The Inhumanity of Bob Lonsberry: Waterboarding, Concentration Camps, and the the Bataan Death March

KNRS 570 radio talk show host Bob Lonsberry advocated waterboarding and other forms of torture during his show on April 21, 2009. More grotesquely, he was beaming with pride about his advocacy campaign. It's difficult to imagine then, that, by the same rationale, had Lonsberry been a German at the time of Hitler, or a Japanese during the Bataan Death March, that he would not have advocated torture of Jews in the concentration camps or the bayoneting and shooting of American soldiers on the Bataan trail.

Torture, Torture, Everywhere! Nearly 80,000 American soldiers were captured by the Japanese in the

To contemplate a discussion about whether or not torture is legal or whether it even works, it is first required to come to the conclusion that 'I am a child of God, but my adversary is a monkey'.

Phillipines in 1942 and forced to march with no food and very little water for six days. If a man stumbled, if he didn't respond quickly to a command, or if he tried to get water from a bug-infested mud puddle to slake his thirst, he was either bayoneted through the abdomen or shot and left to die. The Japanese overlords had their reasoning. These westerners were to them obviously subhuman, and to make matters worse, they had committed the unpardonable sin of surrendering to their enemies. Japanese soldiers killed 12,000 Americans on the Bataan march, and to them it was perfectly rational.

At a minimum, six million Jews were killed in Europe by the Nazi Wehrmacht. Millions upon millions of Jews toiled in torturous conditions, under which many of their bodies simply gave out. For this--and less--they were sent to the gas chambers and the furnaces. For ages, Jews had been looked on as the cause for a plethora of ills. On the shoulders of this dehumanization of Jews, Adolf Hitler and his coterie stirred, with very little effort, the bulk of the German masses to a frenzied call for the elimination of the Jewish race. It had become, to them, perfectly logical. Jews were swine. Jews were not human.

April 21st on his radio program, Bob Lonsberry dehumanized all dark-skinned Middle Easterners (segment begins at 1:49:20 into the show) in one fell swoop. He crooned:
Here is my waterboarding memo. If you don't want to get waterboarded, don't kill Americans. And if waterboarding a million foreigners saves one American life, then it's worth it. That's my attitude. Sorry to be a jerk about this, but...I just had a moment of clarity. It's good to keep Americans alive. It's really, really good. So if you and your goat-herding pals out there in some third-world wasteland, having your little opium induced fantasies say hey why don't we go kill some Americans, you have just crossed over into a world of hurt...
Getting Back to the Original Problem. It's instructive in such moments of insanity to ask one's self: how did we get to this point? Specifically, how did America get to the point that now we are even having a debate on whether torture is efficacious. Here's how. America attacks Iraq because it supposedly has weapons of mass destruction.

Which came about because we supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980's.

Which came about because Iranian students captured dozens of

"If you and your goat-herding pals out there in some third-world wasteland, having your little opium induced fantasies say hey why don't we go kill some Americans, you have just crossed over into a world of hurt."

--Bob Lonsberry

American embassy personnel and held them hostage for 444 days.

Which came about because the United States overthrew the freely-elected prime minister of Iran in 1953 and restored the reviled and corrupt Shah Reza Pahlavi to the throne.

If we don't understand history, it's easy to make rationalizations. Rationalizations are nearly always accompanied by the purposeful dehumanization of one's adversary. In doing so on his radio show two days ago, Bob Lonsberry made this Mormon embarassed that we share the same religion.

Lonsberry said further:
You notice that the people who are lecturing us on Americas values today...are the same ones who last week told us that we have to let gay people marry? It just seems a little odd to me, being lectured on values by the pro-abortion party.
In an effort to cement his rationalization, Lonsberry mischaracterizes hundreds of

If we don't understand history, it's easy to make rationalizations. Rationalizations are nearly always accompanied by the unfortunate but purposeful dehumanization of one's adversary.

thousands of Americans who oppose gay marriage, abortion-on-demand, and torture.

