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Thread: It's Our Cage, Too

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default It's Our Cage, Too

    17 May Washington Post commentary - It's Our Cage, Too by General Charles C. Krulak (USMC Ret.) and General Joseph P. Hoar (USMC Ret.).

    Fear can be a strong motivator. It led Franklin Roosevelt to intern tens of thousands of innocent U.S. citizens during World War II; it led to Joseph McCarthy's witch hunt, which ruined the lives of hundreds of Americans. And it led the United States to adopt a policy at the highest levels that condoned and even authorized torture of prisoners in our custody.

    Fear is the justification offered for this policy by former CIA director George Tenet as he promotes his new book. Tenet oversaw the secret CIA interrogation program in which torture techniques euphemistically called "waterboarding," "sensory deprivation," "sleep deprivation" and "stress positions" -- conduct we used to call war crimes -- were used. In defending these abuses, Tenet revealed: "Everybody forgets one central context of what we lived through: the palpable fear that we felt on the basis of the fact that there was so much we did not know."

    We have served in combat; we understand the reality of fear and the havoc it can wreak if left unchecked or fostered. Fear breeds panic, and it can lead people and nations to act in ways inconsistent with their character...

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Hat tip to the Generals on this. I have made my assessment of Tenet and Tenet's scribblings pretty clear. I hope more speak out on this...

    Tom

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    It's easy to give in to the idea of torture as a solution especially in specially-crafted scenarios such as those presented in the debates the other day. We can certainly all envision a scenario where we might actually torture someone or condone such action. However, if you listen to the scenarios presented you realize that they are unplausible. When do we ever know every single snippet of information except what a signle individual in our custody knows?

    That being said, I have to admit that I've often thought of issue. The argument presented by the two Generals is probably the best I've heard. I would think that our use of torture or "enhanced interrogation techniques" (sounds like the fluff put in officer performance reports) really hurts our IO campaign. How can we argue that we are the moral side defending the rule of law when we manipulate it for our purposes?

    Perhaps moving from a war to more of a law enforcement action, like Slapout suggested in another post, would eliminate this? Working from an LE has its issues but the rule on torture is fairly clear.

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    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Perhaps, in addition to the arguments already deftly made by the generals, it might help to move us back from the edge to consider the effect that such policies and actions have on those who must implement them. Do we really want to subject our own people to such brutality? Is this really what Americans want for their personnel in uniform, people who have volunteered to serve? Do we really want legions of folks to have to deal with the aftermath of such actions? We barely have the resources or desire to deal with the run of the mill after-effects of combat, the addition of such a burden will more than exceed the capabilities of the system.

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    Default Opening Our Cage

    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offen...e/robbery.html

    2004:
    Murders 16,137
    Rape 94,635
    Robbery 401,326
    Aggravated
    Assault 854,137

    From another website:

    2002:
    2.6 million reports of child abuse involving 4.5 million children
    896,000 children identified as being abused/neglected
    1400 dead from abuse/neglect (about 4 a day killed)

    Defenders can't be held to standards much higher from the collective from whence they originate. The recent troop survey pretty much confirms this and there is a fairly large swatch of mainstream America that really doesn't care what happens to those forces that seek our demise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/offen...e/robbery.html

    2004:
    Murders 16,137
    Rape 94,635
    Robbery 401,326
    Aggravated
    Assault 854,137

    From another website:

    2002:
    2.6 million reports of child abuse involving 4.5 million children
    896,000 children identified as being abused/neglected
    1400 dead from abuse/neglect (about 4 a day killed)

    Defenders can't be held to standards much higher from the collective from whence they originate. The recent troop survey pretty much confirms this and there is a fairly large swatch of mainstream America that really doesn't care what happens to those forces that seek our demise.
    Those numbers are why many people in other countries say they don't necessarily think the United States has all the answers on how to conduct a civil society. I attended a seminar last summer in which a European journalist said it would be absurd for the U.S. government to invest a single dollar in public diplomacy while there is still an ongoing national debate on whether or not torture is in any way permissible.

