Thursday, August 25, 2005

Civil Liberties - Torture - An Idea For Our Time?

The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt

The [false flag] bomb is ticking somewhere in central London. The evacuation cannot be completed in time, and hundreds or thousands may die. Scotland Yard has a man in custody. His name is Yusuf. His interrogators think he knows where the bomb is and how to defuse it, but they have read him his rights and he's not talking. He wants his lawyer.

"Surely it's time to ask the prime minister for permission to use a little torture to save a lot of lives", someone exclaims.

[No! It's time to ask Tony Blair about his false flag operation and the call to arms for his resource wars in the Middle East.]

The British prime minister has called an urgent cabinet meeting. As the second hand flows around the dial, will it be thumbs up for the thumbscrew, or will the city be condemned to certain death and destruction?

[Some of the people in the city were already condemned by PNAC.]

"We're about to be lynched with our own liberties", cries David Blunkett, once more in charge of homeland security; "our first priority has to be to protect innocent people." With the vote for a possible fourth term around the corner, most of his cabinet colleagues voice instant agreement.

The prime minister will refer to "enhanced interrogation methods" - with a nod to the Americans' talent for euphemism - but will make the call without hesitation: "Make him talk. Whatever it takes." So Yusuf won't have a nice day, but you can't make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.


In the light of the [false flag] London bombings on 7 July, some people think this is all a bit close to home. I've been talking to experts in the United States and Britain about torture. We have debated all sides of the issue, from amorphous morality (is torture just uncivilised?), to the utilitarian question of whether there is ever a way to assess the reliability of its bitter fruit.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Michael Levin of City College in New York wrote with some prescience in 1982:

"Suppose a terrorist has hidden an atomic bomb on Manhattan Island that will detonate at noon on July 4th unless there follow the usual demands for money and release of his friends from jail. Suppose, further, that he is caught at 10am on the fateful day, but won't disclose where the bomb is. What do we do? If we follow due process, wait for his lawyer, arraign him, millions of people will die. If the only way to save those lives is to subject the terrorist to the most excruciating possible pain, what grounds can there be for not doing so."

Levin continues to advocate torture. He points with some triumph to [the false flag operation of] 11 September 2001 as evidence [?] that the new face of the enemy demands new rules of engagement. He has been unwillingly joined by Alan Dershowitz, Harvard's civil libertarian law professor, who proposes the use of torture warrants, in the hope that inserting a judge between the torturer and his subject will limit the use of the modern rack.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Debating the use of torture is no longer the exclusive provenance of college professors who are desperate to provoke their yawning students. Powerful armchair warriors in the Bush administration openly advocate torture, albeit recast in evasive language, and Alberto Gonzales, (later United States attorney-general), advocated the abolition of the "quaint" Geneva Conventions. In the Brave New World of Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida, we are told that torture is not only acceptable, but if innocent lives may be saved, it is morally mandated.

"Once you concede that torture is justified in extreme cases", continues Professor Levin, "you have admitted that the decision to use torture is a matter of balancing innocent lives against the means needed to save them." His argument provokes three questions that many of us thought we would never be debating this side of the Dark Ages:

Is there a moral imperative that impels us away from torture no matter what its utilitarian value?

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Does torture generally "work" under the less extreme circumstances?

Is the ticking-bomb scenario in any way realistic, or are we building the rules of society on a chimera?

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]


I must confess to having met one witness to torture's small-scale efficacy. Lieutenant-Colonel William "Big Bill" Cowan served in Vietnam. He describes attaching bull-clips to the genitalia of Vietcong prisoners to learn about enemy troop positions. The information could be verified by immediate action. But he says that torture can only achieve results if the threat comes immediately upon capture: within forty-eight hours, the enemy knows that the prisoner has been taken, and has already taken steps to minimise the predicted dissemination of intelligence.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Bill presents the argument in a stark perspective: war is all about killing, and the officer's only obligation is to protect the lives of his men. Threatening physical torture is a relatively benign alternative to carpet-bombing, and Bill feels that adhering to a code of conduct in warfare is like applying the Marquess of Queensbury rules in the boxing ring when your opponent holds a knife. Is war subject to being "civilised"? Should there be rules against bombing hospitals, if the injured may later take the field once more? Why should we not bomb civilian targets and shoot captives, if this will demoralise the enemy? These are subjective propositions Ð albeit ones that many of us thought answered by the enactment of the Geneva Conventions in 1949.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]


