Monday, May 02, 2011

In Reply: "Enhanced Interrogation" (Torture) Vindicated? Not So Fast...

In reply to the following comment at the Washington Examiner post Bin Laden raid was culmination of years of work, senior administration officials say:
"My reply is not to invoke frustration regarding your comment. But, it does make me question your involvement in such matters. You said 'we get'. Are you or have you personally been involved in such matters? The theory of , it is better to talk than fight always sounds better. The praticality of it is not always true. War has been around for a very long time. I would believe if just talking worked would only be used. Physical and mental tactics are purposeful and effective."
I have not personally interrogated anyone, no. I'm willing to bet that the majority of us (that is, we Americans) similarly never have. I don't believe that my failure to do so should in any way negate my opinion on the matter, anymore than I believe that anyone who advocates in favor of war without ever having served in one is a chicken hawk. Our whole military structure is based on civilian leadership and oversight, and our government is similarly civilian lead and "overseen" by we, the people. As Americans, we have an obligation to speak up about the things our government is doing in our name... ...even if we haven't personally done those things, ourselves.

Further, I'm not advocating against war... I agree there is a time for talking, and a time for fighting. While I never thought Iraq was a particularly good idea (to this day... The ends don't justify the means.), I was never opposed to our invasion of Afghanistan, and I'm still not.

And, while I do question the effectiveness of torture (and it's euphemism, "enhanced interrogation"), that isn't the only reason to oppose their use. Even if they elicited nothing but 100% factual intelligence, they would still be morally and legally wrong. We Americans stand for a set of values, and one of them is that we treat others humanely, no matter how poorly they treat us. It is our values that define us and make us exceptional on the world stage. When we compromise them for short term gain--and as I said, I question whether there is any short term gain, besides--we compromise that which makes us who we are as a nation.

Since I posted my initial comment, Folks have been floating the meme that harsh interrogation tactics were responsible for some of the intelligence that lead to the killing of bin Laden. Facts in support have been sketchy, at best. (An AP report quoting unnamed sources...) Until I see something more definitive I'll have my doubts, but even if it turns out to be completely true, every word, I'll still believe that the use of torture goes against the values that make America great, and that we can get all the intelligence we need through the methods the military and law enforcement have always employed.

Posted 5/2/11, 10:38 PM

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