Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reading the Post is torture

What can I say about coercive interrogation techniques that hasn’t already been said a million times.  I could tell you that I’m not sure about military detainee torture and it’s value in war-time.  I’m sure there are studies out there, and some will say that it’s necessary to save lives, others will say that the techniques aren’t necessary and don’t work anyway. 

But no one seems to really want to know whether they work or not.  One side will say it’s OK because they don’t play by the rules anyway and the other says that as decent human beings we shouldn’t stoop to the level of the extremists we’re in conflict with.  I’m of the opinion that we need to know the facts and have a national discussion on this that doesn’t include political partisan bickering.

However, the press never helps with this.  Exactly what are various agencies doing in the battle with extremists?  Well, you might get two different stories from these two sources. 

Washington Post:

      Interrogation practices -- including the use of dogs, sleep deprivation and simulated drowning or water-boarding -- repeatedly created friction between FBI agents and military leaders.


Bloomberg:

      Fine's audit doesn't assess the conduct of CIA or military interrogators and says FBI agents never witnessed the use of simulated drowning, or water-boarding.

So the Post seems to want you to believe that water-boarding is and has been going on, when actual official reports and statements by the administration admit that it hasn’t been used in many years.   The report from the FBI seems to confirm that, but if you read the Post

Also, I again note that both use the excuse of Abu Ghraib as the reason for the FBI’s new rules that require agents to report when they witness abuse.  Even though what happened there wasn’t sanctioned, nor was it for the purpose of interrogation.

And what is the FBI doing in all these countries anyway?  I thought the FBI was a domestic investigation force?

All and all, to get back to the point, physical coercion has been a part of military interrogation in times of war for as long as there’s been war.  The stuff they’re talking about here – snarling dogs and sleep deprivation – is pretty tame compared to what was done to Americans in the Vietnam war, or what Islamic extremists do to those they don’t like.  So shouldn’t this about having a national discussion, not about trying to nail the administration for something else?  What’s acceptable?  Is anything?

1 comment:

Su said...

The issue is similar to others like the worthiness of pre-emptive strikes, and how far to negotiate with terrorists. Do we want to hang onto the higher moral ground even at the possible cost of our lives and freedom? Is it better to be a dead hero than a live louse? I have my opinion, but it is based on the religious views I hold and the fact that I personally have little to lose. I respect that it doesn't hold true for everyone. To face this world with a determination not to sink to the level of violence, aggression and treachery we see around us would require that all of us be willing to die for our ideals. As long as any of us are not, we will continue to struggle with this type of question, I think.