Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Has waterboarding, sleep deprivation, bellyslapping, etc. saved American lives? 

Hat tip: Ace

Again, the sentient among us already knew that. The knowledge that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad withstood two minutes of waterboarding is not new, nor is the knowledge that he gave up important information.

The canard that coercive interrogation produces poor intelligence was always stupid. It's naive, feel-good pablum. I've written in this space before that it is generally a simple matter to question the subject about things already known to you (which he doesn't know you know) and make him quickly regret any false statements. Then you mix in what you don't know yet in with what you do know, and you can, with crosschecking, get some very good information.

It may be that as a society, as a Republic, we don't want to benefit by telling this cretin that we're threatening his children. I don't think that's an entirely unreasonable position.

The unreasonable position, but the default position among the idiot wing on the left, is to stick their fingers in their ears and deny that any such benefit exists.

That's not responsible decisionmaking. Neither morality nor ethics ever requires willful blindness or deliberate ignorance. Both require a sober, clear-eyed analysis of both the benefits to be gained, in terms of the preservation of hundreds of human lives, and the potential costs (namely, Ramzi Benalshibh bawling like a bitch).

Anyone who thinks that making those decisions while remaining deliberately ignorant of the value of the information is not a serious ethicist.

Those who insist that torture (for lack of a better word) is not effective in getting information from captives have probably been mislead by observing the results of communist-style torture.

The communists (as well as Islamist terrorists) seem to place great value on coerced "confessions" or religious "conversions."

The U.S. doesn't play that game. Our interrogation of prisoners is for the purpose of saving lives - not for scoring propaganda points.
Calling waterboarding torture falls under the same catagory as calling white phosphorus rounds chemical warfare agents. It defines down an important subject in an effort to strip very useful weapons from our arsenal. I could almost take as serious someone who objects to a technique or weapon but offers serious alternatives. But I guess that's too much like entering into a meaningful debate and requires actual study.
My first experience with waterboarding was as a cadet at the Air Force Academy...during Beast (BCT) we were all subjected to waterboarding as resistance preparation for capture (this was during Vietnam). It was my understanding that all of the Spec Op's personnel were subjected to this as part of their training. Now when I say "subjected to this", I mean they were waterboarded (just like me and all the other cadets at the Hill). Now if we can do it to our own, I ask you, why can't we do it to the bad guys? It's not fatal, just scary as hell, and it sounds like it works.
I read in my local paper, the Stockton Record, two editorial columns today. One decried the use of 'torture' as un-American. It was full of horrific warnings of the unravelling of our 'moral high ground', etc. etc. blah blah.

The other cited the benefit the techniques have provided, the information they've gleaned, and some detail about actual techniques at issue.

It was the first time I've seen the two arguments side-by-side like that, and here were my impressions.

1) The side opposed to torture doesn't define torture. Ever. They don't care what methods are being talked about, or if they qualify as torture or not. If a panel determined that receiving the Pennysaver on a daily basis was torture, they'd demand that all detainees cease receiving the Pennysaver immediately.

2) The side opposing torture doesn't care what information is gained, or if it saves American lives. Lives saved are just lives lost that could've been blamed on Bush I guess.

3) The side in favor of torture describes the techniques used, none of which seem all that close to what I grew up envisioning as torture. No permanent damage, no entrails pulled out, no electric shocks, etc. etc.

Unfortunately, the word torture can be applied to anything, given sufficient rationalization. That makes it a perfect weapon for the left to use against the Bush administration.
Yashmak, the definition of torture appears to be "anything other than treating terrorist suspects with the same kid gloves we expect police to use on criminal suspects here at home".

Oh yeah, anything involving the remotest disrespect for a certain "Religion of Peace" -- that's torture, too.
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I am totally against some of these methods of torture; I was subjected to 16 days of sleep depravation 9 years ago.

There is no physical damage, but your mind feels like it has melted.

You see things that arent there, you hear nothing, you become so stupified that you cant even talk. I have severe insomnia now, due to some kind of psychological/brain damage.

Isnt it easy to see that torturing these men with methods that literally make them psychotic is not going make us any allies in this war on terror?

If we have no morality then we are terrorists too...
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