The second issue, the efficacy of torture, should be more objective. The thesis that anyone would say anything under torture is intuitive, but various other laws enacted after Nuremberg hamper putting it to empirical test. That said, we must concede that torture sometimes results in accurate information: even my local soccer team, Cambridge United, inevitably scores a goal some of the time, though they just got relegated yet again.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Despite Bill Cowan's experience, it would seem that for the most part torture does not work, either because it extracts inaccurate information, or information that is not subject to verification. The prisoners in Guant‡namo Bay have confessed to outlandish things when tortured and abused. The young British Muslims held there who came to be known as the "Tipton Three" admitted to being the shadowy figures on the edge of a video of Osama bin Laden, taped in Afghanistan in 2000. The problem for the prosecution was that they were working in an electronics store in Birmingham at the time.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Without leaving the city limits, we know that most of the "Birmingham Six", wrongly arrested for an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb in November 1974, confessed falsely when beaten by the police. The Saudis recently used torture to get several British citizens to confess falsely on camera to various lethal bombings, and sentenced them to death.

Most horrific of all is the experience of my client Binyam Mohammed, a British refugee from Ethiopia. A CIA plane took him to Morocco where he endured months of abuse. It culminated in a razor blade to his penis. He told them whatever they wanted to hear.


The ticking-bomb scenario is a seductive inducement to torture, but herein lies the deception: the situation simply does not exist. Many people would vote for a single turn of the screw if it would save millions. The same folk would probably vote for the death penalty if every execution swept away a guilty killer and saved a thousand innocent lives. Yet many of us oppose capital punishment because we fear the execution of the innocent, and we sincerely doubt the deterrent effect of the rope, the chair or the needle.

It is ultimately a false and unattainable god. Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote in The Brothers Karamazov:

"[i]magine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature [to achieve that goal] would you consent to be the architect of those conditions?"

Torturing animals does not create utopia, and torture does not prevent ticking bombs.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

In truth, we have to go back 400 years to reach the closest example of a ticking bomb scenario that almost happened Ð to the Gunpowder Plot, on 5 November 1605.

The parallels with today are remarkable. Religious intolerance of Elizabeth I had stoked up the smouldering embers on both sides: the Protestant majority hated and feared the Catholic minority, who smarted in their oppression. There had just been a change of government, and the country was unstable. James I's promises of equality had been swiftly swallowed by Realpolitik.
Guy Fawkes was one of small band of Catholic extremists. He had been pursuing his jihad around the rest of Europe for the previous decade, before his band of terrorists turned their focus on England. They hoped that a cataclysmic blow now could strike at the very foundations of British society. The plot was well-developed: a massive explosion would level the House of Commons, obliterating the entire government. It would be timed for the opening of parliament, engulfing the royal family as well.

The threat of chaos was very real: Cromwell's civil war came only thirty-five years later. It would have been hurried along, and thousands would have died in the chaos.

Yet, the Gunpowder Plot was not solved by torture. The ticking-bomb was defused by old-fashioned intelligence. Because at least some members of the government of the day had made a stand for decency, the plotters tried to warn them of their impending doom. The Monteagle letter was sent to a Catholic member of parliament, warning him to find an excuse to miss Parliament. One thing led to another, and Guy Fawkes was found loitering in the cellars.

But torture was surely used. Anticipating Professor Dershowitz by four centuries, British law required that the king or the Privy Council issue a warrant before torture could be used. King James did not pause before he issued the warrant, though he reputedly ordered that the "gentler 'tortours'" be applied first.

As with Guant‡namo Bay today, their goal was not really to identify the plotters, because the ringleaders had all been captured or killed. The goal was to get evidence against others whom the government suspected of involvement. In this, the rack was successful: some of Guy Fawkes's colleagues cracked, and fingered the Jesuit priests.

