The Instigator
abard124
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
Clockwork
Con (against)
Winning
39 Points

Waterboarding is torture and anyone who allowed it/executed it should be prosecuted

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
Clockwork
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/23/2009 Category: News
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,350 times Debate No: 8394
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (7)

 

abard124

Pro

Hi!
Recently you may have heard about detainees being waterboarded. If you have been living under a rock for the past couple months, this might help: http://www.msnbc.msn.com......
Now, for this debate, you get two for the price of one. Not only are we debating that Dick Cheney and Condi Rice and all those other mother firetruckers should be prosecuted, but also that waterboarding is torture. If you aren't convinced of that, try this: http://www.vanityfair.com......

Now, I'm pretty sure torture is illegal. That's a given. We are not debating whether it works. I'm sure it does in some conditions. Doesn't make it right. Shooting someone in the head always gets them to shut up. So does that means you should always shoot people in the head when they annoy you? Didn't think so.

I would request that you do not debate this if you believe that these tortures somehow never happened (I know a few), but other than that, this is open to all who want it!

And if you lose, I promise I won't waterboard you :-)
Clockwork

Con

My thanks to my opponent for providing an opportunity to debate.

My opponent argues that waterboarding is torture and that parties affiliated with waterboarding should be charged under the legal system.

Because we are dealing with legal repercussions of the said act, we must look to the laws in place at the time of the incident(s). It's obvious, looking at the legal system, that waterboarding was accepted as a legal method of interrogation at the time. All three instances where waterboarding was used for terrorist interrogation were authorized and preformed by CIA agents, which, in case you "live under a rock", as my opponent put it, are pretty high up on the legal chain.

Even if waterboarding was criminalized by the current administration, the Constitution prohibits the government from punishing or rectifying past cases "after the fact". After the decision Roe v. Wade was passed, those incarcerated for preforming illegal abortions were not released from prison. Likewise, many states have criminalized the ownership and breeding of pit bulls, an especially aggressive breed of dog; however, those currently in possession of a pit bull are neither made to be criminals nor required to put down their dogs. This is because the American justice system is built upon consideration of an objective set of laws, not an subjective set of moral principles, though the two are sometimes related.

We charge criminals with respect for the law in mind, and putting people on criminal trial for acts that were or are not criminalized at the time is both unconstitutional and unjust. As it stands, we simply cannot prosecute individuals for actions that weren't illegal at the time the act was committed. The structure of the American justice system prohibits the affirmation of the resolution and as such, you must vote in opposition of the resolution. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
abard124

Pro

Sorry for taking so long! I was slightly preoccupied with my bad sinus infection and a faulty power jack on my computer.

"It's obvious, looking at the legal system, that waterboarding was accepted as a legal method of interrogation at the time."
Actually, that's kind of what we're debating. Besides, just as federal law overrides state law, international law overrides federal law (that is, if you signed the resolution, which we did).

"All three instances where waterboarding was used for terrorist interrogation were authorized and preformed by CIA agents, which, in case you "live under a rock", as my opponent put it, are pretty high up on the legal chain."
First of all, there were way more than three instances in which waterboarding was used. While it was only used on three people, it was used multiple times on each person. In fact, it was used 183 times against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (http://today.msnbc.msn.com...).

"Even if waterboarding was criminalized by the current administration, the Constitution prohibits the government from punishing or rectifying past cases "after the fact"."
I noticed that you have not made a single mention defending that waterboarding is not torture. This hurts your argument tremendously, because unless you discuss it, the voters would have to assume that you conceded that it is, in fact, torture. As such, I could go on to make the argument that torture was already illegal, and what you're saying is basically that since it was a while ago and that administration thought it was okay (did Congress approve it? I don't think so), they shouldn't be punished. Well, if a guy murders someone, does it exempt him from punishment because it happened so long ago? You can't prosecute someone for doing something illegal before it was illegal, that is true, but torture was already illegal.

