Given the opening scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, which presents the case that it was the water-boarding of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed that provided the information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, people will want to read Zero Dark Thirty -- Torture Is the American Way? by Glenn L. Carle, a retired CIA interrogator and author of the book The Interrogator.
Let me offer a few snips.
Do not be misled. Pay attention: The men and women who hunted, found, and killed Osama bin Laden -- and heroes they are -- did not need to use torture. Torture is un-America. It is evil. We found bin Laden using painstaking intelligence work, not waterboards.
Understand this, from someone who had some involvement in our "enhanced interrogation" program and who worked on terrorism issues for years (see my book, The Interrogator, which relates my involvement in the interrogation of a senior member of al-Qaeda.) I was there: Torture does not work; it makes it harder to evaluate what detainees say, and more suspect. It is unnecessary, it is counterproductive, it is illegal, and it is immoral. Torture besmirches the meaning of America. We become the evil we oppose when we engage in "enhanced interrogation" -- in torture.
Here we have someone from the CIA, someone who interrogated a senior member of Al Qaeda, saying bluntly what we all know - "enhanced interrogation" is terror. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Please keep reading.
We may remembers that the Judge Advocates General opposed the use of "enhanced interrogation." We know that experienced intelligence officers in the military opposed it, and pointed out that the best way of getting information was the building of rapport with the subject being interrogated.
There is more in Carle's post. I strongly suggest reading it.
One thing that is a problem is that we did NOT hold to account those who violated the appropriate standards of interrogation, of treatment of detainees.
We allowed the CIA to destroy tapes of "interrogations" (that apparently included waterboarding) - not everyone in that agency held to the standards Carle did.
We did not punish the likes of Gen. Miller, who was promoted and told to "Gitmoize" Abu Ghraib, with the consequences that at the time horrified those in Congress who saw all of the pictures, yet did not react with the appropriate outrage.
We did not hold to account those in the previous administration who distorted the law, who issued legal "opinions" that would be decimated in the average 1-L class.
The arts have the power to move us, to inspire our imaginations, to shape our perceptions of events and of history. Picasso'sGuernica is hated by many on the right because it rightly drives home what Franco's air force did to that community during the Spanish Civil War. Novels like The Red Badge of Courageand War and Peace making points about morality in war, its effects upon individuals caught up in the process.
Often art serves a propagandist purpose. I do not deny that some of the art, especially film, that I admire is in part because it powerfully advances points of view with which I agree.
Torture does not work.
Torture is immoral.
Torture should not be acceptable to Americans, under any circumstances.
Torture betrays espoused American principles.
That the film is dishonest about how we obtained the information that lead to Bin Laden is bad enough. That it may shape the nation's perception of how we achieved he death of Bin Laden is worse. That it will lead to a justification of torture in other circumstances is horrible.
Read the piece.
Ponder what he says.
And oppose the justification of torture under any circumstances.