Amnesty's Unsubscribe Me video reenacts CIA waterboarding torture

Oscar sez, "Amnesty International waterboarding ad, where they actually filmed someone really getting waterboarded. The ad will play in movie theaters starting on May 12th. This is part of their 'Unsubscribe Me' campaign. They had released another video a couple of months ago of a guy getting put into a stress position."

Amnesty's 90-second film, called Stuff of Life, opens in slow motion with stylish shots of crystal-clear water and an upbeat soundtrack in the style of a typical mineral-water TV ad.

However, after lulling viewers the ad transforms into an interrogation room where a man is strapped to a table being subjected to waterboarding. Waterboarding involves first tying detainees to a board face-up and tilted backwards, then pouring water over the face and into breathing passages to simulate drowning.

"For a few seconds our film-makers did this for real, they poured water up the nose and into the mouth of someone who was pinned down with his head tilted back," said Sara McNeice, campaign manager at Amnesty International UK.

"Even for those few seconds it is horrifying to watch. The reality, in a secret prison with no one to stop it, is much, much worse."

Link (Thanks, Oscar!)

See also: Amnesty's Unsubscribe Me video reenacts CIA stress-position torture

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  1. You know, I’m already convinced that waterboarding is torture and must be stopped, and I really, really don’t need to see it done to anyone.

    This will help keep me out of movie theatres, and make me slightly resent Amnesty for doing it. I do fine just imagining this kind of crap; I really don’t need to see it.

  2. One of the things that helped to end the Vietnam war was the sight of dead bodies on the news every night of the week. We kill with greater psychological impunity now because the news has largely been sanitized. I wonder what effect this will have. Based on who I see in movie theaters, I’m afraid that the audience may cheer while rubbing their crotches.

  3. one of the hardest things for me to do is to refrain from posting war porn. Whenever I hear something particularly fatuous, I really want to google images “Iraqi casualties” and post some pictures of maimed children. It’s all there, most know it is there, no one wants to see it. That is a difference between the managed news the average American is fed on television.

    Did I make the right choice?

  4. Something that bugs me about the whole discussion is the use of “simulate”; now even progressives are doing it. It’s just drowning, K. There’s no simulated anything. Sure, the unfortunates may not die (most of the time), doesn’t matter:

    ‘The consensus was that the new definition should include both cases of fatal and nonfatal drowning. After considerable dialogue and debate, the following definition was adopted: “Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.”’
    http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/83/11/vanbeeck1105abstract/en/index.html

  5. Did I make the right choice?

    BB readers are capable of deciding for themselves whether war is bad or good. Posting graphic images is preaching to the choir (angelic or demonic). I don’t see any point in it.

  6. There’s a fine line between reminding and creating a dissociative response secondary to trauma.

  7. Remember the muckers of Stand on Zanzibar?

    People can only be wound so tight before something lets go. Even in the absence of any actual “terrorist” event (Cheney or Bin Laden), people are going to manifest. When the fear and frustration become unendurable, things will be made to happen just so something IS happening.

  8. #1 posted by Xopher , April 22, 2008 8:16 PM

    … I’m already convinced that waterboarding is torture and must be stopped, and I really, really don’t need to see it done to anyone. This will help keep me out of movie theatres …

    Well, if you really want to be able to get back in movie theatres, you’d better get out there and do more protesting of torture if you’re not already.

    If waterboarding looks that disturbing to you, I bet it feels pretty shady in reality, huh?

    : /

    Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death! – DK

    ________________________________

    BTW, does anyone know what music that was?? Artist and/or Song title??

  9. So waterboarding is torture and must be stopped, along with all other forms of torture. Good. So we stop doing it… wait a minute, who is “we?” The US government? Hardly all BB readers are in the US. The US is hardly the only country to interrogate using torture. You can petition your country’s government. You can point fingers at everyone else’s. Results may vary.

    Violence in general is a flawed but valid option when one human being needs to interrogate or coerce another. Like most other illogical acts, it’s something people do when they panic and don’t have the time or patience to think of something better. There isn’t one government in the world that wouldn’t do it (if they haven’t already) if they felt pressured enough. Governments are ultimately made of people, and it comes down to somebody, somewhere, decided something like this was the only way to get information or compliance.

    How about this: If you don’t approve of torture, don’t torture anyone, order anyone to be tortured, or obey any order to torture someone.

  10. It sounds corny, but the artists and heroes of the moment might be George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and Mia Farrow. Celebrities are doing a better job of delivering world news to US citizens than the news organizations. Have I mentioned lately that Katie Couric anchors the BBS Evening News?

  11. #12 posted by WeightedCompanionCube

    Violence in general is a flawed but valid option when one human being needs to interrogate or coerce another.

    Dear WCC,

    Is that why we lost WWII? Because we didn’t torture like the Japanese did? Yep, such a shame we lost that war… geez, if only we had tortured more…

    Yah, we would have lost our standing and respect in the world, degenerated the evolution of mankind and promoted even more torture by others in the world by our shining example… but, at least we would have won WWII.

    Welp, gotta go… I’m late for a Nazi Party cookout next door.

