Cliff May: N_O Reading, ‘Riting, or ‘Rithmetic

Some lessons on the 3 Rs for the Cliff May and the other folks at N_O, who apparently don’t know this stuff.


First, read before you write. Because when you write, 

Under a strict set of rules, every pour of water had to be counted — and the number of pours was limited.

Also: Waterboarding interrogation sessions were permitted on no more than five days within any 30-day period.

No more than two sessions were permitted in any 24-hour period.

A session could last no longer than two hours.

There could be at most six pours of water lasting ten seconds or longer — and never longer than 40 seconds — during any individual session.

Water could be poured on a subject for a combined total of no more than 12 minutes during any 24 hour period.

You might want to know that the guidelines you pretend protected Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed come from the 2005 memos, more than two years after AZ and KSM were waterboarded  So while you might regard them as strict and reasonable (I don’t), they didn’t have any bearing on what happened to AZ and KSM.

The guidelines in the 2002 memo–the ones in place when AZ and KSM were waterboarded–said, 

Finally, you would like to use a technique called the "waterboard" in this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers tbe mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth. this causes an increase in carbon dioxide level in the individual’s blood. This increase in the carbon dioxide level stimulates increased effort to breathe. This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of suffocation and incipient panic," i.e., the perception of drowning. The individual does not breathe any water into his lungs. During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths. The sensation of drowning is immediately relieved by the removal of the cloth. The procedure may then be repeated. The water is usually applied from a canteen cup or small watering can with a spout. You have orally informed us that this procedure triggers an automatic physiological sensation of drowning that the individual cannot control even though he may be aware that he is in fact not drowning. You have also orally informed us that it is likely that this procedure would not last more than 20 minutes in any one application. [my emphasis]

Your "strict set of rules," such as they existed when Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in a month and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in a month, did describe air flow being restricted for only 40 seconds (though the term "restricted" refers to air flow, not to the rules themselves). Though the only limit on "session" time comes from an oral assurance that "it is likely" to last no more than 20 minutes.

Furthermore, even if those 2005 guidelines were in place in 2002 and 2003 when these men were waterboarded 83 and 183 times, that would not prove your case, because we know AZ’s and KSM’s torturers didn’t follow the rules.

The IG Report noted that in some cases the waterboard was used with far greater frequency than initially indicated, see IG Report at 5, 44, 46, 103-04, and also that it was used in a different manner. See id. at 37 ("[T]he waterboard technique  … was different from the technique described in the DoJ opinion and used in the SERE training. The difference was the manner in which the detainee’s breathing was obstructed. At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject’s airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency Interrogator …  applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose. One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the Agency’s use of the technique is different from that used in SERE training because it is "for real–and is more poignant and convincing.") [my emphasis] 

Whatever the rules were–20 minutes, 12 sessions, 40 seconds–it doesn’t matter. Both in terms of the frequency guidelines and amount of water (and some other important physical limits), the torturers broke the "strict rules" you’ve got such confidence in.


Next, two writing lessons.

First, when writing online, it is generally considered good form to include links.  Because when you include links, your readers will be able to figure out if you pull cute tricks like use rules written in 2005 to defend practices that happened in 2002 and 2003. Who knows? Your readers might even rescue you from your confusion!! 

Next, a lesson in putting words in your interlocutor’s mouths. See this sentence?

How many times have you read and heard in the mainstream media that terrorists were waterboarded more than 180 times?

Now, see this one, where you pretend to refute the first one?

According to two sources, both of them very well-informed and reliable (but preferring to remain anonymous), the 180-plus times refers not to sessions of waterboarding, but to “pours” — that is, to instances of water being poured on the subject.

See what’s missing in the first sentence that appears in your oh-so-clever second sentence? The words "session" and "pour." You see, no one–as far as I know–really cares whether the 183 number means six times a day some torturer hauled KSM out of his cell and strapped him onto the waterboard for 40 seconds or whether the torturer just turned a stream of water off and on over KSM’s mouth like he was watering daisies. The "session" versus "pour" distinction is pretty pointless to most of us. But you see, most of us also happen to think the notion of forcing someone to go through controlled drowning 183 times in a month–whether or not they were brought back to their cell in between–is still barbarous and sick.

So when writing, you should try to avoid claiming your interlocutors said something they didn’t.


