Dear Torture Advocates: Not only does it not work, it makes things worse.
December 15, 2014

 
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On March 23, 2003… three days into the invasion of Iraq, Private Jessica Lynch was captured by Iraqi forces following an ambush of her convoy. Publicists in the Bush Administration spun an elaborate tail of how “Blood & Guts” Lynch fired her weapon “til she emptied her clip” of ammo (Lynch had actually done no such thing, having been too badly injured to fight back) before she was captured by an enemy the Bush Administration feared was doing “Lord knows what” to her. An elaborate Commando-raid to rescue Lynch was devised, and on April 1st, a nighttime rescue raid on “Saddam (Public) Hospital” was conducted by Navy SEALs and Delta Force commandos that probably could have just walked in the front door in broad daylight. No Iraqi troops or weapons were used to “hold Lynch captive” and by ALL accounts… including Lynch herself… her wounds were cared for, and she was treated humanely by the staff, whom, according the Lynch, one nurse “sang her to sleep” so she wouldn’t be scared.

At it’s peak, the infamous “Abu Ghraib” prison in Iraq, where American troops sadistically tortured Iraqi prisoners, held as many as 3,800 detainees.
 

Former President Bush (41) shedding tears over the humane treatment
of Iraqi prisoners by US forces during the ’91 Gulf War
(2007)

 

It was rather disturbing to hear former Vice President Dick Cheney on “Meet the Press” yesterday cite “9/11” four (possibly five) times in defending the use of torture, arguing in essence that what WE did “was nothing in comparison to what was done to us on 9/11″… the classic, “yeah, but you…” defense. But shame on Chuck Todd for never pointing out that the vast majority of these tortured prisoners were Iraqi… who had NOTHING to do with 9/11. (BTW: when Todd pointed out that bad intelligence also led to “claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn’t exist”, Cheney did NOT attempt to correct him or even challenge him on the claim like he has in the past. To me, that’s evidence that even Dick Cheney now concedes Iraq never had any WMD’s.)

“It wasn’t torture!” Dr. Karl Rove (yes, I’m being facetious) insisted to host Chris Wallace during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday. “In fact, the techniques were designed specifically NOT to be torture!” The example Rove gave… which I’m certain he thought up all on his own without consulting anyone… was the fact waterboarded prisoners legs “were elevated” (presumably, in Rove’s mind, to allow water to drain from their lungs) to keep them from drowning. In Rove’s fevered imagination, this is PROOF that we were behaving “humanely” and taking strides to NOT torture prisoners by showing concern for their lives. Of course, Rove is an idiot. Someone really should explain BREATHING to him and how difficult it is to do with a nose/mouth full of water. “Elevating the legs” of a waterboarding victim is designed to PROLONG the torture so that they don’t die on you before you’ve extracted the information you think they know. To suggest a technique devised to extend a victims suffering is humane because it prevents them from dying too quickly, is like arguing in favor of dying from Ebola vs a gunshot wound because a gunshot kills you too quick.

When the Iraqi’s denied they were hiding any “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, the Bush Administration called them liars and demanded they allow in UN Weapons Inspectors. When the inspectors failed to confirm what they were certain was true, they took the position that the Inspectors were too dumb to know they were being hoodwinked by Saddam, ordering all allied personnel out of Iraq and invaded anyway. Similarly, when detainees didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear… most notably regarding connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, they tortured them till they told them what they wanted to hear.

Cheney repeatedly argued that “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” (an aside: if you have to use an euphemism to avoid calling something what it really is, it’s as good as an admission of guilt. – Mugsy) DID “provide good intel that lead to the capture” of a number of terrorists including OBL (which is a lie) and/or foiling plots. Even if true, the amount of time & money WASTED chasing down thousands of bad/false leads for every one “good” lead is incalculable. Some torture-defenders, when you ask them if torture was “the ONLY way” to obtain this information, most will hem & haw before admitting, “There’s no way to know that”. But we DO know that because, according to the CIA report summary (pdf), all of the high-profile intel successes were obtained BEFORE prisoners were tortured, and in many cases, detainees that were “singing like a tweety-birdsuddenly stopped talking after their minds were destroyed by torture (another valuable asset lost.)