    Heil Hitler,

    Cow

  12. WeightedCompanionCube, governments don’t torture because there is any benefit, real or perceived. They torture in order to terrorize the greater population. Even in Latin America back in the 50’s and 60’s they knew that. Then, after a while torture develops it’s own inertia and they torture because they torture. And of course there is the sexual aspect too. People can be taught to sexualize anything and guards are deliberately taught to get off on what they do.

  13. Gotta agree with felixfelix — waterboarding isn’t SIMULATED drowning. It is REAL drowning, and the fact that the drowning is more or less controlled doesn’t make the drowning less real.

    “Waterboarding = simulated drowning” is a pernicious, torture-justifying meme — BoingBoing should know better than to propagate it.

  14. Anyone else wondering how much flak movie theatres are going to take for showing something that disturbing? It’ll also look pretty odd sandwiched between the five minute national guard ads that I’m usually subjected to at movie theatres.

  15. @ 12 WCC
    How about this: If you don’t approve of torture, don’t torture anyone, order anyone to be tortured, or obey any order to torture someone.

    I don’t approve of rape/murder/insert crime, but since I’m not raping/murdering/insert criming anyone, ordering anyone to be raped/murdered/insert crimed, or obeying any order to rape/murder/insert crime, I’m going to look idly on by as someone is raped/murdered/insert crimed.

    Oh, wait. I’m a Texan. I’m going to get my Daddy’s shotgun and shoot the bastard.

    How does it being flawed but valid justify it? Hitler’s using Jews as scapegoats was entirely -valid- after the Allies screwed Germany with the Treaty of Versailles. Sure, other countries have targeted races and harmed them deliberately. Hell, they’re still doing it. But it’s still wrong.

    Nothing will ever get done if people continue to rationalize like you’re doing now.

    I’m afraid, however, that this won’t do anything. Most people who care, at all, already understand that water boarding is torture.

    My immediate family, right-wing Christians all of them, cite “eye for eye,” and that these people are terrorists. They do not consider that they are not, necessarily, terrorists, only suspected. This is the rationalization of those who support water-boarding, just as it is the rationalization of those same people who support the Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay, photography bans, and everything else that would have our forefathers turning in their graves.

    But I support this being made for the few people that don’t know what the hell is going on. The very, very few people that will open their eyes and not put on the Made in China blinders.

  16. @19 Youarewhatyoubleat,

    Thanks for the wakeup call. As though my journey to Bush the First’s war during my earliest days was not unnerving enough.

    Fantastic handle, by the way. I’m jealous.

  17. f wtrbrdng s trtr wndr wht cttng ff lmbs s cnsdrd s? Wtrbrdng s n ccptbl mthd f btnng nfrmtn frm cntct nd shld b sd f th sttn s dmd ncssry.

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  18. In terms of tactics, I find this disturbingly similar to displaying pictures of dead babies outside of abortion clinics.

    I’m anti-torture (and pro-abortion – yes, I have gone beyond pro-choice to pro-abortion) but this route seems questionable in terms of methodology and very likely to cause resentment among people who would otherwise be on board with Amnesty’s basic message

  19. FifthE1ement,

    Signed up for BoingBoing just to lobby in favor of torture, did you? You’re a shameful excuse for a human being.

  20. It’s not just about watching a film, there is of course a campaign to get involved in and to do something positive: http://www.unsubscribe-me.org

    BB readers with blogs can also spread the film around and make sure that everyone knows the truth behind such innocuous-sounding practices as ‘waterboarding’. The site has lots of stuff to add to your sites and actions to undertake.

  21. I’m with Takuan.

    This actually doesn’t go on long enough and isn’t shocking enough.

    “People don’t need more trauma.” Bullshit (I originally typed “Nonsense,” but that didn’t convey what I meant).

    People need trauma. They need to understand these things in real and graphic terms. They need to see what war means. They need to see what torture means. They must not be allowed to deal with these things in the abstract. This is not academic; this is real people really being put through hell and it is your fault and it is my fault because we are not actively doing anything to stop it. We deserve all the trauma we can get.

    I am not even a pacifist. I believe war is sometimes necessary, even as horrible as it is. But Iraq is proof that we (and yes, I will lump in every English-speaking country there, guys–we’re all in the same club) have become the bad guys. But torture? Never need happen, never should happen, even IF it did render useful information, which it does not. You only get to wear the white hat if you take the high road every single time. Torture is the lowest of low roads.

    If this makes people angry at Amnesty International for fucking up their fun at the movies, it’s simple proof that people are evil morons.

    Justice will not be served until the little club of sociopaths that dragged an unwilling and unwitting public into committing these crimes against humanity gets their last dance at the end of the rope. I’m not interested in any reform of the situation that doesn’t see that as a key goal.

    Amnesty is pussing out on this, too.

  22. I find this disturbingly similar to displaying pictures of dead babies outside of abortion clinics.

    Yea, those were my first thoughts as well. Except its going to be much less effective. The few people the US officially waterboarded weren’t exactly pillars of the community. Those who supported the practice before are certainly going to ascribe all sorts of evil acts to the person its happening to. (Or they’ll just think “Gosh – another airman in training”)

  23. @12 WeightedCompanionCube, but mostly @ the responses:

    Good point, but I think you could have added an additional step at the end of your post:
    …and stand up against it with whatever resources you have or whatever resources you are willing to sacrifice.

