Tag Archives: torture

Torture and xGW

The writer’s copy of The Handbook of 5GW: A 5th Generation of War? is in limited circulation among the handbook’s contributors, so it’s a good time to highlight an excellent point by Arherring: “XGW and Torture.”

Here’s an excerpt:

4GW Torture:

4GW – Fourth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of the attainment of a functional invulnerability that prevents the opponent from being able to orient upon a threat and creates a perception that saps the ability of the opponent to function effectively.

The use of torture at the fourth gradient is premised upon the creation of a sense of dread of the unknown in the minds of the opponent. Torture becomes a method not just of gathering information, but a weapon of fear. Used as an extreme, the opponent may have a fear of capture by the 4GW actor that prevents the opponent from orienting effectively, always considering most immediately the need to be able to escape rather than the most immediate method to execute their own doctrine. The morality of the use of torture at this gradient is ignored in the necessity of its utility to inspire fear.

5GW Torture:

5GW – Fifth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of manipulation of the context of the observations of an opponent in order to achieve a specific effect.

Torture at the fifth gradient takes on a different aspect from the use of torture at 0GW and 4GW. At those gradients the negative moral aspect of torture is either irrelevant or used to give torture utility. For 5GW the moral aspect of torture is the most important aspect. In most  (if not all cases) 5GW is a warfare of competing ideas and ideals. At the fifth gradient the least desirable outcome is to have your ideology linked to an overwhelmingly negative meme like torture either  through your own actions, or by the manipulation of an opponent that links torture to your ideology.

A 5GW force is typically one that is too weak to win a competition of ideas and ideals, so I think Arherring’s descriptions of torture in 5GW are besides the point.  In a 5GW, the torture of a single person may be the only violence that is inflicted as part of a subtle, winning campaign.  Likewise, a 4GW campaign may be built on broadcasting an attractive ideology.  Fear may be besides the point.

Still, I like the idea of using xGW as a way to understand torture. I also like the way Arherring lumps together “torture and “enhnaced interrogation techniques.” The difference between them is a legal fiction. You either win or you don’t.  That is, you either lose or you don’t.

The opponents of “torture”

During the Bush administration, opponents of torture* were making absurd claims about how torture does not work. These claims were absurd because there was no way the people making the claims could know if torture worked or not. Some blogger claiming “torture does not work” is like me claiming “hash arrays are relatively inefficient in C++ programming.” Just because I know the definition of every word in a sentence that states a technical problem does not mean that I know the answer to that technical problem.

Now that Obama is in charge, I do not hear people saying that torture does not work.

Maybe these people are delusional or optimistic enough to believe that no one is being tortured. Ha.**

These same people probably think there are no extraterritorial prisons besides the one or two they know about. Ha.

Now that Bush is out of office, I do not hear those people saying torture does not work. Instead, they want to imprison Bush administration officials. The people who once took the moral high ground now reveal themselves to be proponents of rule-by-law, and the subjugation of the court system to political revenge.

Instead, I know hear opponents of torture say that torture can work. But, they say, the only case where it would need to be used is to save an American city from a nuclear bomb, and in that rare event, it would be fine to force some guy to commit criminal acts and send him to prison, because, after all, he would be a hero.

These opponents of torture suffer from the delusion that victims of terrorism would be sympathetic to the guy who is trying to save them.

birmingham_bombing

 

Instead, imagine that a terrorist has planted a bomb, which will likely kill some black children. Not many. Say four. Maybe this is happening in Sudan in some attempt to save the Darfuris. Or Somalia, in an attempt to protect an anti-pirate village. Or Alabama.

And it is some guy’s job to keep this from happening. Some guy who is professional, who is trained, and does not particularly care for the people he has to protect. He would die for his mission, of course. But not put his career at risk in a fit of zealousness.

He is too well trained for that.

So this guy captures the terrorist who planted the bomb, and has very few minutes to determine where it is. Or four kids die. And they’re not even the same race of the American — they are just black — so it’s not like a career-ending decision is going to be made here.

This is what the torture debate comes down to. Not college-age rallies against 24. But a boring, real case, of the kind that you would even hear about.

Because you have better things to do than keep up with acts of violence against black kids.***

Or acts of violence that save them.

Opponents of torture say that the right of the terrorist to avoid painful interrogation techniques trumps the right of those four black kids to live, and the power of the guy whose job is to save them.

They are fine with that logic.

I am not.

