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August 29, 2009


I would bet KSM was breast fed as an infant. He gave up some valuable information after his breast feeding. It may have taken a while for it's effects to take hole, but it's pretty clear that breast feeding leads to successful interrogation. Why this isn't clear to liberals, I don't know, but they clearly hate America.

it's effects = its effects
hole = hold

Washington Post reporters Peter Finn, Joby Warrick, and Julie Tate...

I object to calling people who always defend their side, without any action that approaches being objective, "reporters". They are not. They are PR writers.

As to why these people defend torture, as defined by virtually every industrial nation including the U.S., I can only assume they watch "24" and think it's a documentary.

And it gets worse: the two CIA memos that Cheney claims "proves" that torture worked literally -- unless I am missing something or there are pages missing from the PDFs I have -- DO NOT MENTION "enhanced interrogation" at all and in fact indicate that KSM talked when his captors presented him with facts gleaned from other captives or when KSM thought the CIA already knew the information he was divulging. That is, the ONLY techniques explicitly described as effective in these two memos were *ordinary police work*. I still need to make my way through the IG report, but it doesn't sound like that's much more convincing/definitive.

"proves" = "prove"

no one's going to claim that waterboarding put KSM in the mood to deliver his "Advanced Topics in al Qaeda" talk.

Actually that's exactly what is being claimed.

1> This is probably the worst piece of "journalism" ever seen in the Post (which is saying a lot).

2. There is still no evidence that what inbfo was obtained was through torture.

3. #2 is irrelevant.

4. Finally, and the saddest, most people don't care about 1, 2 or 3. They will buy what is being claimed because they want to believe that we were being kept safe when we weren't and that doing something "bad" is only allowable for a good reason, so therefore KSM gave us info which saved lives (probably not).

For all that is good about this country and its people, there is a layer beneath the surface (which does occassionally erupt through) which is very disturbing.

@Russell, that's certainly what's being implied. On the other hand, the whole lecture tactic implies an intermediate step between waterboarding and happily volunteering information to a CIA colloquium.

That step was rapport-based interrogation. Somebody had to sit down with KSM and get to know him well enough to figure out his weakness and play to it.


We may not know regarding KSM whether he 'broke' before or after the 'enhanced interrogation techniques' (in English = torture), but we do know it about Abu Zubaydah:

TEMPLE-RASTON: "Yes. This is why he, for the people that I talked to about this particular issue - and admittedly it's gray. Nothing's black and white on this yet. Abu Zubaydah is seen as the litmus test because he has a before-and-after. He was the first high-value al-Qaida operative the U.S. captured after 9/11, and he was caught in Pakistan, I believe. And there was a shootout involved, and he was fairly badly injured before he was taken into custody. And the FBI were the first people who got to him, and there were two agents who basically took care of Zubaydah when he was convalescing. So they did the whole nine yards: the ice chips and bathing him and feeding him soup. And he was aware of what they were doing. So they were using what the FBI calls, you know, rapport-based techniques. They were building a relationship with him.

So when he was well enough to sit up, they start showing him pictures of al-Qaida suspects. And when they get to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who they weren't quite sure who he was at that time, he apparently exclaimed wow, you know who Mukhtar(ph) is? Mukhtar, apparently, was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's nickname, which the FBI didn't know. Now another - so this is through this, you know, regular interrogation techniques.

There's another example. About a week or so later, he, Abu Zubaydah, told the FBI that there was some American kid who knew Mukhtar and had been instructed to get a clean passport and then return to the U.S. for a mission. Now, Zubaydah said the kid was Hispanic or something and was in Oman or Jordan, he wasn't quite sure. So the FBI calls the local embassy and asks them if there's been some American Latino in his 20's who claimed to lose a passport and wanted a new one. They faxed over a picture of that kid. Zubaydah took a look at the picture and confirmed that was him. And that's how they caught Jose Padilla, when he came to Chicago. So this is a pretty good example of rapport-building techniques, getting intelligence.

Now, a short time later, CIA contractors took over Zubaydah's interrogation, and they waterboarded him 83 times, and they didn't get much out of him after that. In fact, at one point, they actually called the FBI back to try to re-establish the rapport techniques with him. And as far as I know, this - Abu Zubaydah is the only example we have of a before-and-after that actually compares regular interrogation techniques with harsh ones."



