tell them about it.
I think I can hold out because now there are groups of people they call democrats. They are trying to save me. Because of them, some of my comrades were set free and continue to kill young American men.

One thing not mentioned in your show was the act of detainment immediately made someone eligible for torture. It is often quoted that these are "battlefield captures", however in Rumsfeld's press for intelligence gathering in Iraq, general sweeps of the population were done. These were "battlefield detainees" only in a tortured interpretation that the entire country might be classified as a battlefield.
Soldiers in hostile terrain face the threat of death every day. The natural reaction is to aggressively view the environment as hostile. It is the civilian leaders responsibility to guide their actions.

Your quote.

"If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law."

My quote.

"To think that its only the law that would stop you from torture is rather alarming. Since Bush developed an official torture policy does that make it still "against the law" in your mind?"

Mendacious and somewhat malicious attempts to develop rhetorical skills do not move me. I'm a parent. Been there. Seen that. Not impressed. Never was.

Torture has been used by all governments in every country for centuries. Fear in every form has been used to desensitize our nations pitting us against each other. The hidden agenda is simply World Control by a few. We have lost our most sacred and moral thought process. We fear everything and everyone. We, as a human race, have lost our very own souls. Laws are made by man, man breaks laws, and more laws are made. The final end will come only when the people themselves awake from their own sleep and put their morals front and foremost instead of their mouths. Killing or torturing, what difference does it make? This country is so backwards and so asleep, we can only focus on the next sports game, or the next party, or the next TV show. Our children have become victims our own doing, and we now sit and ask, "what has happened"? Nothing will change in this world until we, as nations, realize that the very souls of all people have been preyed upon for the purpose of a few. We have become a country without morals and soon, without a name, and all the talk and discussions will not change until we make the change.

Jan writes,

When my kids were little and they used an excess of words to explain something they had done, it was usually an indication that they were trying to hide/defend something they knew they shouldn't have done. I seldom insinuate anything. I usually just say it outright. Torture is wrong and it is immoral on the most basic psychological level that you have. To think that its only the law that would stop you from torture is rather alarming. Since Bush developed an official torture policy does that make it still "against the law" in your mind?"

Its seems not only do you seldom insinuate things, you also seldom attempt to publically demonstrate the soundness of claims as well. You make the claim that "Torture is wrong and it is immoral on the most basic psychological level that you have." Why should anyone believe that this proposition corresponds with the facts of reality? You make an allegation presumably because you believe it is true and that you would like others to believe it to. Well, why should we believe it. The only way to rationally convince others is by demonstrating to them via observation plus logic. Why is it immoral to torture? Of course, moral claims ultimately are the result of factual premises. "Ought" assertions are the product ultimately of "is" assertions. From what facts have you extrapolated your conviction? Are you sure that you KNOW that torture is immoral? You say it with confidence but you haven made the attempt to prove it.

I also do not know how you derived the claim that the only thing constraining me from torturing others is the law. What an odd assertion. It seems I yet again must repeat what I have said before: I personally don't know the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of torture. I expressly made conditional propositions regarding torture. It does not follow that since the law forbids me to torture, that it therefore is the ONLY thing (as you say) preventing me from torturing others. That again would be a non-sequitor.

Regarding excess words, it again does not follow that since your children resorted to using many words when "trying to hide/defend something they knew they shouldn't have done," that therefore when I use many words I must be trying to hide/defend something I know I shouldn't defend or that I must be trying to fib to you. Non-sequitor again. Many words are imperative to prove many points - it only makes sense. Would you like me to make many points without many words with which to prove those points?

Are 15th century Inquisition torture methods the best we have in the 21st century?? Perhaps it is natural for the Bush administration to think so, since their overall belief system would likely be torturing Galileo were they in charge during his lifetime.
While the Bush administration railed against “activist judges” possibly twisting the law, they have no compunction about twisting (torturing) the law when it served their purposes.
The question is not whether torture (or it's enhanced euphemism) can break down the guilty so they speak the truth, but whether the torture can make the innocent falsely confess. If any of the lawyers or politicians that condoned it were submitted to the same techniques shown on your show (or, perhaps worse?), could they be tortured into confessing to an absurdity, like being a member of al-Qaeda? Could it’s defenders claim that, were those techniques employed on them, they could not be made to eventually confess to a nonsensical accusation?
That Cheney is accused of wanting a confession linking al-Qaeda to Iraq as justification for the war is another reason his Energy Policy meeting should be opened for scrutiny. As he has asked the CIA torture documents to be declassified in the interest of truth, now is the time for him to reveal all the conversations in the Energy meeting in the same selfless quest.