  24. “If this makes people angry at Amnesty International for fucking up their fun at the movies, it’s simple proof that people are evil morons.”

    I think that proof would be more or less redundant in the eyes of many. Much of the rest of your post reminds me of ‘the banality of evil’ which is theory I often ascribe to when trying to account for bad things happening – it is simply people going about their usual business. However, methods like this film can very easily cause more of a ruckus over the method than real change in action or opinion about the real issue (torture). People going to see a nice movie being confronted with this will (I think) be far more likely to actively protest the Amnesty movie than start fighting torture – though, of course, I will be very happy to be wrong if they do rise up against torture instead

  25. You may be interested to know that after WWII, the U.S executed Japanese soldiers SPECIFICALLY for using waterboarding. Oh how times change.

  26. ACX99 – have you got any references your statement? Just curious – would like to look into that more (and please don’t send a wikipedia link – that doesn’t count).

  27. #11 posted by Cowicide Author Profile Page, April 22, 2008 9:03 PM

    BTW, does anyone know what music that was?? Artist and/or Song title??

    =========================

    Artist: Adam Freeland
    Track: Burn the Clock
    Album: Now and Them

  28. @22-

    If waterboarding is torture I wonder what cutting off limbs is considered as?

    Torture. Just because there is a greater order of magnitude, that doesn’t mean that smaller crimes don’t count. Stealing a car is theft, even though you could steal a jet.

    I love how so many people complain that it is torture yet those same people are in favor of it if one of their loved ones could be saved by its use.

    Examples? Names? Dates? Has this happened outside of 24? As in, in the real world?

    Do you think the Taliban thinks about the rights of the civilian cameraman before he cuts off his head?

    No, they don’t, and that’s why we’re better than them. Our response to Hitler could have been “lets round up all of the Germans and throw them in ovens,” but then WWII wouldn’t be our one shining example of a just war, would it?

    I’m so tried of Do-Gooders going around promoting the rights of people who would kill them as much as look at them.

    Do-Gooders like this guy? Or this guy?

    …the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have better legal representation than our own American Citizens (and for FREE yet)!

    Names? Dates? If they’ve got such great legal representation, why are they still there?

    What is next, giving people sneaking over the boarder food & blankets and sending them on their merry way?

    I shudder at the thought of such a terrible, bleak world. Would you prefer that they are shot, and their corpses hung on the wall as an example to their filthy, greedy families?

    Fascist totalitarianism is not what America is about. One more quote for you. If we aren’t fighting this “war” because of a moral imperative, to defeat a fatal ideology, then we are simply fighting a war of revenge, of vendetta. If that’s the case, then we’re no better than our enemies.

  29. This is playing in movie theaters as a trailer for something? replace the music with Charlie Clouser’s “Don’t Forget the Rules” and you’ve got a good promotional thing for Saw 5. or maybe a Wonder Twins movie, since one of them always turned into some kind of watery thing.

  30. FifthE1ement @22: “This new world of erroneous legalities that is being created is putting us all in mortal danger.”

    I see the terrorists have beaten you.

    Fortunately, many of us are still standing up against terrorism, and refusing to give up our rights and freedoms, our legal protections and our civil society. We’re even willing to protect the rights of the fallen like you along the way.

    One day your children will be grateful for it.

  31. I don’t think it will make a difference, most movies nowadays will be 10 times more shocking then this commercial. Unless it’s being shown at “Enchanted” or something along those lines, then I would just want to be in the audience to see the reaction.

  32. #19 posted by YouAreWhatYouBleat

    You Americans have been using waterboarding since the invasion of the Philippines 1901. Have a look at Waterboarding

    Yes, have a look. It was considered a national disgrace by Americans at large and there were court-martials.

    And, it gets more complex. According to Taft, in some instances the Filipinos were actually eager to share intelligence with the Americans, but didn’t want to be killed for doing so. Therefore, they would literally tell the soldiers they wouldn’t say anything until they were “tortured” and would have it done publicly so all their peers would know they were “tortured” into giving out info. That explains why there are actual photos, etc. of the events set right in public.

    In any case, I don’t think the “torture” that went on in the Philippines is really a good comparison to the state-sanctioned, procedural, absolutely real torture that is approved by the highest levels of American government today.

    The real story is how cowed the American public are today. Back then, it was a shock and national disgrace… an outrage… followed by repercussions. Today, the chicken-shit, scared American public sheep quietly allow it happen. Incredibly sad.

    #22 posted by FifthE1ement

    Do you think the Taliban thinks about the rights of the civilian cameraman before he cuts off his head? Do they? Get over yourselves…

    So, shall we sink to the level of terrorists? Is that how it works? We degrade our morals, our humanity to the level of base animals?

    Well, FifthE1ement… why don’t we cut off their heads!!! That’ll show em, right? C’mon, don’t puss out now, FifthE1ement!! Eye for eye… head for a head!!! Too extreme, FifthE1ement? Get over yourself…

    So, sarcasm aside… Does that help us “win” the war on terror or does that only show that we’ve truly LOST the war on terror by becoming our enemy?