And just look at the sleazy, weaselly way Cheney defended the torture. He said something to the effect of "We know that the people who were subjected to these techniques provided valuable information that saved lives". But he doesn't say WHEN they provided the information.

Everybody's really making this issue much more difficult than it really is. Here's the simple truth:

The pain is the point.

It's the only way we can get revenge on AQ. They don't have anything else we can hurt. Land? Money? Political Power? N/A. How do you hurt an ideology, per Cheney? By making its proponents scream under torture.

Innocent bystanders? They're probably guilty of something, and who's going to care about some smelly Afghanis, Yemenis and Omanis anyway. Can't have a war without some collateral damage.

And once you start down that path, the next step -- of using pain as a means of combatting Iraqi resistance to American occupation -- is natural. We're liberators, so anyone opposed to us must be the enemy. And since we're already using pain in Gitmo, we can just take the tactics of Gitmo to Abu Ghraib. It's just a natural evolution.

And off we go.

Though utterly immoral and in violation of U.S. and international law, torture can be useful in imposing authoritarian rule (though it is pretty useless in extracting accurate information).

Aside from its miserable record of extracting information, American security agencies shouldn't torture people because Osama bin Laden almost certainly want them to.

Terrorism grows out of a coherent theory of social change. Gywnne Dyer has written about the theory extensively. Put simply, most governments do a tolerable job; people live with them for that reason. But people tolerate some very bad governments out of habit, or fear of the unknown, or belief (sometimes correct) that the offered alternatives will turn out worse. For real change, society often has to come to a crisis, a crisis usually created by the failure of the established ideology. Terrorism aims to force social change by panicking the ruling class enough to make them take measures the people will not tolerate, to push the country out of equilibrium. Terrorists, in other words, aim to accelerate or force this crisis.

The strategists of al Qaeda reportedly took this theory a step further: they apparently noted that many of the Arab regimes they detested relied on American support, and concluded that if they provoked the Americans to kill, torture, and humiliate large numbers of Arabs and Muslims, the people of Arab counties that depended on American support would overthrow their own governments, and let al Qaeda allies in.

So far, the strategy hasn't worked, mainly because the ideology behind al Qaeda, Salafism, still does not appeal to many Arabs or Muslims. But assuming the truth of these reports, torture has actually strengthened the hand of a very ruthless enemy of the American people.

Cheney is a soulless monster, 100% pure crystallized modern-day Republicanism.

here's a foolproof test to see if you're dealing with a Republican loyalist: ask him if it matters if waterboarding is torture or not.

They take just another page from the ancient Roman playbook: A slave's testimony was only valid, if the slave was tortured, i.e. any testimony given without proven use of torture was by law not to be considered valid and could not be used in a trial. Well, we're an empire now...

And if they were around for the torture, how much stock should we put in anonymous anecdotes from people who might be facing criminal charges?

Yup. They knew that what they were doing might have some unpleasant consequences later, no matter how much ass-covering they got through "legal" opinions.

"A number of Agency officers of various
grade levels who are involved with detention and interrogation
activities are concerned that they may at some future date be vulnerable to legal action in the United States or abroad and that the U.S. Government will not stand behind them.
Although the current detention and interrogation Program has been subject to DoJ legal review and Administration political approval, it diverges sharply
from previous Agency policy and practice, rules that govern interrogations by U.S. military and law enforcement officers, statements of U.S. policy by the Department of State, and public statements by very senior U.S. officials, including the President, as well as the policies expressed by Members of Congress, other Western governments, international organizations, and human rights groups.
In addition, some Agency officers are aware of interrogation activities that were outside or beyond the scope of the written DoJ opinion. Officers are concerned that future public revelation of the
eTC Program is inevitable and will seriously damage Agency
officers' personal reputations, as well as the reputation and
effectiveness of the Agency itself.