As you made no contention to address your position that waterboarding is not torture, one can only assume that it is; therefore, it is illegal, and was as much during the Bush administration as it is during the Obama administration.

I am looking forward to your response!
Clockwork

Con

My opponent is under the misunderstanding that torture is illegal. I will sort this out before addressing the remainder of his case.

My opponent states that torture is "illegal" because we "signed the resolution", although I'm left to guess what resolution he is referring to, though we have agreed to several human rights treaties, most within the UN. I would firstly like to point out that if we had tortured anyone under our agreement with the UN, the UN would thereafter take action and our membership would be terminated. Furthermore, the UN cannot "prosecute" people as it is not a government. We are not members of any international courts that prohibit waterboarding, otherwise they obviously would have prosecuted us after we made it public that we had done such. In short, my opponent's assumption that waterboarding is illegal under international standards is illogical because, if it was illegal, legal action would have been taken by now. The fact that no legal action has even been discussed is contrary to the resolution.

My opponent seems to be under the impression that I must prove that waterboarding is not torture, even though he, as affirmative, has failed to fulfill his burden of proof in claiming that it IS torture. Nonetheless, such a stance is not required to negate the resolution. I am arguing against the second provision of the resolution, namely that "anyone who allowed (waterboarding)/executed (waterboarding) should be prosecuted". There are two reasons why this portion of the resolution is inadequate. Firstly, as I have already covered quite extensively, the involved parties cannot be prosecuted because they are under no legal system that criminalizes waterboarding and that has proper authority to prosecute prominent US government officials in the court of law. Secondly, I believe that these instances of waterboarding are justified and thus ought not to be criminally tried even if waterboarding WAS a crime (which it was/is not.)

Unlike waterboarding, murder is a crime in most countries. However, US soldiers who participate in armed combat are not prosecuted when they return to the US. Why? Because they were doing something that would normally be considered unacceptable in the name of defending their country, a superior good when considering that those he fought against were enemies of his country and his cause. Likewise, all three instances of waterboarding were used to extrapolate information in the name of protecting the American public. One instance was used to stop a likely successful plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge (http://article.nationalreview.com...=), potentially saving hundreds of American lives. To say that the comfort of a terrorist should be valued above the lives of hundreds of Americans is ridiculous. If killing in defense of one's country is justified during times of war, then the comfort of a jihadist must be justifiably valued beneath the lives of many innocent Americans.

I have a few questions so clarify the burden of proof that my opponent seems to be dodging. For an Affirmative vote to be even remotely possible, he must establish that there exists a court that holds authority over the members of government of the United States and that we have broken laws that apply to us and that consider waterboarding to be illegal.

To my opponent:

What body would act as prosecutor in these trials? What group do they speak for?

What is this "international law" you refer to? Not agreements or treaties we have signed, but actual laws.

What would be the action taken by the court if the parties are found guilty, and how does the court hold the authority to do so?

Remember to show what laws or provisions we have violated to make sure that the proposed prosecution can actually be carried out. I await my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 2
abard124

Pro

What do you mean, torture isn't illegal?

http://www.realclearpolitics.com...
http://www.commondreams.org...
http://www.unhchr.ch...
http://news.bbc.co.uk...
http://www.hrweb.org...

You can't go and tell me torture isn't illegal.

"My opponent seems to be under the impression that I must prove that waterboarding is not torture, even though he, as affirmative, has failed to fulfill his burden of proof in claiming that it IS torture."
I think I did an adequate job, even so, I will elaborate. Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is 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. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions (UN Convention Against Torture). Waterboarding inflicts considerable pain, both mental and physical, in order to get a confession or information. It's just as much torture as pulling out the rack.

"Nonetheless, such a stance is not required to negate the resolution."
Actually, it is.

"I am arguing against the second provision of the resolution, namely that "anyone who allowed (waterboarding)/executed (waterboarding) should be prosecuted"."
That's great. You still have to at least address the first part. It's all or none. You can't pick and choose.

