« Nate Silver: Smart, but not a social scientist | Main | The Congressional myth caucus revisited »

May 05, 2009

Comments

There are weaknesses in the argument that traditional rapport building would have gotten as much useful information from al Qaeda terrorists as water boarding did:

1. It's just someone's guess that rapport building would have worked.

2. The people making this guess are all anonymous.

3. We don't know how long rapport building would have taken. The questioners had no idea how soon after 9/11 the next attack would take place, so it was esssential to get the information as quickly as possible.

4. Has traditional rapport building has ever worked on other al Qaeda terrorists? After 7 1/2 years, one would think that this technique would have had an opportunity to prove its value on these people. But, no such examples are provided.

5. The questioners couldn't know in advance whether traditional rapport building would work. If they had tried that method and it failed, they would have been that much later in getting the information they needed via water boarding. Since they didn't know when the next attack was planned, they couldn't afford any delay.

Based on the evidence provided here, it seems possible that traditional rapport building would have worked as quickly and effectively as water boarding, but it doesn's seem that likely.

For me, the evil of water boarding a handful of al Qaeda terrorists is less than the evil of permitting another 9/11 - magnitude attack. Even if th questioners used the second-best method of preventing another huge terrorist attack, I think they deserve praise. YMMV.

It's tiresome eviserating the rationalizations of the evil people who worship at the altar of terror, but it's a job that must be done. Let's take these idiocies one at a time.

1. It's just someone's guess that rapport building would have worked.

Actually, no. There's plenty of actual data that suggests that rapport building did work on Abu Zuybaydah before Cheney released his psycho psychologists (who had never done a real interrogation in their entire lives).

2. The people making this guess are all anonymous.

Nope, in the case of Abu Zuybaydah the man's name is Ali Soufan.

3. We don't know how long rapport building would have taken. The questioners had no idea how soon after 9/11 the next attack would take place, so it was esssential to get the information as quickly as possible.

Wrong again. Try Googling Sherwood Moran. He was recognized by the US Marine Corps (who, the last time I looked, had never been accused of being insufficiently tough) as their most effective battlefield interrogator during WWII. They even asked him to write a manual on interrogation. You should read it.

4. Has traditional rapport building has ever worked on other al Qaeda terrorists? After 7 1/2 years, one would think that this technique would have had an opportunity to prove its value on these people. But, no such examples are provided.

Our interactions with al Qaeda have been going on longer than 7 1/2 years. The world neither started nor ended on 9/11/2001. Before the Bush administration, the FBI had turned a few al Qaeda operatives using rapport building techniques. Take a look at the investigation of the 1993 WTC bombing.

5. The questioners couldn't know in advance whether traditional rapport building would work. If they had tried that method and it failed, they would have been that much later in getting the information they needed via water boarding. Since they didn't know when the next attack was planned, they couldn't afford any delay.

Except that the waterboarding didn't work, if by "work" you mean gain reliable intelligence from the prisoner. It's not just waterboarding you know. It's a whole program designed to copy the techniques used by the Chinese communists in the 1950's. Google "Biderman's principles". The purpose of the torture is destroy the individual's will. A side effect of this torture is that people subjected to it are less able to recall information. This particular form of torture was designed to get false confessions. You'll have to ask Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld what they were after.

The evil wasn't limited to waterboarding a few terrorists. We tortured several innocent people to death. We tortured Khaled el-Masri after we knew he was innocent because we were too ashamed to admit that what we were doing was wrong.

Ultimately, the reason we turned to torture was because the Bush administration was so ashamed of their failure to prevent 9/11 they had to blame the Constitution, human decency, and democracy. Instead of owning up to their incompetence, they turned their back on 850 years of civilized behavior and human rights.

The comments to this entry are closed.