Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Would you betray your beliefs after being slapped a few times?

I've been listening to more Intelligence Squared debates via podcast, including "Tough interrogation of terror suspects is necessary."

I think the anti-torture folks could have added a few more arguments. One of them is that I believe "minor torture" must become "torture" because minor pain isn't going to break a committed terrorist.

John McCain wrote
that everyone has a breaking point, and after severe torture he reached his own point. I don't personally claim to be a tough guy, but it would take more than minor physical inconvenience, what Rumsfeld referred to as similar to standing at a desk, to get me to betray my beliefs. I expect that these hard, evil terrorists that the pro-"harsh interrogations" folks are talking about as meriting these interrogations are going to be tougher than me, and more like John McCain. The way to break them is torture, so pretending you're only going to barely intrude on comfort is a lie.

The alternative approach is better. Anything else is better.

UPDATE: Testimony from Colin Powell's former chief of staff (page 11):

Likewise, no one seems to have considered what I call the basic soldier test (how could they?—none of them were soldiers and they had removed the real soldiers from their deliberations).

What I mean by this is, for example, if you tell a soldier under pressure to produce
actionable intelligence that he can use a muzzled dog, he will do it faithfully. And when that doesn't work—and it isn’t likely to—the soldier will remove the muzzle. And when that doesn't work, he will let the dog take a bite.

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