The Instigator
Xer
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
Brock_Meyer
Con (against)
Winning
33 Points

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, such as waterboarding, enhance the national security of the U.S.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/27/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 11,196 times Debate No: 8440
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (25)
Votes (8)

 

Xer

Pro

I am in favor of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, such as waterboarding, as they enhance the national security of the U.S. My opponent will be against Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, such as waterboarding, as they compromise the national security of the U.S.

I will allow my opponent to begin the debate. Thank you and good luck to whomever accepts the debate. To my opponent, please accept the definitions before starting the debate.

-----DEFINITIONS-----

(1) Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) -
...also referred to as "rough interrogation", "harsh interrogation",and "alternative set of procedures" are terms adopted by the George W. Bush administration in the United States to describe methods used by US military intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to extract information from captives as part of the "War on Terror"...

(2) Waterboarding -
In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual's feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth… During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths… The procedure may then be repeated. The water is usually applied from a canteen cup or small watering can with a spout… You have… informed us that it is likely that this procedure would not last more than twenty minutes in any one application.

-----SOURCES-----

(1) Wikipedia --- Enhanced interrogation techniques
http://en.wikipedia.org...

(2) U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel --- 2002 Bybee Memo (Page 3-4)
http://72.3.233.244/pdfs/safefree/olc_08012002_bybee.pdf
Brock_Meyer

Con

I accept my opponent's definitions. My argument is that Enhanced Interrogation Techniques undermine the national security of the United States. The morality of torture will not be discussed. With the opportunity to begin the debate, I shall start with the claim that Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (from hereon referred to as "EIT's") at once endanger the lives of American troops and American civilians.

EIT's compromise the safety and undermine the effectiveness of American troops abroad by providing a recruiting tool that plays into the hands of the terrorists, growing their numbers. It does so by reinforcing an image of the American imperialist behemoth that will stop at nothing to destroy the enemy and civilians. The promotion of EIT's leads only to the polarization that afflicts the region, and continues the self-defeating cycle towards the destruction of the Middle East. Enhanced interrogations create a significant amount of animosity abroad, particularly in the Middle East, which fosters radicalism and terrorism.

Many of the United States greatest allies are repulsed by the United States' use of EIT's(1). This hampers willingness to cooperate with the United States in the war on terrorism. Because the war on terrorism is a global effort requiring the cooperation of foreign governments, such a diplomatic failure is an intolerable result of the use of EIT's. This is because "enhanced interrogation" is torture. On May 19, 2006, the UN Committee against Torture issued a report stating the U.S. should stop, what it concludes, is "ill-treatment" of detainees, since such treatment violates international law(2).

Not only do EIT's, as a form of torture, go against international law, but they violate United States constitutional law. Cruel and unusual punishment is a statement implying that governments shall not inflict such treatment for crimes, regardless of their degree of severity. In the case of suspected terrorists, the presumption inherent prior to the implementation of aggressive interrogation tactics is that the suspect is guilty of a kind of a "crime" (terrorism). This is used to justify the use of aggressive tactics. But, these tactics certainly constitute "cruel and unusual" techniques for the "crime" of terrorism (although due process in convicting a suspected for this "crime" is lacking).

EIT's violate due process. The assumption in interrogations is a suspected terrorist is guilty of committing terrorism. If not guilty, the practice of interrogation of any kind would be extremely grevious. But no trial and judicial process for this takes place, and the prisoner usually remains unaccussed of any particular crime. So there is no certainty that they are guilty, even while the practice of aggressive interrogations may move forward regardless. For this reason, EIT's violate due process and worse, implement punishment against a suspect before any due process has been had. Suspected terrorists are not simply imprisoned without due process, but they are interrogated, tortured, or punished.

Terrorists are not a "different kind" of enemy. Letter from General John Vessey, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Senator McCain opposing a proposed redefinition of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, September 12, 2006(3): "I continue to read and hear that we are facing a ‘different enemy' in the war on terror; no matter how true that may be, inhumanity and cruelty are not new to warfare nor to enemies we have faced in the past. In my short 46 years in the armed forces Americans confronted the horrors of prison camps of the Japanese in World War II, the North Koreans in 1950-53, and the North Vietnamese in the long years of the Vietnam War, as well as knowledge of the Nazi's holocaust depredations during World War II. Through those years, we held our own values. We should continue to do so."

A September 13, 2006 Letter from General Colin Powell to Senator McCain on the subject of enhanced interrogations(4): "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore it would put our own troops at risk." Those who have served in Iraq experienced these costs in blood, as the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay scandals prompted droves of angry young men to take up arms and join the anti-American resistance.

Defenders of aggressive methods claim that the only good question is whether useful intelligence was collected. Just as important, however, is whether bad intelligence has been collected. If these interrogations produced bad intelligence, leading the U.S. astray and diverting resources, then these methods are worse than inefficient; they undermine our national security. In the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who described to his Egyptian captors a false link between Saddam and al-Qaeda in order to avoid torture. Torture arguably contributed to the creation of a false premise that led to an unnecessary war, which distracted Americans from locating and destroying the real threat in Afghanistan(5). In the eyes of terrorists, this was a victory.

