The Torture Trail

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Christopher H. Pyle, professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College and author of Getting Away with Torture: Secret Government, War Crimes and the Rule of Law talks about the torture memo paper trail.


Christopher H. Pyle

Comments [12]

John R

I like how WNYC rolls out these dissident types every time there's a pledge drive.

May. 28 2009 06:25 PM
Eric from B'klyn

I agree w Prof Pyle and commend him. The idea that application of a law is optional and a choice of some official is a serious misunderstanding and degradation of law. And one that has gained currency within the media and punditocracy... I wish BL would consider this trend. When Speaker Pelosi took impeachment 'off the table,' she countermanded the Constitution. It is surprising that Obama as a former legal scholar appears to subscribe to this view.

May. 28 2009 11:45 AM
the truth from bkny

I would without a doubt give false information to stop torture, most especially IF I were being waterboarded.

May. 28 2009 11:35 AM
kai from NJ-NYC


The "ticking time bomb" situation doesn't exist, except on the TV show 24. Give me one example when torture in that scenario has happened and successfully gotten information to stop "terrorist activity"? Cheney says there are some even as it comes out that the intelligence gleaned from the Guantanamo detainees occurred with standard interrogation (FBI) techniques before the abuse to place (CIA).

Furthermore, torture is a great way to get false information/intelligence when smart, standard interrogation techniques have a track record of getting at least some correct info.

What it comes down to is that the American public wants succor in the fact that their government is protecting them, and some find the most security in knowing that no "enhanced" techniques are left off the table even if they are not proven to prevent terrorist attacks.

May. 28 2009 11:31 AM
the truth from bkny

Very well said Mr. Pyle.

May. 28 2009 11:24 AM
Scott Jones from brooklyn

I like Obama, but he has no back bone.

Thats the sad truth.

May. 28 2009 11:23 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Peter [1], to get *accurate* information from the driver, you'd be better off guaranteeing the safety of the driver & his (or, less likely, her) family than torturing him, when he knows what the terrorists who hired him would do to him & his family if he talked. Didn't you hear Brian's segment with an interrogator who said gaining a person's confidence works better than torture?

May. 28 2009 11:21 AM
buster from brooklyn

Do people who use neti pots last longer when being waterboarded?

May. 28 2009 11:14 AM
the truth from bkny

That was a great experiment! I think everyone, especially the "Cheney's",Ann Coultor, Newt and Limbaugh...who think this os NO BIG DEAL, not torture etc...should all be lined up and waterboarded and then let us hear their reactions afterwards.

May. 28 2009 11:12 AM
Arthur Aptowitz from Forest Hills-Key Food-Queens Blvd and 108th Street

These "memos" should never have been written. They simply "institutionalized" torture and, as we have seen, guaranteed that it would become pervasive--the first resort rather than the last. Far better, since torture violates all sorts of American and international laws, was to leave the decision to the President on an infrequent case-by-case basis. If ever used, then, it would have been extremely infrequent rather than common, allowed for the "ticking bomb" scenario should it actually occur, would have encounter4ed little domestic or foreign opposition, and not become a means of punishment.

May. 28 2009 10:07 AM
Frank from Prospect Heights

"if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means—to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal—would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face."
-Justice Brandeis, 1928, Olmstead v US

May. 28 2009 09:29 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

On May 22, 2009, Mr. Pyle wrote, “…the Obama administration has endorsed the Nixon-Bush-Cheney principle that law is optional whenever national security is alleged to be at stake.”

Does Mr. Pyle really believe that one should avoid the use of torture when facing a national security threat? If a country is facing an imminent nuclear or chemical attack, does Mr. Pyle really believe that allowing the attack is better than using torture in the hope of preventing it? Let me say it even more strongly, if a government official or soldier has the opportunity to prevent a national security disaster such as a nuclear or chemical attack, shouldn’t that official be prosecuted for not doing everything possible, including torture, to prevent the attack?

And of course, there is the classic “ticking bomb” example that Mr. Pyle could discuss. For example, a taxi driver is hired to drive a terrorist to pick up a hostage. The hostage is taken and death, rape, mutilation and torture awaits the hostage. Does the taxi driver really have the right to simply say, “I’m not talking – I won’t tell where I dropped off the terrorist and hostage”? Or wouldn’t it be better to use enhanced interrogation tactics to save the hostage?

May. 28 2009 08:21 AM

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