[ * By “torture,” read “painful interrogation techniques.” Every recent Administration has been forceful in its condemnation of “torture,” whatever that is.]

[** By “ha,” read” the opinions of these people are ridiculous. ]

[*** If you disagree, what are the name of the last four black kids killed by violence in Darfur? Or Omaha? ]

The Tedious American High Horse: Reflecting on the FARC

I hope Soob doesn’t mind me jamming on his brilliant post on torture. But high basic theme — the innanity of faddish fundamentalism — is applicable to the FARC too. Many of the American left and center-left are suspicious of American power, and are quick to aid opponents of the United States when they see American power used in a imperfect manner. One example is torture, where the obvious reality that is fixated on, there is an error rate, the equally obvious reality that your information on the manner is perfect is ignored. So when it comes to torture, hacks like Andrew Sullivan fixate on the topic, demanding a perfection in a war effort that exists no where else. Likewise, when it comes to the FARC (the armed wing of the Clandestine Colombian Communist Party), Senators like Chris Dodd are so angered by the Colombian governments imperfect efforts to fight terrorism that they condemn the Colombian government.

The Americas – WSJ.com
It may have taken years for army intelligence to infiltrate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and it may have been tough to convincingly impersonate rebels. But what seems to have been a walk in the park was getting the FARC to believe that an NGO was providing resources to help it in the dirty work of ferrying captives to a new location.
The Colombian military tricked the FARC into releasing their most valuable hostages. Mary Anastasia O’Grady, who writes the “Americas” column, talks with Kelsey Hubbard about how the once-powerful guerrilla group was duped. (July 7)

I am reminded of President Álvaro Uribe’s 2003 statement that some “human rights” organizations in his country were fronts for terrorists. Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd got his back up over Mr. Uribe’s statement, and piously lectured the Colombian president about “the importance of democratic values.”

But as the helicopter story suggests, Mr. Uribe seems to have been right. How else to explain the fact that the FARC swallowed the line without batting an eye?

This warrants attention because it adds to the already robust evidence that left-wing NGOs and other so-called human rights defenders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba, are nothing more than propagandists for terrorists.

When passions over kidnap victim Ingrid Betancourt and the other hostages were running high, these actors pressed Mr. Uribe to grant FARC demands. Now it is clear that the pressure was geared more toward strengthening the rebels’ hand than freeing the captives.

Left-wing NGOs have made undermining the Colombian government’s credibility a priority for many years. A 2003 internal report from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá titled “A Closer Look at Human Rights Statistics” confirmed as much. It found that NGO analyses – for example by the Jesuit-founded Center for Popular Research and Education known as Cinep – of the human-rights environment contained a heavy bias against the government while granting a wide berth to guerrillas.

Chriss Dodd can keep his lectures on democracy, and Andrew Sullivan can keep his lectures on the treatment of prisoners, and (for that matter). Reality demands solutions that have a average effectiveness enough to win, with an error rate low enough so we won’t lose.

Everything else is theory.

Noun is noun is noun. Period.

A stupid argument from Andrew Sullivan. I don’t read him regularly, so I don’t know if I should add “unexpectedly” as the second word of this post, or not:

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
No-one is saying that George W. Bush is the moral equivalent of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed. What we are saying is that torture is torture is torture. Hitchens’ distinction between torture
and “actual torture” is not one of kind but of degree, with degree being measured in levels of sadism. The point is that torture is always evil, whatever its motives, that it leads to false information, whoever implements it, that it is illegal, in America and by Americans, and no one in a constitutional republic has the right to violate the law indefinitely with impunity. There is nothing “diseased” or “lame” about this position.

Sullivan’s argument is so bad, I’m surprised he didn’t conclude it with “Period.”

Properly, what Sullivan wrote is not an argument at all, but a tautology: “Some thing is itself.” Well, obviously. Whether or not it is moral or just to divide torture into meaningfully distinct degrees is an important question, and one that Andrew doesn’t bother to address.

Thanks to Eddie of Hidden Unities for publicizing Sullivan’s mindless post via Google Reader shared items.

10 Questions on Torture (Guest Post by Eddie of Hidden Unities)

[tdaxp note: My thanks to Eddie of Hidden Unities for accepting an opportunity to guest blog on this site. Eddie’s introduction immediately follows this note. Below the fold you will find his 10 Questions on Torture.]