There is little reason to believe that subjecting terrorist operatives to cruel, inhuman or degrading practices, yields more or better intelligence than other methods. EIT's compromise American troops by potentially misdirecting intelligence resources along false paths. EIT's are less effective than non-coercive techniques because claims about their effectiveness are questionable at best, and even if they were more effective, they are not justified. They are not justified because they, as forms of torture, are in violation of American and international law, according to the UN.

Claims about EIT's effectiveness are questionable. The CIA used waterboarding 183 times against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in 2003 and 83 times in 2002 against Abu Zubaydah. This is in contrast to the claim that "Abu Zubaydah... broke in less than a minute"(6). This suggests that claims of their effectiveness are questionable and exaggerated by a government that supported their use.

EIT's are ineffective. The Washington Post published on January 11, 2007(7): "There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community's use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism, and experts believe some painful and coercive approaches could hinder the ability to get good information, according to a new report from an intelligence advisory group." EIT's are one more example of the Right's tendency towards anti-intellectualism, the rejection of science, and the treatment of intuitions as superior to actual scientific evidence.

Ultimately, enhanced interrogation techniques are a betrayal of our national security objectives. They are self-defeating, lead to the growth of the terrorist ranks, undermine the moral standing of America in the world, waste resources in the intelligence community, and thus make the nation less secure, more open to attack, and leave us unable to rebuild a tarnished image in the world community.

--------

(1) = http://blogs.usatoday.com...
(2) = http://news.bbc.co.uk...
(3) = http://www.humanrightsfirst.org...
(4) = http://www.humanrightsfirst.org...
(5) = http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
(6) = http://www.washingtonpost.com...
(7) = http://www.washingtonpost.com...

-------
Debate Round No. 1
Xer

Pro

"EIT's compromise the safety and undermine the effectiveness of American troops abroad by providing a recruiting tool that plays into the hands of the terrorists"
-It is foolish to believe that EIT's are used as a recruiting tool. We were not using EIT's before 9/11, but the terrorists attacked the twin towers nonetheless. The Spanish have not used EIT's but suicide bomb attacks against the Madrid commuter train system took place on 3/11/2004. The British have not used EIT's but suicide bomb attacks against the London public transport system took place on 7/7/2005 by British Muslims whose motivations were the Iraq War (1). The terrorists hate us not because of EIT's but because of 1) Iraq 2) "Indifel" troops in their holy land 3) Our culture and 4) Their religion which preaches "death to infidels".

"Many of the United States greatest allies are repulsed by the United States' use of EIT's"
-I disagree with this statement. Unless my opponent backs this up with a source, this point is void.

"This is because "enhanced interrogation" is torture."
-I disagree with this statement as well. The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel has released numerous memos and legal documents saying that the EIT's being used are completely legal.

"On May 19, 2006, the UN Committee against Torture issued a report stating the U.S. should stop, what it concludes, is "ill-treatment" of detainees, since such treatment violates international law"
-The US Department of Justice Memo, dated March 14, 2003, justifying enhanced interrogation techniques states, "...we examine the applicability of customary international law. We conclude that as an expression of state practice, customary international law cannot impose a standard that differs from U.S. obligations under CAT, a recent multilateral treaty on the same subject. In any event, our previous opinions make clear that customary international law is not federal law and that the President is free to override it at his discretion." (2)

"Not only do EIT's, as a form of torture, go against international law, but they violate United States constitutional law...EIT's violate due process."
-The same Memo as above says, "we conclude that the Fifth and Eighth Amendments, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, do not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad. In Part IT, we examine federal criminal law. We explain that several canons of construction apply here. Those canons of construction indicate that federal criminal laws of general applicability do not apply to properly authorized interrogations of enemy combatants, undertaken by military personnel in the course of an armed conflict. Such criminal statutes, if they were misconstrued to apply to the interrogation of enemy combatants, would conflict with the Constitution's. grant of the Commander in Chiefpower solely to the President." (2)

"Terrorists are not a "different kind" of enemy. Letter from General John Vessey..."
-General John Vessey clearly states himself, "I continue to read and hear that we are facing a ‘different enemy' in the war on terror; no matter how true that may be." Vessey says himself that we are facing a 'different enemy in the war on terror'. He is simply states that "inhumanity and cruelty are not new to warfare nor to enemies we have faced in the past." The only argument he is trying to make is that terrorists are just as smart and tactful as organized armies.

A September 13, 2006 Letter from General Colin Powell to Senator McCain on the subject of enhanced interrogations(4): "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore it would put our own troops at risk."
-I am not debating with you on the moral basis of our fight against terrorism (as you stated yourself at the beginning of the debate), so the first two sentences are void. Colin Powell in no way backs up his statement that, "it would put our own troops at risk" so that sentence is void.

"Defenders of aggressive methods claim that the only good question is whether useful intelligence was collected. Just as important, however, is whether bad intelligence has been collected. If these interrogations produced bad intelligence, leading the U.S. astray and diverting resources, then these methods are worse than inefficient; they undermine our national security. In the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who described to his Egyptian captors a false link between Saddam and al-Qaeda in order to avoid torture. Torture arguably contributed to the creation of a false premise that led to an unnecessary war, which distracted Americans from locating and destroying the real threat in Afghanistan."
-There is no evidence that the U.S. has been led astray from bad intelligence from EIT's. As for your case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, he was tortured in Egypt by Egyptians and gave the bad intelligence there. He was not interrogated by EIT's.