    Doesn’t it take MORE courage to RISE ABOVE? …. sorry, I don’t want to roll around in the filth of depravation, fear and petty vengeance you seem to wallow in, FifthE1ement. I’m an American that still has this thing called… PRIDE. You know, still believing in the foundations of our country… rights of people… shit like that…

    I’m so tired of Do-Gooders going around promoting the rights of people…

    I bet you are…. I bet you are…

    I bet you wish Thomas Jefferson was around today so you could slap him across his face, huh? That rat bastard even put human rights in our Declaration of Independence. What a wimp, what a fool.

    #32 posted by Gort

    ACX99 – have you got any references your statement? Just curious – would like to look into that more (and please don’t send a wikipedia link – that doesn’t count).

    Actually, Gort. Have you taken a good look at Wikipedia? It’s replete with references at the bottom of every article. It’s a great place to start your own research on many topics. I usually skip through a lot of what I read in the article and just start filling up my browser tabs with the reference links at the bottom of the page and start digging from there. Also, the “talk pages” can have a wealth of info that’s in dispute about the subject (with even more links, etc.)

    Wikipedia bashing is so early 2000’s …

    #33 posted by lindsayl284

    Artist: Adam Freeland Track: Burn the Clock Album: Now and Them

    Thank you, Lindsay!!!

  33. The fundamental problem with FifthE1ement’s argument is that we’re capturing these people, depriving them of any due process, and holding and torturing them indefinitely. We have caught and subsequently released innocent people, some of who have said they were tortured, and we undoubtedly still have some innocent people held.

    FifthE1ement says that even if we can save one life, torturing is worth it.

    I say, even if we torture one single innocent individual, torturing wasn’t worth it.

    What’s critically important is that it MUST NOT be legal to torture. Once you make it legal, people will do it just because they can. People will use it more often.

    The CIA and other agencies of my and other governments do illegal shit all the time… because they feel they HAVE to. In the USA there’s the Presidential pardon. If a CIA agent felt they absolutely had to torture somebody, and they get caught… even if the courts hand down a guilty verdict, Bush could always say, you know what, this agent didn’t have any other choice.

    But once you make torture legal, it will be used all the time.

    And with the above being true, isn’t it AWFULLY questionable that they made such an effort to legalize it?

  34. #39 posted by xopl

    FifthE1ement says that even if we can save one life, torturing is worth it. … I say, even if we torture one single innocent individual, torturing wasn’t worth it.

    That’s brilliant xopl. Simple and very much to the point.

  35. Is waterboarding better than cutting off limbs? Does it matter? We’ve been doing both.

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/extracts/story/0,,2275535,00.html

    The Guardian just published an excerpt from the diary of someone held at, and then released from Camp X-Ray. This goes well beyond waterboarding- we’re talking random beatings, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and yes, amputations (read through part II). All of these things are illegal under US law. All of these things are banned by the Geneva Conventions. Because of this, none of the people held at Guantanamo can be brought to trial in any way that is consistent with any modern concept of justice.

    The most striking thing about this account is the apparent irrationality of nearly all of the acts performed by the guards and interrogators. The activities at Guantanamo (and probably at Bagram and Abu Ghraib as well) are not about catching terrorists. They are about punishment, plain and simple. Punishment of whoever is available. It’s saying “we’re angry, and we don’t want to think to hard about why, and you’re a convenient target.” This has been the popular response since Sept. 12, 2001, and it was licenced directly, from the top down, by the Bush cabal.

    I know from experience that this is something that many Americans still don’t want to think about, because they have not yet been sufficiently compelled to look. I believe in free will, and allowing people to come to their own conclusions, but at a certain point this reaches its limit. Americans must be confronted with the results of the acts that they commit and the acts that they permit. They need to wake up and realize that everything isn’t fine, and that we’re not really even trying to catch the terrorists, we’re just digging ourselves a deeper hole.

    I know this has all been said before in this and similar places, and I should try and not let it make me as angry as it is this morning, but I’m just getting sick of it. There will be consequences to our actions one way or another, and we will eventually have to take responsibility. Sitting down and actually dealing with this shit now may mitigate those consequences somewhat.

    I’m not a Christian, but there is a passage from Matthew that I particularly like, and that any American who is a Christian should take a close look at:

    “Verily I say unto you, Insasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    Of course, when has the bible stopped a Christian from doing something?

  36. Sorry about the semi-rational, poorly formulated rant above, but I’m really fucking sick of this. This shit has got to stop.

  37. #41 posted by Boba Fett Diop , April 23, 2008 7:59 AM

    The most striking thing about this account is the apparent irrationality of nearly all of the acts performed by the guards and interrogators. The activities at Guantanamo (and probably at Bagram and Abu Ghraib as well) are not about catching terrorists. They are about punishment, plain and simple. Punishment of whoever is available. It’s saying “we’re angry, and we don’t want to think to hard about why, and you’re a convenient target.”

    Yeah, I can’t wait till these people come back to the states and become police officers. Should do wonders to help smack down dissent, democracy, etc. Can’t have things like that; not here in this country; not in a time of perpetual war.

