In the comments section of this post I have already been accused of Sullivanesque hysteria from those on the right and of being a ‘good German’ and torture apologist from those on the left, so why not see if I can piss more people off. To wit, this part of the NY Times story:
What specialized training the unit received came on the job, in sessions with two interrogators who had worked in the prison for a few months. “There was nothing that prepared us for running an interrogation operation” like the one at Bagram, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the interrogators, Staff Sgt. Steven W. Loring, later told investigators.
Nor were the rules of engagement very clear. The platoon had the standard interrogations guide, Army Field Manual 34-52, and an order from the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to treat prisoners “humanely,” and when possible, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But with President Bush’s final determination in February 2002 that the Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that Taliban fighters would not be accorded the rights of prisoners of war, the interrogators believed they “could deviate slightly from the rules,” said one of the Utah reservists, Sgt. James A. Leahy.
“There was the Geneva Conventions for enemy prisoners of war, but nothing for terrorists,” Sergeant Leahy told Army investigators. And the detainees, senior intelligence officers said, were to be considered terrorists until proved otherwise.
The deviations included the use of “safety positions” or “stress positions” that would make the detainees uncomfortable but not necessarily hurt them – kneeling on the ground, for instance, or sitting in a “chair” position against the wall. The new platoon was also trained in sleep deprivation, which the previous unit had generally limited to 24 hours or less, insisting that the interrogator remain awake with the prisoner to avoid pushing the limits of humane treatment.
But as the 519th interrogators settled into their jobs, they set their own procedures for sleep deprivation. They decided on 32 to 36 hours as the optimal time to keep prisoners awake and eliminated the practice of staying up themselves, one former interrogator, Eric LaHammer, said in an interview.
I understand that a sizable portion of the population thinks “Screw it- I am not going to get worked up about terrorists being tortured.” While that is disturbing, I am afraid it is a reality we have to live with right now.
With that in mind, I still contend that torture and ‘deviations’ in standard interrogation practices don’t work. Put aside all the other things that I find wrong about torturing people- that it sullies our name and creates deadly animosity, that it demans what we stand for, that it dehumanizes the enemy and thus makes it easier for additional abuses to occure, that it is illegal, and that it is just plain immoral to treat humans inhumanely. Put all that aside for now, if you will.
I want to see the evidence that torture works. Let’s see the evidence. Show me the intelligence that was gained from these methods. Show me how more intelligence was gained from ‘alternative’ interrogation methods as opposed to normal and human questioning. Show me that the intelligence gained from ‘deviations’ from interrogation policy resulted in better intel. That isn;t too much to ask, now, is it?
In other words, show me the money.