Okay, math. Let’s take the rules that you find so reasonable (there’s some more room to fudge in the rules as written in the 2005 memos, if they’re treated not as strict rules, but for simplicity sake, we’ll use yours)  and calculate how many times they allow someone to be waterboarded ("pours," if you will) in a month. First, here’s how the May 30, 2005 memo described the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded.

The CIA used the waterboard … 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM.  

So, 183 times in March 2003.

You say, 

Waterboarding interrogation sessions were permitted on no more than five days within any 30-day period. 

The spirit of this restriction might allow you waterboarding sessions on only 5 days in March 2003, but since March has 31 days, let’s, for the sake of thoroughness, say you’re allowed waterboarding sessions on six days, including both March 1 and March 31 among them. So during March 2003, according to the rules you find reasonable, KSM could have been waterboarded on six different days.

Next, you say,

 No more than two sessions were permitted in any 24-hour period.

So on each of the six days in March you’re waterboarding KSM, you can have two separate waterboarding sessions. 6 X 2 = 12. So you can waterboard KSM in March 2003 on 12 waterboarding sessions, total.

Finally, you say, 

There could be at most six pours of water lasting ten seconds or longer — and never longer than 40 seconds — during any individual session.

So in each of those 12 sessions, you could only pour (assuming each one lasts at least 10 seconds, though I anticipate you’ll soon be making distinctions between "sessions," "pours," and "drips," the latter being pours that got counted but never got a good 10 second stream of water going) a total of 6 times. 12 X 6 = 72. 

According to the rules you find so eminently reasonable, the maximum number of times KSM should have been waterboarded ("pours") in March 2003–or AZ should have been waterboarded in August 2002–was 72.  

But wait a second! We know that Abu Zubaydah, even at 83 waterboards in a month, significantly exceeds your reasonable number. And KSM? Two and half times the limit!! 

You see, once you learn your 3 Rs (Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic) then you realize that even according to rules you find as eminently reasonable–but that many of the rest of us find barbarous and chilling in their false exactitude–even according to the rules, they went far, far beyond the limits. 

60 replies
  1. burqa says:

    Even though they no longer have the video of Zubaidah being treated to the “Dutch method,” thankfully Christopher Hithcens has seen to it they now have film of how to do it to go along with those dry written instructions…

  2. perris says:

    marcy, your’e gonna love this, I just remembered an incredibly important dialogue when discussing “plausable deniability” and went a huntin

    When UPI’s Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that “obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility” other than to voice disapproval.

    But Pace had a different view. “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it,” the general said.

    Rumsfeld interjected: “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.”

    But Pace meant what he said. “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it,” he said, firmly.

    the clip would be great too but I can’t find it right now

    • perris says:

      I found a more, I wish I could find the clip;

      At the luncheon of the National Press Club on Feb. 17, 2006, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, was asked by his interviewer, John Donnelly: “Should people in the U.S. military disobey orders that they believe are illegal?” Pace’s response:

      “It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral.”

      Thank you, Gen. Pace. Donnelly didn’t follow up on his question, so I will, trusting that your answers to my questions will represent your core beliefs, stated on earlier occasions. Gen. Pace, how does your Feb. 17 statement apply to a situation in which troops are ordered to use certain weapons?

      Pace: “[T]hey will be held accountable for the decisions they make. So they should in fact not obey the illegal and immoral orders to use weapons of mass destruction.”

      teh “general in the field”, rumsfeld went balisticato

      a good portion of the dialogue is at this link

  3. behindthefall says:

    That National Review Corner piece you quote above sounds a lot like the two pet trolls who have been hanging out here and practicing their syllogisms. Suppose there’s any connection beyond the “great minds …” similarity?

  4. emptywheel says:

    I’m certain they do. May got his ass kicked by Judy Miller last night. He’s close to cognitive dissonance, I bet, so he’s going to grasp whatever it comes his way, even if (especially if) it doesn’t add up.

  5. Leen says:

    Christ all mighty enough of the spin. Enough of this stupid fucking debate. Water boarding is torture. Will they follow the evidence where ever it leads or not?

    Tonight on Chris Matthews Hardball I heard the term “witch hunt” on five times to describe holding these thugs accountable.

    How are they (Republicans and Dems) getting away with calling accountability and enforcing the law “witch hunts, vengeance, retribution, blame game”

    This is almost as bad as how often they would repeat that 9/11 and Iraq were connnected. Well not that bad but almost

  6. Kathryn in MA says:

    Remember that dominatrix outfit Condi wore to Germany or someplace? Where in the torture timeline does that come in? We knew that was kinky, just not how much so.