"Claims about EIT's effectiveness are questionable..."
-In the end though, we were able to get invaluable information out of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Isn't it more important that we get the information out of the suspect at one point than no point at all? If instead we set him down in a room with two FBI agents and interrogated him while he had a nice cup of coffee, would of have ever confessed then? The answer is more than likely not.

"There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community's use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism..."
-It may be true that there is no scientific evidence. But there is no scientific evidence that backs up more effective methods of interrogation than EIT's.

---WOW, just wasted a little less than 6,000 characters rebuking your arguments. Now its my turn.

EIT's obtain info effectively, and the process, save lives. The interrogations of Khalid Sheik Mohammad led to the namings of "about a dozen key al-Qaeda operatives believed to be plotting terrorist attacks on American and other Western Interests...Mohammed's cooperation has improved investigators' understanding of al-Qaeda's command-and-control structure. Sources say he has explained that at any time, the organization has open-ended plans for as many as two dozen attacks — mostly ideas proposed by field operatives and sanctioned and financed by Osama bin Laden's inner circle." The national security of the U.S. is being protected by these interrogations. (3)

It is absurd to take EIT's off the table in case of ticking time bomb scenarios. If the U.S. were in a situation where we needed intelligence immediately, it is most likely that terrorists would not cooperate quickly with standard, army-manual interrogations. Terrorists are much tougher than the average person and we need to keep EIT's on the table in case of ticking time bomb situations.

Three former CIA Directors and the current CIA direcor have testified before congress that EIT's work and they need to be left on the table. CIA Directors are non-partisan government officals whose only interest is the national security of the U.S. (4)

According to an April 24-25 Gallup Poll 55% of Americans believe that EIT's are justified, while 36% are not. This is a government for the people, by the people. American citizens know that the importance of their life is more important than political correctness.

EIT's, including waterboarding, are used on our own military personnel to prepare them in case of capture in the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program. If EIT's are so heinous and disgusting, why would the U.S. military subject it's own people to them. If EIT's were not in use, they could not be used to prepare our troops for capture in foreign territory. Without the proper training, our forces would reveal the truth immediately. That would compromise our national security. (5)

I will post sources in comments section.
Brock_Meyer

Con

"It is foolish to believe that EIT's are used as a recruiting tool..."

It is certainly the case that those four reasons you list are causes for anti-Americanism in radical Islam. For that reason, I am not claiming that EIT's are necessary and sufficient causes for attacks on the Western world. What I am claiming, however, is that EIT's are being used as propaganda tools that fuel anti-American sentiments. Senator John McCain said(1): "And most importantly, [enhanced interrogation] serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us. And I've seen concrete examples of that talking to former high-ranking al-Qaeda individuals in Iraq."

"Unless my opponent backs this up with a source, this point is void."

American allies are represented in the UN, which has condemned EIT's as torture. If asked whether these allies will stand behind the UN or Bush, they will be more inclined to support the UN. No American allies use "enhanced interrogation" because that term refers only to American policies. Enhanced interrogation has been condemned by America's greatest ally, Britain, in the British House of Commons(2). Canada listed the United States as a country that employs torture for using enhanced interrogation on a Canadian citizen(3).

"The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel has released numerous memos and legal documents saying that the EIT's being used are completely legal."

The issue of whether EIT's are legal or not according to the Federal government has nothing to do with whether EIT's are torture. The Federal government can just as easily rule that torture is legal, as it seemed to do with these unsourced memos and legal documents.

UN's definition of torture(4): "Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity." By the UN's standards, enhanced interrogation is "legal" torture.

"...customary international law is not federal law and that the President is free to override it at his discretion."

This is true: international law is not federal law, but that does not mean federal law trumps international law. The President may be able to override international law at his discretion, but that does not mean he is not violating that law in the process. International law may not be able to impose a standard, but that does not mean international law is meaningless. A law is not something that can be violated or respected at one's convenience.

"we conclude that the Fifth and Eighth Amendments, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, do not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad..."

It may be so that these rights apply only to United States citizens (although denying rights to due process and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment to international citizens sets an incredibly bad example for the rest of the world). However, it is the case that the Geneva Conventions apply to all prisoners, including prisoners of war and terrorists. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld states that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to the "war on terrorism". The Court ruled that torture of detainees violates both United States and international law(5).

"The only argument [John Vessey] is trying to make is that terrorists are just as smart and tactful as organized armies."

Why would Vessey state, "Through those years, we held our own values. We should continue to do so"? In this context, his statement would make absolutely no sense. If the only thing Vessey is referring to here is "that terrorists are just as smart and tactful as organized armies", why would he say that we need to hold our values?

"I am not debating with you on the moral basis of our fight against terrorism (as you stated yourself at the beginning of the debate), so the first two sentences are void."

I said the morality of torture will not be discussed. I said nothing about the moral basis of the fight against terrorism.

"As for your case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, he was tortured in Egypt by Egyptians and gave the bad intelligence there. He was not interrogated by EIT's."

ABC News reported(6): "According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, after two weeks of enhanced interrogation, made statements that were designed to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear. Sources say Al Libbi had been subjected to each of the progressively harsher techniques in turn and finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals." The CIA recognized these tortures as "enhanced interrogation", and from the description, it sounds very much like the EIT techniques recognized by the Bush administration.