    Speaking of “perpetual war”… God, I can’t even re-read Nineteen Eighty-Four anymore, it’s just so damn creepily prescient of our current American military state it numbs the mind.

  38. This will make the first five mins of “Iron Man” slightly awkward.

    Might help “The Ruins” though.

  39. Could we possibly re-vowel FifthE1ement’s post? He comes across as a jackass troll and torture apologist, but several of the responses he has inspired are cogent and well thought-out (unlike mine). As offensive as I find his argument, I think that the post should remain in its original form.

  40. @45 –

    +1.

    The comments are disagreeable and misinformed, but not abusive, off-topic, or spam. I’m all for comment moderation, but this feels a little censor-y to me. We should debate the commenters we disagree with, not censor them.

  41. FifthE1ement is just spewing Koolaid. You could replace him with a small handheld recording and playback device, or the online text equivalent thereof.

    You can recognize the rhetoric: “The other guys do it worse.” “The other guys would as soon kill you as look at you.” “The other guys have no civilization and no respect for law.” “The other guys are animals. Beasts. Not human.” It’s the usual sequence. Its endpoint is that they can make any claims they want to about the other guys, because they’ve been transformed into supernatural monsters. That way, we don’t stop and say “Hold it. Human beings don’t do that.”

    Torture doesn’t save lives. It doesn’t get useful or worthwhile intelligence. This has been explained over and over again. Hell, it’s been thrashed out at length in the comment threads of my own weblog — and by the way, more than one of the participants there are fully trained military interrogators.

    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005106.html
    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007974.html
    http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008007.html

    If you torture people, they’ll immediately become geniuses at figuring out what you want to hear and telling it to you. You’ll spend all your resources chasing down bad intel. Real interrogators use completely different techniques.

    Anybody who says otherwise is not a tough guy, and is not facing facts.

    You know where the “ticking bomb” pro-torture scenario comes from? Movies. It’s a very movie thing: you get an intense plot-twisting interaction that has both the protagonist and the villain in the same shot. Also, it doesn’t take very long. That’s the problem with real interrogation techniques: they take a while. They aren’t dramatic. All they do is work.

    So, when you see people talking about the need to torture, or how lives can be saved if we use torture, remember: they’re talking about how it works in the movies.

    FifthE1ement, you are a wuss. You want to go back to living in your pre-9/11 movie in which being an American means you’re always right, you’re always safe, and you always get to win. It wasn’t true back then, either.

    AnnoyedCapitalist, the Bushies have been spreading disinformation for years now about how waterboarding isn’t really torture. (It’s torture. The guys who administer it certainly know it is.) Having to watch it is nasty, but for a lot of viewers it may be a necessary corrective.

    WeightedCompanionCube, governments that torture are either ignoring the advice of their own interrogation experts, or they’re torturing for some other reason. It is not a valid information-gathering option.

    Cowicide @11, Xopher knows all that.

    Boba Fett Diop, no apologies. It was a fine rant.

  42. Boba @45, disemvowelled text is easier to read than you’d imagine. Also, G. Park quoted the gist of it in his own message.

    G. Park @46: I disagree, in principle and in practice. Besides, the text is still there.

    Does anyone here have the URL for that re-vowelling thing?

  43. WWEBOING-

    If that’s how you feel about waterboarding, then sit down and read the review I posted from the Guardian, and read Teresa’s post above. Still no problems?

    Then really try to think about what it is that we’ve been doing, and what the stated reasons were, and what the actual outcomes have been. How are you going to explain that? Is “it’s OK because they’re our brutes” really a good answer?

    And it’s not fucking “persuasion”. Persuasion is what real investigators do. If it’s done right it shouldn’t involve even touching someone. What we’ve been doing is torturing people. Some of them may have been terrorists, some people may have been official combatants captured on the field of battle, and many of them appear to have been random people picked up off the street. Because of activities at Camp X-Ray and other facilities, we now have no way of being able to prove which is which. But, based on all of the evidence we’ve seen, can you really still believe that was even the point? What possible benefit could kidnapping a random Afghan cab driver and torturing him to death have had to our efforts to “catch terrorists” and “prevent further attacks.”

    Furthermore, I’m almost amused at your echoing of the ticking time bomb excuse immediately after Teresa pretty effectively demolished it. I’ll simply add that if you (as an investigator) ever even get to a point where you might think you need to torture someone to prevent an immanent bad thing from happening, this is already indicative of a systematic failure of intelligence at multiple levels. Your post is simply representative of a pervasive inability of Americans to sit down and figure shit out for themselves, one that has become endemic among our government, intelligence services and large parts of the public in general.

    On second thought, just go ahead and disemvowel the troll.

  44. …then sit down and read the review I posted from the Guardian Well that review brings up a whole set of other issues beyond waterboarding. And some people have questioned the accuracy of his book. And the only three people who have been officially waterboarded by the CIA don’t exactly tug at the heartstrings. You’re talking past each other, with him assuming you’re talking about guilty parties with information, and you assuming he’s talking about innocents.

  45. Annoyedcapitalist-

    No, why don’t we let the government refute his claims. Let’s let the government put the people they’re holding on trial, and bring forward the evidence against them, and let the public hear about the conditions in which they’ve been kept and the ways in which they’ve been treated. Or, if they are POWs, bring in the Red Cross and initiate proceedings to repatriate them.

