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Old 01-03-2013   #101
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
I think your point about moral degradation having nothing to do with our current economic problems is about as far from reality as one can drift and not disappear into a black hole. It certainly wasn't the sole factor, but it definitely contributed to it.
Again, setting up circumstances that seem almost designed to reward and encourage "immoral" financial behavour and then blaming "moral degradation" for the consequences seems... well, see the analogy above with the dog and the ground beef.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
The first part seems obvious. But I’m not sure that the intentionality of the act is what makes it intrinsically immoral. Going to war in the sandbox was also intentional, and so is the death penalty.

Collateral damage may be unintended, but I should think that in many cases it is clearly possible and probable. So it would seem an accepted side effect to the intentional action.
Is the acceptability contingent on the (un)predictability of its scope? Does that provide a smoke screen over the morality of it?
Craphappencidental seems to hover somewhere between accidental and intentional.
Has there ever been a war that was not marked by accusations of torture, atrocity, etc? One might call those parts of collateral damages, as they inevitably seem to accompany war. Of course it was... clumsy, to put it mildly, for the administration to openly sanction that behaviour, rather than expressing shock and carrying on, as the habit of the past has generally been.

Going to war brings a host of miseries, torture and collateral damage among them. It guts the finances too, if we want to get taxes back into he picture. Still we do it... because we believe we must? Because we know it's right? Because we have the "moral courage" to stiffen our upper lips and take on the grim tasks that we know, or maybe believe, must be done?
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Old 04-22-2014   #102
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Default The (in)effectiveness of torture for combating insurgency

An academic paper 'The (in)effectiveness of torture for combating insurgency' by an American academic; the abstract is quite long, so this is from the opening passage:
Quote:
It is commonly believed that torture is an effective tool for combating an insurgent threat. Yet while torture is practiced in nearly all counterinsurgency campaigns, the evidence documenting torture’s effects remains severely limited. This study provides the first micro-level statistical analysis of torture’s relation to subsequent killings committed by insurgent and counterinsurgent forces. The theoretical arguments contend that torture is ineffective for reducing killings perpetrated by insurgents both because it fails to reduce insurgent capacities for violence and because it can increase the incentives for insurgents to commit future killings. The theory also links torture to other forms of state violence. Specifically, engaging in torture is expected to be associated with increased killings perpetrated by counterinsurgents. Monthly municipal-level data on political violence are used to analyze torture committed by counterinsurgents during the Guatemalan civil war (1977–94). Using a matched-sample, difference-in-difference identification strategy and data compiled from 22 different press and NGO sources as well as thousands of interviews, the study estimates how torture is related to short-term changes in killings perpetrated by both insurgents and counterinsurgents. Killings by counterinsurgents are shown to increase significantly following torture. However, torture appears to have no robust correlation with subsequent killings by insurgents. Based on this evidence the study concludes that torture is ineffective for reducing insurgent perpetrated killings.
Link:http://jpr.sagepub.com/content/early...313520023.full
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Old 1 Week Ago   #103
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I am sure SWC readers, many of them in the USA, have seen the media flurry over the US Senate report on the CIA's use of torture. There are many arguments over the report's contents, whether it should have been released and what has been / is the impact.

I shall link only one UK press report:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...t-summary.html and one desscriptive piece on the abuses:http://www.vox.com/2014/12/9/7360823...orture-roundup

I did find the remarks of John McCain worth reading in full; his stance on torture is well known and he does ask questions the USA should get answers to:http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/...1-a58f984db996

Instead of citing Ali Soufan, the ex-FBI Agent, I have chosen an ex-British Army interrogator. His short piece ends with:
Quote:
I personally think that one of the key weapons which will defeat Islamic fundamentalism is the moral superiority of the plurality of those who oppose it, whether Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, secular or whatever, and what the Senate Intelligence Committee has told us today suggests that, for a time, the CIA gave up that superiority. How can we now claim that we are better than they are?
Link:http://adrianweale.com/2014/12/09/in...n-and-torture/

(Added later) A detailed riposte by:
Quote:
....former CIA Directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden (a retired Air Force general), and former CIA Deputy Directors John E. McLaughlin, Albert M. Calland (a retired Navy vice admiral) and Stephen R. Kappes.
Link to WSJ article:http://www.wsj.com/articles/cia-inte...ves-1418142644
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Old 1 Week Ago   #104
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
I am sure SWC readers, many of them in the USA, have seen the media flurry over the US Senate report on the CIA's use of torture. There are many arguments over the report's contents, whether it should have been released and what has been / is the impact.

