London police accused of waterboarding

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London police accused of waterboarding

Postby crowey » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:20 pm UTC

in the Times
Metropolitan Police officers subjected suspects to waterboarding, according to allegations at the centre of an anti-corruption inquiry.

The torture claims are part of an investigation which also includes accusations that evidence was fabricated and suspects’ property was stolen. It has already led to the abandonment of a drugs trial and the suspension from duty of several officers.

However, senior policing officials are most alarmed by the claim that officers in Enfield, North London, used the controversial CIA interrogation technique, in which water is poured on to a cloth covering the suspect’s face, causing them to feel they are on the point of suffocation.


Very worrying if this turns out to be true.
As an aside, I thought waterboarding was holding someone's head underwater...

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby joshz » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:27 pm UTC

Oh my God!
That's just...wow. Wow.

And they're not even bothering with the "enemy combatant" pretenses either; this is for normal civilian arrest.

That's disturbing, if true.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Aikanaro » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:43 pm UTC

Nope, I think that's just dunking folks, and while not pleasant at all, I'm not sure I'd rank that as "torture," unless given clear evidence. Waterboarding is where you strap them down (I think so that their feet are slightly higher than their head), cover their face with cloth, and pour water over it, making them feel/think they're drowning. THAT has been proven as torture pretty damn clearly (I have yet to hear anyone go through with it and NOT think it's torture).
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby psyck0 » Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:59 pm UTC

Uh... "dunking" is a pretty clear violation of your rights. It's assault at the very least. I am not surprised, though- interrogation techniques have been brutal for years. They'll keep you up and ask you the same questions over and over for 6 hours in a hot room with no break until you say you did it, and THAT is perfectly legal. So is deliberately lying to you to intimidate you with nonexistant evidence. Dunking might be preferable.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby crowey » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:05 am UTC

Aikanaro wrote:Nope, I think that's just dunking folks, and while not pleasant at all, I'm not sure I'd rank that as "torture," unless given clear evidence. .
I didn't mean just dunking someone, but holding them under until nearly drowned. Repeatedly.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Of Negligible Mass » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:17 am UTC

I'm beginning to really dislike this country.

I mean for fuck's sake...
Don't like it?

... Neither did I

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Aikanaro » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:18 am UTC

crowey wrote:
Aikanaro wrote:Nope, I think that's just dunking folks, and while not pleasant at all, I'm not sure I'd rank that as "torture," unless given clear evidence. .
I didn't mean just dunking someone, but holding them under until nearly drowned. Repeatedly.

I'm.....not sure, but for some reason, I think that that isn't supposed to rate anywhere near as bad as actual waterboarding. Maybe because while being dunked, you have "control" over whether or not you inhale the water? As opposed to waterboarding, where it's poured straight down your nose.....iunno......
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby iceberg » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:19 am UTC

http://science.howstuffworks.com/water-boarding.htm
^A pretty good explanation on how water-boarding works.

I am pretty disappointed by anyone who thinks water-boarding is a good idea.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby psyck0 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:19 am UTC

Aikanaro, chopping your hands off would be worse than waterboarding. That doesn't make waterboarding not torture.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Aikanaro » Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:23 am UTC

No, no, I'm stating 3 things:
1: Waterboarding = torture.
2: Dunking != Waterboarding.
3: Dunking may or may not = torture. Not everything unpleasant we do to people is predefined as torture. I'm not saying it's definitely NOT torture, I'm saying Iunno where it ranks on the discomfort/annoyance/pain/torture/whatever scale.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Bluggo » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:26 am UTC

If you deliberately cause pain to a captive person, it is torture.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Aikanaro » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:42 am UTC

In a very strict definition, maybe. But somehow I doubt whapping someone upside the head with a nerf bat would be a violation of the Geneva Convention. Actually.....is dunking a violation thereof?
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Freakish » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:12 am UTC

Aikanaro wrote:In a very strict definition, maybe. But somehow I doubt whapping someone upside the head with a nerf bat would be a violation of the Geneva Convention. Actually.....is dunking a violation thereof?


