by Jack Lee
The following is in our comments section and it evolved into something I think was too important to leave in back pages of our blog.
Tommy, welcome to our discussion, always nice to have new folks drop in and offer an opinion.
You seem like the voice of reason on so many issues near and dear, especially your thought on offering a pardon to those in the Bush Admin. to prevent the possibility of being tried for war crimes. See like if we are going to back date the rules, then absolutely, its only fair to do that.
Next, you said, “Torture is not Christian. Torture only works to make some one confess to untrue things.” Torture isn’t Christian, i.e. moral, and I agree. I disagree that torture only makes one confess to untrue things.
Anyone in the military who has ever had the experience of being in a SERE school or a POW will likely disagree. The SERE school is offered to people who will have classified information and be close to the front lines. Any SERE student will tell you, the human condition can only endure so much and then you break. It’s only a matter of when, not if.
This was true in WWII and it was true in wars throughout history. By the way, do you think we didn’t use torture during WWII? Well, nothing has changed since then, just because we live in so-called modern times. Today’s enemy is even more ruthless than the NAZI’s, they don’t respect any rules of war and illegally operated without a national flag as combatants. People like that are not subject to any rules of the Geneva Convention, but I digress.
This is why when people, mostly liberals, with no background or poor information on this subject of torture come up with the idea that torture doesn’t work…well, to those who know better, it sounds absurd. I’m not blaming you for your opinion, it’s just that I believe you’ve trusted the wrong sources to form it.
Sure, there are plenty of so-called experts to support what you said, but those who’re being honest and have real first-hand experience will tell you almost every single time it’s used, torture does work… like it or not.
Please bear with me, because this is an important subject to hash over. When time is of the essence, torture is the short cut to getting the information you need to know, and without any question in my mind, this is true.
Imagine you are the military operator of a crypo-machine and the passcode to enter the machine and make it operational is: 16A245B-!T. Unfortunately, you’re captured an the enemy takes you to dank, musty room deep in a concrete basement. There you are stripped naked and shoved inside what looks like a 3-X4- metal box inserted into the brick wall. The door closes on you. It’s pitch black and now you are laying on a metal grill kind of like you might find on a floor furnace. Below you, there is a light, it’s about 6 feet away and you can see what looks like two gas pilot-lights flickering in the darkness. They are reflecting on two large oven burners! You’re told by your captors that you have 30 seconds to give up the code or the burners will come on and you will die. If you lie they will put you back in and you will burn to death. The seconds tick by, you feel claustrophobic, panic sets, you resist every instinct to talk. Then the burners light up and flames slowly rise until your skin is starting to burn, the pain is excruciating… do you bravely burn slowly to your death or doing you break and scream out the secret code?
90% of us will confess, others make take two or three more attempts like this, but 99.9% crack. This was a tactic employed by the SAVAK, the Iranian Secret Police. I got to know these guys back in the early 70-s and this was one of their methods. If you would like to know a bit more about the SAVAK, let me quote from a book ROGUE STATE by William Blum ( http://williamblum.org/about )
“Physical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected, not only because it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective,” said Richard Stolz, Deputy Director of Operations of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1988. ( LIE )
The CIA likes to say things like this because they think it sounds like good plausible denial. But who can believe that torture does not loosen up tongues, that for such purpose it is not exceedingly effective? … Torture’s effectiveness extends yet further, for its purpose is frequently not so much to elicit information as it is to punish, to coerce the victims from any further dissident activity by gouging out the idealism from their very being, and as a warning to their comrades.
For these ends, the CIA has co-existed with torture for decades….” END
Blum is not a conservative voice, he’s often in the far left camp and in this respect he ought to carry some credibility with those are trying to decide if torture works based on their political perspective and who they want to trust as sources.
- Of course torture works and of course torture is wrong!
Now lets take this to one more level and I will leave it alone: Imagine for the moment that you’re the President and you have authorized the killing of Kalid Sheik Mohammed, aka KSM, because he masterminded the 9/11 plot. But, he’s not killed, instead he is captured and credible sources now say he has in play a follow-on attack on the City of Los Angeles, a germ warfare attack! The deadly attack could come in a matter of days and thousands of American lives will be lost and it could be your own Mother and Father who also live there.
The guidance by your Dept. of Justice says enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding or sleep depravation do not “technically” rise to the level of torture. They assure you they could be used to extract information to stop this new terrorist attack. Some in your cabinet disagree, they say this is wrong and that any pain inflicted on another human being is torture. They warn, its illegal and its not the American way.
It’s your call, stand on your principles or let your parents and thousands of others die for those principles?
Time is limited, and you wrestle with the decision knowing that either way you will be held accountable. One one hand you have already issued a warrant to kill this man, and logically speaking death is a lot more severe than any temporary pain from “enhanced interrogation.” Heck, even the Bible says you can exact torturous punishment for transgressions against others. Hammurabi’s Law, an eye for an eye. But, there’s also more, “And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten. Deuteronomy 25:2 “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. Proverbs 18:6 Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back. Proverbs 26:3 If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. Exodus 21:20-21 (I am not a Bible expert, I just discovered how helpful the internet can be for clever quotes! )
Your Justice Dept. admits they are making a very fine distinction on what is, and is not torture, but they believe you would be acting within legal parameters if you did, A, B and C, but not D.
What do you do? I know what I would do and I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. By the way, my own Grandson went through similar “enhanced interrogation” tactics aka torture in his SERE school, as do all front line government employees with a top secret clearance must. Hey, if it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for KSM. My instructions would be, start filling the buckets and get the towel ready. I’ll take the blame and if my country wants to try me for a war crime later then I’ll take that risk too, if it will save American lives verses risking one terrorist life. To me that guy was as good as dead anyway from the first time he signed on to kill women and children. And until you can show me a better way… this would be my final decision. I’m fairly convinced that most all of us would rather have that kind of President than one willing err on the side caution and personal sensibilities.
I wonder how we can justify a drone strike if we are so willing restrict injury upon a captive terrorist?