"Secondly, I believe that these instances of waterboarding are justified and thus ought not to be criminally tried even if waterboarding WAS a crime."
If someone is really poor, and they can't afford food, and they ran out of food stamps, maybe they would see it as justified to steal some food. That may be the case. Does the legal system care? No way, Jose.

"However, US soldiers who participate in armed combat are not prosecuted when they return to the US."
Being a soldier gives you some leeway from certain laws (killing, certain guns, etc.). It does not let you torture, nor does anything. While I do concede that we never ratified the convention against torture, we did sign it, and we are also required to comply by the UDHR, which specifically bans torture.

"One instance was used to stop a likely successful plot to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge"
They could have tried other methods first, perhaps a legal one?

"To say that the comfort of a terrorist should be valued above the lives of hundreds of Americans is ridiculous."
It shouldn't, but other methods should have been investigated first. And like I said in round 1, shooting someone inn the face gets them to shut up, but there are other ways in which to accomplish the same task.

"What body would act as prosecutor in these trials? What group do they speak for?"
The judicial system of the U.S., of course. They speak for the constitution. The UN resolution requires us to regard torture as cruel and unusual.

"What is this "international law" you refer to? Not agreements or treaties we have signed, but actual laws."
The UDHR gives us legal obligations.

"What would be the action taken by the court if the parties are found guilty, and how does the court hold the authority to do so?"
Much milder than what I would propose (In the words of Jesse Ventura, "you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.") But realistically, they do deserve at least house arrest, if not prison, for an extended period of time, because torture is almost as bad--if not worse--than murder.

The quote from Jesse Ventura in which I referenced earlier, "It's a good thing I'm not president because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it. I would prosecute the people that ordered it. Because torture is against the law. ... [Waterboarding] is drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders. ... If it's -- if it's done wrong, you certainly could drown. You could swallow your tongue. You could do a whole bunch of stuff. If it's it done wrong or -- it's torture, Larry. It's torture." I don't agree with everything Jesse Ventura says, but this quote I find absolutely perfect. It is a crystal clear message that we need to stop this madness.

I'd like to thank my opponent for a most interesting debate, and I look forward to him addressing the question as to whether waterboarding is torture!
Clockwork

Con

My opponent's lack of a plan has made a mess of his case, but I will nonetheless debunk the arguments presented.

Firstly, let me clarify the dispute over the respective burdens of myself and my opponent. The resolution is as stated: >Waterboarding is torture and anyone who allowed it/executed it should be prosecuted.< Take note of the word "and" in the resolution. My opponent, being the affirmative, must prove both of the claims within the resolution to fulfill his burden. However, the resolution can be successfully negated by disproving either of these claims. If I prove that waterboarding is not torture, OR if I prove that those affiliated parties should not be prosecuted, the resolution is negated, even if the other issue is left totally alone. Thus, my opponent is mistaken in saying that it is "all or nothing". If my opponent wished the contender to negate both claims, he could have specified by the revision of the wording of the resolution. For example, he could have posted the resolution "Waterboarding is not torture and legal action should not be taken against the affiliated parties" and taken the Con position. However, I can not be held responsible in my opponent's shortcomings in the wording of the resolution.

Now we must address the proposed legal action inherent to the resolution. My opponent doesn't seem to have any particular method of action in mind, perhaps because there is no legitimate legal action possible. Even though his case doesn't fit together, I will now categorically debunk the disconnected portions of his case.

My opponent asserts that the United States judicial system should hold these "affiliates to torture" accountable, but later attempts to reference the UNCAT and the Geneva conventions as laws to which they should be held accountable for. Firstly, the argument regarding the Geneva convention is ridiculous seeing as the waterboarded terrorists were neither uniformed soldiers nor members of signing parties to the conventions, and thus Geneva convention statutes have no application against the jihadist terrorists.