With all due respect, rationalizing the use of torture is just that. If torture is illeagl, it is ILLEGAL. It seems that what consitutes torture is at question although that was laid out in the Geneva Conventions...so I thought. And, please note I am NEVER ashamed of being an American. I stand with my hand over my heart when I hear our anthem played, I vote and pay taxes. Nonetheless, I know that mistakes are made. Owning up to them and rectifing those errors will make the difference between philosphical crap and practical reality.

When my kids were little and they used an excess of words to explain something they had done, it was usually an indication that they were trying to hide/defend something they knew they shouldn't have done.

I seldom insinuate anything. I usually just say it outright. Torture is wrong and it is immoral on the most basic psychological level that you have. To think that its only the law that would stop you from torture is rather alarming. Since Bush developed an official torture policy does that make it still "against the law" in your mind?

Mike Conte writes,

"Dear SPC Michael Labeit, U.S. Army, nice back peddling. I admire a man who goes to such legnths and verbiage to say he did not actualy mean what he'd said in the first place. I think the US is above the vile use of torture. you said it should be used if it works. Is that what you mean or isn't it?"

I know I had made an essential distinction between intellectual activism and unlawful activism. If torture is effective, i.e., is a useful legal supplement in defending the individual rights of American citizens, then we should advocate its integration into "jus in bello" doctrine or military law regarding conduct within war. If torture it not effective, i.e., is not a useful legal supplement in defending the individual rights of American citizens, then we should support its elimination from "jus in bello" doctrine.

Aside from this intellectual activism, if torture is illegal (and it is) we should respect its illegality and refrain from torturing. This is what I essentially held in my earlier posts; my argument is very much intelligible, contains no esoteric or arcane terms, and clearly identifies my position. Any misunderstanding is the fault of my detractors. Its not difficult.

Might I add that since your post contains an accusatory claim without evidence it is arbitrary. I don't admire a man who does not pay sufficient attention.

Beecham writes,

"Who is justified to use torture? Ordinary citizens? The military? Whoever the government says? Is another country justified to use torture to defend their country? Would the government of Iraq be justifed in torturing you if they believed it would keep their people safe? Or is this something that only the US is allowed to do? Would the US government be justified in using torture against its own citizens? How can you define radical Islam as the enemy? The US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, not the other way around. And surely you do not believe that everyone who attacks US troops does so for religious reasons. Is is not possible that some simply don't like their countries being occupied? And surely, you cannot be so ignorant to believe that the US invaded those countries for freedom or democracy? Why do you assume that torture is carried out for the reasons authority figures claim? Is it not possible there could be other motives, such as false confessions which could be used to start wars or conduct illegal spying? You point out all the terrible things about the fanatical Muslims but you cannot see that in fact it is the US that is in the wrong. The US invaded two countries on the flimsiest of justifactions and has threatened others with invasions. And it has violated the rights and freedoms of its own citizens more times than can be counted. This debate about torture is merely a way to desensitive the American people, to get them to accept more and more outrageous behavior from out government and military. It is truly sad that so many cannot see what is happening to our country and our people."
Providing a legal definition of torture, in a free society, is the responsibility of the judicial authorities. This responsibility is but one example of the the responsibilities of a judiciary in a free society. Jurists and legal experts must define and identify what constitutes a crime, what is entailed by the burdens of proof and of rejoinder, what are the appropriate means of dealing with criminals and terrorists, "jus ad bellum" or justice in entering, "jus in bello" or justice in waging war, etc. This is not controversial. I don't believe "ordinary citizens" should reserve the right to torture others even if torture was a legitimate method of combating aggressors because such action would constitute vigilantism. Government, as Ayn Rand once wrotes, exists to place the retaliatory use of force under objective control, under objective law. Citizens of course reserve the right to use force in self-defense in emergency situations when recourse to law enforcement is impossible. But citizens do not reserve the right to engage in after-the-fact retaliation against alleged aggressors. The reason why is because if private citizens retaliate against alleged aggressors, how does society know that such action is actually retaliatory and that such force is being used against actual aggressors? If someone shoots another in your neighborhood, how do we know that that action was aggressive or retaliatory? We don't. Whether force is initiatory or retaliatory is not self-evident. Private citizens who use force are threats to society because the nature of their act of coercion is, by definition, unknown. That is why a free society requires government, an organization acting on behalf of society to place the use of retaliatory force under objective, rights-respecting control. Government as such must be composed of a legislature, court system, law enforcement, and a military (in my opinion this should be the absolute extent of government) for all these subinstitutions are inextricably connected with the necessity of applying and enforcing the law properly and in a rights-respecting way. The alternative is anarchism.

