It’s no secret I’m a fan of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, and among the reasons I’m a fan of his is his staunch opposition to the use of toture by the United States, as well as his desire for an investigation into Bush-era torture practices:

“Part of what troubles me are the lawyers — we should see their law school degrees — who consciously wrote these memos justifying and explaining full well those outrageous arguments,” the Wisconsin Democrat said on Tuesday in reference to the Bush-era torture memos released last week. “I cannot join the president, or his spokesman, or [chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, who said we aren’t going [to prosecute these people]. I can’t. I just disagree with them.”

As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a long-time critic of torture, Sen. Feingold believes investigations and possible prosecutions are a key tool to restoring America’s moral standing:

“It is truly horrifying and unforgivable that anybody operating under the auspices of the United States of America had involvement in any of this,” he said. “So I’m not even completely ready to [cede the argument] that people who devised these techniques should be off the hook. I understand the argument. I also remember when people said that they were just following orders. So that troubles me and I am thinking about it.”

I’ve heard the argument by some who utilized torture as a means of interrogation that they were “just following orders,” but that’s not an excuse I haven’t heard before.

No matter how individuals who support the use of torture as a means of interrogation try to rationalize or explain their positions, the fact remains that our country is better than that. In resorting to the use of torture to interrogate detainees, our country ceded the moral high ground on the issue and joined the likes of noted bastions of human rights such as North Korea, Pakistan, Egypt, and China in an exclusive group of countries that condone and use torture.

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9 Responses to Feingold calls for torture investigations

  1. Rich says:

    You and Sen. Feingold are missing the point.

    The point is that the torture was not illegal. Yes posibbly immoral. Yes of questionable strategic value. Yes we lost some moral high ground. But illegal? no.

    So if not illegal, then why go forward with this? Because it’s political grandstanding and mudslinging. Just more spin.

    …….how petty….

  2. Zach W says:

    Rich, since when is torture legal in the United States? I’d love to hear your answer to that.

    Further, here’s the definition of torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a signatory:

    any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a male or female person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

    So tell me again how torture isn’t illegal…

  3. Rich says:

    The short answer is legal precedent.

    I was waterboared in SERE school in 1995. The reason that’s relevant is because it is a legal precedent. Not only was I was waterboarded in SERE school, but also hundreds if not thousands of other Sailors and Marines have been waterboarded and have set this legal precedent that it is a safe legal technique when administered properly.

    If it’s legal to be administered on me, then I’d love to hear your answer to how it can magically become ILLEGAL when administered to an enemy combatant as an iterrogation technique.

  4. Zach W says:

    Rich, care to cite specific case law to back up your assertion that torture is legal?

  5. Rich says:

    We seem to be talking past each other.

    There is plenty of precedent that Waterboarding is safe and legal when administered properly. I’ve been waterboarded. How can it be safe and legal on me, but illegal to use on an enemy combatant?

    Beat up as many straw men and throw as much mud and spin, spin, spin as much as you’d like; but the specific incidents that are in question here are *Waterboarding as an *Iterrogation Technique on *Enemy Combatants. The fact is that even Pres Obama himself refuses to rule out such similar acts in the future.

    Your insisting that this was illegal is equivalent to trying to ticket a police officer for speeding while he was in pursuit of a suspect. Technically you are correct. Yes the officer was speeding. No doubt about it. BUT WAS IT ILLEGAL???? Um no. That is the question here. Bad mouth the cop all you want. But doing so can only be politically motivated. How petty…….

  6. Rich says:

    FYI: Here’s an excerpt from a very recent article that supoorts what I’m saying. However, I didn’t need an AP reporter to tell me what I know first hand.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_interrogation_memos_senate;_ylt=AgjVehreW9CywCCy1YBs8gIDW7oF

    “…the Justice Department issued two legal opinions that sanctioned the CIA’s harsh interrogation program. The memos appeared to draw deeply on the survival school data provided to the Pentagon to show that the CIA’s methods would not cross the line into torture.

    The opinion concluded that the harsh interrogation methods would be acceptable for use on terror detainees because the same techniques did not cause severe physical or mental pain to U.S. military students who were tested in the government’s carefully controlled training program.”

  7. Zach W says:

    Rich, I don’t think we’re talking past each other; I’m just looking for a decision handed down by an American court that says that waterboarding is perfectly legal. Citing a DOJ lawyer – a lawyer who was appointed during the Bush administration is hardly a legal precedent; it’s just that lawyer’s interpretation of the law. Show me a decision handed down by a judge.

  8. Zach W says:

    And interestingly enough Rich, we (the United States) prosecuted several Japanese soldiers after World War 2 for using waterboarding against American and Allied troops. So explain to me how it was illegal for the Japanese to use waterboarding on Americans and our allies, but now it’s okay for America to use waterboarding against our enemies.

    Here’s a link.

  9. Rich says:

    Regarding “legal precedent”, Touche. You got me. I should not have typed “legal precedent”. But the fact remains that what I endured (aka the precedent) was legal and what SERE passed on to the CIA was essentially the same.

    Regarding the link you provided: It was Chinsaku Yuki that was accused and prosecuted in 1947 of torture and killing civilians (you convieniently left out the part about killing civilians). Also he used a continuous stream of water from a faucet until his victims were unconscious.

    You have every right to your opinions. But not your own facts. The fact is that these prosecutions were different. To say that they are the same is pure stinky politics.

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