    Oh wait, the government can’t do that, can they? Because they’ve been holding people in a manner inconsistent with our own laws and international treaties that we are signatories to. And torturing them.

    There is enough consistency between what Kurnaz has written and other evidence (both from other prisoners and government documents), that I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Besides, it doesn’t change the fact that he was imprisoned without charge for five years and then released.

    Guantanamo Bay is our Devil’s Island, but at least Dreyfus had some semblance of a trial before he was sent there. We couldn’t even be bothered to do that. J’accuse, Annoyedcapitalist. J’accuse.

    (or maybe you’re just upset that he essentially called all of the goons, bullies and warhawks pussies)

  46. …why don’t we let the government refute his claims?
    Um, sure, right after you prove that you didn’t beat your wife.

    I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Fine. Many people aren’t willing. So bringing up the book is pretty useless when talking to them.

    Regardless, I’d recommend being heathily skeptical of a lot of those accounts for a bit. He’s started to make legal headway in Germany, but most of his accusations as-is verifiable. Hopefully he’ll start naming names after the book has been out, and doesn’t pose a risk to legal options.

    J’accuse, Annoyedcapitalist. Right. Because I have obviously advocated indefinite detainment without trial. Repeat after me: When someone disagrees with me, they do not necessarily think the exact opposite of me.

  47. Boba Fett Diop: Thanks for the link to the book excerpt.

    Reading the excerpt reminds me of nothing so much as “The Gulag Archipeligo,” which the apologists for tyranny also attacked.

    When governments cower hidden behind fences and proclaim their innocence you know they have crossed the line from stupid to evil. The very exclusion of Guantanamo from the rule of law and open public trials is proof of the crimes being committed there by the organs of the state.

  48. @FifthE1ement

    Signing up to defend torture is bad enough, but the choice of name is truly ironic. The fifth element is love, and the symbolism of love defeating the ultimate evil and all that entails seems to be lost on you.

    As far as “being upset about seeing this in the theater” and “seeing less movies as a result” Good on both accounts. The idea is to upset people. Amnesty international should get a say along with all the branches of the military vying for your attention/hearts. As far as seeing less movies in the theater, how is that supposed to bother AI? More importantly, how is that a bad thing? See less movies, spend more time with loved ones, the outside, and taking in the wonderful thing that is life.

  49. Annoyedcapitalist-

    It is the government’s job to refute his claims. If you read anything past the first sentence of my last post, I explained exactly how they can do this. It’s called due process.

    Also, I wasn’t implying that you advocated indefinite detention without trial. I implied that you were an apologist for a government that is known to practice indefinite detention without trial.

  50. I don’t go to a lot of movies. I consider it a thing to do with company, and I’m alone.

    I don’t even RENT horror movies, or movies with graphic violence in them, even if they’re serious dramas rather than trash like all horror movies. I have too much empathy, and knowing that it’s only a movie doesn’t help.

    I think the trailers for Saw and The Hostel should not have been shown* on TV unless the program was graphically violent horror. Those trailers gave me nightmares, and they didn’t even show anything graphic—just people pleading in vain for their lives, or not to be permanently maimed. The actors were good enough that I was forced to feel what the characters felt. I have a right not to feel that way, in my opinion.

    When it comes to drowning, I don’t even have to imagine: I can remember what it feels like to be underwater and unable to breathe. It’s happened to me twice, once due to a boating accident (that was blessedly brief, as it turned out, but I had no way of knowing it would be when the boat was slamming over me with the force of the rapids behind it), and once due to the malice of a big guy who thought it was funny to hold me underwater and watch me struggle, and who certainly did NOT have the judgement to let me go in time; I think I kicked him in the balls or something. He was quite resentful: “I was only playing!” Yeah, fuck you. I was only playing when I kicked you in the balls, motherfucker.

    So I know exactly what that feels like. No, I don’t know what it feels like in a US torture chamber, bound with the torturers’ balls out of kicking range, and no one with the sense or conscience to stop it around for miles. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the guy in the AI movie. I know what that feels like. I don’t need those memories reinvoked, fuck you very much, Amnesty.

    It’s too late, actually. They’re back. That one about the guy in the pool was pretty much gone until today. I had pushed it under and held it until I thought it had drowned, but it just kicked me in the balls and resurfaced. Goddam it.

    I understand Amnesty’s point here. I do. It’s their tactics I’m censuring. And it won’t be very effective if they only show it with the kind of movies I’d never see (horror, graphic violence, etc.), because the people who go to those movies go expecting to see horrors, and even if they’re told this is real, they’re unlikely to be much affected or change their opinions much because of it.

    Bottom line: It saddens me to see Amnesty International, an organization I respect and have contributed money to, resorting to PETA-style in-your-face shock tactics. I understand that they feel it’s necessary. I think they’ve stepped over the line.

    _______
    *That is, I think it would have been a better (more appropriate, more ethical) choice not to show them, NOT that I think some external agent should have intervened to prevent them. Freedom of expression is still a critical value to me.

  51. I implied that you were an apologist for a government that is known to practice indefinite detention without trial. Well then you would need to improve your reading skills.