Again, whether torture should be used or not should be contingent upon its effectiveness in safeguarding Americans from foreign aggression. I have made this point clear.

No, the government of Iraq certainly does not possess the right to torture me if it believes I am a threat. Simply believing that someone is a threat is hardly an epistemologically sound reason to initiate torturous procedures. Threats must be identified objectively through a scrupulously rational inquiry. Besides, servicemen and women who commits crimes in Iraq are subject to punishment administered under the American Uniform Code of Military Justice. Since there is no reason the Iraqi government should torture me because I am no threat, its has no rational basis for torturimg me. In addition to this, torture, IF legitimate, could only morally and practically be used against individuals who are unwilling to divulge sensitive information. I harbor no sensitive information and therefore could not even remotely qualified as a torture candidate. Again believing is different from knowing. Governments may believe whatever they want but apprehending individuals can only be done morally once those individuals in question have been PROVEN to be threats. It all and always comes down to epistemology.

Regarding Islamic totalitarianism as the enemy, I think this argument is quite sound. The individuals who launched the Sept 11 attacks were unmistakably influenced by Islamic totalitarianism, an ideology based on an epistemology of faith that advocates the subjugation of all to Sharia law by means of armed aggression. This may sound like a mad belief but this is the radical belief. Of course, harrassment from Islamic fascists has far deeper historical origins. The WTC was of coursed attacked by Islamic fascists in 1993. Islamic fascists aligned with Hezbollah murdered 243 U.S. marines and navy personnel in 1983 in the Beirut bombings. The 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran involved the seizure of the American embassy in Teheran and a 444 day hostage situation. There is also the Khobar attacks against U.S. airmen in Saudi Arabia and the attack against the USS Cole.

If fact, America's encounter with Islamic fascism took place just after the American Revolution. Christopher Hitchens notes,

"How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by “corsair” raiders in a single night?....

Hitchens further writes that,

"But one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that 'it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.'"

Islamic totalitarianism pre-dates America and, apparently, has troubled this country from the start.

The religious origin of terrorist attacks must be stressed however. Poverty certainly is not a catalyst. The Middle East, with a few exceptions such as Israel, is thoroughly destitute because of a lack of respect for economics, for liberty, for private property, i.e., for capitalism. Middle Easterners should blame their own theocratic and autocratic governments for their poverty. The people of Iraq are not exactly a group of Jeffersonians to assuage themselves of despotism. They felt no impetus to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Neither do the people of Saudi Arabia nor of Iran, nor of Syria wish to remove their respective regimes. Middle Easterners, broadly speaking, are comfortable with dictatorship. Their squabbles often are confined simply to what kind of dictatorship they will establish.

Neither is the terrorist motivation an alleged response simply to Western imperialism. Muslim nations are sufficiently self-imperialized. Name me one predominantly Muslim nation that ranks high on the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom of 2009. Forgive me if I'm wrong but I believe the UAE ranks highest.

Why did the Taliban in Afghanistan specifically target Buddhist icons for destruction? What animates the people of the Middle East? What happened when Salman Rushdie published the "Satanic Verses"? What occurred when a small Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking Mohammed? It is Islam that is the impetus here. Read what Islamic terrorists claim!!! They open avow death and martyrdom. All of their attacks have been motivated by faith, not by poverty or imperialism.

Regarding our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, I reject the former entirely and deplore the poor philosophy and planning of the latter. To assert that I support a military operation simply because of my military membership would be another example of a non-sequitor. The U.S. military should be used exclusively in self-defense operations, armed campaigns against foreign aggressors who have either initiated physical force against us or who threaten such force. U.S. foreign policy is certainly egregious but that Islam is a threat is, in my mind, evident.