[No! As with Guant‡namo Bay today the goal was to blame patsies for false flag operations and to get more scapegoates for their illegal and degrading war and crimes against humanity. Further, a call to arms for support for the continuation of 'Resource Wars' (namely oil and gas and bases) by the Coalition of the Killing in the Middle East.]

The authorities naturally believed that the priests were the ringleaders of any Catholic troublemaking Ð they were the imams of their day. The torturers therefore knew whose names they wanted to hear. Naturally, they got what they wanted.

Sadly, history teaches us that the wretched priests were probably innocent. Their limited knowledge of the plot had been learned under the veil of the confessional, and they had tried to steer Fawkes and his colleagues onto another course. Even though they were strong critics of Protestant intolerance, they knew then what the overwhelming majority of Muslims know now Ð that a violent plot by a few extremists would only lead to greater persecution against all members of their faith. But this did not prevent the victors from enjoying their justice, and the priests were duly dispatched at the stake.

As a footnote, it is worth noting that two of the plotters traced their disaffection to the abuse of their Catholic fathers in the infamous Star Chamber. Violence begets violence.


[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

It is sad to think that the question of whether we should use torture [?] is one of the moral issues of our time. [your time!] The real issue is not whether torture should be used, but why we are talking about it in the 21st century. [Yes, you make me want to cum] Tempting though it is to toss out civil liberties each time the phantom Fear is resurrected before us, this is another false premise of the torture debate.

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Is it really true that [the false flag operation of] 11 September 2001 and al-Qaida [Tony Blair and PNAC] have pitched us into a Brave New World [No!] - or is the United States just unused to the battle being carried to her own soil? [No! Keep looking in the brackets] Can it honestly be said that Britain faces a greater threat today than in November 1940, when the first series of attacks on London killed twice as many civilians as 9/11? [Oh Yeah!] Does anyone face a danger equal to the Jewish people in Auschwitz? [Are you asking for sympathy now?] Does a small group of terrorists present a greater peril than the Soviet Union in the age of mutually-assured mass destruction? [PNAC] Should German prisoners of war have been tortured, or Soviet politicians, to find out what was planned next?

[The fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Ultimately, the real question is whether our use of torture makes our society a safer place, and this is a much simpler question. History teaches us that the measures embodied and the errors committed under the misnamed Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1974 Ðpassed after a few hours of parliamentary discussion in the aftermath of the Birmingham bombs Ð were a powerful recruiting-sergeant for the IRA in their decades of struggle.

Had he been permitted into the polling booth, Osama bin Laden would indubitably have cast his ballot for President Bush on the same basis (instead, he released a pre-election video in November 2004 with similar effect). [Rubbish]

It is not true to say that the abuse of each prisoner in Guant‡namo Bay breeds ten extremists willing to do harm to the United States: The figure is far higher. If you are British or American (or, in my case, both), your passport has become a far more dangerous commodity, because of what we have done these past three years.

Bill Cowan is more realistic about the consequences of violence than his commander-in-chief:

"We need to find Muslims who will support us, who will do things for us - and if we cause civilian casualties, we lose that", he says. "We may win tactical victories like Fallujah but they are not helping us win the larger war for the support of the Iraqis. Not one city in Iraq had drinkable water eighteen months after we arrived. We should stop using contractors and just get a decent US Army Construction Battalion in there, do a show city, indicate how it can be done."

Decency is genuinely a good idea. When we treat others with decency, they become far less likely to wish us harm, and far more likely to tell us what they know about the extreme plans of others. Torture is indeed uncivilised; it is also unwise.

Clive Stafford Smith is a leading human rights lawyer [and complicit because he's not on side because the fact that you asked the question tells us that you're morally bankrupt.]

Full article from Open Democracy CC via ukwatch

By Clive Smith posted 25 August 05

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004

In 2004 the atrocity of US troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the dark side of human rights performance of the United States. The scandal shocked the humanity and was condemned by the international community. It is quite ironic that on Feb. 28 of this year, the State Department of the United States once again posed as the "the world human rights police" and released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. As in previous years, the reports pointed fingers at human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions (including China) but kept silent on the US misdeeds in this field. Therefore, the world people have to probe the human rights record behind the Statue of Liberty in the United States.