I shall link only one UK press report:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...t-summary.html and one desscriptive piece on the abuses:http://www.vox.com/2014/12/9/7360823...orture-roundup

I did find the remarks of John McCain worth reading in full; his stance on torture is well known and he does ask questions the USA should get answers to:http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/...1-a58f984db996

Instead of citing Ali Soufan, the ex-FBI Agent, I have chosen an ex-British Army interrogator. His short piece ends with:Link:http://adrianweale.com/2014/12/09/in...n-and-torture/

(Added later) A detailed riposte by:
Link to WSJ article:http://www.wsj.com/articles/cia-inte...ves-1418142644
David---an interesting and timely thread which ties into two other ongoing threads.

I will comment more later when I have read through the main document but as someone who was a strategic debriefer here in Berlin for over 15 years at eight hours per day five days a week and year after year working in two languages and using interpreters for four others.

And having been a CWO Interrogation Technican and having been an a defense contractor interrogator in both Abu Ghraib and in the field with the 3/3 BCT in Baqubah Diyala AND having been in the IC when the Nixon years forced the system to use effectively for years the "intelligence bible" as what one could and could not do--people need to go to jail.

Why--we sent young soldiers to military prison for their actions in Abu G but not a single senior personality went with them---and now what we just look the other way again?

I spent hours talking with some of the hardest of the hardest Salafists in Abu G, Bucca and in the field---and regardless of their and my personal biases using rapport and respect I had conversations that would raise the eyes and ears of the current senior civilian leadership.

Mistakes that were serious from the beginning;

1. we use often unexperienced interrogators on the military side who where often under the age of 22

2. they had absolutely no understanding of Salafism, insurgency and or it's TTPs and only simply wanted to put people in prison

3. large numbers of these interrogators had never worked with interpreters at all before Iraq

4. a large number of Intel analysts spoke no Arabic and were under the rank of SGT
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Old 1 Week Ago   #105
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Default People need to go to jail

Strangely and from Twitter:
Quote:
Remember this: to date, only CIA officer jailed over torture program is guy who helped reveal it.
From the cited, long report:
Quote:
In January of this year, the 15-year CIA veteran was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on charges of revealing classified information, including the name of a covert CIA operative. But he and his supporters claim that the government's case against him was a matter of political retaliation, part of an aggressive targeting that began when he became the first CIA employee to speak publicly, in 2007, about the CIA's use of waterboarding.
Link:http://motherboard.vice.com/en_uk/bl...-john-kiriakou
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Old 1 Week Ago   #106
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Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
David---an interesting and timely thread which ties into two other ongoing threads.

I will comment more later when I have read through the main document but as someone who was a strategic debriefer here in Berlin for over 15 years at eight hours per day five days a week and year after year working in two languages and using interpreters for four others.

And having been a CWO Interrogation Technican and having been an a defense contractor interrogator in both Abu Ghraib and in the field with the 3/3 BCT in Baqubah Diyala AND having been in the IC when the Nixon years forced the system to use effectively for years the "intelligence bible" as what one could and could not do--people need to go to jail.

Why--we sent young soldiers to military prison for their actions in Abu G but not a single senior personality went with them---and now what we just look the other way again?

I spent hours talking with some of the hardest of the hardest Salafists in Abu G, Bucca and in the field---and regardless of their and my personal biases using rapport and respect I had conversations that would raise the eyes and ears of the current senior civilian leadership.

Mistakes that were serious from the beginning;

1. we use often unexperienced interrogators on the military side who where often under the age of 22

2. they had absolutely no understanding of Salafism, insurgency and or it's TTPs and only simply wanted to put people in prison

3. large numbers of these interrogators had never worked with interpreters at all before Iraq

4. a large number of Intel analysts spoke no Arabic and were under the rank of SGT
After reading in excess of 500 pages it struck me that a number of things came out that even surprised me;

1. many of those CIA personnel conducting interrogations were not even trained interrogators or even strategic debriefers

2. and actually how little they themselves even knew of the Salaifst movements

3. how little those involved in the actual interrogations actually raised their voices and stated this is not working--almost to a degree a cognitive dissonance thing

What is not discussed is that after the Abu G scandal and until this released document no one has seen fit to go back and look at the enhanced interrogation techniques being used at Abu G and what was ongoing in the CIA program---it was one and the same thing--AND this is key just how did the military side fully understand them and or felt they were "allowed" to use them? We sent low ranking military personnel to jail for what the CIA was doing and yet none of them have been charged.

There were some serious rumors that CIA civilians were also in Abu G at the same time as the scandal but never verified which is easy of one takes the time to investigate as a number of civilian contract interrogators can verify it.

I arrived at Abu G right after the scandal and the lines of what were allowed and what were not was strictly enforced---came back in early 2006 and presto there were again "enhanced measures" in play that I even asked questions about and everyone pointed upwards and stated---they have been approved from MNF-I---but still they were a "modified enhanced concept" that pushed my GC buttons.

