Blog powered by Typepad

« St. Norman of Geras leads us to 'The Battle'. | Main | Dear Leader Duff #1 »

Tuesday, 07 November 2006


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

1. Yes,
2.Quite easily

Rebuttal question:

1. Would you be able to live with yourself if you advocated the acceptance of torture as a legitimate source of information, and it led to your son being wrongly locked up for a crime he didn't do on the basis of information obtained through torture?

'PS', you are a credit to the liberal classes!

Barot, if he had gone on his merry, murderous way would have butchered, oh, I don't know, say conservatively, several thousand people, and *you* would have spurned information that might have stopped him because it infringed the Human Rights Act.

And you would have lived with that in the contentment that is only enjoyed by those who are convinced beyond peradventure of the virtuosity of their life and their motives. In an odd way, a very odd way, I envy you!

However, you pose a question to me and I shall answer it. First, I do not and never have accepted "torture as a legitimate source of information" in this country. I *do* accept that a time might come when 'harsh treatment' is required and as I stated in the post there is a distinct difference between the two. My conviction that this might be required in the future is strengthened by the Barot case.

Second, I am not responsible for how other countries conduct their affairs. Information is information and I would take it from anywhere.

Thirdly, your analogy concerning my son being locked up on the basis of false information is a very poor one because Barot was arrested following an investigation properly conducted by the British police, and jailed following a standard court trial. The original information obtained under slightly dodgy circumstances was simply the kick-start for a search for further evidence by our people - which proved successful and sufficient for a British jury to find him guilty. I think my son can sleep soundly in his bed - I certainly do in the knowledge that a religious maniac like Barot is locked up for the next 40 years - unless some liberal lets him out early!

“"you are a credit to the liberal classes!"

Why thank you!

I was beginning to doubt my credentials after confessing that I would have refused Parole for all 3 prisoners featured on BBC 2’s programme the other day. Clearly I needn’t have worried…

Also congratulations must be given to the police and security services, as the conviction of Barot takes their success rate in anti-terrorism activities to…what 3%?…. in terms of the ratio of arrests to convictions.

If I stand near a dart board with a blindfold on and aimlessly throw darts in the general direction of the dart board I’ll eventually hit the bullseye. Similarly if I torture, sorry give harsh treatment, to thousands of people in Pakistan then amidst the names that I obtain will be one suspect that truly is dangerous.

My point is we don’t really know how many names have been given to us by Pakistan, we don’t know how many man-hours are wasted chasing spurious leads and how many innocent people have been given “harsh treatment” and are therefore in prison. Also suppose that whilst the police are investigating one of the innocent names passed to them by Pakistan the real terrorists slip through the net and kill thousands. (not a hypothetical: the London bombers were known but not investigated due to police resources being tied up elsewhere)

All of a sudden us liberals have a rhetorical stick with which to beat you back…

Article 3 – Prohibition of torture

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".

I hate to piss on your gonad-shocking fireworks, but Dhiran Barot was caught and prosecuted under existing, ECHR compliant law.

Your post shows your staggering ignorance, David. I may not be English, but even I know that English law proscribes torture, never mind the opinion of European law.

Try, but you won't find any form of torture that European law would forbid that English law allows.

Oh, and I know you're arguing for some new torture laws. Allow me to pre-empt your thoughts.

Maybe the British public would accept the "foreigners get tortured to the edge of their ability to resist" law.

My guess is we won't watch 'em swarm to the "anyone the government fancies torturing gets the nut-clamps" Bill.

Do you see the basic problem?

Sorry to disrupt philosophy hour.

Short of time, so a short reply:

"Dhiran Barot was caught and prosecuted under existing, ECHR compliant law."

Yes, but *only* after information was obtained probably by methods that were *not* compliant - and that is precisely my point!

The only "gonad-shocking fireworks" are to be found in your mild hysteria. There *is* a difference between harsh treatment and torture.

And if you are going to quote, as in: "foreigners get tortured to the edge of their ability to resist" then please give the source, or at least make clear that it isn't me you are quoting.

Finally, you haven't answered the questions: would *you* refuse to accept any information that you suspected had been obtained by means of which you disapprove?

