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The Difference Between Training And Torture: Consent

There is a meme being floated by the former VP and future War Crimes defendant Cheney and his daughter that because some of the techniques in the Bush administration State Sponsored Torture program have been used to train our service members, they can not possibly be torture. They always leave out the totality of the techniques which even if each one were in fact lawful would still rise to the level of torture by any reasonable person, but that is not what the Dog wants to talk about.

Every single person who makes this construction is making a false equivalence and the reason for this is a single word; Consent. This argument goes that since we train our service members with these techniques they can not be torture when we do them to prisoners. This fails two very clear tests.

First and most obvious; we train them on resisting these techniques, because they are torture techniques! We know that some of our potential enemies will torture, and since we know that we want to help those who might be tortured to survive it. So, we use the torture techniques which are mostly likely to happen, in rigidly controlled ways, to expose our troops to it.

Which leads us to the next point, if they are being subjected to torture, why aren’t those who do it punished? Consent. The service members who are trained in this way consent to the training, they know what they are getting into in advance and agree to it. They understand it is something horrible, but they also know if they say stop, then it will stop. By enduring, they are actively at every moment of these torture techniques consenting.

There are many things which are legal when you agree to them but flatly illegal when you do not. If you say someone can come into your home and take what they like, no problem. If they do it without your consent, that is burglary. The same goes for tattooing, as long as you consent, it is a business transaction, but if someone did it to you in your sleep, it is assault. Of course the most obvious example is sex, where as long as there is consent many many things are considered okay, but when there is not consent it is always rape.

By their very nature as prisoners, Abu Zabaydah and Khalid Sheik Mohammad could not consent at all. Who would consent to be waterboarded 82 or 183 times? The Dog does not know the extent of waterboarding in the SERE training, but he is 100% sure that no one ever is waterboarded even 50 times. This is the point we must hammer home; the techniques used in SERE are only just barely legal because those enduring them consented to do so. If they withdrew their consent and the techniques were continued, then, yes, we would be torturing our own personnel.

The floor is yours.

Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for