Join 3,495 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Torture
November 9, 2005 8:57 PM   Subscribe

'Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offense under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. US law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances (for example, during a ‘state of public emergency’) or on orders from a superior officer or public authority, and the protective mechanisms of an independent judiciary are not subject to suspension.’ (Report of the United States to the UN Committee against Torture, October 15, 1999, UN Doc. CAT/C/28/Add.5, February 9, 2000, para. 6.)
posted by alms (59 comments total)

 
Is torture committed by, say, Syria or Egypt on individuals handed over by the US subject to "US law"? How about at Guantanamo Bay or in secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Isn't that why BushCo has moved this stuff offshore?
posted by 327.ca at 9:12 PM on November 9, 2005


327.ca, "Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form." Of course, this is just a report to the UN, not a US law. So...our government lied to the UN. Sadly, not at all surprising.
posted by scottreynen at 9:33 PM on November 9, 2005


Report of the United States to the UN Committee ...

... and you believe it? heheh
posted by mischief at 9:41 PM on November 9, 2005


What's your point?
posted by delmoi at 9:42 PM on November 9, 2005


That WAS late 99/early 2000. It probably was true at the time.
posted by Malor at 9:44 PM on November 9, 2005


Does showing prisoners reruns from Jerry Springer or West Wing count as torture?
Or perhaps all of the 2004 campaign ads non-stop?
And anywho, torure schmorture. The preferred method of interrogation will now be: Got Answer? No? Bang.
End of interrogation.
posted by garficher at 9:49 PM on November 9, 2005


Reruns of Seinfeld or Raymond would certainly count.
posted by mischief at 10:33 PM on November 9, 2005


If you don't like it, drop this guy a note.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:34 PM on November 9, 2005


Why bother writing, that Google link gives his phone number.
posted by mischief at 10:43 PM on November 9, 2005


Malor, what right and wrong are is not dependent on the year. 1999, 2005, does not matter.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:07 PM on November 9, 2005


That was good for a laugh.
posted by mischief at 11:14 PM on November 9, 2005


I like the "No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture" part. Sorry "24" fans.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:14 PM on November 9, 2005


The US government lies to other nations yet again. Goddamn, this is getting old.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 PM on November 9, 2005


No, fff, this lie actually occurred in 2000.
posted by mischief at 12:09 AM on November 10, 2005


Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States.

Meh. Bushco believes it's above the law.
posted by oncogenesis at 12:47 AM on November 10, 2005


God, I'm so depressed right now.
posted by JHarris at 1:28 AM on November 10, 2005


...and that doesn't stop it from happening every day in the playgrounds of public schools, so what good is the law?
posted by deusdiabolus at 1:31 AM on November 10, 2005


Laws are for wusses.
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:51 AM on November 10, 2005


Oh for heaven's sake have you not seen 24, torture is needed to save America.
posted by bap98189 at 4:03 AM on November 10, 2005


Wow. Coupled with the posts about White Phosphorous, and all the doubles recently deleted here, it's truly becoming Inhumanityfilter over here. Hopefully this reflects a wider public sentiment that will further be reflected in our laws and the actions of our government.
posted by VulcanMike at 4:20 AM on November 10, 2005


Hopefully this reflects a wider public sentiment

Where are the actual public demonstrations of this sentiment?
posted by funambulist at 4:31 AM on November 10, 2005


They change the laws to suit their cause. Remember, what goes around, comes around.
posted by LowDog at 4:53 AM on November 10, 2005


Does showing prisoners reruns from Jerry Springer or West Wing count as torture?
Or perhaps all of the 2004 campaign ads non-stop?

Reruns of Seinfeld or Raymond would certainly count.


Wow, torture is funny. And comparable to watching television.
Keep it up, people, this is comedy gold.
Know any good child-rape jokes? How about genital mutilation, that's a hoot, too.
posted by signal at 5:01 AM on November 10, 2005


"Wow, torture is funny. And comparable to watching television."

No shit, Sherlock. Plus, torture is not just comparable to watching television, it IS watching television. Especially among all you news junkies who leave CNN on every waking hour.
posted by mischief at 5:14 AM on November 10, 2005


What I'm trying to point out here is that, at the time, it probably wasn't a lie. If they said that today, it would be. But they're not saying that today.

It is the nature of our republic to be somewhat schizophrenic, because the government's policies change constantly. The lower house changes every two years, the upper house every six, and the Presidency and his cabinet change every four to eight.