The right path is not hard to discern. George Washington--of horse and buggy days--warned of entangling alliances with other nations. He said:
Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. [But] it is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.
This, simply, is how we could have avoided at all the discussion about whether or not torture is legal or whether it even works, for which it is first required to come to the conclusion that 'I am a child of God, but they are a monkey'.

People such as Japanese bayoneters, German concentration camp "managers", and Bob Lonsberry prefer to ignore history, though, because it's much more soul-stirring to go on in rationalizing platitudes about the dignity of terrorizing monkeys.

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Comments

  1. Frank, you should be ashamed of yourself. I'm sorry, but to imply that Bob Lonsberry would have advocated the holocaust or the slaughtering of American Soldiers on the Bataan trail based on his comments is at best idiotic.

    Lonsberry said nothing about killing anybody. He speaks of waterboarding, a technique that does not involve physical pain, and was determined (pre-Bush, mind you) not to have incurred any lasting emotional trauma on the thousands of our service men who experienced it as part of their training.

    The definition of torture is subjective. I wouldn't call waterboarding torture at all. Ask the seals who've been through it if they really consider it torture.

    So you take an act that at worst temporarily scares the crap out of somebody and equate it with actual torture (you can't tell me you really equate the holocaust to waterboarding). Your argument undercuts any cred you had on the issue.

    I'm not even sure why I read your blog, Frank. Sometimes you make a decent point, but this one is absolutely ridiculous.

    "April 21st on his radio program, Bob Lonsberry dehumanized all dark-skinned Middle Easterners (segment begins at 1:49:20 into the show) in one fell swoop."Frank, you're driving me crazy with the dark skin BS. Please explain to me how mocking a culture translates to racism.

    People mock Mormons culture all the time. Is that racism? People make fun of "white trash" all day. Is that racism? Are lawyer jokes racist? Hick jokes?

    And please tell me how Lonsberry is wrong in calling the Middle East a third-world wasteland. Seriously, I'm looking forward to your explanation. Humor me.

    I happen to know Mr. Lonsberry personally, and I know him to be a good and honorable man. You've let your inordinate fear of "torture" and your politically correct tendencies cloud your judgment.

    Do me and yourself a favor, Frank: in the future, think a little bit before you go and accuse somebody of advocating the most horrible atrocities the world has ever seen. You owe the man an apology.

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  2. D Sirmize:

    I'm glad that you read my blog, because I get a great perspective from you. I'm sorry I hit a raw nerve. You make a good point, in that I have never met Bob Lonsberry. I should point out that Bob makes some great points on his show that I fully agree with. However, when he gets on his Jack Bauer "ticking time bomb" kick, I fear he's lost his marbles.

    For the record I am not ashamed of myself. I clearly didn't say that Lonsberry said anything about killing anybody. I stand by my analogy, but let me clarify it: using the same patriotic fervor that Bob Lonsberry uses to advocate waterboarding and other forms of torture, he would very likely have, as a soldier in the German or Japanese armies, felt like he was doing his country a favor by torturing Jews or American soldiers.

    There is no justification for waterboarding. Beyond the fact that it is torture, it doesn't work. If you think it does, you've been watching too much "24". A plethora of studies bear this out.

    About "dark-skinned" Middle Easterners: when Bob about "goat-herding pals" in a middle eastern wasteland, do you think he was talking about Israelis?

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  3. I have no idea who Bob Lonsberry is, but he sounds like just another torture apologist.

    Torture is a serious crime under federal law, punishable by 20 years in prison. The death penalty is applicable if the torture victim dies. We know from congressional testimony that at least 108 U.S. detainees have died under torture.

    What is the definition of torture? It's not "subjective." U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 113C § 2340:

    “Torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.Is waterboarding torture? Yes. For legal precedent. you can go back to the Philippine-American War, when U.S. Army officers were convicted of waterboarding prisoners. World War II Japanese torturers were convicted of war crimes by the U.S. for using waterboarding.

