How To Interrogate Terrorists
Heather MacDonald has an interesting piece
chronicling the genesis and evolution of the detainment and "torture" of terrorists, which is a big part of all the hulla-balloo that's going on right now in Washington. She presents several examples showing how the Geneva Conventions, and our efforts to "comply" with them, have completely paralyzed our efforts to gain any information from captured terrorists. Here's some good excerpts:
Even more than Afghanistan, Guantánamo dissipated any uncertainty the detainees might have had about the consequences of noncooperation. Consistent with the president’s call for humane treatment, prisoners received expert medical care, three culturally appropriate meals each day, and daily opportunities for prayer, showers, and exercise. They had mail privileges and reading materials. Their biggest annoyance was boredom, recalls one interrogator. Many prisoners disliked the move from Camp X-Ray, the first facility used at the base, to the more commodious Camp Delta, because it curtailed their opportunities for homosexual sex, says an intelligence analyst. The captives protested every perceived infringement of their rights but, as in Afghanistan, ignored any reciprocal obligation. They hurled excrement and urine at guards, used their blankets as garrotes, and created additional weapons out of anything they could get their hands on—including a sink wrenched off a wall. Guards who responded to the attacks—with pepper spray or a water hose, say—got punished and, in one case, court-martialed.
Gitmo personnel disagreed sharply over what tools interrogators could legally use. The FBI took the most conservative position. When a bureau agent questioning Mohamedou Ould Slahi—a Mauritanian al-Qaida operative who had recruited two of the 9/11 pilots—was getting nothing of value, an army interrogator suggested, “Why don’t you mention to him that conspiracy is a capital offense?” “That would be a violation of the Convention Against Torture,” shot back the agent—on the theory that any covert threat inflicts “severe mental pain.” Never mind that district attorneys and police detectives routinely invoke the possibility of harsh criminal penalties to get criminals to confess. Federal prosecutors in New York have even been known to remind suspects that they are more likely to keep their teeth and not end up as sex slaves by pleading to a federal offense, thus avoiding New York City’s Rikers Island jail. Using such a method against an al-Qaida jihadist, by contrast, would be branded a serious humanitarian breach.
Top military commanders often matched the FBI’s restraint, however. “It was ridiculous the things we couldn’t do,” recalls an army interrogator. “One guy said he would talk if he could see the ocean. It wasn’t approved, because it would be a change of scenery”—a privilege that discriminated in favor of a cooperating detainee, as opposed to being available to all, regardless of their behavior.
Frustration with prisoner stonewalling reached a head with Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi who had been fighting with Usama bin Ladin’s bodyguards in Afghanistan in December 2001. By July 2002, analysts had figured out that Kahtani was the missing 20th hijacker. He had flown into Orlando International Airport from Dubai on August 4, 2001, but a sharp-eyed customs agent had denied him entry. Waiting for him at the other side of the gate was Mohamed Atta.
Kahtani’s resistance strategies were flawless. Around the first anniversary of 9/11, urgency to get information on al-Qaida grew. Finally, army officials at Guantánamo prepared a legal analysis of their interrogation options and requested permission from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to use various stress techniques on Kahtani. Their memo, sent up the bureaucratic chain on October 11, 2002, triggered a fierce six-month struggle in Washington among military lawyers, administration officials, and Pentagon chiefs about interrogation in the war on terror.
To read the techniques requested is to understand how restrained the military has been in its approach to terror detainees—and how utterly false the torture narrative has been. Here’s what the interrogators assumed they could not do without clearance from the secretary of defense: yell at detainees (though never in their ears), use deception (such as posing as Saudi intelligence agents), and put detainees on MREs (meals ready to eat—vacuum-sealed food pouches eaten by millions of soldiers, as well as vacationing backpackers) instead of hot rations. The interrogators promised that this dangerous dietary measure would be used only in extremis, pending local approval and special training.
She ends her piece with the following concession (or more accurately, eviscerates her piece with it):
In fighting them, we must of course hold ourselves to our own high moral standards without, however, succumbing to the utopian illusion that we can prevail while immaculately observing every precept of the Sermon on the Mount. It is the necessity of this fallen world that we must oppose evil with force; and we must use all the lawful means necessary to ensure that good, rather than evil, triumphs.
In other words, the moral isn't practical, but let's see if we can't somehow compromise, and give up some morality in favor of some practicality. But as Ayn Rand noted, in any conflict between two groups who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent
side that wins.
And when it comes to defending America, the left and the right are both committed altruists; but the left happens to be consistent in their altruism, while the right tries desperately to smuggle some pro-life values into their repetoire. Thus it didn't surprise me today when I watched the Senate Judiciary Comittee hearing for Attorney General, to hear the nominee, Judge Alberto Gonzalez, repudiate
torture wholesale. The entire questioning (except for Orrin Hatch's sychophantic ravings) consisted of the left (Biden, Kennedy and Leahy) throwing instance after instance of torture
at Gonzalez, only to have him equivocate over each instance, all the while maintaining steadfastly that he and the president were totally opposed to torture, and committed to the Geneva convention.
Miss MacDonald states, "Human Rights Watch, the ICRC, Amnesty International, and the other self-professed guardians of humanitarianism need to come back to earth"; but the problem here is not these groups - they are being consistent. It is Miss MacDonald, and all those on the right, who must "come back to earth" - by renouncing the morality of altruism, which makes man incapable of living on earth.
POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 2:18 AM