Blowing Smoke: Unauthorized Technique?

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  1. Quote Originally Posted by Mulletsoldier View Post
    Logic dictates only that a torture victim will say something; nothing dictates that "something" will be accurate.
    True, they may say "something" initially. But after you catch someone lying a couple times and let them know then continue to conduct enhanced interrogation techniques on them, they will soon realize that the something they need to say is the truth.

    I'm not saying that other techniques are not effective or that they're not sometimes more effective. I'm saying that by limiting the arsenal of an interrogator, you're limiting the potential for actionable intelligence.

    If you don't believe me, ask Vic Mackey or Jack Bauer.


  2. Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    Here's Hayden's op-ed where he talks about using the enhanced techniques:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123993446103128041.html

    I've conducted lots of interrogations in my work, and I can tell you that there is a time and a place for many different techniques. Every person has different wants/needs/fears, and the goal of any interrogation is to get information by using it to your advantage. However, there is a limit to what I can do, due to that pesky constitution.

    If there were no constitutional 4th and 5th amendment limits....ie interrogating enemy combatants....then I would have a much larger playbook to draw from. And I would draw from every technique available to me that I thought would save American lives and prevent future attacks.

    Some people will talk if you give them candy. Some people will talk if they think their family will be killed if they don't. Some people will talk if you waterboard them enough. There are no magic bullet in interrogations, every person and situation is unique. However, handcuffing feds to constitutional or army field manual standards while dealing with enemy combatants is akin to forcing an NFL caliber offense to run off a high school football playbook.

    How many innocent American lives must be at stake in an attack before it is moral to conduct enhanced interrogation techniques on unlawful enemy combatants?



    The legality of these techniques is precisely the question, so its silly to describe these techniques as 'illegal' when we obviously disagree on that point. As far as 'ineffective', I don't know much about 'Matthew Alexander', except that he's been all over Huffington Post and other liberal rags, which I take with a grain of salt. Logic dictates that literally holding someone's feet to the fire will make them more truthful.
    And just a head's up: that article was written prior to Soufan's Congressional Testimony, where Soufan specifically refutes Hayden's views on his interrogations - those of KSM, Abu Zubaydah and so on.
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  3. Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    True, they may say "something" initially. But after you catch someone lying a couple times and let them know then continue to conduct enhanced interrogation techniques on them, they will soon realize that the something they need to say is the truth.
    However, as I have said elsewhere on this site: the premise of torture is flawed insofar as necessitating the "interviewee" has accurate and actionable information in the first place; if he does not, then the exercise becomes proxy immoral and counterproductive. If torture is effective only when the suspect is guilty, but our method of determining guilt is torture, then torture as a whole is a big cluster-**** of question begging.

    I'm not saying that other techniques are not effective or that they're not sometimes more effective. I'm saying that by limiting the arsenal of an interrogator, you're limiting the potential for actionable intelligence.
    I can see what you are driving at, but I would still disagree. When we have high-level interrogators responsible for some of the clearest counter-terrorism victories thus far known saying torture is ineffective, than why use it?

  4. Quote Originally Posted by Mulletsoldier View Post
    However, as I have said elsewhere on this site: the premise of torture is flawed insofar as necessitating the "interviewee" has accurate and actionable information in the first place; if he does not, then the exercise becomes proxy immoral and counterproductive. If torture is effective only when the suspect is guilty, but our method of determining guilt is torture, then torture as a whole is a big cluster-**** of question begging.
    I advocate using enhanced interrogation techniques on individuals who are known members of terrorist organizations, who are not US citizens, and when traditional interrogation techniques are not effective and authorized by high ranking members of the executive branch and that the congressional oversight committee is notified. I specifically do not advocate torture in any manner in the legal process, as any confession will be questionable.

    I can see what you are driving at, but I would still disagree. When we have high-level interrogators responsible for some of the clearest counter-terrorism victories thus far known saying torture is ineffective, than why use it?
    So far you've shown two individuals who perform interrogations who disagree with its effectiveness. In order to call it ineffective, I'd like to have the following answered:

    1. How many agents did not come forward? Any agent who felt it was effective would surely not say so publicly, as the president is launching criminal investigations into who committed 'torture' and would be a natural target to be made into an example.