    One last thing. I've been to the Bataan Peninsula and the nearby island of Corregidor. I wish every American had the opportunity. There is a memorial at Bataan with the inscription: "OUR MISSION IS TO REMEMBER."

    The Bush administration didn't remember. The incompetent top White House officials didn't understand history. They didn't understand what America stands for. We are all paying the price for their ignorance.

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  4. There is no justification for waterboarding. Beyond the fact that it is torture, it doesn't work. If you think it does, you've been watching too much "24". A plethora of studies bear this out.It is your opinion that waterboarding is torture. It is not fact. The only way to properly categorize the activity would be to poll the people it's been done to, including our own servicemen. If they consider it torture, I would be willing to concede that it is. If they don't, I would hope you would concede that while you abhor it, it isn't torture.

    Oh, and I've never seen '24.' As for whether or not waterboarding works, what about the May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo, which stated that waterboarding caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles? The CIA said on Tuesday that it stands behind that statement. Got links if you want them.

    "About "dark-skinned" Middle Easterners: when Bob about "goat-herding pals" in a middle eastern wasteland, do you think he was talking about Israelis?"I know exactly who he was talking about, but what on earth does it have to do with race? Again, he mocked a culture. You've failed to explain how that is racist. If mocking a culture is racism, let's comb your archives here and see if you haven't made some 'racist' comments yourself.

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  5. It's comments like these that show what a bumbling baffoon Bob Lonsberry is. As you concede, the guy has many good ideas and a lot of what he says I also agree with. But this fear-induced cheerleading of "whatever it takes to save a life" is completely asinine, and totally ignorant of the golden rule. It's tirades like this one that further convince me that "conservative" talk radio is not worth paying attention to.

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  6. They didn't understand what America stands for. We are all paying the price for their ignorance.Oh yes, rmwarnick, and the Obama administration totally understands what America stands for, don't they? Of course they do, because you agree with them.

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  7. Frank

    I think you are missing the tongue-and-cheek nature of his comment.

    I am a bit ambivalent because even though I do oppose torture on principle I wonder what is worse to torture someone if that is the only way to save thousands of lives or let those people die?

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  8. I never mentioned the Obama administration. I disagree with them about the necessity of prosecuting torturers and torture conspirators.

    As for the "West Coast 9/11" lie:[T]he Bush administration said in 2006 and 2007 that the plot was broken up in February 2002 -- more than a year before Mohammed's capture in March 2003.

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  9. For those who don't believe waterboarding is torture, let me refer you to the October 2007 post on Small Wars Journal by Malcolm Nance, a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE).

    Waterboarding is Torture… PeriodI particularly want D. Sirmize to read this, and tell us if he still thinks waterboarding isn't torture.

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  10. Unpleasant? Yes. Torture? No. How on earth can you equate waterboarding with the type of stuff done during WWII, Vietnam, etc. to our soldiers?

    I'm not arguing that waterboarding is completely harmless and should be used willy nilly. It's just that with such a huge range of things that may be classified as 'torture,' waterboarding seems on the tame end.

    And making somebody think their going to die, only to clean them up, feed them, and take total care of their religious needs-- is not even in the same ball park as torturing and killing somebody.

    The practice of waterboarding itself runs the gamut of behaviors. Technically, dunking somebody in water can be called waterboarding. So can what we and the Japanese did during WWII, which was more like what we understand the term to mean today, but without attending physicians, psych's, and others making certain the subject's life is not in danger.

    Japanese old-school waterboarding? Torture. The stuff your blogger friend claims to do? Not torture. Not in my book.

    I particularly liked this line from the blog you linked to:

    "If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives."

    Yeah, you know what? When our guys are taken prisoner, they get their freakin HEADS SAWED OFF before their bodies are mutilated and dumped in the streets. (I'm certain you, and certainly Frank, can link that all back to atrocities we've committed-- America-- the original sinners).

    I get captured in Afghanistan or Iraq, believe me, the last thing I'll be worried about is pretend drowning.