So of course you're going to get some stupid results from this. The nature of our republic is such that we contradict ourselves. Frequently. This most likely was the absolute truth at the time. Calling it a lie simply means you're not thinking.

As a very good example of what we should be doing, this is a great paragraph, and I hope we start living up to it again in the very near future.

Secret prisons, torture, and indefinite detention are things we once opposed so strongly that we were willing to threaten the world with nuclear annihilation rather than accept them.

What the hell happened?
posted by Malor at 5:57 AM on November 10, 2005


"Secret prisons, torture, and indefinite detention are things we once opposed so strongly"

When exactly was that?
posted by mischief at 6:13 AM on November 10, 2005


Um, the 1950s and 60s? The Red Menace? Being preached to on every streetcorner about the evils of communism and totalitarianism? It was exactly that kind of behavior that was held up as 'what we're fighting against'... examples of how evil the bad guys were. (and they WERE evil, no doubt... we had that part right.)

At one time in this country, in other words, the fear of totalitarianism was absolutely dominant.

So I repeat, what the hell happened?
posted by Malor at 6:27 AM on November 10, 2005


The 50s and 60s? You mean during the eras of McCarthy and the Viet Cong? How quickly some of us forget.
posted by mischief at 6:31 AM on November 10, 2005


I think that was back in the Carter administration, just before the Dixiecrats all crossed the aisle and became Repos.
posted by warbaby at 6:32 AM on November 10, 2005


What the hell happened...? Nothin'.
posted by mischief at 6:32 AM on November 10, 2005


Chileans have a rather different idea of the significance of September 11. For many of them, it was the beginning of a profound understanding of America's stance on secret prisons, indefinite detention and torture.

Many Americans feel the tragedy is in how their nation had every reason to hold it's head high until Bush but is now dishonoured by recent developments. Meanwhile, millions of Greeks, Filipinos, Nicaraguans, Turks and Christ knows how many others must think to themselves, "What were we -- chopped liver?"
posted by Jenga at 6:40 AM on November 10, 2005


What happened was the 1980 "Reagan realignment" when national voting patterns flipped into a new static alignment. Some of us actually remember when the Republic still lived. But then again, we are all older than Quonsar.

How this all happened is laid out in very clear language in Godfrey Hodgeson's The World Turned Right Side Up: A History of the Conservative Ascendancy in America

Those who remember history are endlessly condemned to watch it repeated by those who don't.
posted by warbaby at 6:40 AM on November 10, 2005


Thanks. I was wondering when Metafilter was going to discuss torture. It's such an important topic that I can't believe we haven't brought it up before.
posted by dios at 7:24 AM on November 10, 2005


*fwap fwap fwap fwap*
posted by warbaby at 7:30 AM on November 10, 2005


Where are the actual public demonstrations of this sentiment?
posted by VulcanMike at 7:37 AM on November 10, 2005


And we sincerely appreciate your outstanding contribution to this thread on torture mr. god dios.
posted by nofundy at 7:45 AM on November 10, 2005


dios: "Thanks. I was wondering when Metafilter was going to discuss torture.It's such an important topic that I can't believe we haven't brought it up before."

Fortunately the rest of us do not appreciate or accept it being swept under the radar and derided with duplicitous talking points. Dialogue is important, and your sarcastic remarks suggest that you don't think that's necesarilly the case in this situation. What a surprise!
posted by prostyle at 7:46 AM on November 10, 2005


"the rest of us"???

Oh, horseshit. You can't find anything else to stick on Shrub-guy, and this is the best you can find. Most of this 'shock' is, at best, no more than political sniping. Talk about not calling a spade a spade! At least the righties can lie well enough to fool some of the people all of the time.

Sure, one or two of you may have some actual moral issues with torture and would be vocal regardless of which party held the executive office, but "the rest of us"? Ha!
posted by mischief at 8:06 AM on November 10, 2005


mischief: ""the rest of us"???...

Sure, one or two of you may have some actual moral issues with torture and would be vocal regardless of which party held the executive office,but "the rest of us"? Ha!
"


Oh, my apologies. I suppose it is always rather naive of me to assume that the majority of humanity is not yet morally bankrupt. Carry on.
posted by prostyle at 8:23 AM on November 10, 2005


"I suppose it is always rather naive of me to assume that the majority of humanity is not yet morally bankrupt."

Very naive of you.
posted by mischief at 8:30 AM on November 10, 2005


I would also say that's a pretty naive statement.

