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April 17th, 2009
05:21 PM ET

The Red Cross Torture Report: What it means

Mark Danner
The New York Review of Books

When it comes to torture, it is not what we did but what we are doing. It is not what happened but what is happening and what will happen. In our politics, torture is not about whether or not our polity can "let the past be past"—whether or not we can "get beyond it and look forward." Torture, for Dick Cheney and for President Bush and a significant portion of the American people, is more than a repugnant series of "procedures" applied to a few hundred prisoners in American custody during the last half-dozen or so years—procedures that are described with chilling and patient particularity in this authoritative report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Keith Davis

    So, buddy there on T.V. was just saying that, due to these tortures, alot of attacks on American soil has been adverted. But, apparently you people arn't satisfied with that, that you want evidence of such things. Don't you people think that the lack of 'evidence' is a good thing? You want evidence... just remember 9/11; there's your evidence.

    Yeah, I believe that torture is wrong, I sure wouldn't want to be tortured for any reason. But if knowing that that's what had to be done to save my wife, or any of MY loved ones, from those fanatics, then so be it. Those guys were just doing the jobs that no one else wanted to do, because they believe that that was the only way to save your land.

    How typical, you disgust me.

    April 18, 2009 at 1:27 am |
  2. Social Security and Medicare both SOCIALISIM

    Standard Operating Procedure "S.O.P." Must see documentary on some of the torture that America did under the Bush administration. I personally believe that Bush should be tried the same way that we tried Sadaam. When you go around all of the rules that we have set in place to go to war and then you turned out to be wrong "WMD's" than you should be held acoountable.

    April 18, 2009 at 12:23 am |
  3. Levoid Davis

    When I was a kid we pushed each other under water many times. We called it 'ducking" and it was fun. When I became a member or the church the Preacher pushed me all the way under water, It was called joining the church. When we sprinkle a few drops of water on a terrorist it is called torture.
    My mom slapped my face and spanked my rear. No one called it torture. Others did it too and I deserved it every time. At school I was made t o stand in a small place. It was called standing in the corner for being a dunce. At least we know the Islamfascist dont torture, they just chop the head off.
    I think the liberals and CNN would like to see a captured terrorist given a big screen TV, and Air Conditioning and loads of good books telling him all the secrets we have regarding him and his friends. Even now the members of the Gitmo Club are eating better than I am and no pro bono lawyer would think of helping me out.
    Wonder if there are any more secrets Obama can give our enemies if we can call them that. For the last 2 nights 360 has spent half its program on it but have not told me yet

    April 18, 2009 at 12:23 am |
  4. Patricia

    Is anyone concerned that Obama gave the okay to shoot three pirates, possibly teenagers in the head??????

    Where is the ACLU??????? Is killing three young men more acceptable than throwing some water on Muslim extremists???

    Is this insanity or what???

    What has happend to common sense??

    April 18, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  5. Tom - Michigan

    How many of you people have actually read those memos? You keep throwing around the word "torture". On tonight's show, these memos were continuously referred to as "The Torture Memos". First, I would suggest that true "journalism" does not permit the anchor or the network to draw a legal conclusion about any topic let alone one that is so hotly contested as the definition of "torture". Second, although I do have some concerns with waterboarding, are those of you that are throwing the "torture" word around actually stating with a serious face that slapping an Al Qaeda soldier in the face is "torture"? Do you really believe that telling an Al Qaeda soldier that he is sharing a box with a bug that is going to bite him is "torture". My god, when they do "walling", they put the equivalent of a c-collar on their neck to make sure they don't get whiplash. Come on people, get with it!

    April 18, 2009 at 12:06 am |
  6. Patricia

    Hi Anderson,

    Anyone think of torture when innocent Americans had to choose between being burned to death or leaping to their death from the thirtieth floor. Is that torture?

    Or is torture throwing some water on someone, or placing a box with a bug in it, or is it sleep deprivation???? These animals are still living but innocent Americans have lost their lives., Is the ACLU worried about those Americans who lost their lives. Who is standing up for their right to go to their job and be safe there.