One of the most serious mistakes made by the Bush administration was the definition they used to define who was and was not an "enemy combatant"--as that determined whether one was a POW and or just a "civilian" with no rights.

By denying thousands POW status the Bush administration basically under cut the GC which in the end is the only protection a US soldier has when captured.

Yes POWs can refuse to answer questions---so what --it makes the job a little harder but it still can work and did work well with those interrogators who knew what they were doing.

Again back to US Army interrogators---most Americans would be totally surprised if they knew the interrogators often had absolutely no idea about any of the Iraq insurgent groups, understood very little about guerrilla warfare ie the TTPs and just about anything else in Iraq---even up to 2010 they were still having problems in the field and at Abu G.

Example---with a prison holding 6000 prisoners one would expect to find similar ongoing issues that one sees in US prisons but with an insurgency focus--there was ongoing "rock mail" where the detainees knew everything that was ongoing in the camp and what questions were being asked and held recruitment, indoctrination training and IED training all within the prison and under the noses of the guards---when I brought that to the attention of the IC and asked for collection guidance--was told we are not interested.

Only after forcing on to the IC several reports about the ongoing insurgent training inside Abu G ---then finally the national level IC sent down collection guidance---this was early 2006 three years into the war.

Another example--in 2006 due to the extreme shortage of trained interrogators the Army in all of it's wisdom sent a strategic debriefing BN from of all places Korea-- who spoke only Korean and had not an earthly idea even where Iraq was and or who was QJBR/AQI? It took them almost six months to get settle in and then they were mentally "going home" three months later.

OR the other services would send volunteers ie Navy and AF to the Army interrogation school and then off to Iraq where they went home after six months creating a massive amount of churn and instability in the collection processes.

It just was not the CIA--the entire US intelligence interrogation system had serious issues and yet no one talks about it.

The overall failures of the Army interrogation program in Iraq is a little know disaster that no one wants the rug lifted on because someone might just ask-- Why?

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Old 1 Week Ago   #107
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My response on the current SWJ thread COIN--Failure? Reading the 2007 interview is critical as the same writer now a professor wrote an editorial that was in the NYTs today ---the Abu Ghraib scandal has never been fully investigated. See:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/op...-was.html?_r=0

Then my friend you have not fully understood one of the key reasons we and COIN failed in Iraq---which by the way I have often called a war of perception.

Your problem is you throw so much theory, academic readings, books,and quotes that you simply fail to both "see" and "understand"---until you do you will never progress. You would do well to fully understand the concept "seeing" and "understanding"--ie reality on the ground vs reality in books.

Remember people die from reality not books.

I knew this individual you did not thus you do no have any concept of the reality of Iraq thus the "war of perception."

You have never had an Iraqi insurgent look you in the eyes and say---"what if I do not say anything-- you will send me to Gitmo anyway right or to Abu Ghraib anyway"--that my friend is and was Iraq---so get out of the books and into the field.

You have never had to be a prosecutor, defense lawyer, jury, and judge and make decisions on individuals that had second and third or even fourth order of effects if you made one wrong decision.

You have absolutely no true knowledge of Iraq and yet you seriously think Iraq was a COIN success.

Would do yourself well to read the article and to think about it since the release yesterday of the CIA report.

AND then ask yourself how did that drive the insurgency against the US--and in that part of the world "perception matters".

An Iraq Interrogator's Nightmare:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...020801680.html

Network News

By Eric Fair
Friday, February 9, 2007

Quote:
A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I'm afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.

That dream, along with a host of other nightmares, has plagued me since my return from Iraq in the summer of 2004. Though the man in this particular nightmare has no face, I know who he is. I assisted in his interrogation at a detention facility in Fallujah. I was one of two civilian interrogators assigned to the division interrogation facility (DIF) of the 82nd Airborne Division. The man, whose name I've long since forgotten, was a suspected associate of Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, the Baath Party leader in Anbar province who had been captured two months earlier.

The lead interrogator at the DIF had given me specific instructions: I was to deprive the detainee of sleep during my 12-hour shift by opening his cell every hour, forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes. Three years later the tables have turned. It is rare that I sleep through the night without a visit from this man. His memory harasses me as I once harassed him.

Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.

American authorities continue to insist that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system. That insistence, however, stands in sharp contrast to my own experiences as an interrogator in Iraq. I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

While I was appalled by the conduct of my friends and colleagues, I lacked the courage to challenge the status quo. That was a failure of character and in many ways made me complicit in what went on. I'm ashamed of that failure, but as time passes, and as the memories of what I saw in Iraq continue to infect my every thought, I'm becoming more ashamed of my silence.