Michael Labeit

Who is justified to use torture? Ordinary citizens? The military? Whoever the government says? Is another country justified to use torture to defend their country? Would the government of Iraq be justifed in torturing you if they believed it would keep their people safe? Or is this something that only the US is allowed to do?

Would the US government be justified in using torture against its own citizens?

How can you define radical Islam as the enemy? The US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, not the other way around. And surely you do not believe that everyone who attacks US troops does so for religious reasons. Is is not possible that some simply don't like their countries being occupied? And surely, you cannot be so ignorant to believe that the US invaded those countries for freedom or democracy?

Why do you assume that torture is carried out for the reasons authority figures claim? Is it not possible there could be other motives, such as false confessions which could be used to start wars or conduct illegal spying?

You point out all the terrible things about the fanatical Muslims but you cannot see that in fact it is the US that is in the wrong. The US invaded two countries on the flimsiest of justifactions and has threatened others with invasions. And it has violated the rights and freedoms of its own citizens more times than can be counted.

This debate about torture is merely a way to desensitive the American people, to get them to accept more and more outrageous behavior from out government and military. It is truly sad that so many cannot see what is happening to our country and our people.

Dear SPC Michael Labeit, U.S. Army, nice back peddling. I admire a man who goes to such legnths and verbiage to say he did not actualy mean what he'd said in the first place. I think the US is above the vile use of torture. you said it should be used if it works. Is that what you mean or isn't it?

I agree with the statement from the Christian Century that you cannot turn the page until you know what is on the page. The US has spent many years talking, indeed crowing, about its commitment to democracy and the rule of law. What we have learned through this film and other photos of the torture perpetrated on people is that that reputation as leader in good governance has gone right down the toilet. The US no longer has credibility as a leader of, and towards, good governance, until it addresses the lies and twisted logic that basically say--laws apply to other people, not to us. I hope that Americans throughout the country watch this film--thoughtfully and think about what non-Americans who watch the film will now think about America. Or, if they haven't the time to watch the film, they might like at the short, but vivid, slide show they can find at http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-05-29/torture-photos-depict-sex-rape/?cid=hp:mainpromo1#gallery=298;page=1 If America wants to regain its position as leader it must begin by acknowledging, and correcting, its errors. You cannot move forward so long as you are being dragged down by the weight of this infamous activity.

Mike Conte writes,

"Dear Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army, you wrote, "If torture is an effective tool that we can use to defend the individual rights of American citizens from foreign aggression, then I would cordially advocate its employment." But when questioned, you replied, "If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law." I'm certainly glad to hear you would abide by the law. Regular folks don't have lawyers who can make the law go away like bush and chaney had. We can't commit war crimes whithout being prosecuted."

There is a difference between intellectual activism and unlawful activism. Again, an example: I don't believe in the prohibition of drugs or the imposition of central banking and have argued (and continue to) against both. This is intellectual activism. However I don't believe we as a people should disregard the drug laws or the legal tender laws. This would constitute unlawful activism.

You seemingly treat my hypothetical propositions as contradictory. One can endorse an activity intellectually while witholding any sponsorship of it in practice if it contradicts the law. Socialists as part of their "intellectual" activism endorse the nationalization of the factors of production. While as disastrous as this would be, most of them are not willing to organize violent and bloody popular uprisings against the current government. Anarchists pursue statelessness but few contemporary anarchists will actually seek to fulfill this end in actuality. The nature of the right to free speech holds that we may express our beliefs and convictions in the absence of the initiation of physical force, whether from government or a democratic mob. You need not worry about me engaging in torturous behaviour - I haven't indicated that I would do such a thing.

SPC Michael Labeit, U.S. Army

It's truly amazing that there are those here that actually defend torture when even Dick Cheney and GWB themselves have't the cojones to do that-- Cheney this week still has the unmitigated gall to refer to techniques that this documentary clearly shows ARE in fact torture as "enhanced interrogation techniques" as if they are NOT actually torture, while Bush's own speeches have stated "we don't do that (torture) in this country," because they know they have no acceptable case that torture is anything but blatently anti-American and counter to any rule-of-law (as is indefinate incarceration without trial). Good timing with this program, after Cheney's speech this week, clearly shows him the unrepentant neo-Facist that should embarrass all freedom loving Americans.

