Livin' it up, American style

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

So I'm going to cause you a lot of pain, and then you're going to tell me your darkest secrets. Ok? Sound good?

In addition to setting up military commissions to try unlawful enemy combatants, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 also allows the continuation of a CIA torture program. This program, cited by Bush to be one of the most potent weapons in the war on terror, allows the CIA and the President the power to detain suspected terrorists and 'interrogate' them. The CIA has been capturing hundreds of suspected terrorists and interrogating them, and as I mentioned yesterday, someone who is totally innocent has absolutely no recourse, not even Americans. The methods that the CIA use to 'interrogate' is what most people would consider torture, including tactics like sensory and sleep deprivation, water boarding (strapping the person down and sticking them underwater), and good old fashioned shaking and beating.

The CIA does this because it is trying to get information to help fight the war on terror. See, if you hurt someone really badly, they'll tell you all their darkest secrets. Or at least that's the shaky premise. First, the CIA has to actually have captured a real terrorist who even knows any kind of helpful information about future bombings or other terror plots. Unfortunately innocent people are sometimes being captured, such as Maher Arar. Then, if the CIA actually has someone who might have connections to some terrorist group, they use different torture/interrogation tactics to get them to talk. Well, unfortunately these tactics don't often lead to useful information. If these people absolutely hate America, they are going to try as hard as they can to resist spilling any information, or they are going to feed the interrogators false information. But interrogators can't always tell what information is real or fake; in testing, professional interrogators were able to separate the truth from lies only 45-60% of the time. Some people who are being tortured are going to confess to anything to end the torture. If someone had strapped me to a board and was submerging me head first into water, I'd confess that I was the Queen of England and married to Osama.

If we look back at other examples of times where torture was used to extract information, we see it has a messy past of ineffectiveness. Salem witch trials anyone? People, usually young girls, were tortured in order to get them to confess to being witches or to name other witches, which many people did. Now I personally find it a lot easier to believe that these people confessed in order to end the pain, then to believe that there was a big coven of witches, plus satan, having fun fooling around with the people of 17th century Massachusetts. But hey, if you believe in witches, then what about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the Al-Qaeda guy who, under torture by American forces in 2002, claimed that Al-Qaeda and Iraq had many significant links. His statement was frequently cited by the Bush administration to justify going to war in Iraq. But oops, he later, when not under pain, retracted this statement. Even Bush has now admitted Saddam and Al-Qaeda were not connected. Talk about going to war based on faulty information.

Or how about the example of US Senator John McCain, who supports this new law? He was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for 5 years during the Vietnam War. He has often talked about the lies he told the Vietnamese, and how he believes that torture leads to the gathering of large amounts of false information as people being tortured will say anything to end their suffering. He even signed a statement (that was in Vietnamese) confessing to war crimes that he had no connections to or knowledge of, which makes it so hard to believe that he could have been such a strong supporter of this bill. Just so everything's clear, John McCain is a POW, he gets tortured, feeds false information to his torturers, signs false confessions to end the pain, and then heartily supports a bill that continues a US program that captures people, does not determine if they are innocent or guilty, and then subjects them to torture to get information to help fight the war on terror. Ok, my point was not supposed to be that John McCain has totally sold out to become the next US president, but that America never seems to learn that torture doesn't work. Yet we continue to arrest people, not determine first if they are an evil terrorist or just a regular Arab, and then hurt them to useless ends. I just don't get it. We'd rather continue to hurt people than try to find some effective means of getting useful information from real terrorists.


  • 'tis this arrogance ye amurkans have - ye thinks ye arr god's children. ye arr rite. but ye arr not god's only children. everyone is.

    ye arr not better 'coz ye arr amurkan. ye arr not righteous 'coz ye arr amurkan.
    ye arr not virtuous 'coz ye arr amurkan.
    ye arr not civilized 'coz ye arr christian.

    ye arr better if ye arr good.
    ye arr righteous if ye arr righteous.
    ye arr virtuous if ye arr virtuous.
    ye arr civilized if ye treat all them peopal with respect.

    being amurkan or iraqi or irani or saudi or christian or muslim or jew haves got nut-ting to do wid it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:54 AM  

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