Teachers accused of anti-US bias
AUSTRALIA: The fascist federal treasurer has drawn a rebuke from teachers for warning them against spreading anti-Americanism in schools and suggesting it could mutate into anti-Westernism and terrorist attacks against Australia.

The Terrorism of ASIO Laws
Wanda Fish asks Australian Senators to reject Howard's proposal to strengthen laws that already erode our basic legal rights. This legislation has the potential to turn ASIO agents into terrorists who can kidnap and detain innocent Australians simply because they "might know something".

Suicide bombers may target PM: UK
AUSTRALIA: UK bombers are warning fascist war criminals like john HoWARd that they could become victims to suicide bombers if they continue to pre-emptively kill, maim and torture innocent indigenous people in sovereign nation states like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Labor, 'Showroom Dummies'
Labor does not oppose illegal and degrading wars? Nor do they stand up for renditioned and tortured citizens, welfare rights, people held in detention for years on end? Or anything else that matters to the marginalised voters who have to rely on the minor parties time and time again for some support.

Democrats make cowardly retreat on Guantanamo torture
US: Senator Richard Durbin's sniveling apology Tuesday for his remarks on US torture at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp was entirely predictable, another of the "profiles in cowardice" that the Democratic Party serves up on a regular basis.

The Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group & the Justice for Hicks & Habib Campaign welcome the statement by Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan, condemning the US Administration for condoning torture and the suppression of 'human rights' in their 'war on terror'.

UN Dialogue among Civilizations
This roundtable is a contribution to the UN Dialogue among Civilizations project that began in September 2000. At the first round table debate on Dialogue among Civilizations, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN stated that, cultural diversity - in his opinion - is not only the basis for the Dialogue among Civilizations, but also the reality that makes dialogue necessary, since the perception of diversity as a threat is the very seed of war. [The role of religion in creating a culture of peace and moving on from a culture of fear.]

Torture not acceptable on anyone: Community!
Australia: A former chairman of the National Crime Authority has spoken out in favour of torture for John HoWARd and the Neo-Cons no doubt, saying it should be used against terrorists and in domestic criminal situations but not against QC's?

Torture can never be justified
I am forwarding the following statement issued by AMCRAN in regards to a paper: "Not Enough (Official) Torture in the World? The Circumstances in which Torture is Morally Justifiable" written by Professor Mirko Bagaric, Head of Deakin Law School & Julie Clarke, Lecturer, Deakin Law School, in which they justify torture.

Torture okay: propaganda paper
Mean in Black John HoWARd and Pastor Peter Costello with Professor Mirko Bagaric, and fellow Deakin lecturer Julie Clarke, torture okay for them. Question?

Association for the Prevention of Torture
What needs to be done now? All States Parties to the UN Convention against Torture should seriously consider ratifying the OPCAT as soon as possible. National Institutions and others promoting the human rights of people deprived of their liberty need to be informed of their potential role as national preventive mechanisms under the OPCAT.

Pentagon chiefs cleared over prisoner abuse?
US: The Pentagon has cleared itself of any high-level responsibility for the abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay because it was the guard dogs that initiated the torture all along.

CIA defends terror suspect transfers?
Suspected terrorists [scapegoats for the Coalition of the Killings's resource wars in the Middle East] in US custody have been transferred to third countries for the past 20 years, CIA director Porter Goss told the US Senate armed services committee.

It seems the United States of America (The World Watchdog) is dictating and practising double-standards --- a unique law for America and another set of laws for all other countries.

Noble Cause Torture?
AUSTRALIA: The Labor Party has decided not to support a Senate inquiry into new allegations made by Mamdouh Habib that the Australian Government cooperated with Egyptian intelligence authorities who he insists tortured him.

Fascist Australian Govt torture exposed
The fascist Federal Government has been exposed for the torture of Australian Mamdouh Habib and the US Government's allegations against him (if they were true) would have been made under duress.