Due to my past writings on the subject, I can’t and wouldn’t want to hide the fact that I view waterboarding as torture. Further, Pres. Bush and those in his administration, the military and the intelligence community who engaged in the illegal authorization and implementation of enhanced interrogation techniques, torture, whatever you want to call it, are clearly war criminals. No official is above and beyond the Constitution, no one can claim the law does not apply to them and in particular, the American government has no business ever denying the most basic of Constitutional rights to American citizens (Jose Padilla), no matter how heinous their supposed crimes. Such actions weaken the strongest asset we have as a nation and civilization; namely our superior legal system and traditions. That’s the real reason why we’re so successful as a society in business, education and the opportunity to pursue and achieve a better life.

Nevertheless, unlike the President and his advisers, I can place my personal feelings aside for the good of the nation and suggest a course of action that can resolve much of this contentious issue.

The debate over enhanced interrogation techniques has continued in a variety of forums, of which the Small Wars Journal is certainly not a latecomer to. Malcolm Nance, a highly experienced SERE school master instructor, weighed in with a powerfully descriptive yet overly emotional and sentimental post on the SWJ blog. The sheer gravitas of his professional experience made certain that his opinion would be widely read and discussed in the blogosphere, with everyone from Dan of TDAXP to Abu Muqawama commenting.

Yet emotions, opinions and feelings must stay out of this debate. Nothing less than the future of our rule of law rests on our ability to view this dangerous world we live in as dispassionately and factually as possible. That means the information must be made available to make the hard calls on the issue and not be based on ideological rants from a minuscule minority of lawyers (John Yoo, David Addington) or the Pollyannaish views of another minority who believe that terrorists are little different from enemy soldiers in their tactics and grand strategy.

Educated and informed members of our civil society must ask a momentous series of questions of our lead practitioners and experts with vast experience in counter-terrorism, Constitutional law, law enforcement, intelligence-gathering, interrogation and warfare.

Such a gathering of the minds could occur under a commission brought to order by the President-elect in November 2008. They would be tasked with surveying all the evidence, facts and informed testimony available about the usage of enhanced interrogation techniques throughout modern history to include the post 9/11 era.

My suggestions for the co-chairs of the commission are none other than Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, to include additional representation from Sen. John Warner and Sen. Bob Kerrey, two retired four-star military officers, two retired senior intelligence officials, two former heads of the NCIS and Army CID as well as former FBI director Louis Freeh and two highly respected Constitutional scholars.

They would first need to answer a qualifying question that would prevent needless research and wasted time:

Until the past presidential term, were any of the enhanced interrogation tactics currently utilized by the USG considered torture by a serious majority of criminal prosecutors, lawmakers and historians?

After disqualifying any tactics that are clearly legal though perhaps counterproductive or just politically incorrect, they would need to determine the answers to the 10 pressing questions the use of enhanced interrogation techniques has brought to the fore:


1. Given the historical record available, does the use of enhanced interrogation tactics utilizing methods currently utilized by the US government work?

(Care will be taken to classify those tactics that have not yet been publicized, unless of course they are found to be “torture” and thus denounced in the final report.)

2. What do you do with the detainees who we utilize the enhanced interrogation tactics on?

(Can we afford to release them if they turn out to be low-level players or innocent and allow them to spread their knowledge of US interrogation tactics, or worse, publicize them to the national and global media, as has already happened?)

3. If the US has failed to keep secret its use of such tactics over the past six years, how does it plan on doing so in an age of global media, independent journalists and skillful activists who often combine observations on the ground, investigative daring and open source government statements and testimony to identify black interrogation sites and apprehended persons of interest?

4. What is the negative cost of using enhanced interrogation tactics to US relations with other countries?

(Has/will the use of such tactics proven detrimental to joint efforts? Are foreign intelligence, military and police agencies increasingly forbidden by law or edict to share information and individuals of interest with us because of such usage? How harmful has it proven to be, if at all, with public diplomacy efforts? Are foreign leaders and elites less likely or politically disinclined to assist America now because of domestic opposition made worse because of usage? Does such usage drag on coalition building or isolate America in international forums and agreements? )

5. In the event of suspected/potential terror attacks on America, what will be the effect on the American Muslim community if American Muslim citizens are interrogated by such methods?

(Will it be a galvanizing force or have a limited effect? Where does the usage fall under the Constitution?)

6. What safeguards are in place to prevent the unnecessary abuse of these tactics? Who and how are detainees selected for enhanced interrogation tactics?