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  11. "It's not about who they are. It's about who we are." --Senator John McCain

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  12. You're oversimplifying the argument. Perhaps you could address my points.

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  13. Right now, U.S. citizens are captive in North Korea and Iran. Those governments are laughing at us because the USA has no credibility anymore on the subject of human rights. They can do whatever they want, and justify it by saying it was worse at Guantanamo.

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  14. D Sirmize:

    I've been thinking...

    In a similar manner to my not being acquainted with Bob Lonsberry, I suspect you're not acquainted with the people that Bob called goat-herders in a third-world wasteland. I am. I lived there for a year. Some of my greatest friends live there, and I would not refer to them as goat-herders because all of us recognize it as an epithet. Bob should know that.

    Arabs are a fairly distinct race, as are Persians. So yes, Bob's comments are decidedly racist.

    The Middle East is NOT a wasteland as you so smugly claim. Interestingly, even Iraq is coming out of its torpor, which, ultra-ironically, became that way with a little help from Saddam Hussein's "friends"--the Brits and the Americans.

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  15. Just a historical correction. The Wehrmacht was not the principal actor in the Holocaust. It was the SS-Totenkopfverbaende and Einsatzgruppen.

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  16. When my husband was away at SERE school I read about what he was going through on wikipedia. It made me sick. I don't think we should be doing this type of stuff to our own soldiers or anybody else. It feels extremely wrong to me.

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  17. Anonymous:

    Thank you for the correction.

    Carissa:

    My wife and I went to lunch together today, and this subject of this blog article came up. We agreed that for someone who truly looked at their adversary as a human being would never be able to do such a thing to them.

    From a military perspective, NOTHING that I have ever done in training has ever come close to how it is in reality. I haven't been waterboarded, but I have been in a chemical chamber, and I'm confident that military waterboard training isn't much worse--i.e. much less terrifying than when it happens to our enemies.

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  18. Well, I'm glad the "sexual assault" was at least dropped from the SERE curriculum.

    D. Sirmize,

    If it was proven the most effective method for extracting information and didn't involve physical pain, would you be okay with sexual humiliation or degradation as an interrogation technique? Would you be willing to carry out that order yourself?

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  19. This was a great post Frank. I've had discussions with family members about it today. Thanks.

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  20. Great post. It so embarrasses me that these high profile Mormon media commentators all say such outrageous and absurd things (Beck, with his immolation stunt, is about as bad). The excuse that it was all a joke, all "tongue in cheek," is meaningless. To make light of such serious issues--if indeed they were--was disgraceful. These are matters that demand gravitas.

    And I'm not terribly surprised at the not-particularly veiled racism of Lonsberry's statement. As if all these "goat-herders" support the terrorism.

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  21. I love the way Bob draped himself in the flag and implies that we who do support freedom of conscience in allowing all faiths and people to choose for themselves what should morally qualify as marriage are "unamerican."

    I am very much a proponent of Washington's skepticism of "entangling alliances." I'm not entirely sure how that would eliminate the potential for torture by US forces. Can you please elaborate?

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  22. It's like I told my 14-year-old daughter--you don't need to just hang out with your friends every night. That just gives someone more chance to do something mischievous. Specifically as regards the military, if we weren't galavanting all over the globe getting our noses in other peoples' business, we wouldn't have nearly the need for the size of military we have, and we wouldn't tick so many non-Americans off to the point that they react (with suicide bombings, etc.) and give us a flimsy reason to torture them and all of Bob Lonsberry's "goat-herding" friends..

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  23. The jingoists who endorse torture would be just as eager to gallivant around the world interfering with international affairs regardless of whether or not we had the "entangling alliances" such as Nato or our chummy relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia to formalize it--especially when wealthy US corporations have a huge interest in having the US use their military leverage to their advantage--wouldn't they?