Dear Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army, you wrote, "If torture is an effective tool that we can use to defend the individual rights of American citizens from foreign aggression, then I would cordially advocate its employment." But when questioned, you replied, "If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law." I'm certainly glad to hear you would abide by the law. Regular folks don't have lawyers who can make the law go away like bush and chaney had. We can't commit war crimes whithout being prosecuted.

The Corporate Religious Right are also convinced that global warming is a sham. They list all the names of scientists that reject the idea. Could it be that these scientists are employed by old industry? Money does buy "objectivity."

This country so willingly elected Bush/Cheney twice, including in 2004, after the torture was exposed.

What does this say about the people, each and every one?

America has so lost its ways; the real question is will it ever find it back again? Too late? Hope not.

Thanks to Bill Moyers and PBS for airing "Torturing Democracy." It is almost inconceivable to me that barbarism such as this could not only happen but be encouraged by an American government. I'm appalled at some of the comments justifying merciless treatment of human beings on the grounds that "they" were responsible for 9/11, which on its face is a ridiculous statement. Think about it. First of all, we invaded the wrong country, and I'm not even going there. Some of these prisoners, and we can never know which ones, were harmless civilians who were sold to the American forces, some as an act of personal revenge, some to save their betrayers' own skins. From all reports, nothing of solid value was extracted from those tortured and careers, such as that of General Powell, have been ruined, and minds, both those of the torturers as well as those tortured, have been forever seared by horrifying cruelty. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Gonzales and many, many more are war criminals themselves. They didn't "keep Americans safe" (9/11 happened on their watch) and they have now imperiled the well being and lives of our servicemen since they gave their stamp of approval to torturing, Not only the enemy but any poor unfortunate caught in the net of confusion that is war is now going to have to pay for this vengeful, short-sighted and immoral policy. It was a violation of the Geneva Convention . Every lapse of whatever civil agreements we have left is a nail in the coffin of democracy. The world is watching in horror what used to be the hope of the western world. It was and is shameful.

It has been proven that torture does not supply us with correct information. Even long interrogations, without torture, like those police use in our own country has produce false statements. Torture is just another word for "getting even" regardless if someone is innocent or not. It has nothing to do with protecting our country.

Mike Conte writes,

"Dear Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army, are you openly advocating torturing people while an active member of the US Army? Also, how many innocent people is it OK to torture before torturing a person who turns out to have actual information of value?"

I certainly am not advocating torturing individuals in violation of the law. If torture is illegal, irrespective of my convictions I advocate adherence to the law. I vociferously oppose the income tax for instance but still argue that people should pay it in order to avoid incarceration. The same applies to torture. Many laws are immoral and impractical but violating them often spells even greater hardship. You're not going to fool me into promoting vigilantism here.

Regarding the effectiveness of torture, I'm confident that the global intelligence community has enough historical information on torture to make an accurate, inductive inference as to whether it is effective or not and, concomitantly, whether we should utilize it or not. I sadly am not in possession of this specific information but given that torture has been used since time immemorial, I gather we have enough premises from which to draw an inductively accurate conclusion.

Jan writes,

"Torture is cruelty. Torture in immoral. Torture is evil. One tends to hope that people understand that fact on a very basic level."

Here we have an excellent example of epistemological arbitrariness. A claim is arbitrary if it is advanced in the complete absence of supporting evidence. Oh really, torture is cruelty, and immoral, and evil? According to what or to whom? From what evidence have you extrapolated this conclusion? Or do you consider it an axiom or ultimate assumption from which deductions are made? Jan insinuates that the immorality of torture is self-evident. I argue this is hardly the case. Are we to believe that torture is as you say, on faith? Are we to subscribe to a claim without evidence or in defiance of the evidence, i.e., on faith? Doing so would mirror the epistemology of Islamic insurgents who similarly believe in claims in accordance with faith and not reason.

It is typical Dick Cheney to suggest any disagreement with his “policy”, “is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives and to cast terrorists and murders as innocent victims.” He once again uses our “dedicated professionals” for convenience such as this emotional low blow to justify a morally and politically bankrupt position. This is how bullies fight, they bring people into their argument because they can’t stand on their own, a true sign of weakness.

