Yesterday we had occasion to mention the Law of Diminishing Returns. Today, we’ve found one of those fun experiments which proves the concept, similar to the kind of thing Mr. Science would do with billiard balls and an inclined plane to demonstrate Galileo’s laws of motion. This particular exercise is quick, easy, and can be done with ordinary items you find around the house.
Step 1: Take one used Clifford May…
Step 2: Have your kids build a three dimensional representation of Cliff’s resume (this is where the inclined plane comes in handy). Starthere, and try to draw a straight line:
He holds masters degrees from both Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs and its School of Journalism. He earned his BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.
Sarah Lawrence only went co-educational in 1968, and even today the student body is roughly 75% female, so apparently Cliff, like Jonah Goldberg (a graduate of Goucher College, co-ed since 1986), took advantage of the Affirmative Action for Unappealing Virgins program offered by such recently integrated institutions.
Roving Foreign Correspondent for Hearst newspapers. Provided special coverage for CBS Radio News and Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS. Reporter for The New York Times. Editor of The New York Times Sunday Magazine and a foreign correspondent. Bureau Chief of the Times’ West Africa bureau.Associate Editor of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado.
From 1997 to 2001, he served as the Director of Communications for the Republican National Committee. He also served as the Editor of the official Republican magazine, Rising Tide. Later, he was named Senior Managing Director of a Washington D.C. PR firm.
Okay kids, here’s where you can help! Take a shot putt in one hand, and Cliff’s credibility in the other. Drop them both at the same time and watch closely! See? Even though the shot putt is heavier, Cliff’s credibility falls faster! That means Galileo was wrong, and the Pope gets to slug him in the arm with no tag-backs!
Today, as you know, Clifford D. May is a columnist for Townhall and the Washington Times, and the President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism created immediately following the 9/11 attacks on the United States. He is also the Chairman of the Policy Committee of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), where he’s in charge of thinking up new committees that sound like Tom Clancy novels. Additionally, Cliff is founder and president of Sinecures, an online dating service that specializes in pairing cashiered neocons with right wing think tanks and lonely NRO editors.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind behind the terrorist atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001. If U.S. intelligence operatives had spotted him in a remote area of Pakistan, and killed him with a Predator missile, most people would have said: “That’s justice.”
See, I would have said: “That’s amore.” Shows you just how out of step I am with the American People. And while I have issues with our habit of shooting Hellfire missiles into terrorist safe houses, terrorist trucks, and terrorist weddings, I’m glad to see we’ve finally eliminated that artificial distinction between “hot pursuit” and “killing in cold blood,” because nuance is hard, and it makes Barbie’s plastic head hurt.
Instead, of course, KSM was captured in an urban area of Pakistan by U.S. intelligence operatives who then interrogated him — including through use of the technique known as waterboarding — thereby leaving him alive and eliciting from him information about other terrorist plots in which innocent Americans had been targeted. Why are so many people insisting that’s an injustice, a scandal and a crime for which intelligence operatives and former government officials ought to be prosecuted?
Because we’ve already prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime and it kind of set a precedent?
“After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.”
During a time of asymmetrical war, such questions deserve serious debate. But the current administration doesn’t appear to have the patience and much of the mainstream media don’t seem to have the interest.
Cliff May demanding we have a serious debate about the usefulness of torture reminds me of a cable access show I saw years ago in New York, where the local chapter head of the North American Man-Boy Love Association was arguing for the repeal of all age of consent laws. He couldn’t seem to figure out why no one else on the panel was taking him seriously either.
President Obama ordered a review of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) to determine which he would — and would not — authorize. Presumably, he’d want to know which techniques are (A) effective, and (B) not so brutal as to rise to the level of torture. But the President’s decision to release — against the advice of his CIA director and four former CIA directors — top secret Justice Department memos on the interrogation program have rendered that study moot.
Cliff seems to think no one knew we were torturing people until the memos came out, and he’s not the only one. I saw a clip of Karl Rove on FoxNews shouting, “Now these techniques are ruined!” Guys? It’s not the frigging end of The Crying Game. “Whew, That was close! I might’ve let something slip when they electrocuted my scrotum, but fortunately I went on torturespoiler.com last night, so I totally knew what was coming.”
On the same day those memos were released, Obama’s national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, told colleagues in a private memo that the now banned EITs did indeed “produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.”
“Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, a Bush appointee” said theydidn’t. Catfight!
Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran a front-page piece on “ethicists” alleging that psychologists and physicians who supervised CIA interrogations “broke the law and shame the bedrock ethical traditions of medicine and psychology.”
