Thursday, May 05, 2011

In Reply: "Enhanced" Interrogation; It is what it is, and few minds are gonna change, either way

In reply to a whole bunch of comments at Dana Pico's The best result - Common Sense Political Thought

I don't know, guys...

The fact that some bit of useful intelligence might've been discovered as a result of "enhanced" interrogation methods, up to and including the "now-it's-torture-now-it-isn't-now-it-is-again" practice of water boarding, does not vindicate either the "enhanced" interrogation methods, or the torture.

First off, we'll probably never know for sure, as most of the folks there to tell us what we learned when and how have a vested interest, one way or the other. It's no accident that it's largely one political pov and folks who worked under 'em saying the death of bin Laden never would've happened without these methods, and the other political pov and folks who didn't work under the first political pov calling those assertions into question.

Second, there's no way to prove that it couldn't've happened the opposite way. The facts surrounding our interrogation history as regards all that lead to finding bin Laden are what they are. Maybe less harsh interrogation methods might've achieved a more reliable or a quicker result, or maybe without harsh interrogation methods, we never would've gotten bin Laden at all, and had we water boarded every detainee we captured, we might've caught/killed bin Laden years sooner. There's little point theorizing though, because the bell was rung, and it can't be unrung. We did our interrogations the way we did them, and obtained the information we obtained. There's no way of knowing "what might've been, had we used more (or fewer) harsh interrogation methods on fewer (or more) detainees, more (or less) often." As the saying goes, it is what it is (and it was what it was, too.)

This is also why I can't take seriously the occasional mini-meme of folks who say "Obama was opposed to such'n'such an interrogation method or detention facility, but had no problem using the info gleaned from them to kill bin Laden." The info was already obtained, however it was obtained... It wasn't as though Obama & co. could unlearn it, and then interrogate it out again the "right" way. Whatever the moralities or legalities of torture or other bad acts (I'm thinking of the syphilis testing done on black men, or other unethical bits of human experimentation over the years, for starters), we neither could or should unlearn the facts obtained because of their use, even as we criticize the methods, themselves. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.

I've voiced my bit on morality, values, and the American way as regards "enhanced" interrogation methods--whatever their effectiveness in this particular case or overall--and I've seen nothing so far that'd change my position.

So, while I'm sure the debate will rage on, I'm not sure there's any winning this one, for any person or point of view.

After giving it a whole lotta thought, and in the absence of solid facts to the contrary, I have decided to believe that bin Laden made a move or otherwise acted in some way that made his killing justified. I choose not to believe that the US government authorizes or condones summary execution of anyone, no matter how evil a person is or how many people he's killed. It was the best result, but even the best ends don't justify illegal or immoral means. We are a nation of laws, even in time of war, and even on the battlefield.

I pray I never have occasion to learn any different.

And just as an aside...
Dana Pico says:
4 May 2011 at 12:34
Casper wrote:
I see Pico deciphered my super-secret pseudo-pseudononymous nom-de-keyboard. Congratulations are in order. (It took some folks years to do the same, complete with cries and gnashing of teeth about how I was a coward unwilling to stand behind what I wrote, in a few cases.)

James Casper III... Pleased to meet'cha... You can call me whatever you wish or think you need to (as long as you're not breaking the rules here, and you don't call me late for dinner), but personally, I'm stickin' with repsac3, which I've been using at AOL and in/on newsgroups, e-groups, yahoogroups, and blogs (in order, as best as I can recall) since the mid-90's, on my very first teeny-tiny 100 mb Mac Classic. As long as you steer clear of the caps lock and the equals sign, we cool...

Posted 5 May 2011 at 11:21

No comments:

Nerd Score (Do nerds score?)