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Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
05-01-2009, 03:41 PM (This post was last modified: 05-11-2009 02:14 PM by kandrathe.)
Post: #1
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
I came across this article in the Times online.

"The 45-minute tape shows a man that the Government of Abu Dhabi has acknowledged is Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan — one of 22 royal brothers of the UAE President and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince — mercilessly and repeatedly beating a man with a cattle prod and a nailed board, burning his genitals and driving his Mercedes over him several times. He is assisted by a uniformed policeman."

So, after reading some of the reader comments as well I noted a few things. Not all "Torture" is equal, and not all "Reasons for Torture" are equal. When you are in fear of a terrorist plot that is in play that might take thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives, and you use something fear inducing, like water boarding, it is not akin to burning someones genitals because you think they cheated you in a grain deal. The contrast of barbarity is ironic to me. I don't want to be an apologist for the excesses of the Bush administration, but the people who we mostly made "extremely uncomfortable" are the same ones who would have happily sliced my head off and posted the film on the internet for merely being an American.

My personal opinion on torture is torn; On the one hand, I don't want to hamstring our ability to prevent serious catastrophes. So, that part of me thinks that it might in the most dire and life threatening cases might be contemplated, approved by the CIC, and then only after all other methods have been exhausted and you are pretty certain that you would get actionable results. On the other hand, my fear is that I don't want to give any level of government this power, because pretty soon you'll see it used on citizens for any reason in the local jails.

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05-01-2009, 04:07 PM (This post was last modified: 05-01-2009 04:08 PM by Jester.)
Post: #2
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Torture is a relatively poor method of intelligence collection, and a remarkably effective tool of coercion. The number of times it has been necessary or even particularly useful for the first purpose are vanishingly few. By contrast, the number of times it has been a key tool for oppression, even in otherwise civilized countries, are legion. Hypothesizing about "ticking bombs" is futile; if you really are the guy who *knows* that you have *the* terrorist who knows about an *imminent* plot to blow up a city, and you are *certain* that all other methods will fail, then by all means, go ahead and break the rules. You will be forgiven. But historically, that situation has come up exactly never. What are necessary are rules to govern realistic cases, and in that context, torture is cruel, unnecessary and relatively ineffective. A blanket ban is the right choice.

-Jester
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05-01-2009, 04:10 PM
Post: #3
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
I still believe there are non torture interrogation techniques that can generally get you all the actionable information you are going to get and that torture is generally not effective for good info. There are exceptions, but I'd rather not worry about them.

I'd be much happier knowing my government doesn't toture, at all. I remember in basic when the Geneva convention came up and another private asked the drill why we have to follow it if our enemies don't. The reason is so that we aren't just pretending to uphold a higher form of justice than our enemies but that we really are. I know the moral high ground can get you and others killed while if you don't take that route you can save lives. But I also got indoctrinated at a young at that just being a citizen of this country means you may have to pay that price because we believe in that high ground. It was supposed to be one of the things I could believe was great about this country.

I can also agree that torture and reasons that you may want to use it is not a black and white issue either, I would still rather see us stay out of the grey regardless.

---
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05-01-2009, 05:03 PM
Post: #4
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:I know the moral high ground can get you and others killed while if you don't take that route you can save lives. But I also got indoctrinated at a young at that just being a citizen of this country means you may have to pay that price because we believe in that high ground. It was supposed to be one of the things I could believe was great about this country.
Yeah, I see that point as well. In a way, thinking back to the US revolutionary war... The British had a "higher" ethic in warfare than the colonists did, and they probably lost the war because of it. They did not target officers, while we did. They did not engage in guerrilla tactics, while we did. They followed the "honorable" method of warfare where lines of infantry, and cavalry took positions across from each other on the battlefield, and then when everyone seemed to be ready at the blast of a trumpet they marched at each other and when in range would fire their muskets. Whenever the British deviated from that professional decorum, they were blasted for it in the American propaganda rags. The Americans, being severely outnumbered rarely engaged in that honorable style of warfare. Instead focused on winning the war by means of attrition and frustration. And, in that the media was biased and here in America, the Colonists always won the propaganda war. So, I wonder, when we are dealing with an ideology such as fundamentalist Islam, and the methods used against us are random acts of violence meant to create an atmosphere of terror and dissatisfaction with our leaders, whether sometimes we are trying to hold the high moral ground, but losing the war.

Sometimes I view this struggle against tyranny like a tug of war, and every time we weaken our resolve the rope moves closer to their side. We give Hugo Chavez a kiss on the cheek, they win a little. We bend over for Castro, they win a little more. We don't react when Daniel Ortega ridicules the US, and we lose a little more. Our President travels around the world prostrating himself before the world, offering apologies for American arrogance, and we lose a little more. We gut our military again, and humiliate the American agencies who are doing their best to protect the nation, and we have lost more ground. How long does it take to forget the lesson of 911? I guess about two Presidential terms is the limit of American will power. Yes, I know it is not so one dimensional, but it feels this way sometimes.

I guess their are two ways to lose the war, one is as I said, to focus on preserving principles at the expense of the overall objective, and the other would be to lose our principles and become equivalent to the enemy. There is also the danger of creating cynicism in the hypocrisy of espousing the high principles, while never actually following them. When we choose allies like Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Abu Dhabi, and our enemies are guilty of much, much worse, are we in danger of blurring our morality and losing our principles as well?

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05-01-2009, 05:17 PM
Post: #5
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:Torture is a relatively poor method of intelligence collection, and a remarkably effective tool of coercion. The number of times it has been necessary or even particularly useful for the first purpose are vanishingly few. By contrast, the number of times it has been a key tool for oppression, even in otherwise civilized countries, are legion. Hypothesizing about "ticking bombs" is futile; if you really are the guy who *knows* that you have *the* terrorist who knows about an *imminent* plot to blow up a city, and you are *certain* that all other methods will fail, then by all means, go ahead and break the rules. You will be forgiven. But historically, that situation has come up exactly never. What are necessary are rules to govern realistic cases, and in that context, torture is cruel, unnecessary and relatively ineffective. A blanket ban is the right choice.
I would think the combination of certain psycho pharma drugs, along with non-violent interrogation would be the most effective. However, in the panoply of evil, in my book, this is high up their as well.

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05-01-2009, 06:29 PM
Post: #6
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:Sometimes I view this struggle against tyranny like a tug of war, and every time we weaken our resolve the rope moves closer to their side. We give Hugo Chavez a kiss on the cheek, they win a little. We bend over for Castro, they win a little more. We don't react when Daniel Ortega ridicules the US, and we lose a little more. Our President travels around the world prostrating himself before the world, offering apologies for American arrogance, and we lose a little more. We gut our military again, and humiliate the American agencies who are doing their best to protect the nation, and we have lost more ground. How long does it take to forget the lesson of 911? I guess about two Presidential terms is the limit of American will power. Yes, I know it is not so one dimensional, but it feels this way sometimes.
I take it this is from the "dicks, pussies and assholes" theory of world diplomacy?

-Jester
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05-01-2009, 06:34 PM
Post: #7
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Hi,

There are a number of issues that bother me about the whole situation.

The first is totally unconnected with torture. It is "The deal . . . not to reprocess its spent nuclear fuel." That is stupid. If a nation wants weapons, they will find ways to extract weapon grade material no matter what they sign. And if they don't, they won't. The only things this proviso actually accomplishes is to reduce the energy that can be extracted from a quantity of ore by over a thousand-fold and increase the quantity of waste that needs to be dealt with by about the same factor.

Second issue is this specific case of torture. I don't think that this is torture in the sense of using pain to extract information. It seems to be nothing more than a thug using his position to brutalize someone he dislikes. The problem isn't torture, it is barbarity. It is simply a case of someone, because of his 'royal' connections getting away with something that should be a crime.

My third issue is with how torture is defined. Somewhere between slow flaying and harsh words there needs to be a line drawn. Only actions which cross that line should be considered torture. Defining that line may be difficult, but as a start, physical harm should be a criterion. Not just discomfort. Lack of sleep, hunger, uncomfortable positions, and the like are not, in my opinion, torture. The modern bleeding heart coddling of scum often sickens me more than does the so called 'torture'.

Finally, there is the issue of torture itself. Personally, I'd favor it as punishment in many cases, such as slow death on a cross for spammers. Much more satisfying than banning. But there are two reasons why I think that a 'civilized' nation should not use torture. The first is that, as has often been pointed out, torture is a poor means of getting valid intelligence (but is actually very effective in getting information). But the most important reason is that in our war against savagery and barbarity, if we resort to torture we lose.

--Pete


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05-01-2009, 06:40 PM
Post: #8
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
No they should not.

What they should do is rename these techniques "Effective Methods of Preserving Freedom" and then make damn sure nobody finds out that they're using them. The US, in particular, has failed at all levels here.
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05-01-2009, 06:45 PM
Post: #9
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:Defining that line may be difficult, but as a start, physical harm should be a criterion. Not just discomfort. Lack of sleep, hunger, uncomfortable positions, and the like are not, in my opinion, torture. The modern bleeding heart coddling of scum often sickens me more than does the so called 'torture'.
What is "physical harm"? Starvation certainly causes physical harm, or else we wouldn't need to eat. Sleep deprivation causes physical harm, or else we wouldn't need to sleep. Do you mean drawing blood? Breaking bones? Leaving marks? Likewise, what would purely "non-physical" harm be? Unless you're proposing some kind of total mind-body dualism, something that causes lasting psychological harm is affecting the body just as "physically" as the rack would, just in a different location. Something like waterboarding leaves its victims with lasting recurring terror, possibly even for the rest of their lives. Presumably, they aren't just making that up, and unless you know a reliable way to induce amnesia, I don't know how you'd stop the lasting damage from happening.

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05-01-2009, 06:47 PM
Post: #10
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:What they should do is rename these techniques "Effective Methods of Preserving Freedom" and then make damn sure nobody finds out that they're using them. The US, in particular, has failed at all levels here.
How Orwellian. They are not effective, and they do not preserve freedom. The only truth in that sentence would be that they are methods.

But, since the whole idea would be to lie anyway, why not go straight to 1984?

-Jester
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05-01-2009, 07:04 PM
Post: #11
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Hi,

Quote: . . . The Americans, being severely outnumbered rarely engaged in that honorable style of warfare. . . .
While the American forces did utilize some guerrilla warfare, if you actually study the Revolutionary War, you'll find that, by and large, the Americans used much the same style of fighting as did the British. The backwoodsman firing his squirrel gun from ambush is mostly a folk tale propagated by third rate history text book writers.

Quote:So, I wonder, . . . whether sometimes we are trying to hold the high moral ground, but losing the war.
The "moral high ground" *is* the war. If we give it up, we've lost. We'll join Israel as a victim of Middle Eastern barbarity.

Quote:Sometimes I view this struggle against tyranny like a tug of war, and every time we weaken our resolve the rope moves closer to their side. We give Hugo Chavez a kiss on the cheek, they win a little. We bend over for Castro, they win a little more. We don't react when Daniel Ortega ridicules the US, and we lose a little more. Our President travels around the world prostrating himself before the world, offering apologies for American arrogance, and we lose a little more. We gut our military again, and humiliate the American agencies who are doing their best to protect the nation, and we have lost more ground. How long does it take to forget the lesson of 911? I guess about two Presidential terms is the limit of American will power. Yes, I know it is not so one dimensional, but it feels this way sometimes.
You seem to think that geopolitics is a zero sum game. If so, then you are just as deluded as Shrub and the Texas Oil Gang. The lesson of 9/11? I see two lessons: first, the government should be concentrating on keeping the country safe, not on making a bunch of the president's cronies rich. And, second, you piss off enough people, especially irrational, barbaric people, and something bad will happen. So, you need vigilance and you need to eliminate irrational, barbaric people. You could kill them all, or at least try. Or you could target barbarianism. The first doesn't seem to be working, indeed, it seems to be breeding more. And, for the second, you need international cooperation. Shrub type arrogance and stupidity may not be the best way to get that cooperation.

We need a government that looks for a way that all can win, not "If you're not with us, you're against us."

Quote:I guess their are two ways to lose the war, one is as I said, to focus on preserving principles at the expense of the overall objective, . . .
The principles *are* the objectives, so this is an oxymoron.

Quote: . . . and the other would be to lose our principles and become equivalent to the enemy. There is also the danger of creating cynicism in the hypocrisy of espousing the high principles, while never actually following them. When we choose allies like Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Abu Dhabi, and our enemies are guilty of much, much worse, are we in danger of blurring our morality and losing our principles as well?
Yes.

--Pete


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05-01-2009, 07:11 PM
Post: #12
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Hi,

Quote:I don't know how you'd stop the lasting damage from happening.
Hell, incarceration causes mental distress, which is damage in your standpoint. So, lets just gently (wouldn't want to offend the scum) tell murderers, rapists and thieves to behave better in the future and let them go. Bah, were did I leave my nausea meds?

--Pete


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05-01-2009, 07:32 PM
Post: #13
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:Hi,
Hell, incarceration causes mental distress, which is damage in your standpoint. So, lets just gently (wouldn't want to offend the scum) tell murderers, rapists and thieves to behave better in the future and let them go. Bah, were did I leave my nausea meds?
I'm not saying nobody should ever do anything that causes mental distress, which appears to me your reading of what I'm saying. But don't let that stop you from getting sick over strawmen.

I'm saying that if you start by trying to establish some kind of dichotomy between allowed "non-physical" and disallowed "physical" torture, you're going to end up with a very peculiar set of norms that allows a very significant fraction of the ways people have traditionally been "tortured," including some rather horrifying ones.

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05-01-2009, 07:36 PM (This post was last modified: 05-01-2009 10:52 PM by Occhidiangela.)
Post: #14
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:And, second, you piss off enough people, especially irrational, barbaric people, and something bad will happen. So, you need vigilance and you need to eliminate irrational, barbaric people. You could kill them all, or at least try. Or you could target barbarianism. The first doesn't seem to be working, indeed, it seems to be breeding more. And, for the second, you need international cooperation. Shrub type arrogance and stupidity may not be the best way to get that cooperation.
Here is a thought for you, in re Shrub and the WTC.

The core reason that tower didn't go down in the '93 attack was that the perps didn't plan well enough. Their motive was roughly the same as Osama and his little gang's motive. The baseline struggle against America by various disaffected third world malcontent/scum is not something Shrub invented. As I read it, it's a hangover from Woodrow Wilson's bloody progressivism ... selectively applied along with his friends at high levels after WW I sorted out who the losers were in the Imperial game to that point. But Shrub sure took the hand he was dealt and played it badly. No win for him in global Texas Hold 'em, no sirree.

My experience in the dealing with terrorists of the Islamic sort goes back to Beirut gun line, early 1980's. It's an old problem too long overlooked by both our Army and the Congress who "organizes and fund" our armed services. ALso, one's enemy gets a vote.

To call out "barbarism" as the enemy is, to me, as impractical as the strategic statement General Joulwan made in late 1990's when he was commander of NATO: "The threat is instability." In short, it doesn't do anything for policy or problem solution.

Barbarism is, as a target, an abstraction. As well launch a strike on freedom, while you are at it. What has to be dispensed with, IMO, is the silver bullet theory of war, the one that pretends that one can have a struggle without taking any blows. The 9-11 attack was a blow in a far longer fight. The pretense that there was a bubble of Mana Shield over the US needed to be shattered, one way or another.

It was.

The fight, the struggle between varying camps and ideologies, is standard human practice. The pretense that we, as in we the human race, are somehow beyond war needs to be dispelled if any fool out there still holds it, particularly if that fool is a decision maker.

The nuclear age didn't end war, and it won't. All it does is raise the difficulty level of the undertaking. So too do many other tech advances, like garage door openers. (Used for quite some time as IED triggers) Use of Germanium for IR lenses and scopes. TUngsten or DU for anti tank rounds? Why, and at what cost? And so on.

War is here to stay.

What changes is how it is fought. Rummy and the boys IMO did a below average job of taking principles that were ten years old -- that were sort of newish when I was in staff college -- and applying a few of them well, and most of them badly, or not at all. The recent new doctrine on counterinsurgency was, IMO, profoundly telling of how little actual thought went on during Clinton's years, how little action. We were going over that ground ten years before Patraeus went to Combined Arms Command and strong armed that doctrinal shift.

EDIT and here is something I left out. Bush said he didn't do nation building, and while that is a correct assessment of his policy, he failed to grasp Powell's pithy observation that "if you break it, you own it." He refused to do so. His failure with Garner to Bremmer to a civil war is ample evidence of that.

Bush, as a policy maker, violated nearly all of Clausewitz' and Sun Tzu's advice on how to match aims and means, as well as Bismarck's, so he was bound to screw up quite of bit of what he tried in the war field.

Obama isn't showing me much better form. My hope is that he learns on the job. No confidence in that, however. We shall see.

I won't recommend targetting barbarism. I recommend targetting barbarians, like the Mexican drug cartels. It's not like they haven't been at this for a couple of generations .... and their war is a political and economic power grab.

Occhi

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05-01-2009, 07:41 PM
Post: #15
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Hi,

Quote:I still believe there are non torture interrogation techniques that can generally get you all the actionable information you are going to get and that torture is generally not effective for good info.
Depends on how you define torture. If, like some, you consider harsh language to be torture, then, no, there are none. Clearly, if someone has information you want, and he doesn't want to give it to you, you are going to either 'force' it out of him or do without. Saying 'pretty please' isn't going to do it. Neither is putting him up at a five star hotel with unlimited room service.

This whole discussion is predicated on just what torture is. And since there seems to be no consensus, there's little left to discuss.

--Pete


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05-01-2009, 07:43 PM
Post: #16
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:How Orwellian.

It's interesting that Winston Smith was finally broken by his fear of rats and the threat (simply the threat, not the actuality) of having them gnaw his face off, while the CIA apparently put Abu Zubaydah, who had a bug phobia, in a confined box with a large insect that they told him was poisonous and would bite and sting him.
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05-01-2009, 07:53 PM
Post: #17
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Hi,

Quote:I'm not saying nobody should ever do anything that causes mental distress, which appears to me your reading of what I'm saying. But don't let that stop you from getting sick over strawmen.
Strawmen? I say "hunger", you reply with "starvation". I say "lack of sleep", you push it to "sleep deprivation". And you've the gall to throw 'strawmen' in my face?

--Pete



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05-01-2009, 07:54 PM
Post: #18
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:It's interesting that Winston Smith was finally broken by his fear of rats and the threat (simply the threat, not the actuality) of having them gnaw his face off, while the CIA apparently put Abu Zubaydah, who had a bug phobia, in a confined box with a large insect that they told him was poisonous and would bite and sting him.
... and not a mark on him, just a whole lot of terror. Of course, they also waterboarded Abu Zubaydah (allegedly 83 times) so maybe that had something to do with it as well.

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05-01-2009, 08:01 PM (This post was last modified: 05-01-2009 08:11 PM by Jester.)
Post: #19
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Quote:Hi,
Strawmen? I say "hunger", you reply with "starvation". I say "lack of sleep", you push it to "sleep deprivation". And you've the gall to throw 'strawmen' in my face?

--Pete
Yes, yes I do. You're talking about extracting information from people who do not want to talk to you. You're going to what, keep them up past their bedtime and let them go without dessert?

This is a thread about *coercive* methods. If you don't push hunger at least to the point where they're desperate, then you might as well just feed them, at least then they'll be lucid. If you don't make them "lack" sleep until they're "deprived" of it, what exactly are you expecting to get? Yawns? In this context, if you say "hunger" and "lack of sleep" are acceptable, I think it's pretty reasonable to interpret that as as "starvation" (not necessarily fatal, but damaging) and "sleep deprivation." If all you mean is that you don't give them a second helping of potatoes and make sure they're up at the crack of dawn, then fine, but it's a bit misleading.

Regardless, even if this is 100% the pot calling the kettle black, that doesn't alter the charge. I didn't say squat all about never being allowed to use any kind of mental discomfort whatsoever. I just said that your "physical harm" criterion doesn't make sense.

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05-01-2009, 08:06 PM
Post: #20
Should civilized nations use "Enhanced Interrogation" techni
Hi,

Quote:I just said that your "physical harm" criterion doesn't make sense.
Good. You've demonstrated you can criticize. So my criterion is useless. Fine, what do you have to propose that is better?

--Pete


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