"There *is* a difference between harsh treatment and torture."

And I know where-of I speak because I have used such methods against our *own* people for training purposes which gives you an idea of how far removed from torture they are.

"I have used such methods against our *own* people"

Well thats put me off paying a visit to the local used car dealer!

'Ve haff vays of making you buy!'

'Ve haff vays of making you buy!'

I knew there was a reason I've never learned to drive.

'Would you refuse to accept any information gained via means that were not in accord with International Human Rights?'

Well it would depend really. If I thought it was the sort of babble one might come out with to stop their eyes being poked out I'd be inclined to take it with a pinch of salt. In any case I wouldn't strut about declaring war for peace and claiming to have an ethical foreign policy whilst benefiting from torture. If there is a proper case for torture then let's hear the government make it. If it's that useful why don't we use a bit of it in the U.K?

As an aside one of my relatives was questioned for being Irish some years back. Mercifully he wasn't tortured and is too fat and lazy to be a real terrorist. However I can't help but wonder what he would have made up if he had been tortured.

How would you live with yourself if Barot had succeeded in his aims?

I expect I'd come out with something high minded about being willing to die to defend a free society and then ducked as everyone threw rocks at my head.

I'm not helping here am I?

"I'm not helping here am I?"

Not really, no, but that is because you are confusing different issues. It is not the *quality* of the information that is important to this particular discussion, it is whether or not you would accept *any* information obtained under duress (to use a somewhat neutral word). If your answer is no, then you are deliberately turning your back to sources of info upon which many lives might depend - they certainly would have depended on the original tip concerning Barot!

Also, and this doesn't necessarilly apply to you, Clairwil, it is somewhat hypocritical to complain about the number of casualties 'apparently' caused by Bush and Blair, and then sit back comfortably contemplating the sort of mass-murder that Barot would have wreaked knowing that your'principled' stand had allowed it to happen.

Returning to your fat, lazy relative and the quality of information he might have spewed up under duress, it is important to differentiate between information and confessions. I am suggesting that harsh treatment techniques might be needed in the future, not as part of police enquiries prior to a court case, but simply for the collection of information. Good interrogators are not looking for confessions, or even for any old fairy tale that some-one might babble to stop you switching on the current - again! What they want is firm intelligence that can be *checked*. This is what the Pakistanis got out of the AQ man and it was checked by raiding a house in which more information was found. Forcing a suspect to make up stories is a waste of everyone's time.

To make clear one difference between harsh treatment and torture, in the former the golden rule is that that the interrogator (or his assistants) never, repeat, never, lay a hand on the prisoner except for the purposes of leading him from here to there, and that ban includes attaching anything to him other than shackles and hood. Also, any healthy man or woman who suffered the stressful conditions applied would be able to recover from them in a matter of hours with no lasting side effects.

I repeat, I've seen it done and I've done it myself. It doesn't always work but in any group it only has to work on one or two of them (and you can use that to work on the others!) For the purposes of gaining information it is, at a guess, about 100% more effective than standard police questioning. I am very unsure, but I do *not* think it is required yet, but the authorities should make provision and explain it to the public without giving away the techniques.

And they should certainly go on bended knee for any information from anywhere!

David, I don't know if you're confusing police work with the judiciary. Courts conducting criminal trials can't accept evidence obtained by torture.

The cops can act on any information they consider to be credible, even if it's been dubiously obtained.

It would be illegal for them to raid a house on information provided by a suspect who had they'd repeatedly kicked in the balls, but there's nothing preventing them from acting on tip-offs from MI5.

You're attempting to reduce a complex issue to a simple "Yes-No" question, so I'll do my best.

I'd say yes, the cops should act on such information from torturers, but the issue is not about that - it's about whether we should legalise torture, or "harsh treatment", as you call it. The answer to that always has to be no, or we become the very thing we're meant to be fighting against.

What kind of harsh treatment it is that doesn't involve laying an injurious hand upon the suspect, I have no idea. Bad language? Shouting? Sleep deprivation?

I find it hard to believe that none of these tactics are not in ready usage.