No country or person can face the world with real authority and morality while justifying the use of torture. It is the position taken by those cursed with a weak heart and lazy intellect. Vice President Cheney and the like-minded supporters of torture can’t stomach the reality that our democratic system comes at a price and sometimes we have to fight for the principles that sustain our freedom. Our history is full of courageous men and women who fought for these values and were brave enought to do it without compromising our principles just because they were scared.

Torture is cruelty. Torture in immoral. Torture is evil. One tends to hope that people understand that fact on a very basic level.

Dear Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army, are you openly advocating torturing people while an active member of the US Army? Also, how many innocent people is it OK to torture before torturing a person who turns out to have actual information of value?

I cannot help but get the impression that the primary argument advanced against torture made by "Torturing Democracy" and by other contemporary torture critics is, quite literally, that its icky, that its foul, that its unpleasant and that it makes people squeamish. I'm quite certain that torture possesses all of these characteristics. However, they are, in my mind, non-essential attributes. Personally, I believe the criterion we should use to judge torture is effectiveness. If torture is an effective tool that we can use to defend the individual rights of American citizens from foreign aggression, then I would cordially advocate its employment. If torture is not an effective means of safeguarding Americans from foreign threats, then it should be abandoned at once. Whether torture actually is effective is unknown by me personally but I'm fairly certain that for every individual who claims it is ineffective there is an individual who appeals to alleged empirical evidence suggesting it is effective. This is a matter for military scientists.

Yes, torture is a wretched procedure but it is a non-sequitor to infer that since it is aesthetically unsatisfactory, it therefore must be legally eliminated as an military instrument. A picture is not an argument because a picture is not a set of propositions containing premises and a conclusion. So regardless of how many photos, videos, and mock demonstrations of torture one eagerly presents simultaneously with appropriately toned music, it does not follow that torture is therefore devoid of morality or utility. Pictures appeal to hearts, not minds, to emotions, not inductive or deductive logic.

Another argument levied against torture in the video was that our use of it would encourage reciprocal use by enemy insurgents
against our own servicemen and women. If this is true, then it is unfortunate. But again, it does not follow that since our enemies will repeat the torture tactics we use against them, that we therefore should refrain from using torture. I find the assertion that "our cessation of employing torture against insurgents will invite reciprocal interrogative restraint on the part of Islamic subversives against our own POWs" as radically implausible. Our enemy is motivated not primarily by political or historical grievances but primarily by religion. Radical Islam is what it is, and it will be used to justify the initiation of physical force against innocent people regardless of content of American foreign policy because American foreign policy cannot change the philosophical nature of the faith-claims of religion or of ideology - American foreign policy can only blunt and/or eliminate those who seek to act in accordance will their particular form of mysticism.

If Islamic totalitarians (or any other religionists for that matter) are willing to end their lives in selfless sacrifice to an unproven divine consciousness, then I think they will have no qualms over continuing their use of torture irrespective of our decision to use it or not. This, I believe, is confirmed by history. Since our terrorists are persuaded ultimately by faith, all other considerations are subordinate to this faith, including torture. If suicide is a virtue among Islamic fascists, than why would they refrain from engaging in torture, for the gumption one must muster to commit suicide is, in my opinion, far greater than the boldness one must develop to torture others.

Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army

I cannot help but get the impression that the primary argument advanced against torture made by "Torturing Democracy" and by other contemporary torture critics is, quite literally, that its icky, that its foul, that its unpleasant and that it makes people squeamish. I'm quite certain that torture possesses all of these characteristics. However, they are, in my mind, non-essential attributes. Personally, I believe the criterion we should use to judge torture is effectiveness. If torture is an effective tool that we can use to defend the individual rights of American citizens from foreign aggression, then I would cordially advocate its employment. If torture is not an effective means of safeguarding Americans from foreign threats, then it should be abandoned at once. Whether torture actually is effective is unknown by me personally but I'm fairly certain that for every individual who claims it is ineffective there is an individual who appeals to alleged empirical evidence suggesting it is effective. This is a matter for military scientists.

Yes, torture is a wretched procedure but it is a non-sequitor to infer that since it is aesthetically unsatisfactory, it therefore must be legally eliminated as an military instrument. A picture is not an argument because a picture is not a set of propositions containing premises and a conclusion. So regardless of how many photos, videos, and mock demonstrations of torture one eagerly presents simultaneously with appropriately toned music, it does not follow that torture is therefore devoid of morality or utility. Pictures appeal to hearts, not minds, to emotions, not inductive or deductive logic.