And what dios says has merit . . . how many other torture threads do we have up? At least it isn't as bad as the Katrina syndrome.

(And no, I am in no way downplaying torture by the US govn't or anyone for that matter. I believe it to be reprehensible and never justified, ever. I think the US needs to take some strident steps in the near future to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all that are captured by us or fall under our purview.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:55 AM on November 10, 2005


Get real.

Dios criticized this thread because he can no longer spin torture as somehow justified or as not a part ofo the Bush admin war on terra, not because of the frequency of posts on the subject. And we know who his sidekick is on the subject too.
In an nutshell, that's the best response he can muster at this point so he'd rather it wasn't talked about.
Shall we go through the previous threads on the subject to substiantiate what I say?
Can't attack the message? Attack the messenger. Just ask Karl Rove.
posted by nofundy at 9:32 AM on November 10, 2005


Well, regardless of dios's motives, he does have a point. The messege is more important than the messenger, right?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:35 AM on November 10, 2005


He doesn't have to spin torture as justified. Shootins too good for them murderin' varmints, carryin a gun into a war zone and all, takin potshots at our boys. They was jus the ones too damn stupid to escape.

Tip of the iceberg and all. What we's really wants is the intelligence network, the command and control, and the s'ply lines. They don' tell us, we shoot em. Easy as pie.

... and yes, I support that 100%. Still doesn't change the fact that Bush is an idiot, but that's a whole different subject.
posted by mischief at 9:54 AM on November 10, 2005


Apparently that whole social relevance comment went right over your head, mischief. So, let me iterate: The only people on this planet who would defend torture in any kind of capacity are people like you - sitting behind your keyboard, scared out of your mind. When will you stop letting fear dictate your life?

nofundy: spot on.
posted by prostyle at 10:09 AM on November 10, 2005


The messege is more important than the messenger, right?

Most of the time, no actually. The source of any given message is as important as the content of the message, especially when the message is politically charged.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:12 AM on November 10, 2005


Teen torture is perfectly legal, however.
posted by johngoren at 10:37 AM on November 10, 2005


You can't find anything else to stick on Shrub-guy

I'm terrified by someone who thinks no one could object to torture based soley on its own merits.

But as for thinks to stick to Bush... The economy? The curtailing of judicial due process domestically? The shackling of foreign policy to domestic corporate policy? Gutting of environmental legislation? Glorification of a lifestyle based on ignorance and, by turns, self-worship and self-denial? The fact that he can't even keep his own batshit insane constituency happy with his batshit insane policies?

Oh, whatever, in a funny way, you're right. Except for that last one, he's just an exemplar of everything that went terribly wrong in America long, long ago. None of it sticks because it's what so many people seem to want, even if they don't all admit it.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:35 AM on November 10, 2005


Law isn't the same as policy.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2005


Most of the time, no actually. The source of any given message is as important as the content of the message, especially when the message is politically charged.

Well, I dissagree, but in that case I think that we could have collated this with the torture thread yesterday for greater effect.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:19 PM on November 10, 2005


"Law isn't the same as policy.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:57 AM PST on November 10 [!]"

Dead on. Neither is principle. This is, has been, and always will be wrong. It is not a simple matter of trusting someone, some group, etc, to do the right thing. There are some measures that should never be resorted to. No matter what the stakes. I would not, for example, harm a child, even if it meant it would mean the deaths of 1/2 the world.
I am not responsible, in not torturing someone, for the harm that is done by other men. It is their decision to do those acts. Not mine. Any act I do to stop them is not justified by the ends achieved. To be lawful one must adhere to laws. To be moral, one must behave morally. To preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, one must chose to embody those things, not simply uphold them as good values to be “protected” by other means.

I see no problem with exposing torture and talking about it as much as possible to come to an understanding.
Some folks have thick heads.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:24 PM on November 10, 2005


VulcanMike, er, the problem with polls is you can't know that any "Bush is less popular" result is dependent on US citizens being opposed to torture. Polls are not politics.