"Isn't it more important that we get the information out of the suspect at one point than no point at all?"

It is a quantum leap going from "no information" in traditional methods to "the information" in EIT's, and is not justified. Interrogator Ali Soufan attested to the superiority of traditional methods over EIT's in 2009: "Under traditional interrogation methods, [Zubaydah] provided us with important actionable intelligence."

"The interrogations of Khalid Sheik Mohammad... The national security of the U.S. is being protected by these interrogations."

It's a bit strange that we can say for certain that EIT's were the only interrogation techniques that could have possibly worked, when others weren't utilized.

"It is absurd to take EIT's off the table in case of ticking time bomb scenarios..."

Aside from the fact that "ticking time bomb scenarios" should not happen the in the first place (if our national security is competent), they are rare. It is not wise to make policy decisions in a lifeboat.

In addition, what keeps the terrorist (in the rare event of a ticking time bomb) from giving the wrong information repeatedly, over and over again? This wastes the time of the investigators who could be seeking actionable intelligence. Knowing the investigators will not resort to even more extreme forms of torture, the terrorist can fool the investigators until the time bomb explodes.

"Three former CIA Directors and the current CIA direcor have testified before congress that EIT's work and they need to be left on the table. CIA Directors are non-partisan government officals whose only interest is the national security of the U.S."

The CIA may be nonpartisan, but it always acts in its own self-interest. If the Directors knowingly approved of EIT's, they have no choice but to testify they work. Otherwise, they would be seen as incompetent. It is these Directors' responsibilities to themselves and to the CIA as an organization to give that testimony, even if they have to stretch the truth.

"...55% of Americans believe that EIT's are justified, while 36% are not. This is a government for the people, by the people."

It is that kind of thinking that the Founding Fathers feared more than anything. But don't take my word for it: "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine" (Thomas Jefferson). A majority vote of the populace does not legitimize any action.

"If EIT's are so heinous and disgusting, why would the U.S. military subject it's own people to them?"

EIT's that are used in training American forces are not torture. They are not used to obtain the truth.

*Sources in Comments section.
Debate Round No. 2
Xer

Pro

"Senator John McCain said: "And most importantly, [enhanced interrogation] serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us. And I've seen concrete examples of that talking to former high-ranking al-Qaeda individuals in Iraq.""
-My opponent should not have put "enhanced interrogation" in the brackets as that is misleading. He should have put waterboarding. McCain said "...[waterboarding] serves as a great propaganda tool..." only because he believes that waterboarding is torture. Waterboarding is not torture, and my opponent has failed to prove that waterboarding is torture.

"American allies are represented in the UN, which has condemned EIT's as torture. If asked whether these allies will stand behind the UN or Bush, they will be more inclined to support the UN."
-Once again, my opponent fails to back up this assertion with a source. He backed up the British and Canadian points, but not this one.

"The issue of whether EIT's are legal or not according to the Federal government has nothing to do with whether EIT's are torture. The Federal government can just as easily rule that torture is legal, as it seemed to do with these unsourced memos and legal documents."
-EIT's are not torture because:
1) The same techniques are being used on our own American serviceman in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE). America does not torture it's own servicemen.
2) EIT's leave no lasting physical or psychological effects.
3) Former President George W. Bush has said that the "the U.S. does not torture." (1)
Please prove to me how EIT's are torture.

"...customary international law is not federal law and that the President is free to override it at his discretion."
-"The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution states that the Constitution itself "and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby." Take most notice at "under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land", federal law clearly trumps international law.

"Hamdan v. Rumsfeld states that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to the "war on terrorism". The Court ruled that torture of detainees violates both United States and international law."
-That is all true. It does not prove that EIT's are torture though. So this statement holds no value to my opponent's argument.

"Why would Vessey state, "Through those years, we held our own values. We should continue to do so"? In this context, his statement would make absolutely no sense. If the only thing Vessey is referring to here is "that terrorists are just as smart and tactful as organized armies", why would he say that we need to hold our values?"
-I am not arguing the morals of EIT's. I am arguing that EIT's enhance the national security of the U.S. Maybe, I do believe that EIT's are in fact immoral. But that would not change the fact that EIT's enhance the national security of the U.S.

"I said the morality of torture will not be discussed. I said nothing about the moral basis of the fight against terrorism."
-I will say it again. Morals do not matter when it comes to national security. EIT's and the fight against terrorism may in fact be immoral, but that does not change the fact the EIT's enhance the national security of the U.S.

"Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (debate)"
-Vincent Cannistraro, former head of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center, [said], "[Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi is] carried off to Egypt, who (referring to the Egyptians) torture him." The Egyptians may or may not have used EIT's or torture against him, but the fact is, is that no part of the American government did this. If American military forces did to this to al-Libi, then I would probably have a different opinion, but this is not the case, as the Egyptians did it. (2)

"Interrogator Ali Soufan attested to the superiority of traditional methods over EIT's in 2009: "Under traditional interrogation methods, [Zubaydah] provided us with important actionable intelligence.""
-I call this hearsay. There are no documents that agree with this statement. Cheney (paraphrasing) said, "EIT's worked". But that does not hold up in this debate as well. Also, Zubaydah gave valuable information that led to the capture of Binalshibh whose information led authorities to Mohammed, the confessed mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and the man who personally cut-off the head of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. (3)

"It's a bit strange that we can say for certain that EIT's were the only interrogation techniques that could have possibly worked, when others weren't utilized."
-Of course other interrogation techniques were used. The interrogators do not go right into the room and use EIT's against the prisoners right away. The interrogators use standard, FBI-like interrogations before the EIT's. But the interrogators realized that standard interrogations will not work against some of the most ruthless people on the face of the Earth and are forced to turn to EIT's.