If a cop hit me with a nerf bat I would be pissed.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:59 am UTC

Aikanaro wrote:But somehow I doubt whapping someone upside the head with a nerf bat would be a violation of the Geneva Convention. Actually.....is dunking a violation thereof?

If you're trying to extract information or a confession from a prisoner by administering pain on them, that's torture.

Can you thing of another reason, other than administering pain, why someone might whap a prisoner upside the head with anything?
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby LuNatic » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:26 am UTC

I wonder if I am the first person to read this title and think "The London police skurf down the Thames? That's awesome! Oh wait..."
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Diadem » Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:28 am UTC

Bluggo wrote:If you deliberately cause pain to a captive person, it is torture.

That's the Bush definition according to which waterboarding is not torture. It doesn't cause pain. Just instinctive, uncontrollable, mindblowing panic.

How to exactly define what torture is, is a difficult problem. But pain alone is definitely not a good definition. The goal of getting information is not a good definition either. There can be many different reasons for torturing someone. Sociopaths torturing animals just for fun, for example, is fairly common.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Bluggo » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:37 am UTC

It was not intended as a definition of all forms of torture: the inclusion may be strict, I agree.
However, dunking *does* cause pain, so it is most certainly a form of torture.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby SlyReaper » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:51 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
Bluggo wrote:If you deliberately cause pain to a captive person, it is torture.

That's the Bush definition according to which waterboarding is not torture. It doesn't cause pain. Just instinctive, uncontrollable, mindblowing panic.


Surely, that's just another TYPE of pain?
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby dubsola » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:57 am UTC

This is fucked up.

Someone told me the police have to go in pretty hard in places like Enfield and Tottenham, they're fairly dodgy areas. They don't make a presence except in numbers, and armed. I never would have thought they'd go this far, though. Shame on them.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:04 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:In a very strict definition, maybe. But somehow I doubt whapping someone upside the head with a nerf bat would be a violation of the Geneva Convention. Actually.....is dunking a violation thereof?

As a bit of pedantry,
The laws of war don't really have much to do with law enforcement. One obvious example is expanding rounds, which are illegal under Declaration III of the Hague Conventions, but are not only legal but adviseable for police.

'Course the fact that it's illegal under one set of laws rather than another doesn't make psychological torture cool.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:50 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:Nope, I think that's just dunking folks,

Any particular reason for this downgrade? The article clearly says they have been accused of waterboarding. "The controversial CIA technique that simulates drowning." The investigation is ongoing, and we don't know if it happened or not, but the accusation is that police officers used waterboarding in a drug investigation.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby crowey » Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:17 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
Aikanaro wrote:Nope, I think that's just dunking folks,

Any particular reason for this downgrade? The article clearly says they have been accused of waterboarding. "The controversial CIA technique that simulates drowning." The investigation is ongoing, and we don't know if it happened or not, but the accusation is that police officers used waterboarding in a drug investigation.

he(?) was replying to me, and what I had thought waterboarding was. I thought that was fairly clear from the context.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Aikanaro » Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:52 pm UTC

crowey wrote:
Heisenberg wrote:
Aikanaro wrote:Nope, I think that's just dunking folks,

Any particular reason for this downgrade? The article clearly says they have been accused of waterboarding. "The controversial CIA technique that simulates drowning." The investigation is ongoing, and we don't know if it happened or not, but the accusation is that police officers used waterboarding in a drug investigation.

he(?) was replying to me, and what I had thought waterboarding was. I thought that was fairly clear from the context.