“Ethicists?” What kind of made-up, politically correct, bullshit field of study is that? Cliff is right — “ethicists” are nothing more than flim flam artists who spread the false and dangerous idea that there’s some set of intrinsic behaviors and ideals that separate us from the animals. But Cliff doesn’t think we should be separate from the animals. If anything, he believes we should get closer to animals. A lot closer…
Left unexamined was the likelihood that these health professionals had been tasked with ensuring that interrogations did not cross reasonable legal, medical and ethical boundaries, did not reach the point that they would “shock the conscience” which, as former CIA Director Michael Hayden told Fox News’ Chris Wallace, is the “American standard” for torture. Hayden added: “You have to know the totality of circumstances in which something takes place before you can judge whether or not it shocks the conscience.”
And the American Standard is the Gold Standard of torture. Sure, we may have off-shored and out-sourced some of it in recent years, but our domestically produced torture is still the envy of the UnFree World. Why, in no other country is your scientifically induced torment attended by both a psychologist and a physician. And unlike in Canada, you don’t have to wait three months for an appointment.
Left unexamined is why Cliff May believes that a government he’d like to see shrunk until it can be drowned in a bathtub should remain just big enough to drown people in a bathtub.
Among the released memos is one from then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee emphasizing that waterboarding “will be stopped if deemed medically necessary to prevent severe mental or physical harm.” Another memo makes clear that supervising physicians were empowered to stop interrogations “if in their professional judgment the detainee may suffer severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” What’s severe?
Exactly! This is where empowering sadists to commit torture subject only to meaninglessly vague limits really pays off.
Again, circumstances matter and judgments may differ. Attempting to criminalize such differences is appallingly unethical — not least when done by people who call themselves “ethicists.”
If only Cliff could have applied this same persuasive logic as a defense attorney at the Nuremberg Trials, the hangman at Spandau Prison would have enjoyed a lot more leisure time.
Former Justice Department attorney David Rivkin has pointed out that the EITs described in the memos had been adapted from a U.S. military training program “used for years on thousands of American service members with the full knowledge of Congress.” That meant also that there was a large body of information on which to draw regarding both the effectiveness and the physical/psychological impact of the techniques.
Well, John McCain was waterboarded by the Navy as part of his training, and yet when the North Vietnamese did it, he seemed to regard that as torture. But then, he’s famously thin-skinned.
From Small Wars Journal (a shorter version of this piece also appeared in the NY Daily News):
From Small Wars Journal (a shorter version of this piece also appeared in the NY Daily News):
As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception.
1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.
Well, when you put it that way, I can see why Shepherd Smith got a little worked up. But back to Cliff:
What’s more, extraordinary measures were taken to protect even the vilest subjects. Al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah was slammed against only a flexible wall, with cushioning around his neck to prevent neck injury.
I saw Admiral Hayden make this same indignant point when questioned about our slamming people face first into a wall. “It was flexible! And we put a cervical collar on him so he wouldn’t get whiplash!” Yes, you’ve certainly seized the moral high ground there, skipper.
In the end, he provided the intelligence used to capture KSM who in turn “yielded critical information” — according to one of the released memos — that helped foil additional terrorist plots including a “Second Wave” with Los Angeles as the target.
Or, you know, not.
Reasonable people ought to be able to reach consensus on a few key points: Harsh interrogation methods should be used only as a last resort.
Or when you’ve gone ahead and booked a Middle Eastern country for a war and the party planner still hasn’t shown up with your casus belli.
They should never be used for revenge, punishment or to force confessions.
However, if Dick Cheney is enjoying his rare seasonal boner and there’s no good whacking material on Cinemax…
There should be no torture — no hot pokers through the eyes, no pulling fingernails out with pliers. But a few nights of sleep deprivation?
Eleven straight days shackled to the ceiling? Why, throw in a free Continental breakfast and that’s your average vacation deal on Expedia!
A few weeks of boredom?
You know Cliff, “reasonable people” might be more inclined to reach a consensus on this subject if you were morally capable of distinguishing between torture and summer school.
Such techniques inflict “stress and duress” but they hardly “shock the conscience”
Cliff? These things don’t “shock your conscience” for the same reason they don’t “rub the velvet from your antlers.”
By all means, let’s have a decent respect for the opinions of others.
Really? Starting when?
But let’s not sacrifice a single American life to score public relations points in the cafes of Europe.
Because the U.S. government torturing people in secret prisons is fine, as long as those snooty French don’t find out about it.
We should fight this war in as civilized a manner as possible — understanding that this is a war against an enemy who is utterly ruthless and unscrupulous and who should not be permitted to prevail anytime, anywhere.
Nothing sadder than an angry, resentful nerd with unscrupulous ruthlessness envy.
Posted by scott on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 at 5:15 pm.