Another argument levied against torture in the video was that our use of it would encourage reciprocal use by enemy insurgents
against our own servicemen and women. If this is true, then it is unfortunate. But again, it does not follow that since our enemies will repeat the torture tactics we use against them, that we therefore should refrain from using torture. I find the assertion that "our cessation of employing torture against insurgents will invite reciprocal interrogative restraint on the part of Islamic subversives against our own POWs" as radically implausible. Our enemy is motivated not primarily by political or historical grievances but primarily by religion. Radical Islam is what it is, and it will be used to justify the initiation of physical force against innocent people regardless of content of American foreign policy because American foreign policy cannot change the philosophical nature of the faith-claims of religion or of ideology - American foreign policy can only blunt and/or eliminate those who seek to act in accordance will their particular form of mysticism.

If Islamic totalitarians (or any other religionists for that matter) are willing to end their lives in selfless sacrifice to an unproven divine consciousness, then I think they will have no qualms over continuing their use of torture irrespective of our decision to use it or not. This, I believe, is confirmed by history. Since our terrorists are persuaded ultimately by faith, all other considerations are subordinate to this faith, including torture. If suicide is a virtue among Islamic fascists, than why would they refrain from engaging in torture, for the gumption one must muster to commit suicide is, in my opinion, far greater than the boldness one must develop to torture others.

Specialist Michael Labeit, U.S. Army

I still wonder why we did not go to Saudi Arabia to round up terrorist? I believe most of the hijackers where found to be Saudi's.
What an atrocity was committed by the previous administration. Our country is surely in danger as a result. How can we promote peace after seeing these abuses by our country, how hypocritical.

I just hope the people of Iraq are not reading the posts that are condoning torture because of 9/11 or the beheadings. I'm sure since "Shock and Awe" more than 3,000 innocent people,children and women, of Iraq have been killed or maimed because of our bombs. A country that had nothing to do with 9/11. If the whole world takes this view, we are all in serious trouble.

I still wonder why we did not go to Saudi Arabia to round up terrorist? I believe most of the hijackers where found to be Saudi's.
What an atrocity was committed by the previous administration. Our country is surely in danger as a result. How can we promote peace after seeing these abuses by our country, how hypocritical.
How can we regain life, liberty and the pursue of happiness for all?

should have read "terrorists"

Dear Paul, I don't think the program needed to explain how horrible tourists are. Most people understand that. The point is, do we change our morals based on other people's actions or are do our morals mean something more than that to us? The questions is not who are they, but rather, who are we?

I realize that Obama's job as a wartime President is to protect those who serve and the office. I assume that is why he is backpedaling on Gitmo prisoners. Obama is a political pragmatist. Those are his main concerns. Our concern should be in protecting democratic institutions and human rights. Lately I am reminded of the Arthur Miller play The Crucible. Right now across the world democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi is fighting for her life in a Burmese court. The Chinese-backed junta that persecutes her believes that she represents a danger to their society. Everyone agrees that Suu Kyi is a great person. That alone is probably the reason she is not executed or whisked away to disappear in a Chinese detainee communist organ bank. Nevertheless, it is also undeniable that Suu Kyi is a real danger to the institutions of Burma's dictatorship. Does that danger alone justify her solitary confinement? Does it justify denying Suu Kyi spousal visits or medical treatments? According to the former Vice President and Bush legal counsels, that potential danger is more than enough justification for the horrors and indefinite detention of Al Qaeda suspects at Gitmo. What the authorities refuse to acknowledge is that we are all dwellers in the crucible that they have forged at Gitmo. I would rather live in a world where everyone could live free from injustice. For that hope alone I would set them all free to find their own penances or damnation. I hope the new Supreme court in the fall can find it in their hearts to end this tyranny and close Gitmo forever.

I just finished watching your piece on "torture".
I have watched Bill Moyer for a long time and one of my favorite TV moments ever was your interview with Joe Campbell. I was really saddened tonight to see your one sided report on torture.

I would have liked to have seen a similar reproduction of the last 10 minutes of the Americans on the flights as they were heading into the World Trade Center.

