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Torture...

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Some of you may have seen Zero Dark Thirty (I know G and I have) and it's kind of inspired this thread. The film is about the hunt for Bin Laden and has caused a few stories to be written about the torture scenes.

So have argued that the film gloryfies torture as a tool, others say that actually it depicts that torture wasn't how Bin Laden was actually tracked that the CIA actually had the information needed already and therefore the torture used by CIA was gratuitous. Then there's a last group who argue that the film takes an ambiguous approach and leaves viewers to make up their own minds about it.

Anyway, my question is have you seen the film and if so what did you think and secondly what your general view about torture is... devil's advocates are welcome!

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'd say it was a 3 hour film so no matter how well you tried to portray torture in exactly how it was used in the hunt for bin Laden, you were never going to manage it. It is a very dubious thing is torture. I'm not condoning or agreeing with its use at all. In this film I could be biased in saying this, but I didn't find it glorified torture that much at all.

    What I saw was a flinchy red head who was really uneasy with it, and as the film went on she because more and more used to it, which could very well reflect what happens in those kind of situations. There is an element of people doing bad things so others dont have to, and I have no doubt that somewhere along the line, some information may very well have been extracted to save lives, but it still doesnt take back the fact that torturing is bad and not a very nice thing in the slightest.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Have any of you seen the film Unthinkable, where a CIA interrogator tortures a terrorist who has planted 3 nuclear devices in 3 US cities?

    I think the ends have to justify the means, saving millions lives using questionable methods?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But equally Rendition shows the opposite, that information gathered from torture often isn't reliable. Innocent people, who genuinely do know nothing, will end up saying anything to stop the torture, whilst guilty people will often be well planned enough to do the same without actually telling the truth.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I haven't seen any of the films in question, but it seems like Hollywood representations of torture muddy the debate with this idea of the ticking time-bomb scenario, which in reality, never happens, but it regularly used to justify the concept of torture.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I haven't seen any of the films in question, but it seems like Hollywood representations of torture muddy the debate with this idea of the ticking time-bomb scenario, which in reality, never happens, but it regularly used to justify the concept of torture.

    To be fair, I'm not sure that Zero Dark Thirty is really a "Hollywood" representation because it's not fictional.

    As for the OP, I actually don't think that the film itself glorifies torture. As G said, you can see the facial expression of the female lead ("Maya") and you also see her becoming hardened to it. However, it does suggest (contrary to some opinions) that torture brings certain results...

    The main connecting name was the result either of direct torture or following someone being "broken" through torture.

    In this, I suspect that it's accurate. Torture, per se, overused and without the "right" questions being asked is actually useless. However a scientific application can bear fruit...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    To be fair, I'm not sure that Zero Dark Thirty is really a "Hollywood" representation because it's not fictional.

    Of course it's fictional.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I haven't seen any of the films in question, but it seems like Hollywood representations of torture muddy the debate with this idea of the ticking time-bomb scenario, which in reality, never happens, but it regularly used to justify the concept of torture.

    You would be surprised.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I haven't seen any of the films in question, but it seems like Hollywood representations of torture muddy the debate with this idea of the ticking time-bomb scenario, which in reality, never happens, but it regularly used to justify the concept of torture.

    I'd argue they muddy the debate by being too clean; they often lack the ambiguity of real life and heroes are able to side step moral dilemmas. Because often the real incidences of torture are not hard-bitten intelligence officers methodically torturing a man determined to resist and doing so to save a city from a nuclear holocaust, but tired and exhausted young men giving a prisoner a kicking to find out direct intelligence which is likely to save their lives. A cursory reading of many military memoires from WW1, WW2 etc suggests that on all sides this is not totally uncommon

    Or to put it another way Herman the German has just been captured by a platoon who've just been tasked to take an Italian village, he's shaking with fear as his mate dies with a gut wound; whilst a young officer screams at him in a mixture of schoolboy French, some English and the little bit of Italian about whether the village is occupied and where are the mines. And then the platoon sergeant gives him a couple of punches to help loosen his tongue and as he wretches on the floor gives him a hard kick in the ribs and another man shoves a sten in his face and makes clicking noises. So Herman talks and after he sits their shivering and hoping his command of English was good enough that they understood their is a spandau covering the road, as the soldier standing guard keeps a rifle aimed at him and who will likely shoot him dead if he turns out to have lied and directed the platoon into a minefield.

    Does torture work? In these cases, yes

    Is it moral? That may depend whether you're the prisoner or the bloke who's walking up the road to take that village.

    I never been in that situation, so I can't say what I'd do. I'd hope I'd do the right thing. The trouble is I don't know what that is.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    To be fair, I'm not sure that Zero Dark Thirty is really a "Hollywood" representation because it's not fictional.

    As for the OP, I actually don't think that the film itself glorifies torture. As G said, you can see the facial expression of the female lead ("Maya") and you also see her becoming hardened to it. However, it does suggest (contrary to some opinions) that torture brings certain results...

    The main connecting name was the result either of direct torture or following someone being "broken" through torture.