If you're worried that we're not being sufficiently hard on terrorist suspects, take it from me, that's not the case. Without wanting to sound like a bullshit internet secret agent, I know people in the police in Edinburgh, and we've had people suspected of terrorism in jail here. They didn't get mollycoddled by any stretch, if it makes you feel better.

It turned out they were innocent, but you never know, do you?

Oooh, and while I'm at it, I'd love to hear your answer to this one.

I wrote at length on the subject of torture and harsh treatment here. Consider it my contribution to the discussion.

"David, I don't know if you're confusing police work with the judiciary. Courts conducting criminal trials can't accept evidence obtained by torture."

I am very definitely *not* confusing police work and the judiciary. If my idea of a dedicated interrogation centre was set up it would not be staffed by policemen and nothing that was produced by it would be allowed as evidence in court - although the fact that some-one arrested on *other* matters, with sufficient evidence gained in the normal way, was interred for interrogation would not stop them going on trial for the original charge.

There might be some people against whom evidence is raised via interrogation techniques who would then be ineligible for trial. They should be detained for up to a year and then either expelled irrespective of what might happen to them back home, or put on the equivalent of the Sex Offenders Register and watched.

Your idea of "mollycoddled" and mine are obviously far apart!

"I'd say yes, the cops should act on such information from torturers, but the issue is not about that".
Thank you for a straight answer to a straight question but the issue is precisely about that because Mr. Craig Murray and his ilk believe that MI6 officers should have no contact with foreign security services who resort to torture.

Tim, thanks for that link to your post which was excellent, particularly the idea that the way in which we interrogate terrorists should be made as clear as possible to the public *before* we start so as to avoid the effects of the 'gang-banging' of words and their meanings which is such a regualr feature of the Left.

Three things need to be stressed:

1. Prisoners are never touched by the interrogators.
2. All 'treatments' should be such that a healthy man or woman would recover in a few hours.
3. No information gained by these means can be used in a court of law.

Do you think the Pakistani police (or for that matter the Uzbeks) stick to your three rules above?

what if we get information obtained through techniques that you would consider torture?

bear in mind that if even the IRA could train drunk catholics in how to resist the harsh techniques applied in NI then a far more ruthless group like Al Q are likely to at least train their recruits how to deal with the local police force (actually given the relationship between Pakistan's intelligence services and the Taliban I'd suggest that there is probably some collaboration but thats another matter)

My understanding of the Craig Murray business that he was objecting to people being boiled, skinned and that sort of caper. Quite frankly there is nothing I wouldn't confess to under such circumstances. If we're talking a bit of illegal bellowing and the odd slap then I can't say I condone it as such but I understand it and am less revolted by it than torture.

One trick the British used to gain info on the IRA that always makes me laugh was to pick on a relatively skint/alcoholic member and start slipping envelopes full of money through his door for a couple of months. Once he'd shown signs of getting used to the extra income they'd pounce and tell him the source and the repayment terms. Very successful apparently. Human nature being what it is I wonder if similar tricks might be useful in fighting Al-Q. After all every man has his price.

"Do you think the Pakistani police (or for that matter the Uzbeks) stick to your three rules above?"
Of course not! That's the whole moral dilemna - for you but not for me - do you accept information from foreigners that you know has been gained via torture? You might say 'never' but in that case the results of Borat's activities rest entirely on *your* shoulders.

The IRA never did train anyone to resist interrogation although they might have tried. Take my word for it, when you are cold, tired, wet, starving and thirsty and subjected to all sorts of tricks and japes, you will believe anything, sign anything, say anything, do anything - not everyone, but just enough to make the exercise very, very worthwhile - and teh ones that do crack are the ones you use against the resisters. That is part of the reason why the IRA cut a deal, they were riddled with informants.

Clairwil, you are right in your assessment of Uzbekhi tortures and neither of us would "condone" it, but the question is, would you accept information offered to you in the knowledge of how it was obtained? As above, if you turned away in proper and understandable disgust and 3000 people die, as they did in the Twin Towers attack and as they might well have if Borat had succeeded, then the 'finger points at you'!

The comments to this entry are closed.