    An important aspect overlooked in this debate is whether or not it results in accurate information. Most of the discussion seems to be driven by the odd assumption that torture somehow results in better information than other forms of questioning. This doesn't square with the facts. Its use over the centuries was pretty effective in getting Conversos to confress they were really relapsed Jews, and in getting witches to confess to dancing with the Devil. More recently, there were numerous cases from the Third Reich and Stalin era, as well as in Vietnam, in which motivated individuals were able to refrain from giving damaging testimony while undergoing prolonged physical torture.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    The generals make the point that this is caused by fear. Fear is contagious, but so is courage. If moral courage was more widely distributed among the GS triple digit suits, we would not be in this trouble. I mean the moral courage to stand and say "This is wrong. We will not do it.", with no further arguement or explanation.

    In the book "U-505" by Admiral Gallery, he tells the story of having the youngest, most vulnerable appearing captured U-boat sailor brought to him. He told the sailor to give what information he knew or the the Admiral would have him thrown overboard. The sailor straightened himself up and said "I am a German soldier." At this the admiral said he became immediately and completely ashamed at what he had done to the man. He sent the him back to his quarters.

    We should all feel like the admiral when this subject is discussed.

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    I suppose the constant recurrence of this theme is due to the level of moral/ethical discomfort it causes - because it is still occurring.

    Yet again, I wish to inform all late-comers to this board that the subject of the ethics and efficacy of torture in interrogation has been discussed before on SWC, in varying contexts, here, here and here.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    The problem here is not whether or not torture works reliably. Most will agree that it is not a reliable means to gain information. The problem the definition of torture. These two use a definition that is so broad that it crosses the line to absurdity. Sleep deprivation is torture? In that case war crimes are being commited every day against our own troops at the RTB and the Rowe Training Facility. Detention is SUPPOSED to be unpleasant. Big hugs, sloppy kisses and warm cookies aren't going to convince any hardened bad guy to talk. I understand not beating the guy up or pulling out his fingernails. I get it. I do. But come on. If we are not allowed to do anything even mildly unpleasant in order to assuage the sensitivity of the public then what incentive does a bad guy have to talk? Why not just hang out, enjoy the three hots and a cot and wait until he gets released?

    SFC W

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    509

    It is morally wrong to torture people. By quibling about definitions, you are leaping off the cliff that Tom speaks of and you are setting up troops in confused circumstances for big trouble; that is the situation the two generals speak of.

    To say this or that isn't really torture, but it hurts them just enough to make them talk, is trying to have it both ways. You are intentionally hurting them for your ends. That to me is acceptance of torture as legitimate.

    In the US, detention in and of itself is the punishment. Just being locked up is unpleasant. A guy who gets picked up on Saturday morning for a $200 traffic warrant and can't see the judge until Monday morning shouldn't be put through a wringer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509
    ...In that case war crimes are being commited every day against our own troops at the RTB and the Rowe Training Facility....
    I'm certainly with you, in that detention and interrogation are not supposed to be pleasant experiences. However, I would caution you against comparing what our guys go through at RTF to "acceptable" treatment of detainees.

    We often had problems with younger interrogators who were able to obtain support opportunities for certain types of training events. In every case they had to be retrained to a degree. The methods necessary to effectively support those type of training events are not acceptable interrogation techniques.

    For one that you specifically mentioned, I would draw a fine, but very clear, line between sleep deprivation and sleep disruption.

    The more experienced NCOs usually had the degree of maturity necessary to switch back and forth between training and how we really do things. But for the junior (younger) NCOs in general, the other methods were far more attractive; by giving them a sense of physical power over the sources, they provided much more of an adrenaline rush than the more complex and demanding obtaining of mental power over the source that is truly necessary. Hell, he's already under your physical control - to get info, you've got to control his head. Anything else is just meaningless entertainment.

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    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Default Don't Torture, Wave!

    And now Gen. Mattis has taken the issue to a tactical level -- not just not torturing, but being nice. I suppose it takes a "Mad Dog" to put forth such an idea. "Wave tactics" -- brilliant.

    http://www.iraqslogger.com/index.php..._Secret_Weapon
    Last edited by Sargent; 05-17-2007 at 11:31 PM. Reason: Spelling

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    . Sleep deprivation is torture? In that case war crimes are being commited every day against our own troops at the RTB and the Rowe Training Facility
    If I understand this argument, I'm going to keep you awake for four days and nights straight, and this is going to result in accurate, reliable, coherent, actionable information on a complex subject?

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default Carl

    Quibling about definitions?? You say that torture is morally wrong and would, I assume, want it outlawed but not provide a definition! Somewhat Kafkaesque don't you think?