Some may suggest there is no reason to revive the story of abuse in Iraq. Rehashing such mistakes will only harm our country, they will say. But history suggests we should examine such missteps carefully. Oppressive prison environments have created some of the most determined opponents. The British learned that lesson from Napoleon, the French from Ho Chi Minh, Europe from Hitler. The world is learning that lesson again from Ayman al-Zawahiri. What will be the legacy of abusive prisons in Iraq?

We have failed to properly address the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Men like me have refused to tell our stories, and our leaders have refused to own up to the myriad mistakes that have been made. But if we fail to address this problem, there can be no hope of success in Iraq. Regardless of how many young Americans we send to war, or how many militia members we kill, or how many Iraqis we train, or how much money we spend on reconstruction, we will not escape the damage we have done to the people of Iraq in our prisons.

I am desperate to get on with my life and erase my memories of my experiences in Iraq. But those memories and experiences do not belong to me. They belong to history. If we're doomed to repeat the history we forget, what will be the consequences of the history we never knew? The citizens and the leadership of this country have an obligation to revisit what took place in the interrogation booths of Iraq, unpleasant as it may be. The story of Abu Ghraib isn't over. In many ways, we have yet to open the book.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 1 Week Ago at 08:06 PM. Reason: citation in quotes, add links
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Old 1 Week Ago   #108
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinio...bc3_story.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middl...ddthis_twitter

Well worth the read.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #109
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Default Two professionals say

First John Schindler, ex-NSA, who was serving after 9/11, has a long column and I cite only one passage:
Quote:
Let there be no misunderstanding. While CIA officials are now insisting, contra the SSCI report, that the special interrogation program was a success, having prevented terrorism — and there is no doubt their claims are largely correct, in a technical sense — from any big picture view, it was a disaster, having delivered minimal gains at vast and enduring political cost.
Link:http://20committee.com/2014/12/10/ci...#comment-30998

Second Nigel Inkster, ex-SIS (MI6) and now @ IISS. Again one passage:
Quote:
The entire global history of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency shows that when governments are suddenly confronted by a seemingly existential threat they do not understand, they invariably overreact and resort to illiberal techniques to address the threat. This appears to be part and parcel of the human condition.
Link:http://www.iiss.org/en/iiss%20voices...r-torture-c673
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Old 1 Week Ago   #110
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Looking back it is amazing how quickly key institutions of the USA endorsed wide-spread torture and too which degree they tried to justify with 'legal' arguments. Considering the incredible investment into that whole aspect of the war against terrorism it is just astonishing how little mostly rational and objective arguments for the long-term benefit of the USA as a nation seem to have played. Insititutional imperatives, often self-interested actors, social and political pressure and other internal dynamics trumped them badly, with some good 'ol gut feeling thrown in at the highest decision levels. In the end the ever present ordinary men tortured on the orders of other ordinary ones sitting at their desks. Many around the world, US citiziens obviously included, already payed a high price and will many more will likely pay for those actions by the US and to a lesser degree by some of it's allies.

I feel mostly sadness, so much blood, effort and capital invested, so much pain inflicted and so much wasted for so little overall gain, if at all.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #111
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Default Did torture cost American lives?

In an article in Strife (from KIngs War Studies) a former US Army colonel asks questions that maybe fit here better than the partisan politics in the USA:
Quote:
There are important questions about how the program may have affected the conduct of the wars, including:
  • To what extent did the perceptions and justifications of the program, to include the actual and perceived use of torture, affect our soldiers and their mission?
  • To what extent did senior leaders’ public justifications of the program affect broader policy and strategy options in the conduct of the wars?
  • To what extent did perceptions and justifications of the program promote an ends-justify-the-means mentality within the military in Afghanistan and Iraq?
  • To what extent did the perceptions and justifications foster a belief in the military that such practices were acceptable and could be used by them in combat?
  • To what extent did ‘false positives’ or erroneous reports, perhaps made out of fear of torture, lead to military actions that cost lives (civilian and military) and created unnecessary enemies?
  • To what extent did the actual and perceived use of torture compromise the military’s moral standing in the eyes of the people in Afghanistan and Iraq? In what ways did that affect the mission and its prospects of success?
Link:http://strifeblog.org/2014/12/11/did...merican-lives/
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Old 6 Days Ago   #112
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
In an article in Strife (from KIngs War Studies) a former US Army colonel asks questions that maybe fit here better than the partisan politics in the USA:[/LIST]Link:http://strifeblog.org/2014/12/11/did...merican-lives/
Bluntly put---it killed any chance of a success in Iraq---the CIA program was only one part of a systemic intel problem throughout the entire military detainee and interrogation program in Iraq that "cost" the US in the long run the support of the Sunni population.
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