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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: drunk and violent edition (127 comments)

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  •  we never learn the lessons of our past (26+ / 0-)

    We continue with COIN strategies that were proven to be ineffective or even counterproductive in VN and we institute interrogation techniques that the Allies rejected in WWII.  Allied intelligence determined that Nazi interrogation techniques at the worst damaged or killed intransigent prisoners w/o gaining any information or else the information that was gained was either fabricated either to throw off the Nazis or simply to stop the torture.

    When we began capturing top German brass, we placed them under guard in villas and castles, frequently their former digs, and plied them with wine and cigars and had our guys express admiration to the Germans about what tactical geniuses they were.  Many of the generals already hated "Corporal" Hitler for interfering with their military operations and for not having been trained in the Prussian military education system and they were all too happy to explain what they wanted to do vs what they had had to do and in the process revealed many military secrets they would probably have taken to their graves under torture    

    •  Learned more from a good game of chess (17+ / 0-)

      Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners’ cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them. “We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.

      I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

      by JML9999 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 04:40:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. The fact that torture can and probably often (9+ / 0-)

      does generate unreliable information because, duh, the tortured person makes stuff up in order to end the torture, is usually lost in the discussion.  It appears to be assumed that the only bad thing about torture is that it is inhumane and we (collectively Americans because this is what our government appears to believe) don't care about that anymore, commitment to humane treatment NO LONGER an American value) but it always leads to useful, truthful information.  But that assumption is, of course, fallacious.

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 04:46:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Jihadis are not German generals (0+ / 0-)

      To compare the two is ludicrous.  The cultural differences were almost non-existent between WW II interrogators and German generals.

      Does waterboarding work?  No, probably (usually ) not.  You get more false "answers" from the individual just to make the torture stop.

      But.. Concentrating on the most extreme torture techniques ignores the fact that more subtle, long-term techniques are used effectively all the time.  Deprivation followed by reward can work eventually.  Rewards/threats regarding a detainee's family.. good copy/bad cop.. and, yes even lavishing prisoners with luxuries like the German generals.  And that is  not to even mention the array of drugs available to interrogators these days.  Over time, one or more of these techniques works.

      So, while ticking bomb, Jack Bauer style interrogations rarely work, most people will break eventually.

      And, I think that was the point the movie Zero Dark Thirty was trying to make.

      •  and which of these techniques would you suggest (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annominous, DSPS owl

        for the 12 year old we imprisoned at Gitmo or the cab driver who drove one of bin Laden's lieutenants one time?
        You are ignoring the fact our net was very broad and very ineffective.  As many as 40% of "jihadists" at Gitmo had no connection to al Qaeda and were not radicalized before their incarceration.  Which techniques would have elicited information from the ones who were sold to the CIA by actual Jihadists?

        If you wish to use enhanced techniques of interrogation, might I suggest these Jihadists be considered POWs? Or maybe as military prisoners such as the Nazi hierarchy (wait we did not torture Goering or Schleicher) or as criminal detainees.  Can we discard the polite fiction of "enemy combatants" whereby they are basically in legal Limbo with no acknowledged rights.  After all, the enhanced techniques you mention worked so well with Jose Padilla didn't it?    

        •  Hey.. no one said you can get blood from a turnip (0+ / 0-)

          and a BIG part of gaining intelligence through interrogation is knowing who to interrogate.

          I'm ambivalent regarding declaring everyone caught POW's.  Too many legal constructs come into play as soon as you do that.   In practical terms, it is too easy to get around that anyway.  Pick up an Al Quaeda suspect in Yemen and you make sure he simply becomes a Yemen/Egyptian/Saudi detainee - no formal custodianship by the US.  But, of course, with CIA folks participating in the interrogation.

          As long as Obama can target any individual (including US citizens) anywhere in the world for execution, interrogations that don't rise to the level of violating international treaties are pretty much ok with me.

          •  yep, extreme renditions where we depend (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            on regimes that we publicly revile for human rights violations to "persuade" people to talk with us, such as the Canadian citizen who was picked up by mistake and spent a year in a Syrian "stress" cell.

            That is why we are universally loved around the world; we know how to subcontract

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