Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bring forth the comfy chair!!! 
So the guys who were interrogators of German rocket scientists, generals, and high-level Nazis like Rudolf Hess don't think too much of our current crop of interrogators.

When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.

Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners' cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

First of all, I don't think they're in a position to know what information we get or don't get from whom.

They're also forgetting that in interrogating German generals, scientists, and high-level officials, they are dealing with an entirely different psychology than a radical Muslim fundamentalist with a sixth grade education.

With the former, given enough time, you could grease them up enough with appeals to intelligence. They are naturally going to want to impress the interrogator with how smart they are. (Did you notice the first guy quoted in the story was an MIT physicist? Golly...you think a rocket scientist might have something in common with an MIT physicist right off the bat?)

Such is not the case with many detainees in the current war. If appealing to their candlepower and getting them an ego boost by allowing them to show off their intelligence is ineffective, or just not an option available to them, then options start running out.

I also think these people - and the news media - vastly underestimate how often these "soft" approaches are actually used.

Not everybody get waterboarded as soon as they issue the orange jump suit.

"A radical Muslim fundamentalist with a sixth grade education." Cap'n, I think you are being a bit generous on the education level of most of these guys.
"First of all, I don't think they're in a position to know what information we get or don't get from whom."

That would not be too hard to guess either, seeing how well we have done, breaking networks, tracking down the resistance leaders, or supply networks. Or guessing the "resistance" was a threat at all back in 04.

Anyone giving the war a casual reading might have come that that conclusion
"...who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if he was interrogating Hess in Germany, wouldn't that have been after the war?

I'm sure there were still important things to learn from the man, but unless he knew some actionable intelligence on the werewolves it's a bit naive to believe that Kolm didn't have the luxury of being able to take a little longer wringing information out of him.
Hmm, Rudolph Hess? Hess was captured by the British when he parachuted into England in 1941. They had him in custody before the U.S. even entered the war and he was supposedly held in close confinement in England for the whole war and interrogated only by MI6 personnel. He was pretty much sucked dry of info before the U.S. could have gotten a chance to question him. Is this another false but true story?
I don't like the idea that somehow Allied treatment of German PoWs was that much "kinder" than today. These interrogations aren't indicative of how it was always done; some PoWs were threatened with execution to scare them into regurgitating information, often right after capture (sometimes they were shot out of hand - as happened frequently on the Eastern Front but also in a few cases during the Battle of the Bulge). There is some information to suggest that British intelligence reserved the "London Cage" for particularly valuable (and perhaps vulnerable) German personnel. Additionally brutal examples of mistreatment were found at Bad Nenndorf:


As far as I know this research is from real sources and not the all-too-common neo-Nazi agitprop references.

Changing the topic slightly from torture and manhandling of certain irreconcilables, let's not kid ourselves. The USAAF and RAF levelled and torched entire industrial and residential districts of German and Japanese cities. How is that "nicer" than a few freaky Mesopotamian jailhouses? The notion that the democratic West was "better behaved" during WWII than today - something that seems to be implied in the article - is questionable to say the least. The notion that nothing in Iraq is worth fighting for is, given Saddam's record, even more insulting IMHO.
RE: Rudolf Hess...........

I have never heard of a Henry Kolm in relation to Hess!

For more information about Hess see the following link:

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