"Aside from the fact that "ticking time bomb scenarios" should not happen the in the first place (if our national security is competent), they are rare. It is not wise to make policy decisions in a lifeboat."
-Of course they are rare, but it is important to keep them on the table. If we knew an attack was going to happen on U.S. soil in a very short amount of time, we need to be able to get information quickly. Standard interrogations are not quick. They are long, drawn out processes that take time.

"In addition, what keeps the terrorist (in the rare event of a ticking time bomb) from giving the wrong information repeatedly, over and over again? This wastes the time of the investigators who could be seeking actionable intelligence. Knowing the investigators will not resort to even more extreme forms of torture, the terrorist can fool the investigators until the time bomb explodes."
-Nothing keeps the terrorist from giving the wrong information, but there is a chance that he will give accurate information. But if EIT's were taken off the table, the terrorist would know there is no threat to him so he can just sit on his comfy chair and say nothing instead.

I said earlier, "Three former CIA Directors and the current CIA direcor have testified before congress that EIT's work and they need to be left on the table." And you responded, "The CIA may be nonpartisan, but it always acts in its own self-interest. If the Directors knowingly approved of EIT's, they have no choice but to testify they work. Otherwise, they would be seen as incompetent. It is these Directors' responsibilities to themselves and to the CIA as an organization to give that testimony, even if they have to stretch the truth."
-You never disproved my point that they said "they need to be left on the table". So that point stands.

It is that kind of thinking that the Founding Fathers feared more than anything. But don't take my word for it: "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine" (Thomas Jefferson). A majority vote of the populace does not legitimize any action.
-I am not saying it "legitimize[s] any action" but what I am saying is that the American people know that morals and foreign policy do not intersect, and that is why the majority supports EIT's.

"EIT's that are used in training American forces are not torture. They are not used to obtain the truth."
-Correct. Just like EIT's against terrorists are not torture. EIT's used in SERE are to train forces to resist revealing the truth in situations where EIT's are being used against them.

EIT's gain valuable information. Will add to this in round 4.
*Sources in Comments section
Brock_Meyer

Con

"My opponent should not have put "enhanced interrogation" in the brackets as that is misleading. He should have put waterboarding."

So long as you choose to correctly acknowledge waterboarding as an EIT, I am at liberty to continue replacing one term with the other. Besides, so what if waterboarding does not represent the entire category of EIT's? Do sleep deprivation, isolation, cultural humiliation, sensory bombardment, or forced nakedness sound better to a potential radical than getting a face wash?

I have demonstrated that EIT's are torture, at least according to the UN's definition of torture(1).

"… my opponent fails to back up this assertion with a source. He backed up the British and Canadian points, but not this one."

I thought this to be intuitive since these countries are members of the UN and, unlike the United States, are bound by its rules.

"EIT's leave no lasting physical or psychological effects."

The UN definition of torture makes no mention of "lasting physical or psychological effects"(1). Pain can refer to immediate pain or lasting damage.

"Former President George W. Bush has said that the ‘the U.S. does not torture'."

Jimmy Carter(2): "That's not an accurate statement if you use the international norms of torture as has always been honored -- certainly in the last 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated. But you can make your own definition of human rights and say we don't violate them, and you can make your own definition of torture and say we don't violate them."

"Please prove to me how EIT's are torture."

Once again, the UN definition of torture(1): "Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession..." Let's run through this. "Severe pain or suffering, physical or mental": I would say drowning is painful, whether you are underwater or lying on a table. "Intentionally inflicted": As sanctioned by the Bush administration. "For such purposes as obtaining from him... information": The purpose of interrogation is most often driven at information useful to the interrogator.

If you dispute the UN's definition of torture, I challenge you to a new definition. Or possibly, you could use George W. Bush's since no one knows what it is.

"Take most notice at 'under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land', federal law clearly trumps international law."

The U.S. Constitution provides for the direct incorporation of treaties into U.S. law. According to the Treaty Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, Article VI (which you cite), treaties that are signed by the President and ratified by the Senate are the law of land directly applicable in US courts. The United States has signed and ratified of the Third Geneva Convention regarding the laws of war and the treatment of prisoners of war. This is one of the two treaties the United States has violated in the detentions in Guantanamo and of US citizens declared "enemy combatants" in the United States(3).

"If American military forces did to this to al-Libi, then I would probably have a different opinion, but this is not the case, as the Egyptians did it."

The question is whether EIT's enhance the national security of the US. Since this is the topic, why does it matter who engaged in using EIT's on behalf of the US? The interrogation of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, whether done by Egyptian or US forces, was aimed at gaining actionable intelligence for the US, not Egypt. Since the intelligence the detainee gave was wrong, and the US used this intelligence in the context of national security, it is a clear example of the failure of EIT's. Are the Egyptians any more transparent in their methods than Americans?