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  24. Great read, Frank. Exactly as we discussed. When we dehumanize our “enemies” we justify ANY action as prudent and protecting the “American” way of life. How ironic that we say we want the world to embrace our ideals but how quickly they “go out the window” when we are tested in our resolve. As long as this is ALLOWED to happen by our government, then there will NEVER be a time where “Swords will be beat into plowshares”

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  25. Carissa-

    "When my husband was away at SERE school I read about what he was going through on wikipedia."

    And we all know Wikipedia is the ultimate in reliable sources.


    "D. Sirmize,

    If it was proven the most effective method for extracting information and didn't involve physical pain, would you be okay with sexual humiliation or degradation as an interrogation technique? Would you be willing to carry out that order yourself?"

    I would object to any method that entails any long term physical pain and/or mental trauma. We're talking about waterboarding, which, as it was carried out according to the memos, entailed neither.

    As far as me as interrogator, I wouldn't be willing, and therefore I didn't go into the interrogation business. Would you, Carissa, be willing to carry out a routine body cavity search in a prison? Probably not, which is why I'm betting you chose not to become a corrections officer.


    Derek-

    "As if all these "goat-herders" support the terrorism."

    No, they don't all support terrorism, but perhaps if less of them did, it wouldn't be so prevalent.

    If a group of rogue Mormons- let's say maybe a fraction of the membership- decided to engage in acts so contrary to the church's teachings and so heinous as to be almost unbelievable, don't you think the general membership would bend over backwards to distance themselves from the rogue group, and do everything in their power to destroy it? When it comes down to it, Muslim extremism is a Muslim problem that can only be rooted out completely by Islam as a whole. If only a fraction of Muslims supported terrorism, how could exist without at least tacit support amongst their fellow Muslims?

    "I love the way Bob draped himself in the flag and implies that we who do support freedom of conscience in allowing all faiths and people to choose for themselves what should morally qualify as marriage are "unamerican.""

    Not sure what gay marriage has to do with waterboarding, but I'll bite. Actually, I believe it was gay marriage proponent Tom Hanks who called Mormons "unamerican" for not supporting gay marriage.


    Ray-

    "When we dehumanize our “enemies” we justify ANY action as prudent and protecting the “American” way of life."

    We dehumanize our enemies by killing them, not by harsh interrogation followed by kid glove handling.

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  26. D, perhaps if the West and the US not so repeatedly abused the people of the Middle East for their own ends, there would be much less tolerance for terrorism--not to mention the fact that with so Muslims in the region in dire poverty, they have more immediate concerns that repudiating extremists.

    if you read Frank's article, he specifically quoted Bob referring to the anti-torture, pro-marriage crowd as "un-American." He (and Frank) were the ones who introduced the issue. I'd make the case that calling people who defend freedom of conscience is nonsensical. Calling them un-Christian, if you believe Christianity is opposed to homosexuality, makes some sense. But un-American? Seems like the label is more appropriately bestowed on those who would restrict freedom of conscience and want to blend church and state.

    And you dehumanize your enemies by treating them in a way you would hate to be treated. Torture qualifies.

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  27. Derek, you seem to imply that you agree with Mr. Hanks. Is that true? Are people who are against gay marriage unamerican?

    You seem also to imply that opposition to gay marriage equates to restriction, or the support of restriction, of freedom of conscience?

    You're kidding, right? No, no, I know you're not. When you can prove to me that marriage of any kind is a civil right protected by the U.S. Constitution, then I'll concede that it's wrong to oppose it.

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  28. Opposition to homosexual marriage absolutely involves the restriction of freedom of conscience. "Un-American" would more logically apply more to such a restriction of that basic principle than it would to support for homosexual marriage. I prefer not to use such silly and pointless terms as "un-American" at all.

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  29. I agree with Derek that one's stance on homosexual marriage has nothing to do with whether one is un-American or not. (You're probably familiar--from previous SUMP articles--though, with my reasoning why homosexual marriage should not be allowed.)

    However, according to traditional American principles, waterboarding and other forms of torture are definitely un-American.

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  30. Sirmize-

    "And we all know Wikipedia is the ultimate in reliable sources"

    Turns out it is very accurate on this subject.