7. Most important, what effects on good order, discipline and morale will the authorization of these tactics have on military, intelligence and law enforcement units?

8. What is the difference in the interpretation of the Constitution between the use of such tactics (for example) on an American citizen who is suspected of plotting the detonation of a crowded bus terminal in Dallas versus an American citizen suspected of killing 31 young women over the last 15 years?

9. Can the United States afford to support the use of enhanced interrogation tactics in the global spotlight for itself and its allies (Ethiopia, Thailand, Egypt, India, etc.) while still retaining the authority to identify and protest the use of such tactics (and worse) against people in Russia, Cuba, China, Syria, Iran, Burma, Nigeria, Venezuela, etc.?

Any illusions that the global activist community (who we depend upon and share serious interests with in areas like Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa) will not rein contempt and doubt on American efforts as hypocritical and useless should be dispelled now.

10.Lastly, and admittedly, a lesser matter because it still remains a relatively theoretical event; what will happen to American officials traveling abroad if such tactics are authorized while much of the rest of our allies denounce their usage? What are the chances of the arrest of a former Secretary of Defense or a current CIA chief by prosecutors in Europe or Latin America?

Let us all have a serious, informed debate about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Are they torture? Are they legal with regards to our Constitution, our federal laws and the UCMJ? Are Americans supportive of the use of such tactics? Are Americans prepared to be branded a nation of torture by the majority of the rest of the world?

The President, the intelligence community and the military should not have the authority to engage in such actions unless they are approved by the American electorate in an informed manner. The issue at hand is far too important to be decided for the long term in a “long war” by so few, particularly in the (thus far) overwhelming opposition of former intelligence, military and law enforcement officials who know nearly as well as their contemporaries today the problems at hand and the options available.

My opinion is fact, period: On rhetoric, waterboarding, and torture

Upfront: Malcom Nance’s bio is incredible. Whatever else is the case, he clearly knows what he is talking about. My criticism is not against his knowledge, but rather the way he presents his argument in “Waterboarding is torture… period,” an article posted in the Small Wars Journal. For instance:

Yet, once captive I believe that the better angels of our nature and our nation’s core values would eventually convince any terrorist that they indeed have erred in their murderous ways.

makes no sense as a logical argument. Among other things, it implies either that no unrepentant terrorists have died in US custody or else implies a requirement for infinite life.

Well, that said, of course it is not a logical argument. It’s a rhetorical argument. It’s meant to sound good and feel good and subvert reason with intuition. Even though Nance’s argument is on Small Wars Journal, it thus reads more like a political tract that an objective analysis of a technique.

Nance’s three bulleted points likewise work better as bromides than as lemas:

Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period

No logical argument for this is given — merely it is asserted several times that arguments against it exist.

Second:

Waterboarding is not a simulation.

What follows is a semantic distinction between two virtual phenomenons: the simulated nd the controlled. I’m not sure how such a distinction is relevent, nor does Nance provide any cypher to help those who are not initiated.

Third:

If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives.

This is an empirical question and probably demonstrably false, as the set of survey respondents who who support waterboarding on enemy captives is probably distinct from those that support such a technique on “any future American captives.” But again, in fairness to Nance, reason, logic, and facts do not concern his claim: Only the sound of the words does.

Alternatively, one might interpret Nance to be saying that we should seek a policy of reciprocity with regards to treatment of detainees with al Qaeda. However, he appears to reject this notion:

We must now double our efforts to prepare for its inevitable and uncontrolled use of by our future enemies.

I have no idea why criticisms of torture are so poor. My guess is that those who get the public ear achieve resonance on something other than logical validity of argument, while others have a hard time translating their first hand knowledge into such an argument.

(Many thanks to Eddie of Hidden Unities for passing on this link.)

Punishment and Torture

Michael Devlin, who would also be a murderer if the child hadn’t talked him out of it — who kidnapped a boy for four years — agreed to a plea deal which will, theoretically, send him to jail for the rest of his life.

The obvious question, as this is notionally a death sentence, is why the state wishes the execution to take decades instead of a much shorter amount of time. In other words, why not just kill him?

One explanation, supported by Senator John Kerry and others, is that we should torture people. That is, ending lives is too merciful and that the schadenfreude Twe get from imprisoning (subjecting to prison rape, etc.) Michael is reward enough. [Senator Kerry grants, though, that terrorists should have the mercy of death as quickly as possible. ]

Another is that we should be as merciful to Michael Devlin as we are to, say, a dog we really hated. So we shouldn’t allow him normal peer interaction, the ability to move about, etc., but we should not put him down, either.

