Republicans Champion Yet Another Ineffective Idea: Torture

Torture Gets the Republican Stamp of Approval Image

Since President Obama did something that Bush said he was “truly not that concerned about… ”   – namely, bring Osama Bin Laden to justice –  Republicans have been trying to spin the event to try and keep those who authorized torture out of jail by claiming that it was these “enhanced interrogation techniques” that led to the terrorist’s whereabouts.

Never mind the fact that these claims have been denied by the war criminal Donald Rumsefeld, as well as others in the Intelligence communities… normal people (non-Republicans) know that the truth rarely, if ever, gets in the way of a CONservative’s mission to serve their dead-end, ideological agenda.

The Christian Science Monitor reported,

“Several former military interrogators refute assertions that waterboarding and other ‘enhanced’ methods provided intelligence that led the US to bin Laden. Some lament lost opportunity to grill Al Qaeda’s leader.”

In fact, it has been reported that the torture of detainees may have actually hindered and slowed the hunt for Bin Laden, not hastened it.

From The Huffington Post.:

“I think that without a doubt, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques slowed down the hunt for bin Laden,” said an Air Force interrogator who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander and located Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006.

It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us,” Alexander told The Huffington Post.

Disgracefully, the inherently cowardly Reich Wingers hold the view that waterboarding is something to crow about.

Suzy Khimm wrote at Mother Jones,

“We obtained that information through waterboarding,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told Fox News on Monday night. “So for those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information, which directly led us to Bin Laden.” Likewise, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on Twitter, “Wonder what President Obama thinks of water boarding now?”

The early evidence, however, cast doubt on the notion that torture was integral to finding and killing bin Laden. According to the Associated Press, the courier who tipped off the CIA about Bin Laden’s location had been questioned using standard interrogation techniques, not “enhanced” ones. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said that “it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding” that yielded critical information on Bin Laden’s whereabouts. Attorney General Eric Holder was a bit more circumspect during a Tuesday morning hearing, saying he didn’t know whether the action against bin Laden was based on information derived from torture. And Wired‘s Spencer Ackerman has concluded that torture played, at most, a minor role in the hunt based on what we know so far.”

Those in the Reality Based Community know that torture does nothing but elicit BAD intelligence as well as bring disgrace to the nation –consequences Reich Wing policies commonly elicit.

In January 2005, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote about retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam.

“if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy’s genitals, he’s going to tell you just about anything,” which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn’t know “any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea.”

Or listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 — long before Abu Ghraib — to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply “not a good way to get information.” In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no “stress methods” at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones. Asked whether that would be true of religiously motivated fanatics, he says that the “batting average” might be lower: “perhaps six out of ten.” And if you beat up the remaining four? “They’ll just tell you anything to get you to stop.”

Worse, you’ll have the other side effects of torture. It “endangers our soldiers on the battlefield by encouraging reciprocity.” It does “damage to our country’s image” and undermines our credibility in Iraq. That, in the long run, outweighs any theoretical benefit. “  Read the rest of the article here.

In addition to its ineffectiveness, in a historical context, torture puts the United States in bad company.   The Nazis also called their inhumane interrogation tactics “enhanced interrogation”…  verschärfte vernehmung, which can also be translated to mean “intensified” or “sharpened” interrogation.

Andrew Sullivan wrote a great article about how the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ authorized by the president are indistinguishable from the techniques authorized by the Nazi High Command.

The Nazi outline also directed when such interrogation may be used, on whom, why, and what methods may be applied… the most disgraceful part being that Bush’s torture policies went even FURTHER than the Nazis.

Sullivan wrote,

“The use of hypothermia, authorized by Bush and Rumsfeld, was initially forbidden. ‘Waterboarding” was forbidden too, unlike that authorized by Bush. As time went on, historians have found that all the bureaucratic restrictions were eventually broken or abridged. Once you start torturing, it has a life of its own.

In Norway, we actually have a 1948 court case that weighs whether “enhanced interrogation” using the methods approved by president Bush amounted to torture. The proceedings are fascinating, with specific reference to the hypothermia used in Gitmo, and throughout interrogation centers across the field of conflict. The Nazi defense of the techniques is almost verbatim that of the Bush administration…”

Freezing prisoners to near-death, repeated beatings, long forced-standing, waterboarding, cold showers in air-conditioned rooms, stress positions [Arrest mit Verschaerfung], withholding of medicine and leaving wounded or sick prisoners alone in cells for days on end – all these have occurred at US detention camps under the command of president George W. Bush. Over a hundred documented deaths have occurred in these interrogation sessions. The Pentagon itself has conceded homicide by torture in multiple cases. Notice the classic, universal and simple criterion used to define torture in 1948 (my italics):

The victims, by the way, were not in uniform. And the Nazis tried to argue, just as John Yoo did, that this made torturing them legit. The victims were paramilitary Norwegians, operating as an insurgency, against an occupying force. And the torturers had also interrogated some prisoners humanely. But the argument, deployed by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the Nazis before them, didn’t wash with the court.”  Read Sullivan’s entire article here.

Leading World War II interrogators have confirmed that torture is ineffective.  As quoted in the Washington Post:

“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.

In other words, effective interrogation is a battle of wits – so it comes as no surprise that Reich Wingers don’t support it.


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