  7. SparklestheIguana says:

    I missed this. Sunday gasbag Peggy Noonan:

    “Some things in life need to be mysterious,” Noonan said on Sunday about the release of the torture memos. “Sometimes you need to just keep walking. … It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that.”

    Maybe she said it with a mysterious veil over her face. Or was she wearing a gimp outfit?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Ms. Noonan commits the aging Manhattan socialite’s faux pas of confusing torture and sex. “Some things in life need to be serious….Sometimes you need to just keep walking.” She could almost be channeling MoDo.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Perhaps I should have accurately quoted Ms. Noonan. “Some things in life need to be mysterious.” Not “serious”. I must have been channeling MoDo.

      • leftdcin72 says:

        Come on the “democratic leadership” in Congress knew all about this torture all along through briefing from the Bush people, a la the recent wordsmithing of Pelosi. So please, those who could have done something, did nothing. And it ain’t no surprise that Reid wants it all to go away. Our problems are systemic across the political and business leadership of this country prior to BO. Pelosi should be out and so should Reid. Maybe it cannot be done now but hopefully it can be done.

        • ghostof911 says:

          The Democratic leadership was deliberately included in the briefings for one purpose — to dirty their hands to make them complicit members of the conspiracy. Whistle-blowing was not an option because the NSA had the goods on all of them. In addition, there were no doubt repeated reminders of what happened to Paul Wellstone.

  8. cregan says:

    Empty Wheel, you are a master of the snide comment. I have to hand it to you, you are a clever one. But, I hope you take your own advice and read something other than a few notes in a few memos.

    Why don’t you actually read the Red Cross detainee report? It is posted on the New York Review of Books. In fact, here’ a link:

    Read the entire thing. It’s a full report on the experiences of the 14 high value detainees. The only source on their experiences directly from them (so to speak). The information pulls no punches and was complied from private interviews with each detainee. You will see it is very detailed. You will see the Red Cross interviewer’s informed opinion on the veracity of the information obtained.

    It isn’t very pretty, for sure.

    Read the end part where there are more detailed quotes from some of the detainees, particularly KSM and AZ.

    See what they say about their experience water boarding. You will see they remember quite a lot of details. You will see they don’t give a tally anything like noted in the memo’s that you trumpet so much and accept without any questioning.

    (Oh wait, you question anything that doesn’t go along with your viewpoint, but not those that don’t)

    You might also find that the detainee’s version generally mirrors how the memos say the various techniques were to be handled.

    Lastly, to me, it is odd that both numbers end with a “3″ A coincidence that might be true, but then again, may indicate a clerical or other type of mistake.

    The lower number the two detainees say jives with the version we have heard that after a few waterboading turns the detainees changed their tune.

    Oh, yeah, 18 or 183, either is bad, but I’d rather have the correct unconflicted number. Not only because a resolved conflict and truth are nice, but also because of the many, many assumptions, accusations and other items that have flowed from the 183 figure, here and elsewhere. So, yeah, I think it does make some difference.

    • Tross says:

      Dude, you are WAAY in over your head. Marcy sources everything, if you care to read her work thoroughly. Also, the 183 figure didn’t just come out of thin air. It was arrived at by actually doing the math laid out in the actual memos from the OLC. I’ll leave the rest to the regular commenters here. But consider yourself warned. Peace.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Try to ignore the troll. Same memes over and over. It’s enough to make one wonder whether the AEI has re-funded its trolling scholarships, what with college tuition going up as fast as the stock market goes down.

        • Tross says:

          My bad. I usually read w/out comment, but that caught me off guard. My fingers were flying across my keyboard before I even realized it.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            It’s fun sometimes, when the troll has a sense of humor and can spell. It’s often tedious and detracts from the discussion, its intended purpose. (It used to be to catch fish.) Throwing a baited line their way too often means reeling up pounds of seaweed.

    • emptywheel says:


      Seeing as how I have quoted to YOU extensively from the ICRC report, I’m sure you know by now that I have read it. For example, I keep quoting to you the passages that show these men passed out or had head injuries while/before being waterboarded, which is good reason to treat them as unreliable narrators. But you still insist that it is a better source of info than a document written by people who viewed video evidence, even though NO ONE–not even Kiriakou who has been totally discredited now–refutes this number.

      But that doesn’t matter bc your comment here is grossly, rudely, off point. Cliff May is not contesting the 183 number–you’ll see his sources have confirmed it. He’s trying to neutralize it some way by making the same point we have all made to you when you’ve come by before–that the numbers AZ and KSM refer to are “sessions,” not “pours”–and they’re not reliable numbers for a lot of reasons.