Until you have a significant number of political representatives taking initiative against the violations of laws against torture, and trying to do something about it, and maybe also, for what they're worth, significant protests specifically on that issue, then it's all talk really, isn't it?
posted by funambulist at 12:45 PM on November 10, 2005


Will somebody lean over and smack the dios-bot? It's stuck again.
posted by signal at 12:45 PM on November 10, 2005


johngoren: Teen torture is perfectly legal, however.
Fuck, that's sick. I pretty much lost it at the "humble pants" description, but forced my way through. It once again raises the permanent question on my mind of how, with hundreds or even thousands of "STRAIGHT" victims, including ones on death row for homicide- so we know some of these people snapped to the point of murder- none of these people have taken out Melvin Sembler, or "Doctor" Miller Newton. No one's that untouchable- I just don't get it. Since the law obviously failed and these people aren't in jail, vigilante justice is the way to go.

Seriously. God, are you there? Can you explain to me why human evil and violence is so rarely directed at people who deserve it, but so willingly finds a target in those weak, defenseless, and undeserving?

Goddamnit. I'm gonna snap one day, I know it. I can't take this stuff any more, I can't hold my head together in this world where the repugnantly evil thrive and win at every turn. I'm either going to finally and successfully kill myself, or just go on a pot-shot rampage after these monsters. I'll lose the resistance at some point, and become a monster myself if that's what it takes.
posted by hincandenza at 1:46 PM on November 10, 2005


Please, hincandenza, don't go all pot-shot rampage.

Instead, plan it very carefully. Become an expert marksman. Target selectively and from a safe distance. Eliminate them without endangering your own safety and freedom.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:46 PM on November 10, 2005


Can you explain to me why human evil and violence is so rarely directed at people who deserve it, but so willingly finds a target in those weak, defenseless, and undeserving?
Well, yeah. Answers itself doesn't it? It's evil.
But you don't fight monsters with the darkness they use, you fight it with light. Countless examples there. But take it from me, that other path is a dead end.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:30 PM on November 10, 2005


hincandenza - What five fresh fish said (kinda), except use knives, or swords, or sticks, or rocks, 'cause guns have a bad enough rap as it is - don't make it worse for us gun nuts.
posted by LowDog at 5:02 PM on November 10, 2005


I agree with you intellectually, Smedleyman- and certainly I have boundless respect for the likes of MLK, Jr., and others who've shown the path of non-violent resistance and change. And I even want to agree with his statement that "the moral arc of the universe is long, but it tends towards justice".

Still- these concepts sometimes seem like empty platitudes, silly words we take on faith- just like the childish fairy-tale religions I snort at in derision- to be true, even when the world around us seems to suggest otherwise. And I cannot understand why, when a victim snaps, they so rarely take out their persecuter.

It's only one instance, a tangential link in an already horrible story about how low the US has sunk (the well-read will understand that this isn't even a new low, that our government and peoples have been doing things like this for generations, but hide behind waved flags and cheap Nationalist rhetoric)... but my mind still reels at the horror of this instance, the horror of being locked up and unable to escape, and subjected to the cruelist, most sadistic whims of bred and trained psychopaths. Knowing that these people effectively ran multiple teenage torture sites for nearly two decades, and have been virtually nothing but rewarded for it with riches and political bounties and ambassadorships and mafia-like guaranteed "protection" from representatives in an allegedly democratic government... it's really hard to believe that there's any consensus towards good in the human spirit.

Every fiber in my being says these people should be facing the worst punishment our justice system is capable of meteing out, and yet it's not happening. And it won't ever happen, these people will live out their lives and no karma, no justice, will ever find its way into their cold, black hearts. There is no afterlife where judgment will be rendered, they will get away with everything and the world will be altogether worse for their existence. Heck, people far worse than these participated and orchestrated some of the horrors of the Nazis and were kindly relocated and paid up for life after the war by our own government- no evil is too great to not find a way to get cash and comfort out of it.

It's hard not to think I must be the broken one for wanting to believe in good. And it's hard to stay sane in the face of the steady drumbeat of one such story after another. Tomorrow, we'll surely be greeted by a FPP about some monster who kept his/her spouse/kids/random stranger locked up or abused for years, or of some pedophile slave ring in Chile, or of more US-sanctioned torture by good ol' boys in uniform, or horrors I can't even dream of yet.

I just don't think I can take it anymore. Suicide seems like the only alternative, because I don't want to live in this world of such casual cruelty. My mind can't take it anymore.
posted by hincandenza at 5:02 PM on November 10, 2005


hincandenza - I hear ya man, but without people like you, there will surely be more like them. Hang in there, for the world is a better place because of people like you!
posted by LowDog at 5:14 PM on November 10, 2005


« Older Does this look familiar...  |  A xylothek is literally a libr... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments