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Tuesday, October 30, 20071193765058

10 Questions on Torture (Guest Post by Eddie of Hidden Unities)

[tdaxp note: My thanks to Eddie of Hidden Unities for accepting an opportunity to guest blog on this site. Eddie's introduction immediately follows this note. Below the fold you will find his 10 Questions on Torture.]

Due to my past writings on the subject, I can’t and wouldn’t want to hide the fact that I view waterboarding as torture. Further, Pres. Bush and those in his administration, the military and the intelligence community who engaged in the illegal authorization and implementation of enhanced interrogation techniques, torture, whatever you want to call it, are clearly war criminals. No official is above and beyond the Constitution, no one can claim the law does not apply to them and in particular, the American government has no business ever denying the most basic of Constitutional rights to American citizens (Jose Padilla), no matter how heinous their supposed crimes. Such actions weaken the strongest asset we have as a nation and civilization; namely our superior legal system and traditions. That’s the real reason why we’re so successful as a society in business, education and the opportunity to pursue and achieve a better life.

Nevertheless, unlike the President and his advisers, I can place my personal feelings aside for the good of the nation and suggest a course of action that can resolve much of this contentious issue.

The debate over enhanced interrogation techniques has continued in a variety of forums, of which the Small Wars Journal is certainly not a latecomer to. Malcolm Nance, a highly experienced SERE school master instructor, weighed in with a powerfully descriptive yet overly emotional and sentimental post on the SWJ blog. The sheer gravitas of his professional experience made certain that his opinion would be widely read and discussed in the blogosphere, with everyone from Dan of TDAXP to Abu Muqawama commenting.

Yet emotions, opinions and feelings must stay out of this debate. Nothing less than the future of our rule of law rests on our ability to view this dangerous world we live in as dispassionately and factually as possible. That means the information must be made available to make the hard calls on the issue and not be based on ideological rants from a minuscule minority of lawyers (John Yoo, David Addington) or the Pollyannaish views of another minority who believe that terrorists are little different from enemy soldiers in their tactics and grand strategy.

Educated and informed members of our civil society must ask a momentous series of questions of our lead practitioners and experts with vast experience in counter-terrorism, Constitutional law, law enforcement, intelligence-gathering, interrogation and warfare.

Such a gathering of the minds could occur under a commission brought to order by the President-elect in November 2008. They would be tasked with surveying all the evidence, facts and informed testimony available about the usage of enhanced interrogation techniques throughout modern history to include the post 9/11 era.

My suggestions for the co-chairs of the commission are none other than Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, to include additional representation from Sen. John Warner and Sen. Bob Kerrey, two retired four-star military officers, two retired senior intelligence officials, two former heads of the NCIS and Army CID as well as former FBI director Louis Freeh and two highly respected Constitutional scholars.

They would first need to answer a qualifying question that would prevent needless research and wasted time:

Until the past presidential term, were any of the enhanced interrogation tactics currently utilized by the USG considered torture by a serious majority of criminal prosecutors, lawmakers and historians?

After disqualifying any tactics that are clearly legal though perhaps counterproductive or just politically incorrect, they would need to determine the answers to the 10 pressing questions the use of enhanced interrogation techniques has brought to the fore:


1. Given the historical record available, does the use of enhanced interrogation tactics utilizing methods currently utilized by the US government work?

(Care will be taken to classify those tactics that have not yet been publicized, unless of course they are found to be “torture” and thus denounced in the final report.)

2. What do you do with the detainees who we utilize the enhanced interrogation tactics on?

(Can we afford to release them if they turn out to be low-level players or innocent and allow them to spread their knowledge of US interrogation tactics, or worse, publicize them to the national and global media, as has already happened?)

3. If the US has failed to keep secret its use of such tactics over the past six years, how does it plan on doing so in an age of global media, independent journalists and skillful activists who often combine observations on the ground, investigative daring and open source government statements and testimony to identify black interrogation sites and apprehended persons of interest?

4. What is the negative cost of using enhanced interrogation tactics to US relations with other countries?

(Has/will the use of such tactics proven detrimental to joint efforts? Are foreign intelligence, military and police agencies increasingly forbidden by law or edict to share information and individuals of interest with us because of such usage? How harmful has it proven to be, if at all, with public diplomacy efforts? Are foreign leaders and elites less likely or politically disinclined to assist America now because of domestic opposition made worse because of usage? Does such usage drag on coalition building or isolate America in international forums and agreements? )

5. In the event of suspected/potential terror attacks on America, what will be the effect on the American Muslim community if American Muslim citizens are interrogated by such methods?

(Will it be a galvanizing force or have a limited effect? Where does the usage fall under the Constitution?)

6. What safeguards are in place to prevent the unnecessary abuse of these tactics? Who and how are detainees selected for enhanced interrogation tactics?

7. Most important, what effects on good order, discipline and morale will the authorization of these tactics have on military, intelligence and law enforcement units?

8. What is the difference in the interpretation of the Constitution between the use of such tactics (for example) on an American citizen who is suspected of plotting the detonation of a crowded bus terminal in Dallas versus an American citizen suspected of killing 31 young women over the last 15 years?

9. Can the United States afford to support the use of enhanced interrogation tactics in the global spotlight for itself and its allies (Ethiopia, Thailand, Egypt, India, etc.) while still retaining the authority to identify and protest the use of such tactics (and worse) against people in Russia, Cuba, China, Syria, Iran, Burma, Nigeria, Venezuela, etc.?

Any illusions that the global activist community (who we depend upon and share serious interests with in areas like Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa) will not rein contempt and doubt on American efforts as hypocritical and useless should be dispelled now.

10.Lastly, and admittedly, a lesser matter because it still remains a relatively theoretical event; what will happen to American officials traveling abroad if such tactics are authorized while much of the rest of our allies denounce their usage? What are the chances of the arrest of a former Secretary of Defense or a current CIA chief by prosecutors in Europe or Latin America?

Let us all have a serious, informed debate about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Are they torture? Are they legal with regards to our Constitution, our federal laws and the UCMJ? Are Americans supportive of the use of such tactics? Are Americans prepared to be branded a nation of torture by the majority of the rest of the world?

The President, the intelligence community and the military should not have the authority to engage in such actions unless they are approved by the American electorate in an informed manner. The issue at hand is far too important to be decided for the long term in a “long war” by so few, particularly in the (thus far) overwhelming opposition of former intelligence, military and law enforcement officials who know nearly as well as their contemporaries today the problems at hand and the options available.

12:24 Posted in Doctrine | Permalink | Comments (8) | Tags: torture

Comments

Thanks for the guest post, Eddie!

My answers to the questions:

1. Unknown, as its a technical question
2. Presumably, but for those likely to seek revenge, the same methods we use for returning prisoners we believe have good reason to attack us in the near- to medium- turn. Thus, an important question, but a technical one. That said, we may experience benefits from future returnees assumed to be broken, in collaboration, etc. with US forces.
3. An ill-formed question. Often, opponents of torture support the appearence of use of torture, as (they reason) the belief one may be tortured may achieve whatever benefits actual torture does. Regardless, ambiguity as to the methods used by US forces is a benefit to us.
4. As torture effects the well-being of individuals, and not states, presumably several orders of magnitude less than invasions of sovereign states not authorized by the UN (The Kosovo War, interventions in Haiti, etc.).
5. Unknown, as the use of apaches to enforce speed limits are unknown. Fantastic possibilities require a complete, not partial, description if they are to be thought about seriously.
6. The same safeguard that is in place to prevent the misuse of stealth bombers, fighter jets, radar jamming, etc and other military devices -- the powers assigned to the US Congress under Article I of the Constitution (as a least resort, impeachment).
7. Unknown, as are the effects on good order, discipline, and morale that the non-authorization of such tactics will have on the same forces (the feeling that a terrorist "gets away with" hiding information, the view that one's actions are hamstrung by regulations, etc). In any case, such a tension is ever-present any organized administration, and it is possible no general answer is available.
8. Generally, use of the military is reversed to times of rebellion or fighting with foreign enemies. That said, de facto torture in the penal system is widespread, generally unsupervised, and only quietly criticized.
9. US policy that is limited to "protesting" actions is designed to fail. Economic sanctions and military force, while incomplete tools, appear to work about as well regardless of the level of "protesting" done beforehand.
10. Presumably about the same as the arrest of a former Defense Secretary who oversaw a war in Southeast Asia and was involved in the nuclear oblitarion of a city in Japan: in all situations of anarchy, the strong do as they will, while the weak do as they must.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

1. Unknown, as its a technical question.
Because of the convulted nature of leaks, political spin and a mix of on the record and off the record criticism and support, the picture of the process that has developed thus far is quite damning. FBI agents don't trust a word KSM says, as it seems he confessed to everything under the sun after enduring EIT's (enhanced interrogation tactics). Ditto for others at Gitmo, which led a highly decorated Marine JAG prosecutor to quit, because he couldn't in good conscience and within the law allow the "tainted" confessions of a tortured suspect.
Again, we need to see the full evidence if at all possible, because at this point from what we know from inside the military, government and law enforcement, this process is not working. The CIA seems to claim their tactics works, but they've only convinced a few lawmakers from the extreme right wing, not anyone like respected and experienced GOP leaders like Sen. Warner, Lugar, Hatch, etc.

2. Presumably, but for those likely to seek revenge, the same methods we use for returning prisoners we believe have good reason to attack us in the near- to medium- turn. Thus, an important question, but a technical one. That said, we may experience benefits from future returnees assumed to be broken, in collaboration, etc. with US forces.
I would agree with you here.

3. An ill-formed question. Often, opponents of torture support the appearence of use of torture, as (they reason) the belief one may be tortured may achieve whatever benefits actual torture does. Regardless, ambiguity as to the methods used by US forces is a benefit to us.
Agreed, I could have done better here. My concern here would be that if this is causing so much grief within the system (really good and honorable people resigning, quitting, leaking, obstructing, disobeying orders, etc), how on God's green earth is this going to stay secret? Calculate in the CIA's incompetence (easily traceable charter planes and ground service requests, police log books, public video and witnesses) and it only gets more improbable.

4. As torture effects the well-being of individuals, and not states, presumably several orders of magnitude less than invasions of sovereign states not authorized by the UN (The Kosovo War, interventions in Haiti, etc.).
As torture or the appearance/accusation of torture causes consternation in European capitals, laws get passed by Parliaments and government entities that limit or outright prohibit certain forms of cooperation with American intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This has already happened in Italy & Germany, and could happen in Spain and Poland. Worse, the mere revelation of ties to the CIA and others in the American gov't is enough now to make politicians tremble before revolted publics.

5. Unknown, as the use of apaches to enforce speed limits are unknown. Fantastic possibilities require a complete, not partial, description if they are to be thought about seriously.
Agreed. Perhaps I can write a scenario post in the future and explore options and outcomes. Come to think of it, I think Phillip Carter or someone has already done this.

6. The same safeguard that is in place to prevent the misuse of stealth bombers, fighter jets, radar jamming, etc and other military devices -- the powers assigned to the US Congress under Article I of the Constitution (as a least resort, impeachment).
Agreed.

7. Unknown, as are the effects on good order, discipline, and morale that the non-authorization of such tactics will have on the same forces (the feeling that a terrorist "gets away with" hiding information, the view that one's actions are hamstrung by regulations, etc). In any case, such a tension is ever-present any organized administration, and it is possible no general answer is available.
Agreed that it is unknown, but going back to point #3, if these tactics and their use are causing THIS much uproar and resistance within the system (let alone all the ex specialists and retired officers and enlisted), how is this good for good order, discipline and morale? How does it square with the ethos of honor and morality instilled in millions of vets and active duty servicemen? A general or consensus answer must be researched and made available, as this (would seem to me) more explosive an issue as gays in the military or the rollback of lifetime benefits, but more insidious, because it hits right square into the center of what is supposed to make our military the foremost in the world; its committment to the utmost professionalism and adherence to human rights and equitable treatment.

8. Generally, use of the military is reversed to times of rebellion or fighting with foreign enemies. That said, de facto torture in the penal system is widespread, generally unsupervised, and only quietly criticized.
Agreed here. Does not make it right and certainly should be widely criticized (as Sen. Brownback, McCain, Gov. Huckabee and others have tried with regards to the criminal justice system)

9. US policy that is limited to "protesting" actions is designed to fail. Economic sanctions and military force, while incomplete tools, appear to work about as well regardless of the level of "protesting" done beforehand.
Do you want the US to be the world leader in promoting human rights and democracy or not? Already, the UN special represenative on the matter of torture has publically criticized the US support for such tactics as undermining his efforts to get governments like that of Sri Lanka to stop their far more widespread and grisly use of torture. He recently said: "(Other countries) say why are you criticising us if the US, the most democratic country with the oldest history of human rights, if they are torturing you should first go there. It has a negative effect because the US is a very powerful and important country and many other countries take the US as a model." For the record, I'm fine with America taking a step back from the "promotion of human rights, etc." and focusing on building relationships with peoples and nations based on shared needs and interests, rather than American ideals.

10. Presumably about the same as the arrest of a former Defense Secretary who oversaw a war in Southeast Asia and was involved in the nuclear oblitarion of a city in Japan: in all situations of anarchy, the strong do as they will, while the weak do as they must.
Agreed with the latter, don't see the point of the former because it ignores the fact that such actions happened at a time far different from ours. The example of Pinochet (rightly or wrongly) continues to resonate, and there is a serious, focused infrastructure in place of activists who are willing to attempt to arrest former dictators, war criminals and others in Europe. That didn't exist until the late 90's, and Vietnam and the use of nuclear weapons in Japan are far down the priority list of "crimes to rectify" of activists.

Posted by: Eddie | Friday, November 02, 2007

Thank you for the well thought out responses.

1.

So you agree the answer is unknown and technical? (With the proviso, perhaps, that the anti-torture side is more popular in the media?)

2. & 3.

"how on God's green earth is this going to stay secret? "

Why would it have to, completely? One of the constant claims of the anti-torture crowd is that belief one may be tortured gets all the benefits of torture, anyway. Yet suddenly we must conduct an expensive in-detail P.R. campaign on families of returnees to convince them we don't torture?

4.

"Worse, the mere revelation of ties to the CIA and others in the American gov't is enough now to make politicians tremble before revolted publics."

I will take you at your word, that this is the most serious of the consequences you describe.

In this case, we have nothing to worry about. The CIA has been an object of suspicion and derision in Europe for generations, at least since the post-War operations in Italy.

5.

Just a note that fantastic scenarios, if described in enough detail, are a valid tool for debate. It allows one to extend an opponent's argument to absurdity, forcing revision and making both arguments stronger.

7. Be careful with how you right your answer, as you seem to apply the direct harmful cause is the uproar itself. Thus, under Article I, Section 8, the Army and Navy clauses, the US Congress might be able to criminalize uproar as such while not violating Amendment I. (In the same way, Rumsfeld v. FAIR established that the I:8 Army/Navy clauses gave the Congress the authority to force recruiters in law schools, without violating the schools' right to free assembly, etc. The Court made a point of going far beyond a narrow ruling in that unanimous decision.)

Back to your point:
a) You need to deduct the cost of having the sort of people willing to jump ship from JAG service for political reasons first, and then deduct the cost of whatever harm comes from the widespread belief that terrorists are getting away with holding information.
b) How does killing in cold blood, which a competent tactical level planner achieves in his engagement, suqare with an "ethos of honor and morality" Unless you believe we should give our enemies fair fights, it's a difficult question. And one that's hard to answer, as the military is raised to do evil to others such that evil is not done to us.
c) I would hope that a combination of training, weaponry, and logistics are what make our military the foremost in the world. For Belgians may care more about human rights and equitable treatment, for all I know. I want a military that protects the nation, the union, the constitution from our enemies. (I'm not into mission creep.)

8. De facto tolerated prison rape could be ended in a number of states either through legislative action or (considering the reality of state governance) a determined governor. Neither has happened, beacuse the public does not care.

Now, it may make sense to protect terrorists in military custody more than we protect Americans in police custody. Normatively I don't see it, though, and technically, I don't either.

9.

Of course I want the US to be a "world leader" in promoting human rights and democracy. Ultimately, this involves keeping the economy strong, trading with other states, and re-arranging the social structure of Africa and the Islamic world. These are system-level changes that dwarf arguments (pro or con) over torture.

If UN criticism by "special represntatives" is serious, then I guess a ruling against us by the International Court of Justice would be catastrophic... which is precisely what happened, when we mined Nicaragua's harbors. The US responded by ignoring the ICJ.

One world body lost a tremendous amount of power after that ruling. Hint: it wasn't us.

10.

Strong outside forces have a long history of interfering with the retirement plans of leaders of small states. (In particular, "activists" located in northern Virginia may have assisted in scuttling planned pension payments to Pinochet's predecessor...)

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, November 03, 2007

1. Agreed, we need to see the evidence. Historically, the more I read about the military history with this, it did not work. We need to see the intel side of the house on this as well, though the lack of CIA agents willing to come forward (even staying in the shadows to do so, i.e. "Anonymous" writing in the WAPO or National Review) perhaps speaks volumes. The record of other nations as well shows the tactic to be discredited, with psychological torture (i.e. we'll kill your family or send them to "hellhole # ?") seeming to be the more effective.

2 & 3. The public airing of US tactics by released detainees will ravage America's image further and inflame relations and tensions between Americans and much of the rest of the world. For that reason, if you must use these tactics on these people, I support putting them out of their misery. We can't have this kind of information getting out to the press and to the rest of the world. Its just too damaging to our reputation and image, and possibly to our security.

4. I agree the CIA has held this image for decades, perhaps even America to a lesser extent. The key are the laws and political restraints placed upon cooperation with other countries. If it comes down to the fact that we can't get cooperation because of our tactics, where will that leave us, especially if my belief that the majority of the more dangerous terrorists will be in or from Euro-Islamist stock in the next decade or two.

5. I'll explore it at a later date, or search for the more informed scenarios of others.

7. The large number of people who have quit over Gitmo or changed positions has not been because of "politics" of their own but those of the Bush Administration and politicized superiors. (Air Force Col. Morris Davis- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/20/AR2007102000179_pf.html ) Others have quit because they felt that their legal oaths were put in jeopardy by illegal coerced confessions. There is a serious reason that NCIS/FBI/CID investigators and even some CIA agents refused to go along with what went on in various locations and mandates over the past few years; they felt what was happening was against the law and even though they feasibly have immunity nowadays because of the number of laws passed by Congress, they still opposed what was happening and registered official protests. When the politicians and desk generals are overriding the expertise of the professionals, we have a serious issue at hand.

Your (B) answer is perhaps better explained by someone like Ry or Sonny (a shame he isn't around on the internet anymore). The key point is that these people are our prisoners, and that what is at issue is not what happens in the heat of battle, but in an interrogation room under controlled circumstances. Thus comparing killing the enemy in battle with torturing one is a comparative argument of apples and oranges.

c) Given the President's viewpoint that he is above the law (i.e. he can ignore the laws Congress passes and that he can avoid the extensive legal history that is available for judges to consult about the legality of waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques"), our military is at odds with the Constitution when following the president's unlawful orders.

One day we will find resolution on this, though those responsible for ignoring the rule of law and instead promoting the rule of fear won't find the prison cell they richly deserve.

9. The US is no longer a world leader in promoting human rights and democracy. Impotence on Burma and Sudan, hypocrisy on Egypt & Pakistan, shameful tactics and criminal incompetence in Iraq and Afghanistan and the counter examples of China, India and the EU will soon render this issue moot anyway. Given the protectionist impulse of Americans nowadays, the weakening economy and the failure of rearranging social structures in Africa and the Islamic world, its even further moot.

The criticism of the UN rep. is more important if viewed as a hindrance to his work, which our policies and actions have been. Look beyond your well-informed skepticism of the UN (which I share with you) and see a man trying to do a thankless job; embarrassing governments and organizations that torture their citizens. Achieving his goals of reducing torture have certainly taken a severe hit by the counter-example tyrants can now offer. "Go to America, they are torturing too". People weren't saying this 5-10 years ago.

10. I would like more detail on this, though this is an isolated incident versus the network that has been set-up to bring charges against former and current dictators, members of corrupt governments and others on the hit list of human rights groups in Europe.

Posted by: Eddie | Sunday, November 04, 2007

1. Again, you're repeating the same technical arguments from ignorance. "I don't know the answer, but I heard someone else thinks ________" is a foolish way of arguing a techncial question, and an insane one of arguing a moral question.

When I read a comment, I think, "How does this help me better understand ____?" Technical arguments from ignorance don't help at all.

2 & 3

a) Do you believe that belief on the part of captives that they may be tortured has benefits?
b) Do you believe there is a higher or lower standard for killing prisoners than torturing them?

4.

It appears you are abandoning your earlier contention that the CIA's image may be harmed by torture, and now argue instead that torture may negatively impact cooperation from other states. But, above, you say you support killing those who are tortured.... in a world where European countries limit cooperationg in cases where execution may occur. How do you square these seemingly conflicting suggestions? (Or do you believe that secretly killing detainees stay secret more than secretly torturing them?)

7.

a)
"The large number of people who have quit over Gitmo or changed positions has not been because of "politics" of their own but those of the Bush Administration and politicized superiors."

A distinction without a difference in this case.

b)

Why does "heat" in battle make a difference? Or should it?

While of course the best planned, best executed battle features no kinetics at all, better planned & executed engagements are unfair, featuring very few (if any) casualties on the planner's side and many (if not total) destruction on the side of the enemy. In other words, victory should feel like murder.

A battle featuring panic, terror, passion, etc, on the part of the attacking side could be done better.

c)

Any soldier who believes "the military is at odds with the Constitution" should give serious thought to executing his superiors. To knowingly engage in activity "at odds with" the Constitution, if that term means anything, is little short of treason.

Much less glamorously, the Constitution includes a seperation of powers between co-equal branches. Just as the President's powers (executive orders, etc) don't necessarily override laws of Congress, Congressional powres (passing laws, etc) don't necessarily override orders by the President.

To conflate the natural tension between co-equal branches with threats to the Constitution is like conflating the tension between states and Washington over the limits of federal law with secessionism.

9.

We have been allies with Pakistan since the 1950s and friends with Egypt since the 1970s. I assume there for America's status as a world leader comes from at least then, if not the 1940s (which saw us "hypocritcally" arming the genocidal tyrant Stalin).''

You want good predictors of the extent of human rights in a state? There's two: average general intelligence of the population and their economic system. It's a harder fix than just making detention easier on our enemies, and one that relies a lot less on marketing campaigns, public diplomacy, etc.

10.

There's nothing isolated about large countries policing their back yard. America has a long and ongoing history of intervention in Latin America, just as Europe has a long and ongoing history of intervention in Africa. (Russia and Japan likewise conducted similar operations, until they made the mistake of losing.)

If you want to establish a tred the Core running roughshod in the Gap, that's easily done. If you want to establish the same Core tendency against itself in times of peace... your job is much harder.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, November 04, 2007

1. Agreed that the media glorifies the anti-torture side, though that stems more from the pro-enhanced interrogation techniques side having no suitable backers with credibility, whereas the anti-torture elements have a plethora of experienced, trusted current and former soldiers, intelligence agents and investigators. One remembers Capt. Ian Fishback, who tried for 18 months to get his chain of command in the Army to clarify the rules of interrogation, then had to turn in desperation to Sen. McCain for help.

Re: technical arguments. Reading the available history of interrogation procedures, waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" seem to have little benefit. I'll say again that in the available history of interrogation procedures, psychological tactics/torture and the use of logic, conniving, charm and wit seem to have reaped the most benefits.

2 & 3. On one note, I'm offering an opinion of what the future holds and what I would support. I don't see multilateral institutions being able or willing to shoulder the war criminal load in the future. So I'm being realistic in how the US and others (especially China) are going to handle the war criminals of the future.

I do believe (again, based on the available history) that the belief that one could be tortured has its benefits. It is sad that if the Bush Administration had handled this much better over the past 5 years, perhaps we could have maintained some ambiguity on the issue.

4. Again, I debate this from a (personal) and a (political/professional) standpoint. Sometimes I mix the two, apologies are in order. From a policy point of view, the US-EU counterterrorism relationship (via the CIA, FBI, etc.) is and will perhaps be even worse hampered by the negative reprecussions of the view of European nations and body politics that it tortures. We have a big target on our back at this point, and although things may have been worse in the Cold War re: relations and US image, never before could so much damage to our interests be done by such negative blowback.

7. a) Reading the accounts of prosecutors, judges and others in the system who have come forward and resigned, protested formally (i.e. Capt. Fishback asking for clarification and leadership from Congress since none was coming from the Army at that point) or threw the bulls*** flag on various procedures that were hampering the interests of the US, you find very few who are liberals or anti-Bush types. Most are conservatives who believe in clear, firm leadership and the rule of law and have found it flouted, abused and ignored by various indidividuals and institutions in the WOT thus far. Is the Supreme Court "political" against Bush or whomever because it forcefully rejected the Executive Branch's reach for additional powers in Hamdan and other cases?

b) you describe the ideal, theory world. it does not exist, save for rare instances of exceptional good fortune on behalf of our forces. Our enemies have the majority of the advantages in urban warfare, as well as insurgency. We have only begun to exploit those which we hold, both naturally and through applied learning. I.e. I was thinking of the accusations of Marines who executed villagers and prisoners after being ambushed or attacked, rather than some Vietnam/WW2esque field battle. Not to say the Marines did what they did, but such is bound to happen on a rare occassion in the heat of emotion and the fog of conflict. The terrorists/insurgents are not always apprehended by ourselves either, remember the thousands of Afghans turned in as terrorists by their neighbors when we put enormous cash rewards on the table for people to finger terrorists....

We have these people in our relatively safe, secure custody. I understand "accidents" and abuses would happen out in Basra or Baghdad, not an interrogation site in the Czech Republic or Oman.

c) This president, like the two most likely to be president after him (Rudy and Hillary) is engaged in an unConstitutional power grab. The executive has entirely too much power and the Congress has been a disgrace in this regard. The fact that the average soldier doesn't recognize the tension existent here and the enormous problems at hand is not their fault. One day, history will recognize this for what it is, or it won't.

GETTING back to basics, we need to know what kind of effects the use of such tactics/torture will have on unit morale, cohesion and discipline. This is not something two bloggers or two politicians should be guessing, its something we should be figuring out, by asking hard questions and demanding non-PC answers.

9. America is hypocritical, it is also quite delusional and at times downright dangerous (i.e. loose talk about bombing Iran). The success of US democracy and security policies in Egypt and Pakistan speak for themselves, with large majorities of the population shrouded in ignorance and pathetic squalor, hating the US and their governments. We are in the dangerous habit of talking past people in the world at this point, figuring that somehow we are still the indispensible nation. Those days may not long be remaining. Some humility and applied intelligence would be greatly appreciated from US leadership at this point.

Considering the miserable record of US-led economic development through the IMF and World Bank over the past 30 years, I don't see where "we" are going to make a positive impact here anytime soon.

Again, we need answers to "questions like this" and others. I am most interested in two: "does this policy hurt our cooperation with other nations abroad?" and "what effect on discipline, morale and unit cohesion will such policies if approved have on the US military?".

Posted by: Eddie | Sunday, November 04, 2007

Eddie,

Thanks again for the comment!

1. We agree on media bias on this issue. I think it's also safe to say that public discussion is warped by the anti-torture crowd's insistence on criminal penalties for those who violate their wishes. In any debate, if partisans of one side can "anonymously" speak out, and get book deals for it, while supporters of the other side cannot speak out for fear of prosecution, one side will win.

re: technical arguments, you appear to concede that torture works (or, more pc, EITs hae some benefit). Am I reading you correctly?

4. The EU already limits cooperation in death penalty cases, as their concern for criminals outweights their concern for our safety in such situations. Unless you believe the the set of detainees who may be tortured is substantially different from the set of detainees who may be executed, it would seem to be a penalty without a cost.

7.

a. Of course the Supreme Court is political. It is one of the three co-equal branches of the federal government, like the others it is sworn to uphold the Constitution, but unlike the others it must operate without any enforcement action of its own. The Supreme Court has lost all legitimacy before (the Dred Scott decision, which legalized slavery in every state, had the effect of merely knocking SCOTUS out of the debate), and must operate in a way that maintains its legitimacy. Likewise, the justices are individually and collectively faced with an order they would prefer, an order they have, and trade-offs they can use to get closer or farther from their goal.

b. You misunderstand me. I am arguing the opposite.

Earlier, you differentiated between cold-blooded torture of our enemies, which is supposedly bad, and hot-blooded killing of our enemies, which is supposedly good. I pointed out that much killing is cold, just as your example of hot-blooded "accidents" (I presume you mean purposeful torture) would supposedly be good.

Simply, the point is that hot-blooded or cold-blooded is a nonsensical criteron for deciding whether inflicting suffering is good or bad.

Now, it appears that you support torture (or at least violation of the rule of law, the UCMJ, etc) as long as it is done in geographically correct locations. Is this a correct reading of you "understand[ing] 'accidents' and abuses [that] would happen out in Basra or Baghdad," or does understanding mean you support it as long as it is not reported, or something else?

c.

If the consequences of torture to unit morale (either good or bad) are so serious they should be removed from the political process, which you seem to suggest, that implies they should be dealt with by technical experts. Is this a correct reading?

9.

a.

"America is hypocritical, it is also quite delusional and at times downright dangerous (i.e. loose talk about bombing Iran). The success of US democracy and security policies in Egypt and Pakistan speak for themselves, with large majorities of the population shrouded in ignorance and pathetic squalor, hating the US and their governments. We are in the dangerous habit of talking past people in the world at this point, figuring that somehow we are still the indispensable nation. Those days may not long be remaining. Some humility and applied intelligence would be greatly appreciated from US leadership at this point."

Agreed on failures in Egypt and Pakistan. Throughout the Cold War, anti-Communism counted for more than growth.

Not sure what you mean about US being no longer indispensible. Or do you believe that the EU/China/somewhere else has the lift and fire capacity to process politically bankrupt states?

b.

"Considering the miserable record of US-led economic development through the IMF and World Bank over the past 30 years, I don't see where "we" are going to make a positive impact here anytime soon."

Disagree, of course. [1]

Economic growth has done more for Africa since 1990 than the gross total of all aid gien to that continent. Likewise, US-led economic growth, in the form of exports, have risen Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan from poverty to wealth. Indeed, US-led economic growth helpd double the size of the Core and shrink the Gap in half.

If your criticism is against the infrastructure-first focus of the WB and IMF, then you have a point. Free markets are more important than infrastructure.

Again, reality is unglamorous. If only not toruting people, or spending a lot of money on public diplomacy ads, or even building a dam was enough to make some country a nice place to live. But that is not our world. In the real world, economic growth from free markets over the long haul matters.

c.

"Again, we need answers to "questions like this" and others. I am most interested in two: "does this policy hurt our cooperation with other nations abroad?" and "what effect on discipline, morale and unit cohesion will such policies if approved have on the US military?".

i. no more than our use of the death penalty
ii. unknown, positive or negative

[1] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/11/zoellick_wanting_to_guide_hist.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, November 05, 2007

"If the consequences of torture to unit morale (either good or bad) are
so serious they should be removed from the political process, which
you seem to suggest, that implies they should be dealt with by
technical experts. Is this a correct reading?"

My answer would be no. The SERE school instructors (the foremost experts that we know of in the unclassifed realm) would not perform waterboarding on suspects because by law and instruction, their role is to teach SERE students the torture techniques of other nations in order to prepare them for training. E-mail Malcolm Nance and e-mail him about this, I got this word for word from six separate officers and one enlisted personnel on the ship as well as an Explosive Ordanance Disposal Unit member who just completed it two months ago. The point here is clear; the US military instructs its military that waterboarding is torture, possibly to be utilized against them by this nation's enemies.

Now, what other "professionals and technical experts" on EITs are out there aside from the SERE folks? I have no idea.

-I support the application of common sense to the issue, (1) if a terrorist suspect really is suspected of knowing where a nuke in NYC is, we will use ALL means to get that information. If personnel are found afterwards to have broken the law, there is little doubt the president can do the right thing and pardon them, which is within his power.(2) the use of torture, abuse and questionable tactics has happened and will happen in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gitmo, as well as elsewhere. This is a job for the JAGS, FBI & NCIS/CID investigators, and US attorneys to take care of. Their track record thus far has been impressive on the military side, with dozens of soldiers found guilty of abuses ranging from assault to murder in the past 6 years of the WOT.


re: technical arguments, you appear to concede that torture works (or,
more pc, EITs hae some benefit). Am I reading you correctly?

-The historical and information record is too incomplete to us at this moment to conclude that. The more one reads, the more one learns about the preferred use of psychological tactics of varying degrees by a variety of nations, but also one learns about the condemnation of "EITS" as not useful by most Western intelligence services and militaries, to include the French and Americans. The lack of official support from established quarters in the military, law enforcement and intelligence communities (Gen. Hayden of the CIA to Congress a few months ago) suggests not a fear of being branded a "pro-torture advocate" but a lack of professional acceptance of the need for the tactics. I say this because I find very few suggesting Gen. Hayden being prosecuted for war crimes or torture for advocating the use of EITS. I'll grant you that George Tenet has also come out in support of the EITS but one must take everything he says with context considering he's been caught telling bold-face lies before. Aside from that, you have a few bloggers and journalists supporting it. I don't see a coherent, professional argument for torture or EITS at this point.

Given the extreme lengths the Bush Administration took to conceal its legal opinions on the issue (written by a tiny legal minority in the law community, and opposed by a variety of more qualified and experienced conservative lawyers like Jack Goldsmith and Daniel Levin, one wonders on what legal and Constitutional basis can the case for EITS be made?

Now, I leave this discussion with this aside. If for the past six years, very few in the rank and file in the USG, military and intelligence communities have been willing to support the legality of these EITS, what does that say about their use? If a variety of top law experts from Alberto Mora to Jack Goldsmith who worked in official capacities opposed these policies because they violated existing law, what does that say? That the laws need to be changed or that they should be ignored? Or perhaps that these tactics are not necessary because if they were, they would have been authorized by past administrations, including this one, before 9/11?

Posted by: Eddie | Wednesday, November 07, 2007

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