      Now you’re welcome to come back and make this point over and over and over again, while refusing, yourself, to read all the reasons why 1)KSM and AZ are not reliable narrators and 2) even if they were, it wouldn’t refute May’s confirmed point that they were “poured” 183 or 83 times.

      But really, you’re beginning to get tedious.

      • Hmmm says:

        That was remarkably restrained of you.

        The following is an actual question, not just snark: Could the engine room crew implement a bozofilter?

        I’m thinking that readers could be given some way to hide the text of comments from a commenter whom the reader has chosen to filter out, for that reader only.

        For example, if I found a commenter (let’s call it Kragan like the big box auto parts retailer) always unhelpful, I could click a “bozo” link on its post, and then the text of all Kragan comments on the page would disappear, replaced with something like the “In response to” bar — “You have bozofiltered this commenter — (show text)”

        Just an idea, a possible way to help reduce the impact of trolls on the discussion without having to go so far as to actually ban anybody.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Twenty to forty second pours my ass. Most people can manage without breathing that long, even when exhausted. Absent water in the airways, one or two forced sessions of that duration would not quickly induce the desired panic state.

    And yet inducing that panic is essential to this method of “interrogation”. Because it’s the fear, disorientation and mental and physical exhaustion that panic causes, which break down the conscious mind and open it to further manipulation.

    Near-suffocation is a quick way to do it. But once or twice a day for 20-40 seconds each, and no more than 10 or 12 times a month wouldn’t be enough without additional trauma. It would fit the “nuisance” description given it by Rumsfeld and Cheney.

    Only additional trauma would induce the necessary panic. Forgetting other combined techniques for a moment, it could come from longer sessions, from introducing water into the airways and lungs, or from using short-duration breathing blockages over and over without allowing the victim a chance to catch their breath in between. The cumulative oxygen deprivation would do the trick.

    What these carefully crafted and almost certainly ignored rules hide is that the point of the exercise is to break down the mind of the victim, destroy his will to resist, with long term consequences. Suffocation-induced panic is the mechanism in this technique. It’s the goal that is torture, as well as the way in which it’s reached.

    • tjbs says:

      Since they didn’t do it in a sound proof room the point was TERROR. Terrorize the whole prison with the screams of tortured flowing begging for mercy where there was none to be found.
      So who exactly were the terrorists?

  10. cregan says:

    empty wheel, you are being highly selective in your quotes.

    Here is one regarding AZ:

    “The suffocation procedure was applied during 5 sessions of ill treatment that took place during and approximately one week intense period of interrogation….During each session, apart from one, the suffocation technique was applied once or twice; on one occasion, it was applied three times.”

    For KSM:

    “The procedure was applied during five sessions during the first month of detention.”

    He mentions banging his head once, but seems to remember the other details before and after that quite well.

    I don’t buy the “banged his head” unreliable explanation. Also, the two independently say 5 sessions. Not 5 days, but 5 sessions. That indicates to me they remember well. Were they disoriented or some other far fetched explanation, they would have each come up with a different number of sessions. In addition, their descriptions of the sessions and applications match almost exactly. There is no way that would be the case if they really couldn’t remember correctly–they would disorient in exactly the same manner.

    I will bet that if they said 500 times you would be right there with them.

    You would be right saying that I would be questioning what they say if they said 500 times. For a very good reason, they have every reason and benefit to inflating the number of times subjected to water boarding. But, they have NO reason to make it less if it were not true. None at all. The only reason they would say a lower number would be if it were true.

  11. cregan says:

    Hmmm…I think that is a great idea on the filter. Then, you would never have to read an opinion you didnt’ agree with or didn’t go along with your view. That would likely make you very happy.

    Why don’t you try addressing the insight and critical thinking and questions the RC report brings up? You might learn something, but you might not be as happy.

    Like this question: how could two disoriented and dazed and out of it guys come up with the same exact descriptions of their sessions and the same number and manner of sessions?

    What are the odds? Maybe it was really because they weren’t that out of it and remember very well what happened to them.

    • Hmmm says:

      Hmmm…I think that is a great idea on the filter. Then, you would never have to read an opinion you didnt’ agree with or didn’t go along with your view. That would likely make you very happy.