I, opposed to punishment and torture, I reject both notions. Too much is influenced by both environment and genetics to believe that individuals are rational agents who think things out in any coherent manner. Or at least, such thinking is too far removed from action and observed physical evidence to allow men to know the hearts of others. Rather, our “justice” system should be based on discipline (teaching) and deterrence (making sure something doesn’t happen again), while minimizing suffering.

The questions should then be?

How can we teach Michael Devlin not to do this again?
Or, failing that, how can we guarantee that Michael Devlin will not do this again?
Whatever our approach, how may we do this without torturous punishment?

(Thanks for Mark of ZenPundit for an email which inspired this post.)

Torture, Reloaded

Eddie of Hidden Unities of kind enough to recently share his thoughts with torture with several other bloggers and myself through email . He also, graciously, allowed me to respond to them through my blog. So, with thanks to Eddie, let’s begin:

The anti-torture crowd is patiently waiting for any solid evidence [methods such as torture] work.

Indeed, and I’m patiently waiting for any solid evidence that ternary trees speed up the performance of object-relational databases.

By beginning his critique on torture with a critique on efficacy, Eddie puts his weakest foot forward. There surely is a moral case against torture, as there is a moral case against war. By framing his whole debate in “it just doesn’t work,” though, he opens his theory for disproof.

Such a strategy is dangerous on many levels. It would suddenly allow all many of ghastly tortures if they can be shown to work, in any way. Additionally the use of rhetoric to argue fact debases the opponent of torture. A fact is true or not, and a fact as technical as “does torture provide any military benefit” should not hang on who can reference pop culture better.

Thus far, there has been no such [evidence that torture works].

Eddie concludes, that when reporting success with Technique X is a felony, a lack of reported success with Technique X shows that said technique does not work.

The anti-torture crowd, by criminalizing the technique, effectively end any systematic investigation into its utility. As it is, the only people to know whether it works or not are medium- to high- level decision makers who have little interest in political debates.

Meanwhile, a variety of techniques that the FBI, CIA, CID/NCIS, Interpol, etc. have been using over the years continue to work, with mountains of evidence to prove their worth.

We might equally ask why there is a need for helicopters, when we already have planes and horses?

The choice is rarely so clear. A tactic that has not been proven to work and has indeed proven over and over again to be counterproductive versus tried and true techniques that seem to be effective.

That the anti-torture crowd must make a false choice, with such poor rhetoric, when one does not exist is hardly clarifying. Torture may or may be one useful technique out of many, perhaps more efficacious in this-or-that situation than other techniques.

This reminds me of troubleshooting electronic gear. Everyone who has ever done so would love to believe the old myth that if you kick, threaten, punch and/or shake the equipment, whatever “gremlins” are interfering with its normal operations will cease to exist. Unfortunately, outside the occasional appearance of Lady Luck in such matters, these mythical methods don’t work, and indeed can damage the gear or make the situation worse. In the end, we have to break out some tools, pull out a schematic or three, drink a Red Bull and go through the steps. Ditto for the difficult, oft boring job of interrogation.

Eddie argues well against fingertip-feeling, against allowing technicians who have a “fingertip feeling” of the correct solution to proceed on that intuition.

And Eddie’s criticism indeed have a place in six sigma organizations, of which the United States military is not (thank God) one.

An aside: The fact that hacks like Justice Scalia and Dick Cheney resort to making Jack Bauer comparisons in defending the unproven methods discussed in the article speak volume for the lack of serious thought and study they’ve put into the issue.

Two logical fallacies in one sentence is certainly an accomplishment.

Eddie firstly rejects reductio ad absurdum and second attacks Justice Scalia and Vice President Cheney ad hominem.

The “What you imprison Jack Bauer?” question that defenders of torture put forward is a form of reductio ad absurdum, which seeks to demonstrate the falseness of an opposing belief by showing how that belief leads to a ridiculous outcome. Specifically, the Bauer comparison demonstrates that if torture is banned on moral grounds, then we will morally imprison those who may save lives. Conversely, if torture is banned on practical grounds, then we imprison those who would otherwise be able to demonstrate that it is in fact practical.

It strikes me that the Jack Bauer analogy can be logically argued against in two ways: either by stating that no amount of good possibly outweighs the evil of torture in itself or that upon being demonstrated to be useful in some situation, torture should automatically be legalized in that situation.