    So Lance Corporal Snuffy is sent to Iraq, engages in a firefight and captures an insurgent. He wants to ask the guy about the other insrugents; a perfectly legal thing to do. But how does he do it? He doesn't know what torture is because you haven't defined it for him. You're asking him to perform a mission that will bring him into contact with the enemy and will, presumably, require him to attempt to elicit information at some point. He knows he can be prosecuted for torturing the insurgent, but he has no idea what torture is. Is it beating the guy (we'd all probably agree to this)? Is it yelling at him (some would probably argue this)?

    A clear definition is what avoids a confusing situation; not some amorphous concept that will certainly cause troops to hesitate when hesitation is not warranted or needed. Our guys are smart enough to distinguish between torture and legitimate questioning techniques if provided a clear and proper definition. Leadership needs to provide this definition rather than speaking in tongues by using such terms as "enhanced interrogation techniques."

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Kafka!? Who was he? I fly airplanes for a living. If you don't keep it simple I won't understand.

    First off, the Lance Corporal has to know the language or he can't ask him anything. And he should know something about the area and the people who live in it or he won't know what to ask him even if he could. You know, all that COIN stuff.

    If he can't ask effective questions he should send the guy back to somebody who can. The system outlined in "Suggestions for Japanese Interpreters Based on Work in the Field" would seem to be a good one.

    You imply that it is is necessary for the Lance Corporal to go beyond asking the guy things. Why?

    If you want definition of what is permitted or not permitted, how about this. Whatever physical action would get a patrol officer in trouble in the US isn't permitted.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    509

    A guy who gets picked up on Saturday morning for a $200 traffic warrant and can't see the judge until Monday morning shouldn't be put through a wringer.
    1)The guy who gets picked up on a 200$ traffic warrant isn't planting IEDs.

    2)It does not matter if the rank and file joes understand the difference between torture and legitimate interogation techniques. It has never been within their purview to gain information from detainees. That is why we have trained interogators.

    SFC W

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VinceC View Post
    If I understand this argument, I'm going to keep you awake for four days and nights straight, and this is going to result in accurate, reliable, coherent, actionable information on a complex subject?
    More so than the alternative which is to do nothing. In any case who says the info has to be complex? A name or a location is usually enough.


    SFC W
    Last edited by Uboat509; 05-18-2007 at 03:44 AM.

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    More so than the alternative which is to do nothing. In any case who says the info has to be complex? A name or a location is usually enough.
    There are other options besides doing nothing.

    Sleep deprivation results in hallucinations, waking dreams, incoherency, psychosis and paranoia. It is useful in getting people to sign political statements that they are enemies of the state. It is not useful in getting reliable, timely information. It has been used in Soviet Gulags, Latin American dictatorships and Chinese prisons, nearly always in connection with breaking the will of political prisoners. Using this technique, the name and location you get might end up being Peter Pan, third star from left and sail on til morning.

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    The question in the recent candidates debate was not the ethics of routine interrogation but the ethics of torture in an apocalyptical situation, in which one or more U.S. cities stood in imminent danger of being nuked by terrorists. The problem is that if our national security stands or falls on whether we can torture one or two people, then for all practical purposes we no longer have any national security, since there can be no 100 percent effective way to intercept all terrorists with nukes.

    This is not the thread to debate the larger problem of a world in which terrorists have access to nuclear weapons. But the question debated by the candidates makes it sound as if we might be secure in such a world if we remove all restraints on interrogation. Maybe we could intercept and disarm the nuclear threat that one time, but quite apart from the ethical consequences that the two generals so properly raise in their article, I do not see how a policy of torturing captured terrorists can make us secure in the longer run even in its own terms.

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    The scenario of the ticking bomb is precisely the one least likely to be solved by torture. The individual in custody is presumed to be highly committed to the attack. He or she knows that by just waiting long enough, the attack will occur and the mission will succeed.

    It's exactly the same as all those World War II movies where the hero is interogated by the bad guys but does not reveal the time and place of the DDay landings.

    Members of the American military collectively have a strong respect for the Christian religion as a contributing element to Western civilization and values. Those familiar with Christianity and its early history of persecutions and saints should be able to respect the tremendously powerful draw that martyrdom has had on some individuals and that being tortured, in some contexts and mindsets, can amplify an individual's sense of rightious self-sacrifice. Roman occupiers tortured a lot of Christian insurgents, which had the effect of strengthening the insurgency.

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