I was indeed. And "he" is indeed accurate, as well. ^ ^
EDIT: Also, does dunking actually cause pain? And I'd also like to make clear that I'm not trying to weasel around like Bush or anything and say "Naw, THAT ain't torture, unless you're a SISSY!" I'm just not sure where the line is drawn between causing discomfort/pain and actual torture. If I were asked to classify dunking, I'd PROBABLY say it falls under the heading of torture, I'm just not 100% sure, as compared to stuff like waterboarding, sleep deprivation (another thing that doesn't necessarily cause pain, or even panic, but can break someone pretty horribly), etc..
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:21 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:I was indeed.
My bad, failed to pick up on the context.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Mechanicus » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:04 pm UTC

The Met have a reputation for heavy-handedness, but nothing like this... this is just unbelievable. :(

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby SlyReaper » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:37 pm UTC

Mechanicus wrote:The Met have a reputation for heavy-handedness, but nothing like this... this is just unbelievable. :(

I'm still holding out some hope that the allegations turn out to be a load of old cobblers.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby GiantSnowman » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:13 pm UTC

When police are interrogating suspects, they're always trying to make them uncomfortable to the point where they give confessions or information they would not give willingly. Even with rules that ban the use of pain, hunger, physical contact there's plenty that can be done to make people uncomfortable. Shouting, mind games, isolation, sleep deprivation. False confessions have been extracted with a lot less then waterboarding. Simply suggesting politely has been known to work with children and mentally handicapped people, who sometimes are protected with extra regulations.

Different people have different tolerances for discomfort. Maybe this makes it easier for officials to bend the rules when interrogating 'hardened' criminals, but there is really no way to make sure who is hard and who is soft. An expierenced interrogator should be able to tell and proceed with care, but may just as well use the less regulated tactics to his advantage. Our list of things you can't do with suspects or prisoners is far from complete and probably never will be.

What I'm getting at is that all interrogation is in a sense torture. We've simply agreed to only use that word when someone causes more discomfort then is accepteble for the situation. The gaps in the agreement ofter exist where public knowledge is thin. Most people have never lived in isolation for a week and hardly anyone had even heared of waterboarding a couple of years ago. Sometimes it takes people a while to understand being beaten is often preferable to those.

In an ideal world, we'd stop trying to formulate an exhaustive list of ways you're not allowed to interrogate people and just throw the whole practice out. Ask the suspect for a statement (made with his lawyer) and then go out to search for other evidence. Discomforting people into foregoing their right to the best defence possible and the right not to incriminate themselves is weakening those rights.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Blokey » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:24 pm UTC

Fuck me sideways. When I were a lad, the most threatening thing about Enfield was the school bullies, really there was bugger all crime. Enfield was more one of those towns that wasn't sure whether it was suburban-posh or suburban-middle/working class. I never thought of Enfield as a 'dodgy' area, certainly no dodgier than the average pleace in London.

But waterboarding? In Enfield? Obviously, this is appalling (and the relevant points about waterboarding are obvious and will no doubt be repeated many times in this thread), but mostly but this is so very surreal to me. This is like being told that my fathers home village (population: 235) is where Satan spends his holidays. Bajeebus.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Dobblesworth » Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:17 pm UTC

London needs a return to the Gene Hunt Era of Policing.

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby joshz » Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

Dobblesworth wrote:London needs a return to the Gene Hunt Era of Policing.
How about the Sherlock Holmes era of policing?
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby zug » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:36 pm UTC

So ok, here's a foolish question. But it's genuine.

What happens if you're being interrogated and you just refuse to say anything? Or if someone is trying to keep you up for 24+ hours and you put your head on your arms and fall asleep?
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby joshz » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:46 pm UTC

zug wrote:What happens if you're being interrogated and you just refuse to say anything? Or if someone is trying to keep you up for 24+ hours and you put your head on your arms and fall asleep?
The whole point of interrogations are to get you to talk. And once someone is torturing you, you'll say anything to stop the pain.
Also, the point of sleep deprivation is that they don't let you fall asleep. They wake you up whenever you try to go to sleep.
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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby Levi » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:10 pm UTC

joshz wrote:They wake you up whenever you try to go to sleep.


I thought they prevented you from going to sleep in the first place (e.g., hung you upside down or something).

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Re: London police accused of waterboarding

Postby joshz » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:01 pm UTC

Well, whichever. Probably they start with that, and then go into not letting you sleep. Or some combo thereof.
Point is, they don't let you sleep.
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