    Now thanks to Obama terrorists know they have the okay to come and kill us, and we will coddle them, and be sure that they are treated very humanely. Why don't we all sit down with them and have a tea party.???
    The terrorists must be eating all this controversy up, here they have killed thousands of Americans and we are so very concerned about their welfare.

    It is this type of warped thinking that brought on 911!!!! Thanks President Obama for making us all more safe, I am sure if the terrorists capture any Americans they will be take into account
    that you will treat them with respect and humility. Maybe instead of cutting heads off on prime time news, they will spare us by doing it behind closed doors.

    April 18, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  7. Maggie

    To President Obama,

    If the US does not prosecute people who sanctioned and carried out torture, what implications does that have for the rule of law? No doubt it would be impolitic to prosecute, but I cannot agree that your solemn pledge to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution releases you from choosing the correct action in this case. I urge you to reconsider, and if you must, drag the process out til your second term. But do it. The rule of law must take priority over political considerations, most especially when those who acted without the authority of the law hold the highest positions in our government.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  8. Scott

    Most of the techniques outlined in these reports are used on our own troops for purposes of training. College fraternities do worse things to our own kids when they pledge for acceptance into their organizations.

    Releasing this information is reckless for two reasons. As your guests have stated, it gives insight to the larger terror organizations of the limits of what our government is willing to do as part of interrogations. Additionally, it will create a timid attitude in our intelligence agencies as they move forward during these dangerous times. Our government and the media need to stop releasing our nations secrets.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:47 pm |
  9. Allen

    All of you people that want to prosecute patriotic americans for protecting all of us.
    Need to understand that we are not at war with honorable soldiers.
    we are at war with people that would kill any of us without a second thought.
    I am very proud of the job that the Bush admiminiatration did over the last eight years.
    It was a time that I will always remember that we finally stood up to terror.
    And now that the Obama administration is in charge I can see that we are going to let the terrorist use our own laws against us.
    I wonder if some who are for fighting this war against terror as if we were engaged in a war with an honorable enemy, would feel if they were at the mercy of these killers on the next 9/11.
    And believe me there will be if we follow the new path we are on.
    I hope that I am wrong about this.
    But I do not see this going any other way.
    Unless my fellow Americans wake up from this strange trance they seem to be in.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  10. Frankie Perdue

    I still can't believe that another night has AC and the other pundits wondering IF torture (ie water boarding, etc) were useful tools in keeping us safe. Officials admit that half of the information extracted from such practices became very useful in thwarting additional plots and attacks upon the innocent here in the states. In war, and that's what this was, you do what you must to keep your people SAFE! Again, Mr. Bush did what he had to do to ensure our safety all these years since 9-11! You liberals just don't want to admit this and whine about captive extremists rights, when these same people have no thought of the rights of the people they slaughter. Many of the captive terrorists who were released, only went back to fight yet again and kill more innocent people and or US soldiers and their allies. Wake UP! We live in a world where you use what you have to keep the freedom loving nations of the world SAFE! Thank you Mr Bush for doing what had to be done. I hope we never have another attack like or worse than 9-11, but if we do, we can thank the spineless liberals who put terrorists rights before national security and safety!

    April 17, 2009 at 11:46 pm |
  11. jay fraker

    Comparing Natzi death camps to waterboarding (not even close to torture according to documents released by Obama) is qute the leap, The murder of 12,000,000 people is the same as waterboarding 3 people? Yeah I see the similarities. I am glad Obama released the documents for one reason, Now we know that the government didn't torture anyone and only used enhanced techniques on incredibly dangerous people who did not succomb to the army field manual techniques. I wonder do people know that in WWII, our military routinely shot snipers on the spot. That aint exactly in the manual, but sure cut down on snipers I'm thinking. Obama is careless and the next attack is on Him now.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  12. Joseph Garnett, Jr