    It is the government’s job to refute his claims. Don’t conflate the issues of (1) the government holding him without trial and (2) the torture he received while there. If the police hold me for 24 hours without charge, and I accuse them of raping me without supporting evidence, would you immediately assume them guilty? Given the minute discrepancies already found and statements that lack details, there is a non-zero probability that some of his claims are not true.

  52. Wow, it’s like you have the rhetorical tools, but you just keep swinging wildly with them.

    No, I will conflate the issues. He was held for five years without charge. That in itself is a form of torture. There is corroborating evidence supporting the claims he has made with regards to his treatment while in custody. The government could respond to the charges he and other people have made by bringing them to trial according to the established principles of our justice system. They have elected not to. In fact, they have put themselves in a position where this is now impossible.

    Even if there was never a question of abuse while in custody, the fact that he was held for five years without charge is criminal. You are an apologist for criminal acts.

    Do try to keep up.

  53. You are an apologist for criminal acts.

    Is he refuting that fact or the undesirability of the condition?

  54. Apologist. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    You are an apologist for criminal acts. You can’t point to anything I’ve written to support this.

  55. Sometimes I wonder what the war would be like if after “Mission Accomplished” we’d given the Iraqis candy and electricity and jobs and all the things we promised. Do you think people might have come to us to tell us where the bad guys were and the roadside bombs and all of that? Ok, I’m being naive here, but I think that you get what you give and if the soldiers in WWII had started randomly rounding up civilians during occupation and torturing them we may not have won that war either. If I knew a bomb was planted somewhere but I heard rumors that my neighbor Omar was taken to some scary place I’d be thinking “you deserve it you bastards.” The people who do help us must be incredibly forgiving – dare I say almost xian in their attitude – to keep helping us.

    Suffice to say that I was taught better than this from people who were caught on the other side during WWII and thought America was the greatest place in the world BECAUSE the soldiers were decent and human and not at all like the punk-ass Germans who indiscriminately shot their neighbors and probably tortured them too.

    And because I still live in the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE I’ll take my chances on getting blown up, or my loved ones getting blown up, and keep my civil liberties because I believe I’d rather die than be dishonored.

    Do they still say “Death before Dishonor”? Because they’ve made it meaningless.

  56. Dammit, I think those tee shirt ink fumes are finally catching up to me… I meant to post that last thing above in the Weather Underground thread!

  57. AnnoyedCapitalist wrote @52: “And the only three people who have been officially waterboarded by the CIA don’t exactly tug at the heartstrings.”

    AC doesn’t actually make an argument, but just states a claim, so it isn’t totally clear what he is arguing for. However, it is difficult to see this statement as a premise in an argument that does not have a conclusion something like, “So torturers are not so bad.”

    Possible intermediate premises are are things like, “It’s ok to torture unsavoury people” or “So long as you only officially torture a few people while unofficially torturing hundreds more it is no big deal.”

    Posting purported justifications for torturers is exactly what it is to be an apologist for torturers.

  58. “And the only three people who have been officially waterboarded by the CIA don’t exactly tug at the heartstrings.’

    Well, to be fair, you said this in an attempt to clarify the positions of myself and another poster, vis-a-vis each other. Nevertheless, I get the feeling that, for you, the waterboarding of these individuals was justified by their unsavory and perhaps criminal activities or associations, or at least it was not necessarily a bad thing. This should not excuse the perpetration of an act of torture against these individuals. In fact, such an act actually makes it more difficult to determine the guilt or innocence of these individuals, by virtue of being in itself criminal.

    Now, if it was not your intention to speak in defense of people who have committed this act (torture in order to gain a confession, or other information), or similar acts (imprisonment without charge or trial, abuse of prisoners), or in defense of the acts themselves, then you are not an apologist for these things.

    If this is not clear, then please excuse me, the beer and America’s Next Top Model have taken their toll.

  59. Perhaps boingboing should no longer be called A Directory of “Wonderful” Things. Though the ad is truly interesting and pertinent and discussion-provoking, does it have a place being posted here?

    That being said, I am thankful it was posted in the first place.

  60. Well as the man says:

    There is power, power,
    Wonder working power
    In the precious
    Blood of the Lamb

  61. let them that have experienced waterboarding first hand, for themselves , speak of its virtues.

    anybody espouse-ing the “usefulness” of it without trying it on for size themselves is in my mind lacking in proper understanding of the topic. i think waterboarding is mean, and fighting mean with more mean seems like a bad idea. i don’t like it in movie theaters, nor in openly secret prisons.

    will advertise-ing the practice of waterboarding in theaters really lessen its being used in openly secret prisons? maybe, maybe not. But if it sets off a chain reaction where a person not wanting to see waterboarding before their flick gets up and demands money back then maybe, just maybe, hollywood and the entertainment industry will stop lobbying against fair use and for DRM and will instead lobby against torture, because torture results in amnesty international pre-movie torture trailers and thats bad for ticket sales, well then if that happens- i guess its worth it to me to stomach the bad, movie trailers, for the good- entertainment industry turning their lobbying efforts against waterbaording.