From page 106-107 of the IG report. Some explicit reservations (ending up on a "wanted list" etc.) are on page 99.
And just before that, the report refers to the issued statement by Bush in observance of the "United Nations International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture" (my emphasis)

Why suspend your credulity at the point "...that his captors got their best information by exploiting his intellectual vanity...". Invariably whatever information gathered is used to fit some pre-conceived notion held by the interrogators, objectivity never the motive of the investigation. All information gleaned from an interrogation is used to impugn the integrity of the imprisoned. When was the last time a policeman or interrogator showed up in court to "exonerate" the accused. Even the right to remain silent reminds the suspect their words will be used against them and never mentions their words will ever be used in a favorable light. KSM surely was never given such a warning, justice never the motivation. I'd say the weakness on display here is two-fold, the physical infirmity of Cheney and his cohort, structurally frail and fearful men who enjoy watching the suffering and destruction of living beings for their personal gain and, ironically, the intellectual vanity of the interrogators who think they can mind-f*ck KSM when 183 waterboarding sessions in 30 days couldn't do the trick.

And now is at morale at the CIA minus 50, and we're all going to die, or something.

we have no way of knowing whether KSM broke any faster than he would have with traditional rapport-based interrogation tactics. For all we know, torture actually prolonged the process. Torture can harden the victim's resolve to resist the torturer.

This is a key point. To whatever extent torture is "effective" (and, ftr, i don't think it's effective at all -- and has enormous collateral costs), the question is whether non-torture would get the same information.

We saw this with abu zubaydah - he was cooperating prior to torture

From Ugh's link:

agency personnel now may back away from controversial programs that could place them in personal legal jeopardy should their work be exposed.

Mission accomplished.

Says "Buzzy" Krongard:

"If you're not in the intelligence business to be forward-leaning, you might as well not be in it," Krongard said.

I'd have thought that the point of being in the intelligence business was to collect intelligence.

Unless "forward leaning" is synonymous with "beating the living sh*t out of people" I'm not sure there's a conflict here.

But nobody's making you take the gig, Buzzy.

As "the alleged success of torture by the Gestapo, or the French in Algeria" was mentioned (in previous post[where my effort to comment failed] let's remind ourselves that in both cases, and as always, the purpose to torture is to terrorize the potential torturees, not to elicit information. As for the WWII German Interrogator who actually got results, Hanns Scharff, he apparently treated his prisoners reasonably; see
MCITTA See also Malcolm Nance at TPMMr.

Now, the experience from Nazi Germany and the Regime of the Colonels in Greece shows that many perfectly normal people can, under the 'right' circumstances, become torturers (and go home at night, and kiss their wife and walk their dog).
The prevalence of defenders of torture among MSM pundits and the fact that they are taken serious and echoed in the MSM shows that the U.S. is no exception. It makes me sad.

One tack that the advocates of torture want to take is to rebadge it as something else in order to lessen the moral burden of it on themselves, because I suspect that even they know, deep down, that it is morally repugnant. This overlaps with the comments on the Questions for Althouse post, but it is worth commenting on here: what is really wanted here is a removal of the moral repugnance of torture while indulging in the content of it, so that they can convince themselves that what is happening when we torture isn't 'really' happening. I suspect that is one of Althouse's motives, along with the one I commented on in the thread about her: to redefine in such a way so that if it no longer holds up, she can distance herself from it by claiming that she didn't actually endorse the word itself, and by doing so, tacitly not endorsing what had really been going on the whole time. Then she can hopefully continue to sleep at night confident that she really didn't have the endorsement of torture itself on her conscience.

In the hands of someone like Dick Cheney, such rejiggering of the term takes yet another tack: to squeeze the definition of torture so tightly that it no longer means anything, because so much that makes it up is actually already permitted, and by rebadging it along the way, we become so desensitized to it that whatever is left over that we're 'not' doing is made so redundant. Then that is triumphantly what is held up to be morally off the radar, and what we're to be repulsed by, and what then can be 'safely' gotten around to be called torture.

Defenders of the torture policy often like to say that well, you know, it's not like we're drawing and quartering these people, or immersing them in vats of boiling water, or hauling the iron maidens out of mothballs. No, we're not doing anything like that...as though cascades of water to simulate drowning, subthermal temperatures, or threats of rape of one's females are more enlightened approaches to inflicting pain and suffering. To these people, torture is what we don't do because we don't have to, with moral repugnance as a bolt-on extra we can comfort ourselves with.

Unless "forward leaning" is synonymous with "beating the living sh*t out of people" I'm not sure there's a conflict here.

But nobody's making you take the gig, Buzzy.

But at least he'd be qualified for the job, seeing as how he's a black belt and all.

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