"I call this hearsay. There are no documents that agree with this statement."

No. Expert testimony is different from hearsay. Ali Soufan was an FBI supervisory special agent from 1997 to 2005, and was well versed in the use of legitimate interrogation techniques. His testimony is corroborated by what Zubaydah revealed: that Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and Jose Padilla was the so-called dirty bomber. Cheney's testimony is hearsay because, as far as I know, he never personally interrogated a detainee; he only heard about their "successes" in briefings.

"Of course other interrogation techniques were used."

Wikipedia, paraphrasing from Jane Mayer(4): "[Mohammed] told American interrogators he would not answer any questions until he was provided with a lawyer, which was refused to him. He was kept naked for a month during his isolation and interrogations..." I'm sorry, but the FBI does not keep prisoners naked in isolation after they ask for a lawyer. "Traditional interrogation" was never employed.

"If we knew an attack was going to happen on U.S. soil in a very short amount of time, we need to be able to get information quickly."

I agree that standard interrogations are not quick. However, considering it took weeks for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to cooperate under constant conditions of torture, being water boarded 183 times, neither are EIT's. Boom goes the ticker! Moreover, if all terrorists are as resilient as conservatives seem to think, Mohammed is not just a special case.

The CIA wants you to believe waterboarding is effective. Yet somehow, it took them 183 applications of the waterboard in a one month period to get what they claimed was cooperation out of KSM. That doesn't sound very effective to me(5).

"Nothing keeps the terrorist from giving the wrong information... the terrorist would know there is no threat to him so he can just sit on his comfy chair and say nothing instead."

Nothing in this response justifies the claim that EIT's "enhance" national security. All it seems to suggest is that EIT's are ineffective, but at least we will get to torture him a little before the bomb detonates. If you expect this to support your argument, you should rephrase the debate as "there is a chance that EIT's enhance national security". There is no evidence, other than your intuitions, that EIT's make it more likely that we will gain actionable intelligence. Therefore, frankly, that is not good enough.

"You never disproved my point that they said "they need to be left on the table."

All you gave in proof of the claim "they need to be left on the table" is your unsupported assumption that EIT's somehow force suspects to give information more quickly than traditional methods, which contradicts the testimony of expert F.B.I. special agent Ali Soufan. You also seem to think that "ticking time bombs" justify the use of EIT's. Considering it took weeks to break Khalid Mohammed, I would say that our chances look bleak in the extremely rare case that there is a "ticking time bomb".

"I am not saying it "legitimize[s] any action" but what I am saying is that the American people know that morals and foreign policy do not intersect, and that is why the majority supports EIT's."

I am not sure how this supports your claim that EIT's enhance national security. All it seems to suggest is that you're too quick to make assumptions about what other people think.

"EIT's used in SERE are to train forces to resist revealing the truth in situations where EIT's are being used against them."

No, EIT's used in SERE are not used to obtain the truth. The object of the training is not to teach officers how to waterboard. The primary goal of the (voluntary) training is to resist giving up information under certain conditions. The primary goal is not to acquire that information (as is necessary under the UN definition of torture). That is only when the US waterboards a detainee.

*Sources in Comments section
Debate Round No. 3
Xer

Pro

To remind voters and my opponent the resolution is: "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, such as waterboarding, enhance the national security of the U.S." My opponent has to prove that EIT's compromise the national security of the U.S. to win.

So far, my opponent has argued that EIT's are torture, illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral, among other things. This may or may not be true but has no significance to the topic of the debate; in which my opponent has to prove that EIT's compromise the national security of the U.S.

The points which he has attempted to make regarding national security is:
1) "EIT's compromise the safety and undermine the effectiveness of American troops abroad by providing a recruiting tool that plays into the hands of the terrorists..."
-My opponent asserts that EIT's provide a recruiting tool to terrorists. But how could this be true if the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 and the U.S. was not using EIT's before this point? After 9/11, we started using EIT's but there has been no terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland since. And even if that fact was not true, the use of EIT's as a recruiting tool is ridicilous. I can picture the conversation now:
Al-qaeda recruiter: Hey, young boy, would you like to join Al-qaeda?
Recruit: I would love to! What's in it for me?
Al-qaeda recruiter: Well, if you blow yourself up in the name of Allah you will get 72 virgins in heaven.
Recruit: OMG Cool! I will definitely join.
Al-qaeda recruiter: BUT... if you get caught you will be subjected to waterboarding, prolonged stress and duress positions, liquid diets, sleep and light deprivation, noise and light bombardment, extreme isolation and other measures. Some people even call it torture. But remember the virgins in heaven, remember that.
Recruit: Ehh.. nevermind. I'll pass.

2) "Many of the United States greatest allies are repulsed by the United States' use of EIT's..."
My opponent has only cited 2 countries (Canada and Britain) which have condoned the U.S. on EIT's. He says this will us on our "War on Terrorism". Yet, both these countries are still a part of the "War on Terrorism" and have not expressed any efforts to get out anytime soon. My opponent has also cited the U.N. condoning the U.S. on EIT's; and he says that since our allies are in the U.N., all our allies agree with the U.N.'s stance. This is absurd. He is saying that just because a country is in the U.N., they agree with the U.N. (all the time). The U.S. does not agree with the U.N. on every statement they make, and the same goes with every other country in the U.N.