    "As far as me as interrogator, I wouldn't be willing, and therefore I didn't go into the interrogation business"

    I didn't mean to ask if you'd consider it as a career choice. I guess I should have worded my question this way:

    Would you feel morally comfortable with your actions if you had to be the one carrying these orders out? In other words, if you already WERE an interrogator, would your conscience be clear after doing your job if it involved intentional sexual humiliation of someone? Could you go to church the next day and take the sacrament? If not, how could you expect that from anyone else? LDS or not?

    How can you be sure what you are doing will not cause anyone "long term mental trauma"? You do realize that all soldiers who go through SERE school are required to have exit counseling specifically because so many of them experience mental trauma from the course? Is it okay as long as their nightmares/anxieties don't last past a month... a year?

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  31. Carissa-

    I'll get to your questions a bit later, but in the meantime, from what you learned on Wikipedia, do you consider SERE school (or various aspects of it)torture?

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  32. I don't know. It depends partly on the degree of severity with which these things are done. Since people react to things differently, I can see why it's such a gray area. (Consider someone with a bad back being in a certain stress position for hours vs someone with a healthy back- MUCH more pain and torment involved. Or consider someone with a past of sexual abuse having to strip down during an interrogation and be mocked and threatened).

    It's hard to know exactly how much mental or physical pain these things could be inflicting on someone. It doesn't surprise me that people have differing definitions of what torture "is". I try not to get caught up in the definition but focus on the moral aspect. I wonder, how far can we go in coercing someone to give information and still be morally justified in the eyes of God? Is there a line that HE would expect us not to cross? Even to save lives? That's the answer I am interested in, regardless of however we decide to define torture legally.

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  33. Thoughtful response, Carissa. I agree completely. Frank, Derek? Either of you want to answer the same question?

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  35. I'm not interested in quibbling about whether Sere training, or athletic hazing, or anything like that is torture. The bottom line is that deliberately invoking pain and suffering is inconsistent with basic humanity, to say nothing of the Gospel and the Golden Rule. We do not want to be humiliated or to have pain deliberately inflicted upon us. We should not try to do so to others--especially when time and again it has proven ineffective in eliciting information, the very purpose of the exercise in this case.

    Where is that line and how far should we go? Difficult to say. The question of how how far we can go and still be acceptable in God's eyes reminds me of the story of the people being interviewed to drive a coach in a cliff-side road. When we are looking to see how close we can get to the edge (torture), we are on the wrong path. It is more Christian to be seeking how far away from the line of cruelty we can stay.

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  36. Anyone familiar with Hanns Scharff (Master German Luftwaffe Interrogator during WWII)?

    He "never used physical means to obtain the required information. No evidence exists he even raised his voice in the presence of a prisoner of war" and yet his method was extremely effective (which is why the U.S. military invited him to come speak and incorporated his techniques after the war).

    Our army instructors still praise this man and teach his methods. So why then have we been resorting to controversial techniques like waterboarding? I don't get it.

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  37. Derek, my point is that waterboarding, or whatever else we did and continue to do at SERE school, is either torture or it's not. If it's torture, then it doesn't matter who's doing it to whom for what purpose. Torture is torture, be it for training or for interrogation. And if we're banning the method for captured terrorists, we'd better ban it in SERE school as well. The fact that these methods are still used by our military with President Obama's blessing says they're every bit as guilty as Bush and his people were, are they not?

    See, the argument Frank, you, and others here have made against waterboarding is very black and white. But I wonder how black and white things are when it comes to what we're still doing to our own people. I betcha all the sudden it gets pretty nuanced. It's all about perspective, isn't it?

    "We do not want to be humiliated or to have pain deliberately inflicted upon us for any reason. We should not do so to others--especially when time and again it has proven ineffective in eliciting information, the very purpose of the exercise in this case."