In regard to arguments considering our obligations as signing parties of the UN Convention Against Torture, my opponent's case once again hits a legal wall. Firstly, current conditions do not regard waterboarding as cruel and unusual punishment. However, let's go out on an unlikely limb and assume that sometime in the future, the Supreme Court bans waterboarding as an instance of unconstitutional retribution. Even assuming waterboarding is declared unconstitutional, there are still two major roadblocks to any legal action. Firstly, the jihadists who were waterboarded were not citizens of the US and thus are not afforded constitutional liberties. Secondly, even if waterboarding was regarded as unconstitutional in the future, the punishment of past "waterboarders" would still be an illegal "ex post facto" action.

Some of my opponent's responses to my reasoning are a result of flawed logic. For example, his argument against the use of waterboarding to save hundreds of American lives against a potential Brooklyn Bridge bombing was a simple desire for "legal" methods. However, it can be reasonably assumed that the affiliates asked Khalid Shaikh Mohammed about the proposed bombing several times before resorting to waterboarding. Furthermore, if he was waterboarded 183 times before releasing this information, there is little chance that he would give up trusted information if the government has simply asked him nicely.

However, amidst my opponent's twisted exaggerations and flawed logic, he seems to hit upon the main obstacle preventing the affirmation of the resolution. He states

"If someone is really poor, and they can't afford food, and they ran out of food stamps, maybe they would see it as justified to steal some food. That may be the case. Does the legal system care? No way, Jose."

What we must realize when considering the issue at hand is the hard, blind justice that rules the American criminal justice system. My opponent proceeds with good intentions in mind but fails to address the practicality of those intentions. The legal system thoroughly obstructs the Affirmative plan from realization. When contemplating legal action we must take into account even basic legal provisions such as constititional liberties or the injustices assumed when punishing someone for an action that was neither illegal or determined to be unconstitutional at the time of the said act. The failure to recognize such obstacles leads to the failure of the resolution, and as such, the only responsible vote is a vote in the Negation of the resolution.

In regards to my opponent, I thank you for an interesting debate, and thank you for not forfeiting any rounds (as is the case with many of my past debates). It's been a fun and rousing debate. Thanks once again.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Charlie_Danger 7 years ago
Charlie_Danger
Clockwork, I apologize for contacting you through a debate, but you "aren't taking messages at this time", so I just wanted you to take a look at the forums under DDO ToC
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
I apologise for not being as structured as you would have hoped. I tend to abide by a very informal format, and usually it works fine, but evidently it didn't this time...
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Sorry--Would have posted this in the debate but the mail hadn't come yet.
I highly reccomend reading this article: http://www.time.com...
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Just as an interesting note, it seems that any skeptic who allows themself to be waterboarded agrees that it is torture (casing point, the vanity fair guy and Erich (Mancow) Muller, who said, "They cut off our heads. We put water on their face." and after being waterboarded for seven seconds, "I was willing to prove and ready to prove that this was a joke, and I was wrong," calling it "horrific" and "absolutely torture."). Just thought that was interesting.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Well now, after reading your profile, it is now crystal clear as to why you are avoiding the first part of the contention :-)
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
And by the way, theLwerd, my intros are rarely good, and the rest of my arguments are usually much more reasonable...
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
I would think that it is a hard win for me because nobody wants Dick and Condi in jail...
Because then Dick Cheney wouldn't be able to fight his son, Luke Skywalker...
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
Oh, I see, you were taking a potshot at the instigator.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
It's not about an easy win in terms of being Con on the subject. I meant it looks like an easy win in terms of the arguments put forth by Pro... big difference :|
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 7 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
I don't see where the "Easy win" is or how this is the unpopular side...

could be I just don't know because last time I did one of these I went for the highly unpopular "torture is a-ok sometimes," and so haven't had a need to find out why the average person would support waterboarding without supporting torture.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by SlamminSam212 7 years ago
SlamminSam212
abard124ClockworkTied
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philosphical
abard124ClockworkTied
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Xer
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Vote Placed by Clockwork 7 years ago
Clockwork
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Vote Placed by studentathletechristian8 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
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