      I’m sorry, I must have expressed myself badly. Ideas are great, opinions too. When I said “… if I found a commenter … always unhelpful …” I meant frequent repetition of the same thing, without additional ideas or opinions. You see the difference.

  12. radiofreewill says:

    I have been amongst the Gooper faithful recently – a lot of hardcore ideologues whose minds have been made up for a long time.

    And ALL of them are saying the same things:

    1 – “It’s just the SERE Training, but harder, because it’s For Real. If we do it to our own guys, it can’t be Torture.”

    2 – “The enhanced procedures worked and stopped Major Terrorist Attacks and Plots. Why do you think there hasn’t been a second 911?”

    3 – “183 times isn’t believeable.”

    Interestingly enough, to a person, they believe that ‘revenge’ for 911 justified *any* mistreatment of the Terrorists, but they insist, with a Wink-and-a-Nod, that everything was still ‘legal.’

    For some of them – and that’s all that’s really possible here – to change their minds, imvho, it would take Respected Military Leaders (like Stormin’ Norman) going on Fox News and declaring, in plain and simple, but forceful language that the Bush Administration crafted a Detainee Interrogation Program – complete with a Sham Legal Facade provided by the OLC – that was, in fact, a Policy of Systematic Torture – in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture – which is Un-American and shouldn’t be tolerated by Anyone, Democrat or Republican.

    I got the strong impression that these folks really believe that Our Senior Military feel just like they do. They see the constant smirk on Petraeus’ face, for instance – and they ‘just know’ that he’s one of them.

    • cbl2 says:

      have been using locals of this ilk as a speed bag of late …

      broadly speaking, they are of an authoritarian bent living in a black and white world, so it’s not like they’re really gonna come around, but I have to do something with my anger . . .

      so I push them – would you torture a child to keep us safe ?, how about child rape ? would you kill a child to keep us safe ? just what are your limits ?

  13. Rayne says:

    You know what really cracks me up? The winger trolls are relying on the word of the ICRC — the agency actively which was actively denied access to detainees at Gitmo during 2002-2003 — rather than the word of their own Bush administration officials.

    Why in God’s name would any Bush admin official actually write that KSM had been waterboarded 183 if they didn’t mean it? Wouldn’t they err on the light side if they could? Jeepers, the number wasn’t even redacted; can you imagine what other horrors are under the redacted portions?

    Wingnuts also conveniently forget that the techniques used on Zubaydah and KSM were those used to plant false memories. Never occurs to them that might actually have happened.

    Or that the CIA said in 1963 about similar techniques, “The routine use of torture lowers the moral caliber of the organization that uses it and corrupts those that rely on it….”

  14. hauksdottir says:

    Abu Zubaydah had shrapnel in his head from an earlier battle. He was certifiably INSANE, making notes as 3 different voices: a split personality with no sense of perspective and altered memories. Here’s a good description:

    In 1992, while fighting on the front lines, he was injured in a motor attack that left him with two pieces of shrapnel that remain embedded in his head to his day. So severe were his injuries that he lost the ability to speak for more than one year. His memory is compromised even today. He cannot remember his mother’s name or picture her face. He cannot remember his father’s name, but recalls that he looked like a prominent movie star in the Arab community. Although Zayn ran a news agency with a partner, he cannot remember his former partner’s name.

    Later, when Zayn returned to the front lines, he was told that he was no longer fit for fighting because couldn’t remember how to shoot a rifle.…..ah-torture

    So, he could set up camp and make sure that people were fed. Until his camp was closed, and he couldn’t even do that. He was unarmed when captured, but was shot anyway:

    In March 2002, Zubaydah was captured at a LeT safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan by the Pakistani ISI and the CIA’s Special Activities Division.[5][6] He was shot three times in a firefight, including a wound to the groin and a wound to the thigh. He was treated by a doctor flown in from John Hopkins University[1] for these wounds and then transferred to the CIA prison system and relocated to Thailand.[7]

    Wikipedia (I don’t know if this site allows 2 links, the mods at FDL get snippy about it)

    It would have taken at least a day to get the doctor over there for his emergency surgery… saving his life just to make it even more hellish. IIRC, Bush was upset that he’d been given anesthesia during surgery to get the bullets out. And then, who in hell knows what they did to him in Pakistan and Thailand! (And possibly other black sites.) Then hooded, diapered, taped to a board and thrown like cordwood onto the floor of a plane to GITMO? The CIA finally admits refueling rendition flights at Diego Garcia in 2002, but claims no high-value prisoners. Somebody is going to connect those dots.