    2. What information was blacked out of the documents brought out by the FOIA request? All the documents that 'torture' was alleged had the results blacked out.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    So far you've shown two individuals who perform interrogations who disagree with its effectiveness. In order to call it ineffective, I'd like to have the following answered:
    Yes, but a careful semantic slight of hand to diminish their worth to the argument is ineffective here: this is, in my opinion, not an appeal to an unqualified authority. Had the two individuals been involved in inconsequential interrogations, a small number of interrogations, or some combination thereof, your point would hold more weight; however, that is not the case. "Matthew Alexander" was one of the lead interrogators in Iraq, supervising over 1,000 interrogations, while Ali Soufan was one of the FBI's most prominent interrogators. Now, on the other hand, you have shown nothing whatsoever in defense of enhanced interrogation and/or torture whatsoever aside from a few logical musings. And again, this is all secondary to OLC memos and the like which are incredibly ambivalent as to the efficacy of torture.

    1. How many agents did not come forward? Any agent who felt it was effective would surely not say so publicly, as the president is launching criminal investigations into who committed 'torture' and would be a natural target to be made into an example.
    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.

    2. What information was blacked out of the documents brought out by the FOIA request? All the documents that 'torture' was alleged had the results blacked out.
    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:

    Second, it is difficult to quantify with confidence and precision the effectiveness of the program. As the IG Report notes, it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks. (See id. at 88.) And, because the CIA has used enhanced techniques sparingly, "there is limited data on which to assess their individual effectiveness," fd. at 89. As discussed below, however, we understand that interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates. See hi. at 85-91.
    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.
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  6. Quote Originally Posted by Mulletsoldier View Post
    Yes, but a careful semantic slight of hand to diminish their worth to the argument is ineffective here: this is, in my opinion, not an appeal to an unqualified authority. Had the two individuals been involved in inconsequential interrogations, a small number of interrogations, or some combination thereof, your point would hold more weight; however, that is not the case. "Matthew Alexander" was one of the lead interrogators in Iraq, supervising over 1,000 interrogations, while Ali Soufan was one of the FBI's most prominent interrogators. Now, on the other hand, you have shown nothing whatsoever in defense of enhanced interrogation and/or torture whatsoever aside from a few logical musings. And again, this is all secondary to OLC memos and the like which are incredibly ambivalent as to the efficacy of torture.
    I understand what you're saying, but just because a technique is not successful for two individuals, does not mean it wouldn't be successful for other individuals.

    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.
    Not true:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...401743_pf.html


    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.
    Depending on if its declassified information or not. The reason sections were allegedly blacked out is because the information was classified.

    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.
    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.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by RobInKuwait View Post
    I understand what you're saying, but just because a technique is not successful for two individuals, does not mean it wouldn't be successful for other individuals.
    But you seem to be missing the point: their testimony and commentary was regarding its effectiveness in general, to the extent they were aware about it. Their point was precisely that it was not successful for other individuals. Whether deliberately or not, you are glossing over the fact that these two individuals had intimate knowledge of the interrogation efforts in their respective areas, and came to the conclusion that it was ineffective, unreliable, and counterproductive to the counter-terrorism effort as a whole.

    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.)

    Yes? You feel because the JD has launched a preliminary review, irrespective of the Attorney General's actions, prosecution will arise? I feel this is incredibly unlikely.

    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.
    Traditional techniques were used successfully, which was precisely my point in the first post, and something you continue to ignore; in fact, Ali Soufan said that actable information ceased in his detainees post-August when the "enhanced interrogation program" began - likewise for Alexander. What is fair is Soufan saying, more or less: "traditional techniques excised actionable information from these detainees, while enhanced did not". Now, while you are choosing not to recognize the legitimacy of his commentary, I consider that a fairly indicting statement.

    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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