    No, we don't, but we also don't want people killed. And though the legendary '24' situation is probably really rare, it can happen. If the LA plot that we thwarted by waterboarding KSM isn't an example of this, I don't know what is. A plot that would have resulted in many deaths was stopped, according to the CIA (referenced in one of my first posts above), because we waterboarded KSM.

    So while we should live the Golden Rule, I also believe there can be situations that necessitate the breaking of that rule. Just as we are not supposed to kill, yet there are times when we must. The Somali pirate incident last month is a fine example. Would you argue that we should have let that American be killed in order to adhere to the Golden Rule?

    It's these cases that I believe God will look at and still be acceptable in God's eyes.

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  38. Carissa, I wrote a post involving Scharff awhile back. Yep, he showed the only real effective method of interrogation.

    D, is the waterboarding done for the purpose of inflicting pain and suffering? Then yes, I would say it is torture, and do not condone it.

    You're right, it is about perspective. And if our perspective is about seeing how close we far we can go, then we are dealing with the wrong perspective.

    The 24 situation is a story, nothing more. Makes great TV, but doesn't happen in real life. And if torture is so effective, then how come "KSM" had to be tortured well over one hundred times to get the information? Sounds more like 224 than 24 to me.

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  39. "D, is the waterboarding done for the purpose of inflicting pain and suffering? Then yes, I would say it is torture, and do not condone it."

    Exactly, Derek. If it is done for the purpose of inflicting pain- for some gratification on the part of the interrogator- then I do not condone it.

    That's the primary reason I did not serve in the armed forces. I have always feared that if I ever had to take another life, and there was any vengeance in me when I did it, that I'd think myself at least partially guilty of murder. That might not make sense, but it ties into your point.

    That said, I still do not believe that waterboarding, when carried out according to the protocals the Bush Admin. established, is torture. If the interrogator enjoyed doing it, that's his problem. I fully condone the use of waterboarding in military training and in interrogation.

    About KSM, the guy was waterboarded whenever there was something they needed from him. It's not like they had all the dots connected and only then sat him down for one WB session to ask him 300 questions. They'd waterboard, he'd talk, they'd follow up, verify, and make other discoveries. These discoveries would be more questions, which KSM apparently would only answer if waterboarded. The information he gave during these interrogations led to the thwarting of the LA plot. It's not a wives tale. This is what really happened.

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  40. Whether or not the pain and suffering inflicted was done for the gratification of the interrogator is immaterial. A torturer may hate what he is doing, and it is still torture.

    Speaking of nuance and perspective, I'm curious how you don't make any distinction between people who consent to SERE training, and people who have these things inflicted on them against their will.

    As to the effectivness of waterboarding in getting crucial intelligence information, well, we have only the Bush administration's word on that, don't we? Given that virtually all interrogation professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, and the military insist that torture is ineffective, I'm skeptical of Cheney's assurances.

    If there is the possibility that other means which have a more proven track record, and do not involve torture or abuse, shouldn't we rely on those?

    I suspect that the insistence of the Bush administration and the various neocon warhawks on the use of torture has much more to do with their opinion on how "bad people" should be treated than with any objective facts on the effectiveness of torture.

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  41. "Speaking of nuance and perspective, I'm curious how you don't make any distinction between people who consent to SERE training, and people who have these things inflicted on them against their will."

    If the act of waterboarding is torture, it's torture regardless of whether or not the person undergoing it gave consent. Consenting to use of the method doesn't mean you want to undergo it, nor does it make it any more pleasant an experience. Consent of this nature is flawed, in fact, because until a person has experienced something like waterboarding, they have no idea what to expect. It's possible, even likely, that people who once consented to subjecting themselves to it, would not have done so given the chance to go back and do things over.

    "If there is the possibility that other means which have a more proven track record, and do not involve torture or abuse, shouldn't we rely on those?"

    Indeed we should.

    But leaving techniques like waterboarding on the table does two things: 1) It has not been solidly proven that waterboarding, whether it's torture or not, does not net intelligence. We have unscientific testimony from some non-partisan CIA agents, but then again the story of waterboarding working on KSM came from non-partisan CIA agents themselves as well. It may be abhorent to you, but the evidence we have that it works is no more weak and unproven than the evidence we have that it doesn't. Leaving it as an option means that when all else fails, it's an option.