    But we do know that while in U.S. custody, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times in one month. So now we add oxygen deprivation, losing consciousness, and more brain damage.

    Waterboarding wasn’t the only thing they did to him. His torturers claimed that he was wonderfully flexible considering his injuries. 90 of the 92 destroyed tapes were of his interrogation sessions.

    He wouldn’t remember what had been done to him… a brain that’s been traumatized will cocoon the worst of it, especially if there is fear of death… but the tapes and their transcripts would reveal it.

    I doubt if the CIA managed to collect all the copies of the tapes and all the transcripts. Bush and Cheney would have wanted their own copies. However, even without the tapes, there seems to be enough evidence that America tortured a disabled, injured man who had never raised arms against us and who made up a string of stories just to end the suffering for a little while.

    There is no way we can try this man in a Court of Law.

    So many lies, and for what?

  15. Phoenix Woman says:

    Tross: Go ahead and feel free to smack down the boilerroom trolls sent over by Heritage or whatever group is burning off the last of its Olin Foundation money. The trolls won’t learn, but the lurkers will.

  16. wavpeac says:

    reading, riting and rithmatic are good.

    I’ve heard that cregans are tasty with wasabi…covers the sado masochistic under tones.

    I love the connection between karma and trolls!

  17. tjbs says:

    This is getting so big were going to need a team above moral reproach to prosecute.

    I say those most qualified would be a team of the AGs bush and rove got rid of.

    • cbl2 says:

      a team of the AGs bush and rove got rid of

      “axes to grind !”

      no. Reagan appointees, preferably southern white male

  18. CalGeorge says:

    Torture, no matter how effective, no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how well-controlled, is still torture.

    It happened in the past? It happened. Judging from the responses of many Republicans, it will happen again in future, because many of them don’t seem to think it was such a bad thing to do (and, unfortunately, many Democrats in Congress seem to feel the same way).

    Unless this administration acts, we are pretty much guaranteeing that it will happen again.

    It’s time to poll all of the members of Congress, so that we can see exactly where out government stands on the issue of torture. Everyone, absolutely everyone, should be on the record.

    And a tally of the opinions of the major pundits and journalists should also be done.

  19. cbl2 says:

    fyi – It’s Bambi vs Godzilla time


    I’ll be on Warren Onley’s To the Point program today at 2:10 p.m. EST (along with The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and National Review’s Cliff May)

  20. cregan says:

    Hmmm…I might have some additional opinions or data to go over once the original post had actually been addressed. And, I don’t mean a toss off joke or a point made and then no discussion of the illogic of that point.

    Here is an example. Hauk above says that AZ was certified insane. That very well might be. But then, how is it that an insane man and another man when interviewed separately and privately give the SAME story essentially. I do not recall that there is some trait called convergence of the insane.

    Logic tells you that what they say is more likely what happened then some distorted view.

    Also, KSM specifies the number of people present during his interrogations, their sex, their approximate age, etc. Not really possible that he remembers that data very well, but somehow can’t remember whether it was 18 times or 183 times (a factor of 10 times more) he was boarded.

    As far as the report goes, I think the Red Cross was even more stunned by what happened than many of you. The report appears to be thorough and objective. I was skeptical when I began reading it, as of course, detainees have every reason to exaggerate their treatment, but the details and other aspects of the report fit together in a way that gives it credibility to me.

    When I later read the memos, I was struck by how much the detainee experiences and memos matched.

    But, that doesn’t fit with the viewpoint here, so it is tossed out with very little debate.

    Now, of course, all this is child’s play considering it is a near certainty that the Taliban is taking over Pakistan (showing how bad the idea of making truces and negotiations with extremists is–you give them a little, and they just use it as the next base to attack you. YOu are thinking, “let’s get a good settlement we can all be happy with,” they are thinking, “Destroy.”) Once that happens, there will be no possible way to stop or shut down Al Queda bases–short of war with Pakistan, which won’t happen. Afghanistan will be moot, they won’t need it.

    Then, we will have a real, practical test of the high pressure interrogation/Amry Field Manual–NSA/ACLU debate.

    With an already ailing economy, I wonder how many attacks it will take to push us into a depression? How many attacks to cause the public to demand a new Patriot Act? How many attacks before someone gets the idea to shut down Empty Wheel because they (wrongly) feel it is unpatriotic?

    A lot of people are going to be entering the Army. Not wearing any uniform. By that, I mean a lot of people will likely be giving up their lives for freedom as Army personnel occasionally do. A real chance to be patriots and freedom fighters.