    Just think about? The few American citizens and soldiers captured in the war zones were treated fairly. They were coddled and treated to five-star meals at least three times daily. Oh, and since 9/11/01, all the major US cities have been bombed and blown to bits. Americans are running around in fear. Wait a minutes. Let's not forget the heads and bodies of soldiers cut into pieces. The citizens beheaded and photos sent around the world. Bush was right in his treatment of these people. They do not care that we are alive. Their aim to eternal glory is to die killing us who they call the great satan. Even when there wasn't wartimes, these people would kill the innocent with no reasonable provocation. Obama is doing well on the economy. However, on the release and cancellation of these practices, will definitely jeopardize our country. Life as we know it will change. It will change to be worse as we will again allow the bastards into our country to get the training they need in order to learn how to kill us, just like they did on 9/11/01.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  13. John Kulabonish

    This is just plain crazy. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who has comparisions between Nazi Germany of WW II and what we have done today is just absurd and ignorant. We are not a clean country be any means. We are not trying to wipe a whole race of people off the face of the earth. You have to be the same type of people who complain about feral cats and then protest when animal shelters euthanize them. Not everything is going to be pretty and politically correct in this world. Have we made mistakes, sure have, but our enemies do not care. At last count, zero attacks on U.S. soil. God bless you all.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  14. bryan

    people need to get over it. you can say what you want, but we did what we had to do. you can't deal with these people. they hide behind children and old men, they are cowards until they are confronted, then they want to hide behind the winners of the world. we should take all of the human rights people and send them to Iraq to visit some of the peoples families that were beheaded, and them explain to them how we were to hard on these poor innocent scum!

    April 17, 2009 at 11:41 pm |
  15. Jim - Boston

    I do not believe it is a question of whether the information gathered through these methods was helpful.I think to say otherwise discredits the person taking that stance. The fact is that American lifes were saved.
    The question is simply whether torture is right or wrong and whether or not we are willing to corrupt our moral values to attain that information.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:41 pm |
  16. Dora Reyes

    I thought I had seen it all. We must be the stupidist people around to show to the entire world, including terrorist, what methods we use to get information from people who hate Americans so much. Now the leaders of Al Quiada can show their recruits our methods and laugh at us. Get real, this is not torture. Wake Up America!

    April 17, 2009 at 11:36 pm |
  17. The Rev. David J. Kalke

    The Nuremberg Trials following WW II left clear legal precedents that apply in the current debate about the legality of torture. Presidents who legalize torture are international war criminals and need to be brought before the Hague for trial. If the US justice system is too weak to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all those involved, then the international community needs to step in. Any soldier, in the spirit of Nuremberg, involved in committing acts they know are wrong according to international law are to be held accountable. Just because Bush "legalized" it does not exonerate the soldier in Guantanamo who did the waterboarding. "I was simply following orders" did not work in the assassination of Jews. It should not work in the US for the justification of torture.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:34 pm |
  18. Keren Taylor

    How is it that America has a prison (Guantanamo) in Cuba, when we say that we do not do business with Cuba? Are we paying Cuba to have that base there? And why isn't anyone talking about this? I've never understood it.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  19. Nancy

    I want to add...if your not the one being held a POW fiighting for the freedom of your country, then don't say what we do for torture if wrong. That is a slap in the face to our military men and women who have been tortured and even killed for our county. Tied up, laying in your urine and poop, sexually assulted, electricuted, cut up alive, starved, no showers, no water, etc. all for your country and we want to fuss over what our military does to other countries when we capture them? If our young men and women wouldn't put their lives at stake, we would not have the freedom that we have to say the things we say. When we deal with the Muslim world, we can't be nice. Every one fussed when Bush went to war, but if a plane landed in your house and your family was murdered in 911? PLEASE.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  20. Kathryne Rushford

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. – XIV Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

    Citizenship is one of the most coveted gifts that the U.S. government can bestow, and the most important immigration benefit that USCIS can grant. Most people become U.S. citizens in one of two ways:

    By birth, either within the territory of the United States or to U.S. citizen parents, or
    By Naturalization.
    In addition, in 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA), which allows any child under the age of 18 who is adopted by a U.S. citizen and immigrates to the United States to acquire immediate citizenship.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  21. Nancy

    I wouldn't want to be the one doing the torture, but what do other countries to our military when they are held as POWS? If we bow down and be humble, we will get squashed. What about the families of 911. Should we stand back and say, 'Well just talk ourselves to peace." Some countrieds don't want peace. They want to rule the world. The Muslim world believes that torture is their way to their heaven. Should we pull out military out of every country in the world, keep them here to protect our air, land, and water and say, "If you come mess with us, this is how we torture when we capture you?" That might be the best route. Take care of ourselves and when some wants to come here, blow them away. Killing is wrong, but if we keep our military in other countries and put them in danger, then we have to have ways of making a statement to the rest of the world as well. Other countries chop off the heads of live POWS, slash their throats, cut them up peice by peice while they are alive, electricute them, and we want to feed them, bath, them and sing to them? Come on! We ae fixing to be taken over by other countries if we don't fight fire with fire. Unless we just stay away from other countries and support ourselves with oil, gas, food, and make our statement, "You invade our country and get caught, we will torture you just like you believe in torture. So, stay away from us, and we will stay away from you."

    April 17, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  22. Ceesay

    Dear Anderson
    About the torture memo backlash, I wanted to point out the case involving the Abu Ghraib torture and the ‘untrained soldiers’, these methods (of torture) to me do not differ a lot from the CIA secrets released by the Obama admin. To me it just looks like one was publicised and the other was done behind closed doors. Both methods look similar to me so I don’t see why some people dislike the fact that they are released as well.
    Ceesay,
    USI.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  23. GARY MITCHELL

    By the way, except for perhaps waterboarding, I wouldn't consider any of the methods described as "tough" interrogation.

    April 17, 2009 at 11:03 pm |
  24. jeff

    i am so sick of these people that have run there mouth about turture . from one who has been there before . may god forbid anything else like 911 should happen , if they were amoung the ones who had to dig the remains out of the rubble . they would have a chang of heart , this i promise you . god forbid it was one of there own . it makes me sick . if they were the one's who were the only thing standing between the lives of other peoples lives and there deaths . what would they do , just sit down and hav a chat with the ones that they knew were going to murder every one and everry thing they cared about . cowards. ! these are the same kind of people that would stand on the bank on tax day , and yell . all no !there going to get are fishiss tea drunk , lets yell thats polution !!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 17, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  25. Glen-La

    Why should Muslim Islamic terrorists who are dedicated to the destruction of America be treated with special care? They don't deserve your concern.......if they capture you, you may lose your head on television. I know that terrorists everywhere are laughing as they see the support they have from Americans.

    April 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm |
  26. Gretchen Mohr

    I heard on the news this last week about a German guard who is to be extradited for crimes against humanity that happened over 50 years ago. I find this irony disturbing seeing we are supposes to forget the torture that happened last year because it is in the past and we should move on. Could it be that we ,because we are Americans, are above the laws of humanity?
    I believe the Bush years will go down in history as one of America's TOP TEN black eyes.

    April 17, 2009 at 9:39 pm |
  27. Maria

    who was the producer of Dirty Harry movie?

    April 17, 2009 at 9:32 pm |
  28. Helen- California

    I think the guys at the top need to be prosecuted not the persons who carried out the orders for they had no choice. What I want to know is did their tortures get any results, I think not. If I were being tortured I would say anything the torturer would want to hear true or not. These are the same people who say abortion is inhumane!

    April 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm |
  29. J. D. Wallsten

    We must prosucute war crimes – we must clear the way of this great shame brought on our country.

    April 17, 2009 at 7:44 pm |
  30. Chi Town

    That's a nice opinion you have...

    Me... I feel it was wrong... but when I think it stopped the LA attack, the London attack and the Djibouti Marine Base attack... I must admit I'm grateful at least that worked.