You should have shown the fear on these innocent faces, men, women and children as they sat there in their vacation clothes hijacked and waiting to die.

You should have shown the terrorist beheading the American soldiers so we would know why these people were in prison. You have told what information they were or may have had been keeping from us.

This was a very sorry night and it greatly saddened me that you could make the Americans soldiers look so bad after all they have been though and done for us.

Shame on you

America is supposed to be a country with checks and balances on any leader or inner circle of people in connection with that leader who can force a doctrine like the one used to justify the so-called "enchanced interrogation" methods and the arrest of certain people without cause as was done under Bush, Cheney, et. al. administration. In a more global way, the question needs to be asked, how could anyone with that much lack of knowledge of the law and with so little real knowledge about how to be the leader of a great nation come to hold the most powerful political position in this country (president)and was this country disengaged when these two were elected the first term much less the second term.

God bless you Billy. Americans are not the desperate amoral cowards Bush and Chaney believe us to be. We can triumph without selling our soul. If we can't, we don't deserve to.

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land. . . ."
— Article VI, The United States Constitution

If President Obama, or those officials under his aegis, fail to investigate and prosecute alleged American war criminals, he will be in violation of his Oath of Office and in violation of the Constitution.

He will then have committed impeachable offenses and war crimes in his own right.

I'm concerned what this type of show could do to our troops. I'd be interested on what our president will not release on what was found by these prisioners. It would make sence in the future to take no prisoners. How do we know what your reporting is accurarte?
Certain things were wrong but was it all wrong? Did you mention how many went back to fighting us and killing our troops? These people aren't model citizens. Tell the 3000 people that died on 9/11 that their lives didn't count for anything.

What type of people(Bush, Cheney,etc)could promote this type of evil. Psychopaths? And to think, there are people today, in our country, ordinary people, who still condone this behaviour. I'm appalled. What are the consequences for these actions? We put people to death for these crimes after WW2 and now we going to ignore our own top officials for such attrocities!!!!! What has happened to our country.

The Bill Moyers Journal and Torturing Democracy attend more to general survey and analysis than to awful detail and so do not delve into the depths of the worst American atrocities at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Bagram (and at an indefinite number of other ‘black’ sites).

But just as a photo of a diseased lung is vastly more compelling to teens contemplating smoking, so too will the photos and other detailed records of American war crimes be more compelling to an American population taught from Grade One to adore the mythology of American righteousness.

For months, there has been a trickle of reports, including photographs, of truly horrific American crimes — including planned rape and slow, calculated murder — torture unto death. Medieval horrors, as Clyde Stafford Smith and others note.

It must be emphasized (as The New York Times and no other major media organization will) that the US has repeatedly condemned torture when practiced by the Japanese, Arab states, the Soviets, Latin American states and even the British (recall the treatment of Bobby Sands and others during the 70s and early 80s). Entirely, absurdly exempt from criticism have been Israel (which practices torture to this day, despite newspeak asserting otherwise) and the United States (and to a lesser extent, China).

The world is now well past the time when major powers could casually disregard the concerns of the vast majority of the world’s population. The internet is accessible to people very nearly everywhere, even when nations do their best to block or obliterate accounts of their own crimes (a tactic which the US also attempts with an often willing mainstream media, witness among other things the political and corporate attacks on net neutrality).

In short, the Truth Will Out.

The list of leading American War Criminals must be repeated again and again and again:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Condoleezza Rice
Donald Rumsfeld
Alberto Gonzalez
John Yoo
Jay Bybee

Shockingly, but predictably, Barack Obama has not just forsworn prosecution of these and other war criminals, he has not, repeat not, completely banned torture.

To believe that cheney and bush flagrantly disregarded the rules of the geneva convention is appalling . cheny appears to be a reincarnation of McCarthy in his pursuit of people he's targeted . Torture will never protect anyone and the innocent people who are subject to torture or even if they are not innocent, for God's sake what is the matter with us. We're no better than those who carried out the Inquisition.

We will never get to the bottom of this. No one in Washington has the guts to be truthful about this issue, much less face the reprisals for ignoring the Geneva Conventions...which we, the United States government helped to draft...because it would be admitting that we were less than honest or noble. Funny, I was taught that being noble was doing the right thing even it it wasn't the easiest road to travel. We, each and everyone of us, need to go to the mirror and look into it and ask where have we gone?

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