Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture

Included in the link above is an column written by a Bush Administration official. He points to passages in the released torture memos and to the redacted sections which he apparently read pre-redaction.

He raises a glitch in our public discourse.

I think we're all on the same page when it comes to whether torture is bad. However, one thing the opponents of "enhanced techniques" repeat again and again: "torture doesn't work."

If what this columnist - Marc A. Thiessen - says is correct, torture can work. And has.

He cites to specific outcomes in memos themselves. He alludes to what are in the redacted section (I can accept that actually divulging what is in those sections is a national security "no-no").

In other words, the question Americans should focus on is this:

Even if "enhanced techniques" provide actionable results, should we still refrain from employing them, even when doing so might be in the best interest of our national security?

2 comments:

Dante said...

Dick Cheney has also corroborated Thiessen's stance on Hannity a few days ago. I have to believe both Thiessen and Cheney because if it were a bluff, it would be too easy for Obama to call that bluff. And as Obama has shown in the past, he will engage direct criticism.

My own personal view of torture is that you better be sure beforehand it will yield results and it had better not be a US citizen. No torturing someone who may know something. No torturing one of our own. Other than that, do what it takes.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I try not to engage in the circular debates attempting to justify torture. There are plenty of them out there, and they also lead to circular arguments against, for example, the slippery slope of "if this is effective for terrorists, why not use it on American criminals?"

All the torture debate is about is emotion, not national security.

The behavior our agents engaged in is the same behavior we prepare our soldiers for when they fall into the hands of the worst of our enemies. That behavior? Torture. Pilots and special forces go through this training because all the worst regimes in the world - the evil we are supposed to be fighting - engage in the same tactics to extract information from our people.The other reason not to engage in torture (after the fact that we are a law-abiding, civilized nation that holds justice and rule of law above raw emotional backlash) is "Art of War" calculations.

Think of all the Iraqi soldiers who surrendered to US forces during the early years of the Gulf War. They knew that upon surrender and capture, they would be well treated, fed and not tortured for information. They were more likely to surrender and give up information.

If our enemies think they are going to be tortured after capture, they will fight tooth and nail, all IED's and guerilla tactics, house to house, hole to hole. Our costs become far higher, and chances of success, are lowered.

That's why torture, no matter who, no matter when, makes us less secure.