Eddie, I believe, instead attacks it dogmatically by saying (if I may summarize) torture is conclusively presumed to be counterproductive, and no fact or set of facts can possibly overturn this presumption.

As someone who takes reason over dogmatism, I disagree with Eddie.

I also disagree with Edide where he attacks analogically reasoning. One might imagine an anti-Platonist: “Ha! How are we to take him seriously, when he brings up the slave-in-the-cave metaphor! How juvenile!” What Eddie and those who argue like him seek to achieve by such attacks is clear: prevent proponents of torture from using examples that are widely understood. This is an old rhetorical trick: mock your opponents for speaking clearly, and then ignore them when they speak technically.

My View: It’s easy enough to pick another argument apart. But what do I put forward?

Simply this: the efficacy of torture is unknown to me, as it relates to information in fields that are both obscure and secretive. As to whether it works or not, I would prefer leaving the call to those in the position to know best: senior technicians.

As to the morality of torture: purposefully inflicting pain on dozens, perhaps hundreds, of suspected enemies is troublesome. So is war. And killing is worse than inflicting pain. Further, it strikes me that long imprisonment is worth than inflicting pain. Further, prisons are notorious for preventing pain to their inmates, even in “humane” and “civilized” countries. So torture is probably on the same level as medium-term prison sentences.

For more on torture, read my April 5, 2007 article.

Torture

Eddie of Hidden Unities recently emailed me the text of “The Ploy” by Mark Bowden. My reply back to him mainly concerned, the subtile, which is The inside story of how the interrogators of Task Force 145 cracked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s inner circle—without resorting to torture—and hunted down al-Qaeda’s man in Iraq. The title’s odd in that it is both boring and inflammatory.

The boredom first. I can imagine an article subtitled The inside story of how programmers at Microsoft Corporation released SQL Server 2008 on time — and without using hash tables. Such an article might be worth while to a specialist in the field who is cogniscant of the limitations of hash tables, and believes he may well come across a project in the future were he would do well to avoid tabular hash technology. The article would of course be useless to a general interest reader, and indeed would be properly ignored by anyone who didn’t have a special interest in SQL Server, Microsoft, or has tables.

Now, the inflammation. Imagine an article subtitled The inside story story of how the United States Army Air Force broke the ability of Tokyo to resist — without resorting to nuclear weapons — and hunted the Empire’s man in Japan. Such an article would be madening because it minimizes terrible harm that was done to human beings.

Nuclear war is not bad because it involves the fission of uranium or plutonium. Nuclear war is bad because it kills people.

Similarly, torture (or “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity“) is not bad because it is done “obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person” or “with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.” Torture is bad because it hurts people.

Other things hurt people too. Putting people in prison hurts people, and their families, for extended periods of time, too. But where are those who want to abolish jails? Or those who say that this or that person did not commit a crime, and yet was not imprisoned?

The self-congratulatory subtitle of the article minimizes out the pain and death, as if it is somehow less evil or less awful to kill as long as people weren’t hurt beforehand.

Torture may or may not be wise in this or that situation. I don’t claim the expertise that such a decision would require. But the current stylish condemnation of torture is crazy, as it pretends that torture is somehow worse than all the other acts of violence, state and non-state — that exist in our world

Back to Hell

Confusion Over Whereabouts of S. Korean POW ‘Deported’ by China,” Digital Chosunilbo, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200501/200501270023.html, 27 January 2005 (from One Free Korea).

A South Korean prisoner, held for half a century in North Korea, is sent back to hell

Seoul on Thursday expressed regret after Beijing said it had extradited to North Korea a 72-year-old South Korean prisoner of war, Han Man-taek, who was arrested by the Chinese police late last year while seeking to escape to South Korea. It is the first time that China deported a South Korean POW who fled North Korea back to the Stalinist country.

Korean authorities said the Chinese government had promised to cooperate in sending South Korean POWs to the South but failed to return Han because it returned him to the North under Chinese domestic law before Seoul made its request for cooperation on Dec. 30.

I posted my thoughts on this over at OFK

I wonder how much of the timing was purposeful by Seoul? And if Beijing interpreted ROK’s quiet as a go-ahead to ship him back to the DPRK.

South Korea is an ally in the Global War on Terror, because it may be a major fource against disconnectness in east Asia. After North Korea falls, they will spend a fortune picking up the pieces. But one shudders with “allies” like this.