Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Believe Me, It’s Torture

From Vanity Fair :

“What more can be added to the debate over U.S. interrogation methods, and whether waterboarding is torture? Try firsthand experience. The author, Christopher Hitchens, undergoes the controversial drowning technique, at the hands of men who once trained American soldiers to resist—not inflict—it.

Here is the most chilling way I can find of stating the matter. Until recently, “waterboarding” was something that Americans did to other Americans. It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave men and women were introduced to the sorts of barbarism that they might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions. But it was something that Americans were being trained to resist, not to inflict.

Exploring this narrow but deep distinction, on a gorgeous day last May I found myself deep in the hill country of western North Carolina, preparing to be surprised by a team of extremely hardened veterans who had confronted their country’s enemies in highly arduous terrain all over the world. They knew about everything from unarmed combat to enhanced interrogation and, in exchange for anonymity, were going to show me as nearly as possible what real waterboarding might be like.”

The full article can be read here.

This article came to my attention again this month reading the Letters to the Editor section in this months VF complaining about the liberal media bias and the pros and cons of using torture to gain information. First, let me say that if torture would have be a reliable way to gain information about 9/11 before it happened then so be it. However, well trained interrogators in the military, the FBI, and the police have testified that torture does not work because it produces unreliable information. Worse, torture is not just used on the guilty. A Red Cross estimate is that between 70% and 90% of those imprisoned at Abu Ghraib should never have been imprisoned in the first place. Is this really the way we should be fighting the war on terror?

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