3) "Defenders of aggressive methods claim that the only good question is whether useful intelligence was collected. Just as important, however, is whether bad intelligence has been collected..."
My opponent has cited the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi providing bad intelligence. Yet, al-Libi was TORTURED by EGYPTIANS in EGYPT. al-Libi did not have EIT's used on him by AMERICANS in AMERICA. Other than the al-Libi case, my opponent has not proved another example where bad intelligence has been collected.

4) "There is little reason to believe that subjecting terrorist operatives to cruel, inhuman or degrading practices, yields more or better intelligence than other methods..."
-Let me draw up another visualization for the voters. The U.S. has captured Osama Bin-laden, the man that holds the answers to so many questions; a man that holds a goldmine of intelligence. Since the U.S. can not use EIT's, they bring Osama into FBI Heaquarters in Washington D.C. The FBI brings him into a room with 3 chairs, he sits in the one closest to the wall. He gets his choice of iced water, coffee, or a cigarette, or all three. Osama elects the coffee and cigarette. 5 minutes later, two FBI interrogators walk into the room. They ask Osama a few questions, he does not answer, and is growing impatient. So, Osama decides to throw his hot coffee at one of the FBI agents and attempts to attack the other. He is restrained, but refuses to ever talk again. THE END, Osama dies and we get no intelligence because Osama knew he would never get hurt.
-A 2005 U.S. DOJ memo notes that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." (1)

5) "EIT's are ineffective..."
-My opponent claims that EIT's are ineffective because it took 183 times waterboard Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 83 times to waterboard Abu Zubaydh. The same memo as above notes that "the CIA believes 'the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.' . . . In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques." The memo continues: "Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, 'Soon you will find out.' " Once the techniques were applied, "interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates." The memo notes that "[i]nterrogations of [Abu] Zubaydah -- again, once enhanced techniques were employed -- furnished detailed information regarding al Qaeda's 'organizational structure, key operatives, and modus operandi' and identified KSM as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks." This information helped the intelligence community plan the operation that captured KSM. It went on: "Zubaydah and KSM also supplied important information about al-Zarqawi and his network" in Iraq, which helped our operations against al-Qaeda in that country. Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques "led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the 'Second Wave,' 'to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into' a building in Los Angeles." KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. (1)

I will restate the resolution again, "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, such as waterboarding, enhance the national security of the U.S."
-I have proved throughout this debate that EIT's have enhanced the national security of the U.S. I have proved that a wealth of (non-misleading) usefull intelligence/information has been gained from the use of EIT's. I have proved that it is more than likely that it least one American life has been saved from the use of EIT's. If one American life has been saved from pouring a water on a terrorist's head, terrorists that have killed thousands and thousands of Americans, then the use of EIT's have definetely enhanced and will continue to enhance the national security of the U.S.
-My opponent has proved absolutely nothing that indicates "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, such as waterboarding ... compromise the national security of the U.S." My opponent needed to prove the quoted statement to be true to win the debate. He has not proved it.
-Therefore, VOTE PRO.

I thank my opponent for the debate, it has been fun and worthwhile. I urge voters to not vote based on ideological differences, but on who best affirmed or negated the resolution. I give great thanks to voters who have taken the time to read the whole debate and vote, as it is long and complex. VOTE PRO.

---SOURCE---
(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com...
Brock_Meyer

Con

"So far, my opponent has argued that EIT's are torture, illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral, among other things. This may or may not be true but has no significance to the topic of the debate; in which my opponent has to prove that EIT's compromise the national security of the U.S."

In what way is legality and torture not significant to the question of national security? Torture became a legal issue when the United States signed the Geneva Conventions. Your point boils down to the question of "what does national security have to do with laws?" By forming a habit of not respecting laws, national security becomes compromised: it becomes a sloppy mess of government agents torturing suspects and mismanaging intelligence. Treaty agreements are violated, the US is isolated from the international community, troops are put at risk, and anti-American sentiments grow, which is what happened during the Bush presidency(6).

"My opponent asserts that EIT's provide a recruiting tool to terrorists. But how could this be true if the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 and the U.S. was not using EIT's before this point?"

Clearly, Islamic radicalism did not begin with EIT's. A recruiting tool is about as different from a terrorist attack as a wrench is from an automobile. One needs the wrench to keep the automobile functioning, but the wrench is not the same as the automobile.

And quite an entertaining conversation. But I hope the voter is keen enough to see through a straw man.

"My opponent has cited the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi providing bad intelligence. Yet, al-Libi was TORTURED by EGYPTIANS in EGYPT."

That's an interesting claim (that the Egyptians TORTURED al-Libi), considering al-Libi was TORTURED with the exact same tactics (namely, EIT's like waterboarding and isolation) as American forces use to interrogate detainees(1).

As for other bad intelligence brought on by EIT's, there is the case of Abu Faraj al-Libbi. al-Libbi confessed under conditions of EIT, and provided the "link" between al-Qaeda and Iraq, when there obviously was none(2), leading national security in a wrong direction.

"Let me draw up another visualization for the voters..."