    Next time... we can just turn them all over to the Iraqi/Afghani government where they can be quickly hung. Like Saddam... that would be much more humane than 5 minutes of water boarding or a bug in a box.

    April 17, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  31. Terry, TX

    Torturing terrorists please... and I laugh at the word torture....while these Muslim Islamic Terrorist cut American throats on the internet....beheadings...strapping bombs on children to blow them up in mosques, mosques, restaurants, the rocket fire in Israel, elected officials...let's not forget our 3,000 that were murdered. I applaud Bush for whatever he did to keep us safe and the CIA informed of covert activities. What now we have to prosecute Obama for the 3 hits to the head of those Muslim Pirates in four years....because Somalia wants him.

    I read the memos Obama deliberately released. I think we could accuse him of aiding and abetting the enemy by releasing classified information...He didn't even appeal the request from the ACLU..might as well just give them an office in the white house. Now this foot noted report from the Red Cross...American Taxpayers are tired of this...we have had an peaceful transition of power....and all we hear is Bush.

    April 17, 2009 at 7:12 pm |
  32. Annie Kate

    Cheney does not acknowledge that the torture practiced during his and Bush's terms of office may have inspired many more terrorists to plan attacks against the US as well as "stopped" attacks already in the planning stage as Cheney claims. What I find troubling in this is that Congress sat by and let this happen and did not bring articles of impeachment against both Cheney and Bush. Bush and Cheney went around the Congress and ran roughshod over the very Constitution they vowed to uphold and protect – what did they need to do for Congress to have preferred charges against them – have a Constitution burning party on the White House lawn? Torture is evil and a crime against humanity – I doubt though that Bush and Cheny will ever be taken to task for this and they should be.

    April 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm |
  33. robert diogenes

    Leadership and Moral Responsbility
    GET THE FACTS BEHIND THE NEWS

    "Every contract has a covenant of good faith and fair dealings. Diretors, officers and those in a position of trust owe a fiduciary duty of the highest level. I believe those doctrines and others would be a basis for prosecuting anyone involved in torture.

    At the Nurenberg trials Nazi general stated they were just following orders. Nurenberg judges refused to accept this alibi and so should we.

    If all else fails Congress should consider reinstituting the draft. If the leaders and staffs were drafted they could not cause further troubles and they could serve their country rather than themselves.

    We must remember that those in service and their families are the true heroes and patriots who deserve, our thanks and prayers.

    April 17, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  34. Orla Stuart, Santa Cruz CA

    Why shouldn't the truth be revealed about what the Bush Administration did to the detaiees? After all, the "law and order" Republicans demanded "truth and accountability" time and time again during the Clinton impeachment. Now it's time to prove that they are not liars. Now it's time to show they put America before the Rublican Party. It's time to show that whether they are courageous or cowards, steadfast or hypocrites. Funny how silent BillO, Newt and Rush are in demanding "truth an accountability" from the Republicans!!!!!

    April 17, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  35. RoseParvin

    I have bee tortured by my own promoter who is a CIA agent for the fact that his group want my life work and identity. For the past 12 years since I wrote my 9 groundbreaking books in one year the man who came to promote me became my predetor. Censorship, slander, defemation & denial and when I lost everything on my path to vindicate myself and save the people spending nights at 24 hour spa I undergo sleepl deprevation, intimidation and threat. It is changing since my P/A tv shows and myspace and now this. But we must change the patterns of relating societally and cutlurally and that is why I have created a Global/Universal Culture of being human with human rights laws!

    April 17, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  36. Niki Arrighi

    Anderson, I love you but you need to add a TwitThis button to your blog! Didn't see it on the "Share" list. :-/

    April 17, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  37. Tom

    Hey Anderson! You want to know what it's like to be tortured at night time? Watch that Bill O'reilly on that other so called news network. It is so painful that I need to get some spa time! Tommy

    April 17, 2009 at 5:55 pm |