    2) The possibility of being waterboarded may help some combatants talk in the early interrogation phases. Think about it, if you knew you captors have waterboarded in the past and it may be a distinct possibility for you, would you not be apt to spill your guts a bit quicker?


    But we have now taken the method completely off the table based on emotion and unscientific proof (scientific in this sense meaning documented in a verifiable manner). Would it have ever worked? We'll never know. And how willing will enemy combatants be now to give us info when they know we can't so much as raise our voice to them any more? I wouldn't talk. We've seriously crippled ourselves, and you'll need to give me more than "golden rule" and "we take the high road" arguments to convince me otherwise.

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  42. You've made up your mind and that is fine. I hope you at least understand why someone might feel differently.

    I personally think we cripple ourselves when we don't live a higher law. Harsh techniques may gain us immediate safety but not long term peace or progress. Russel M. Nelson's talk made a big impression on me a few years ago. Especially these parts:

    "Peace can prevail only when that natural inclination to fight is superseded by self-determination to live on a loftier level"

    "Wherever it is found and however it is expressed, the Golden Rule encompasses the moral code of the kingdom of God. It forbids interference by one with the rights of another. It is equally binding upon nations, associations, and individuals. With compassion and forbearance, it replaces the retaliatory reactions of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” If we were to stay on that old and unproductive path, we would be but blind and toothless."

    I understand why you feel the way you do but I think God will help us fight our battles if we are striving to follow his teachings. We often overlook that promise and rely too much on "man" to keep us safe.

    Thanks for the discussion!

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  44. I personally think we cripple ourselves when we don't live a higher law.I heartily concur, Clarissa. I recall (well, not recall, since I was three at the time) President Kimball's Bicentennial address, "The False Gods We Worship," in which he warns us against not only the materialism so rampant in today's world, but also against militarism:

    We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel--ships, planes, missiles, fortifications--and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching:

    "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45).
    I think the rationalization of "harsh interrogation techniques" qualifies as an example of being anti-enemy rather than pro-Kingdom of God, and relying on the arm of flesh rather than moral principles.

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  45. It's very interesting that, considering the article I just wrote on the nation of Israel, that I just discovered that Israelis have actually banned the practices that the Bush Administration referred to as "enhanced interrogation techniques."

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  46. "It's very interesting that, considering the article I just wrote on the nation of Israel, that I just discovered that Israelis have actually banned the practices that the Bush Administration referred to as "enhanced interrogation techniques."

    I wonder if the various Palestinian factions have banned their enhanced interrogation techniques?

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  47. D said:

    I wonder if the various Palestinian factions have banned their enhanced interrogation techniques?What does it matter? What does the policy of enemies have to do with our own. Are we to be children, whining "but they're doing it!" to justify our own misdeeds?

    If we follow the moral path, we will ultimately come out ahead both practically and spiritually, regardless of what others do.

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  48. Be glad that Lonsberry doesn't live out there in Utah. We have to deal with him here in the Rochester/western NY region in person as well as on the air. He is about as hypocritical as one person can be, espousing his firm Christian beliefs, while at the same time, violating everything Christ stood for in both his public and personal personal life. His excuse? "I'm going to hell anyway."

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  49. In all this debate over water boarding, is it torture or is it not, the question for me is, how does one extract information from an enemy in a humane way that doesn't violate their human rights? That's what I want to know...

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  50. Good question Thomas. It's already been discussed in the earlier comments, but google "Hanns Scharff".

    I have a hard time believing that somehow the techniques he is famous for (and which our military has been teaching and using for decades) suddenly don't work anymore and "torture" (which has been proven over and over again to extract lies and unreliable information) DOES.

    Even if you get some reliable info from inhumane techniques, there will most likely be a backlash of unintended consequences to follow. It's not worth it imho.

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