Blowing Smoke: Unauthorized Technique?
- 09-02-2009, 10:53 PM
When I interrogate people I often try to be very nice to them and act like I'm on their side, when in reality I am trying to get them to confess to a criminal act. Other people in my agency try to browbeat or good cop/bad cop them into confessions. Both techniques can be highly successful. I know that browbeating or good cop/bad cop would not work for me nearly as well, while my techniques would not work nearly as well for my colleagues.
Imagine if I publicly stated that browbeating and good cop/bad cop are ineffective based on my experience, that may be 100% accurate, but that doesn't mean that its not effective for others.
Unfortunately an argumentum ad ignorantiam [negative evidence] does not fly here either. You could just as well say, "Well, nobody has proven that fairies did not assist in the interrogations, so they very well could have". And considering the President is not going to pursue convictions, and the torture was performed in non-belligerent nations who do not have prosecutable statutes in place to convict the "torturers", I would tend to not recognize this point. Unfortunately, there is a line between technical and actable culpability, and the GWB Administration and the actual interrogators fall under the former.
As well, one would assume that if "torture" and/or "enhanced interrogation" had excised information of the actionable and accurate quality of the "Alexander" and Soufan level, we would have heard it lauded clear from the NeoCon side during the Senate hearing.
While the specific sections on "Effectiveness" from the IG Report itself was blacked out, an OLC Memo from 2005 - the "Bradbury Memo", reveals several of its conclusions. Here is a quote from that memo, and one that I paraphrased earlier:
Obviously, the bold portion will key your interest most immediately, but I would like to address something first. The language "it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks." is importantly vague in politico-speech. As I said previously, this most likely means, "we have no evidence to support the efficacy of torture in obtaining actable information". However, it must be noted it could simply mean that the OLC had an ambivalent view on torture. Either way, it does not speak well to your point about torture's effectiveness.
Now, on to the bold portion. The cases which the OLC goes on to detail in the paragraph below this one are the specific cases which Ali Soufan testified directly against - in other words, the claim that "actionable and critical information" was obtained via enhanced interrogation is demonstrably false. Now, considering that Hayden, the OLC, the JD, Cheney and so on referred to these cases specifically and ad nasuem to demonstrate both the infrequency and effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation", your point (1) appears even bleaker. While the IG Report is not available in full, a clearer portrait is constantly being painted that the CIA's enhanced interrogation program, including waterboarding, was ineffective, cannot be linked to any concrete successes and, possibly more importantly, was unreliable and inconsistent.
- 09-02-2009, 11:48 PM
I can certainly understand what you are trying to establish, insofar as introducing doubt into the credibility of these two individuals, but I simply don't buy it. What's strange is that you seem to be taking the word of a few individuals, who were not present at these interrogations - Cheney, Hayden, Bush, Gonzales, etc., - as valid support for "enhanced interrogation", but choose to ignore more direct testimony. (Given that there is no other data to support its effectiveness, I can't see where else you are being influenced.)
Perhaps what would be fair would be to examine the effectiveness of traditional techniques on the same individuals. I'm sure they were tried on these individuals. If enhanced techniques were 20% effective and traditional techniques were 0% effective, thats still an argument in favor of enhanced techniques.
In reality, there has been little evidence to support the efficacy of "enhanced interrogation" since the inception of the program, aside from the politically-biased comments of those who either created or supported the program. This is simply insufficient evidence, and makes calling it "effective' and/or an "option" based on a hunch downright silly and arbitrary.
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