Australian Govt Guilty of Crimes: Community
Australia: The community says federal fascists who allowed the torture of its citizenry including Mamdouh Habib may be arrested when the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal address the War Crimes Indictment set out by the community.

FBI emails reveal Guantanamo abuse
In memos over a two year period FBI agents said they witnessed the use of torture techniques, which included the use of dogs, prisoners being shackled to the floor in foetal positions for up to 24 hours, left without food and water, left to defecate upon themselves.

Hicks alleges Guantanamo abuse: report
Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks has reportedly claimed that prisoners at the US run prison camp have been beaten while blindfolded and handcuffed, terrorised by attack dogs, and forced to take drugs.

Downer won't press US for 'torture' report?
The Australian Government says it has tried and failed so far to get a copy of a report by the International Red Cross which claims psychological and physical coercion of detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba?

Rumsfeld's war, torture and occupation ideology!
War criminal Donald Rumsfeld faced critical questioning at a Washington media conference, after the announcement that it was a suicide bomber who caused the blast inside a US military base in Mosul yesterday, killing 22 people including 14 illegal militants.

US: Very superstitious? Writing's on the wall!
The US military says it has discovered close to 20 torture sites in the course of its massive attack against the resistance in the Iraqi city of Fallujah?

Torture, the British way
Great to be British, isn't it? Time was, we were really uptight, but now we can talk about anything - sex, religion, politics. No matter how personal and complex the subject, we'll discuss it with Richard and Judy, or slap our private Polaroids of it on our websites. Which leaves me puzzled about our silence, even shyness, over this whole torture thing.

US secretly moved prisoners out of Iraq for questioning: report
The CIA has secretly transferred detainees out of Iraq for interrogation after asking the US Justice Department to write a memo justifying the practice, which violates the Geneva Conventions.

There is no justification for torture
In the weeks since the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison were revealed, evidence continues to seep out of similar mistreatment of prisoners in other US military detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.

Mamdouh Habib: Taunted and Tortured!
Four Corners [Walls]: Terrorist - or Taunted by the Australian Defence Force who sacked him as a cleaning contractor? Who is Mamdouh Habib? And why was he harassed by the Australian Federal Police? Then tagged and labelled as a spy? Why was he vilified by the community? When he fled to Pakistan how did he end up being tortured in Egypt? And how did he end up at Guantanamo prison camp reserved for the men America calls "the worst of the worst.

Hicks and Habib in the Melting Pot
Australia: The United States has brought three criminal charges against Australian David Hicks, accusing him of conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding the enemy, the Pentagon has said.

Rumsfeld had approved abuse
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorised hoods, the stripping of prisoners and the use of dogs to terrify inmates at Guantanamo Bay almost two years ago, documents released yesterday revealed.

How much is that doggy in the prison? Woof woof!
Did the Iraqi prisoner's get their rations while they were treated like chums?

Failure to condemn prison abuse risks lives: Kenny
The Prime Minister is morally bankrupt stay "alert and alarmed"

Prisoner's identity concealed to prevent Red Cross access
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, acting at the request of the CIA, ordered that a suspected Iraqi insurgent leader be detained off the books to conceal his identity from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Pentagon has confirmed.

US has secret prisons: rights group
The United States is holding terrorism suspects in more than two dozen detention centres worldwide, about half of which operate in total secrecy, according to a new human rights report.

This won't hurt much
For some time now, I've been trying to find out where my son goes after choir practice. He simply refuses to tell me. He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country.

Young men terrorised, tortured, and threatened with charges for no crime by Australia mate the lucky country. Lucky if you're not used for Howard's FEDERAL ELECTION and George Dubya's WAR ON LIBERTY! Who shot liberty? IGNORANCE!

2nd Renaissance -10 The War on Witches [150]
In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a Papal Bull that became the rationale for establishing the Inquisition in Germany. The following excerpt from the Bull sets out the official view of the danger of witches to the community. The Bull and this this passage provided the sole excuse for the torture and cruel executions that were, ultimately, to be the fate of up to fifty percent of the population of some villages.