    • freepatriot says:

      When I later read the memos, I was struck by how much the detainee experiences and memos matched.

      But, that doesn’t fit with the viewpoint here, so it is tossed out with very little debate.

      you seem to say this as if it were something bad

      have I got that right ???

      cuz I’m about to unload on your ass, and I wanna be sure I got this straight

      you’re supporting torture, and commenting on how close the torture induced confession fits with reality, RIGHT ???

    • ReverendProfessor says:

      What? If the Taliban takes over Buner they suddenly become unstoppable?!? Wow.

      Oh, and just to be clear, I DO have amoral objection to the commission of acts that most civilized people consider torture. The numbers don’t matter to me. Torturers should be prosecuted. I’m so happy that Russ Feingold is not going to let us “just move on”…

      • freepatriot says:

        I got this one

        if the dude has the balls to answer

        thinks he’s gonna teach ME something about the Taliban and Afghanistan pre 2000 ??? guess again, bozo

        most Americans couldn’t find “the Stans” on a map before 9-11. I ain’t one of em

        but the torture issue is where I’m gonna disassemble his brain pan

        unless somebody wants to intervene

  21. cinnamonape says:

    “I would be strapped to a special bed, which could be rotated into a vertical position. A cloth would be placed over my face. Cold water from a bottle that had been kept in a fridge was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so that I could not breathe…. The cloth was then removed and the bed was put into a vertical position. The whole process was then repeated during about one hour.”

    Repeated …for an hour. Note that the statement from KSM does not claim that there were not multiple applications of the water nor whether the bottle was poured on continuously. Thus what the Memos record as being applications could be several instances within the time that KSM reports being placed in the inverted position and shifted back up.

    “Injuries to my ankles and wrists also occurred during the water-boarding as I struggled in the panic of not being able to breath. Female interrogators were also present…and a doctor was always present, standing out of sight behind the head of [the] bed, but I saw him when he came to fix a clip to my finger which was connected to a machine. I think it was to measure my pulse and oxygen content in my blood. So they could take me to [the] breaking point.”

    Note that other sources report that KSM was the most resistant of those water boarded to the applications. He required repeated applications totalling 1 minute 40 seconds to “break”.

    Now assuming that KSM was given this treatment over an hour with two minute rest/interrogation periods between applications and applications of water were ten seconds each. That would mean that he would have over 50 applications in this period. Clearly with five sessions one could have 250 applications. KSM’s claim that the session happened for “about an hour” allows enough flexibility to get that up to over 280.

    I think what your problem is regards the term procedure. The procedure is waterboarding…not a specific event (which is a session) or applications…which occur within a session while the individual is inverted.

  22. henrythefifth says:

    So these are the guidelines by which Charles Grodin will be allowed to waterboard Hannity, right (for those that did not see it, Hannity told Grodin he’d be up for being waterboarded, “for the troops,” whatever that means)?

  23. Mithras61 says:

    It really makes no difference if AZ and KSM were tortured once or 1,000 times. Torture is a crime and is specifically forbidden by treaty and law. If ANYONE in our custody was tortured, the torturer(s) should be prosecuted. If it was done on authorization from higher authorities, then those higher authorities should be prosecuted the same as if they had done the actual torture.

    That the torture supporters dispute the number of times reported in the official version from the previous administration by citing the ICRC report is interesting only in that they claim that the detainees were tortured LESS FREQUENTLY (not that they were not tortured). They are still admitting that torture took place.

    They don’t quibble about if waterboarding was torture or not (probably because it has been recognized as such for several centuries – since the Spanish Inquisition at least). Furthermore, it is not the sole method of torture that was used, only the one that is most easily cited. They are playing games and distracting us from the real issue.

    Torture is illegal. Perpetrators of torture from top to bottom need to be prosecuted.

    This is not a policy dispute, this is a matter of law and facts. Anything aside from that is just mind games.

  24. cregan says:

    Cinnaman, you have a good point, but when you look at what AZ said, “I was suffocated one or twice each time…” that indicates to me a pouring of water. Also, who says two minutes between applications? According to many here, these applications produced many wild stories and false confessions. Seems like those would take quite a bit of time to tell and then explore with follow up questions for details.

    Mith…the question of number of times is important. Not because less is more moral–if you have a moral objection to the high pressure techniques, then number doesn’t matter. It is important because of all the wild speculation and conclusions many here are drawing from the number of times. In other words, they say the high number leads to many other inferences and conclusions and accusations. That is why the correct number is important.