    In this, I suspect that it's accurate. Torture, per se, overused and without the "right" questions being asked is actually useless. However a scientific application can bear fruit...

    We don't know how much is fictional and how much isn't. I wouldn't assume it's totally (or even mainly) accurate
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The main connecting name was the result either of direct torture or following someone being "broken" through torture.

    In this, I suspect that it's accurate.

    While John McCain is a politician, and therefore likely to lie, he refutes that -
    I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti -- the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden -- as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed's real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.

    In fact, the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator -- none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee -- information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden -- was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    We don't know how much is fictional and how much isn't. I wouldn't assume it's totally (or even mainly) accurate

    Given the sources stated for the storyline, I think you might be surprised as to how much is based on fact. However, the comparison was with "Rendition" (as an example given) which is a fiction.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    While John McCain is a politician, and therefore likely to lie, he refutes that -
    In fact, the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator -- none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee -- information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden -- was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.

    Worth reading about the search. The evidence supplied by KSM was actually used to verify the courier's existence (alongside that of other tortured and non-tortured captives) with part of the reasoning being how much those at the top of AlQ (such as KSM) played down the role of Al-Kuwati. This suggested (as others lower in the food chain had named him) that he was worth protecting and was therefore a likely link to another high profile AlQ leader. At the time OBL wasn't necessarily the considered link, although that level of denial by KSM was considered important because why else would he protect someone unless the target was most valuable.

    The film, and much of the source materiel, also refer to other detainees who gave up the name first - this was why KSM was originally asked about him. He was being used to test how important the lead actually was.

    So, none of that contradicts what McCain said. However, it's worth noting that the likes of KSM *only* started talking about anything *after* they were tortured.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Either way, it goes back to the same debate about torture vs ethics vs law - should torture be used, when should it be used, and to what extent should it be used...who should be considered subject to this 'tool' and why does that subject be considered. It's a big muddy puddle, and I think it depends on how you view war and human rights a lot of the time too.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Mine and my family's human right to life trumps a terrorist's right to not be forced into giving up information every time
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Which is why it is so widely practiced. However, for some it is still wrong (not me)...especially the case with waterboarding. It comes down to each individual case I suppose.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whowhere wrote: »
    Mine and my family's human right to life trumps a terrorist's right to not be forced into giving up information every time
    Goodness, you sound like a PCSO
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whowhere wrote: »
    Mine and my family's human right to life trumps a terrorist's right to not be forced into giving up information every time

    Interesting argument. What if you don't *know* the person being torture is actually a terrorist?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Interesting argument. What if you don't *know* the person being torture is actually a terrorist?

    Its what I was thinking. Certainty is something rarely had.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    .
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I will clarify my argument. If we KNOW a man has the power to stop untold death and destruction to innocent people but refuses to stop that, ie he has the pin code to a dirty nuke that could kill millions then I think torture is acceptable if it has a chance.

    For those that don't, if you could goto your grave knowing you could have saved the lives of your wives, husbands, parents, children but instead chose not to then so be it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But that's basically so unlikely as to be a straw man argument.

    I think there is a place for the use of torture in interrogation, but that there are very few circumstances which ever require it to be used. Most of the time torture is used for the pleasure of the interrogators, or is used as punishment for being a political dissident, not because it causes any new information to be revealed.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It is unlikely, and you're right in most cases the results of torture are likely to be duff. But given a choice between saving the life of my wife, or kicking a bloke repeatedly in the nuts until he gives you the access codes, I know which I'd be doing and I'd wager everyone else would be the same.

    Ultimately we're all human, and whilst we may have different thresholds I can guarantee that all of us would quite willingly torture someone if the stakes were high enough.
    I mean look at the Milgram experiments, he showed that all it took for most people to electrocute some poor bastard was for a guy in a white coat with glasses to tell you that you had no choice.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    This is true. Doesn't mean it should be legal or sanctioned. I'm not pretending to be a saint. I would gleefully stamp on someone until they pissed blood for not much provocation. But it would be nice if we could be better than that.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whowhere wrote: »
    It is unlikely, and you're right in most cases the results of torture are likely to be duff. But given a choice between saving the life of my wife, or kicking a bloke repeatedly in the nuts until he gives you the access codes, I know which I'd be doing and I'd wager everyone else would be the same.

    OK, you repeatedly kick me in the nuts and I give you a PIN. What do you do with it?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whowhere wrote: »
    I can guarantee that all of us would quite willingly torture someone if the stakes were high enough.
    I mean look at the Milgram experiments, he showed that all it took for most people to electrocute some poor bastard was for a guy in a white coat with glasses to tell you that you had no choice.

    You're right, most people will torture given the right set of circumstances.

    But that's why this conversation is so important. By turning a blind eye, by going along with the lie that all torture victims are filthy murdering terrorists with the keys to a dirty bomb, we're effectively giving the torturers a free ride. That's wrong.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    OK, you repeatedly kick me in the nuts and I give you a PIN. What do you do with it?

    did you miss this?
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