  62. “sch n ct ctlly mks t mr dffclt t dtrmn th glt r nncnc f ths ndvdls, by vrt f bng n tslf crmnl.”

    thnk y – nd mny thrs – r mssng th pnt. thy wr wtrbrdd nt s ct f pnshmnt r t xtrct slf-ncrmntn; Khld Shkh Mhmmd, b Zbydh nd bd l-Rhm l-Nshr wr wtrbrdd t xtrct frm thm nfrmtn tht hlpd t sv lvs f hndrds, f nt thsnds, nncnt cvlns.

    f ny f y hs chrnt rbttl f th sttmnt bv, wld lv t s t. s fr hvn’t.

    nw, th nxt stp f th dscssn s t dtrmn whthr r nt wtrbrdng f *knwn* trrrst mstrmnds (nt sm mythcl sspcts) t sv lvs f 100s f nncnt cvlns s jstfd, whch s vry dffrnt qstns frm n psd by nd mny pstrs hr.

  63. if any of you has a coherent rebuttal of the statement above, i would love to see it.

    ♥ Torture doesn’t work to extract information.

    ♥ Nobody was saved.

    ♥ Next time, read the comments before you open your sadistic piehole.

  64. I would add to Antinous’ statement:

    – It is better to live in a world where your right not to be tortured is inviolate than in a world where anybody (including you) could be tortured if it was judged by those in authority to be for the best.
    – The practice of torture, or any atrocity, by a country makes enemy soldiers less willing to surrender to that country’s soldiers, and more willing to fight to the death. (Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s book On Killing has a great discussion of this.)
    – It is practically a social law that even if torture is initially practiced under limited conditions, the practice of torture inevitably spreads to encompass more victims and more circumstances than initially intended. (John Conroy’s Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People illustrates this with case studies from first-world countries.)

  65. i think you – and many others – are missing the point. they were waterboarded not as act of punishment or to extract self-incrimination; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded to extract from them information that helped to save lives of hundreds, if not thousands, innocent civilians.

    Sure. Great. Waterboard the known terrorists; I won’t argue this point because my pacifism will never be understood save by other pacifists.

    But how do we know, hmm? How do we know?

    We don’t. Because inevitably people who aren’t terrorists will be incriminated. DNA testing is proving a whole lot of people in prison innocent of anything they were convicted of- things they were convicted of beyond a shadow of a doubt.

  66. But how do we know, hmm?

    I assume that many of our ‘known terrorist’ detainees are just random pick-ups under the Stan Shunpike principle: arrest somebody so that it looks like you’re doing something.

  67. due to the malice of a big guy who thought it was funny to hold me underwater and watch me struggle, and who certainly did NOT have the judgement to let me go in time; I think I kicked him in the balls or something. He was quite resentful: “I was only playing!” Yeah, fuck you. I was only playing when I kicked you in the balls, motherfucker.

    My empathy is not so strong as yours, for which I am either glad or sorry; I am not sure which. Thanks to your post, I’ve reevaluated my opinion on this video; yes, people need to be shocked, but not everybody responds in the same way and not everybody who is going to be shocked is ignorant.

    I struggled with childhood asthma and numerous near drownings (once when a girl much larger than me choked me in ‘play’ and forced me under water, essentially piggy-backing on me and nearly killing me). This did not inspire much of a response in me- but if I think about it deliberately- I can recall. And I do not think anyone should be subjected to that if they are not able to control their empathic response.

  68. Oh My God! Are you people serious?

    I find it so sad that most Americans are completely brainwashed about their great nation, and how it got to be great.

    We are all a victim of propaganda, and by believing that your country doesn’t use torture to get answers to questions, is so idiotic.

    We are lulled into a false sense that our country is somehow kinder and gentler than any other powerful nation that managed to stay powerful. We think that our goverment organization don’t just “get rid of people on a regular basis.

    Get this straight once and for all…America has only gotten to be powerful from subjegation or outright anhillation of any person or persons who are believed to be dangerous in even the most minute way, to the country.

    Torture and killing outsiders is the only way to protect ones own people…Stop lying to yourselves!

    In a perfect world “we can all get along’ if we just “give peace a chance” ….It’s a very imperfect world and always been.

  69. “Trtr dsn’t wrk t xtrct nfrmtn.”

    BVSLY t dd fr Khld Shkh Mhmmd.

    “Sr. Grt. Wtrbrd th knwn trrrsts; wn’t rg ths pnt bcs my pcfsm wll nvr b ndrstd sv by thr pcfsts.
    Bt hw d w knw, hmm? Hw d w knw?”

    h, nw w’r gttng smwhr. pstlt tht t shld b bsltly bvsly knwn trrrst, lk, gn, Khld Shkh Mhmmd, nt sm shm pckd frm th strts n Kbl.

    w d ll knw tht Khld Shkh Mhmmd ws wll knwn trrrst, rght?

    RGHT?

  70. Get this straight once and for all…America has only gotten to be powerful from subjegation or outright anhillation of any person or persons who are believed to be dangerous in even the most minute way, to the country.

    Quick! Someone call the president, I think we have the answer to “Why does the world hate America?”.

  71. 20 minutes may be endurable when you are in control.
    1 minute is an eternity when you KNOW they don’t care.

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