    But again, in a way, it is not important. Once the Taliban takes over Pakistan–a near certainty that even Clinton is worried about–we are in a whole new world.

    We already are seeing a bit of it in Iraq. Not surprisingly, the suicide attacks picked up dramatically soon after the withdrawal policy was announced. They know Obama can be had. They smell the blood in the water, and they are going to force him to get out a lot faster than he says.

    We are going to have a big test of which method works better. Kind of a practical experiment. Obviously, Obama is going to use the methods advocated here. We will see if they work. The answer won’t be hard to see.

    I am hoping they do work. I am hoping the ACLU policies will keep us safe. If so, then it will be proven clearly for all time which of the two is right. There won’t need to be this debate.

    Hmmm…isn’t that bozofilter a bit cannibalistic in your case?

    • cinnamonape says:

      “Cinnaman, you have a good point, but when you look at what AZ said, “I was suffocated one or twice each time…” that indicates to me a pouring of water. Also, who says two minutes between applications?”

      But now you are talking about the AZ testimony. Not KSM’s. You have been saying that the number is impossible, incredible far-fetched and inconsistent with what the detainees said.

      I have just shown that there is no inconsistency at all with what is a) possible and b) what KSB said in his testimony to the IIRC. In fact I showed that with a two minute break between applications and with one hour sessions you could get almost a 100 times more “applications” that the IG Report indicated.

      So much for this being “impossible”.

      As to who said anything about a two minute break between applications? There is no statement as to how long between applications at all in either the memos or in the detainee statements. But I thought that the amount of time was within an upper range to allow the victim to clear his sinuses and air passages of water and to “come back” from the edge of death. Of course, applications of water might have had even shorter periods, or had longer breaks. That’s certainly suggested by claims that KSB withstood the longest periods of waterboarding before “breaking” (about 2 minutes). Certainly water wasn’t applied for the whole time of that, but at the same time it’s doubtful that it would have referred to a series of sessions. A session would not have “stopped” simply because KSM became cooperative. If he stopped in cooperating he would have been, again, inverted and waterboarded. In fact, that this happened is clear from his IIRC statements.

      Once again, no contradiction.

      KSM’s statements says there were 5 water boarding sessions of about an hour each. Each needs only 35 applications of water to reach 185. Let’s use the 10 second application rule. 35 x 10 seconds = 350 seconds. That’s a little under 6 minutes of total “application time”.

      So that leaves 54 minutes for “rest/recovery/interrogation”…right? That’s about 1 minute 30 seconds each. But you could get lots of applications in under a minute. 10 seconds of water…stop…..cough, spasm, cough, “Please Don’t”…10 seconds of application…stop….”I’m dying, Please stop” cough, cough, gasp…10 seconds of application. Stop. “Okay, m***f****”, you ready to answer questions”….10 seconds of application. Stop…”Okay, okay. Help me!”…Not yet, you need to see Allah” 10 seconds of application. “Okay, I think he’s primed. Ask him some questions.”

      All well under a minute.

      See cregan, you’d have such fun, wouldn’t you.

  25. freepatriot says:

    lots of Amurikans got problems with readin ritin an rithmatic

    I blame public schools

    there is also the idea that ”critical thinking” is criticizing everything Obama does

    once again, I blame publc schools

  26. runfastandwin says:

    Normally I say the first person to use the word Nazi loses the argument, but this is literally like Nazi shit here. Chilling and disgusting and sickening. There is now no doubt that torture occurred, and that Bush and Cheney were complicit at the very least, the question is what are we going to do about it?

  27. cinnamonape says:

    I apologize to all for basic getting a little “porno-sadistic” in my response to cregan. I just needed to make it clear what this actually means.

    And when the pictures of Abu Ghraib and other “interrogation” camps are declassified and produced in the next few days many more people will see what the real face of torture means. Cregan doesn’t seem to fathom that. He doesn’t realize that we executed Japanese Commanders for one or two cases of water boarding.

    I absolutely concur that even a single case of using water boarding on an involuntarily prisoner is torture. To do it repeatedly when there is not any evidence that doing so will STOP an KNOWN imminent major terrorism attack goes beyond the sadistic.

  28. freepatriot says:

    what happened, cregan ???

    no hair on your ass ???

    I’m a patient man

    and you’re marked

    I’m pretty sure you insulted me with your ignorant ranting, and we WILL straighten this out

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