Other torture advocates like to cite the “ticking time bomb” scenario, where there’s no time to wait for “traditional” interrogation techniques to work. But in the VAST majority of (arguably ALL) cases, there was no “time is of the essence” situation that was thwarted by way of information gleaned from torture. Of the TWENTY-SIX innocent detainees who were tortured, one was placed in solitary confinement for 19 months before he was asked a single question.

Not only does torture not work, but it is COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE, producing fewer results in more time at much greater expense. If you truly wished to see America fail, you couldn’t do much worse than to root for the continued use of torture. In 1988/89, the CIA produced two reports on the use of torture on prisoners, stating that “[p]ysical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected not only because it was wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective.

Downsides of Torture Program:

  1. False leads waste an enormous amount of time & money. How many bad leads did we obtain via torture for every good lead? There’s no way to know if a lead is no good until you investigate it. What better way to harm your captors than to waste their time chasing down false leads that you know they desperately want to believe are true? Very quickly, your enemies will learn the quickest route to ending their suffering is to feed you a really good pile of crap that you’ve been begging for. David Axelrod noted during “Meet the Press” yesterday that, according to the CIA report, “torture produced the intel that Iraq was supposedly connected to 9/11.”
  2.  

  3. Using torture prolongs war as your enemies dig in their heels and refuse to surrender 1) for fear of what might happen to them if they are captured and 2) it gives them the moral high-ground, with physical proof of their enemy’s barbarism. Ask yourself: “Might we still be at war 13+ years later because of those very reasons?” How many American soldiers died needlessly because they kept encountering enemies that would rather “fight to the death” than risk capture & torture?
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  5. Which naturally, creates more terrorists. No better recruiting poster than to point to the barbarism of your enemy. And to those (like Cheney) who’ll cite “beheadings” by our enemies, THERE WERE NO BEHEADINGS IN IRAQ PRIOR TO THE INVASION. Darth Cheney even had the gall to cite the barbarism of ISIS in defense of torture, but ISIS WOULDN’T EXIST IF HE HADN’T INVADED IRAQ.
  6.  

  7. The more barbaric your tactics, the more barbaric your enemy becomes in response. As noted above, no one was “beheading” Americans before Abu Ghraib.
  8.  

  9. Arguing that your techniques aren’t torture just helps ensure that your own troops are more likely to be tortured should they be captured, only to have your enemies use YOUR OWN DEFINITION of what is or isn’t “torture” against you.
  10.  

  11. As noted above, some prisoners that were cooperative PRIOR to being tortured may suddenly become useless AFTER being tortured… either out of spite or… in some circumstances, due to psychological or physical damage… even death.

 
If torture worked, you wouldn’t have to do it TWICE… let alone 187 times like they did to 9/11 “Mastermind” KSM. Seriously, if the goal of torture is to extract information from your prisoner and they are still able to withhold information from you that requires being tortured AGAIN to extract… and they KNOW they will be tortured again if they don’t reveal everything they know yet don’t reveal it anyway, then it clearly didn’t work.

So, if you’re all in favor of America wasting precious time chasing down false leads, destroying our image as a just & noble society, losing valuable intelligence assets as a direct result of abuse, giving our enemies the moral high-ground, putting our own troops in greater danger should they be captured (and then be left with no leg to stand on when you protest), extending wars so they last for decades fighting an enemy that would rather die than surrender, and aiding the enemy’s ability to recruit additional fighters to their side… then by all means defend the use of torture.

POSTSCRIPT: “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]… I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” – George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775


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December 15, 2014 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Crime, myth busting, National Security, Party of Life, Right-Wing Insanity, Scandals, Terrorism, War