Your imaginary "visualizations" and "conversations" are at best highly implausible and at worst insults to others' intelligence or experienced FBI interrogators. The FBI does not offer highly valuable suspects a choice in beverage nor do they allow themselves to be manipulated. Eric Maddox, an Army staff sergeant, said(3): "There is nothing intelligent about torture. If you have to inflict pain, then you've lost control of the situation, the subject and yourself." You seriously underestimate the ability of interrogators trained in legitimate tactics. I blame television and Jack Bauer for this grave misunderstanding.

"A 2005 U.S. DOJ memo notes that..."

This not a very serious argument. When a Jihadist has reached the limit of his ability to withhold information, he is absolved of all his Jihadist duties (according to Allah, at least). It is pretty safe to say that a member of al-Qaeda who does not want continue fighting and who would prefer not to see more innocent people slaughtered has effectively given up his membership in al-Qaeda. The idea that such a person, having already abandoned the key tenets of al-Qaeda's jihad, would then continue to hold out simply in order to be able to check the "resist torture" box is weak(4).

"... the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001."

How could the CIA possibly know this? Do they have sources within the al-Qaeda organization telling them that al-Qaeda is incapable of terrorist attacks now that these two men are gone? This is an extraordinary claim: thinking that the interrogation of two men has prevented an organization of several thousand members worldwide from committing acts of violence in the West(7).

"In particular, the CIA believes that…"

This, of course, directly contradicts the testimony of Ali Soufan, who questioned Zubaydah from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August, and "under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence" about Khalid Mohammed and Jose Padilla(5).

"The memo notes that "[i]nterrogations of [Abu] Zubaydah…"

According to Soufan, Zubaydah revealed this information in June 2002 under traditional interrogation methods(5), not in August as the CIA memo claims.

-----

Conclusions. Nowhere in this discussion is there evidence that the use of EIT's have prevented future attacks on the United States. By violating international laws, the only purpose EIT's serve is to undermine the rule of law and the United States' commitments to international treaties that disallow the use of torture. My opponent has not made the claim that EIT's are not torture because that claim is untenable according to the UN's definition. But torture is not merely as a moral issue as my opponent is claiming: it became a legal issue when the United States agreed to the Geneva Conventions.

And violating laws is a bad habit for a government to have. For national security to succeed, it must be constrained by a legal framework ensuring the process of acquiring, analyzing, and acting upon intelligence is carried out effectively. Honoring treaties and being loyal to allies is also an extremely important but overlooked part of national security. Given our Western allies do not use EIT's, it is a point of disagreement, and certainly a point of condemnation by the UN.

My opponent has generated a weak argument based on intuitions and the assumption that pain will drive a detainee to give accurate information more quickly. However, this is unsupported. Not only do EIT's not give good information quickly, but they display a general lack of skill on the part of the interrogator. They also give the terrorist an opportunity to give bad intelligence, as with al-Libi's confession.

My opponent says that he wins if EIT's have saved at least one American life. But unless my opponent uses a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy (that "since X didn't follow Y, Y must have caused X not to happen"), there is no way to prove that they have with any significance. Vote CON.

*Sources in Comments section.
Debate Round No. 4
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Conor 8 years ago
Conor
Hot JESUS Nags got ripped apart. He didn't even stand a chance!
Before: Pro
After: Con
Conduct: Con
S and G: Con ("indifels" Really Nags? Really?)
Convincing Nargs: Con
Reliable Sources: Tied
Posted by bluefreedom23 8 years ago
bluefreedom23
Great debate. Winner in my opinion = Brock.
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
Pro did not do well in this debate, which is surprising as Nags as done well in others. I saw more rhetoric from Nags in this one. Your whole statement concerning waterboarding and EIT concerning Sen. McCain, when you presented it as an EIT flew in the face of good conduct. You lost that one, pro. In addition, you did not address the propaganda argument very well. Yes we were attacked prior to the Bush administration's policies, but so what? This has nothing to do with con's argument. I was hoping the pro would do better in this one as it is a great debate, and pro has done well in other debates. With all due respect, con wins this one with a tie in grammar.
Posted by Kefka 8 years ago
Kefka
I think the debate is decent, but don't like the subject. But that shouldn't affect my voting. People should go more into ethics of subjects, in my opinion, as the entire process of implementation is based upon if people are willing to accept the use of it [ETIs]. Though, it's not like any 'normal' individual could have any say in the matter :P
Posted by bored 8 years ago
bored
don't get offended, Nags.
"I put that to find out if you just put the subject up because you don't understand the argument very well, and wanted to test your knowledge on a subject you're unfamiliar with. Or that you wanted to prove a point." kefka
i do that, mabe not online, but in 'real life'. if i have my facts on a position but i'm not sure how the opponent will react, i debate someone with opposing views, to get the other side of the argument.
anyway, very nice debate so far. you are both excellent debters.
Posted by Kefka 8 years ago
Kefka
"Didn't think so."

Lol, I'm going to pretend that wasn't directed towards me =)
Posted by Kefka 8 years ago
Kefka
I'm not insulting you or anything like that. Sometimes, I would think, someone would open a debate, so that they could see someone's opposing view to better comprehend the complexity of a subject.
Posted by Xer 8 years ago
Xer
Didn't think so.
Posted by Xer 8 years ago
Xer
Why so you say I "don't understand the argument very well" and "subject you're unfamiliar with"? Have you read the debate? Have you read my points? I don't get the whole logic of your posts.
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