Monday, November 14, 2005

Tinfoil Time

The NY Times has a must read op ed on how the US decided to torture. A program on how to resist torture was used to develop techniques.


M. Gregg Bloche and Jonathan H. Marks write

The Pentagon effectively signed off on a strategy that mimics Red Army methods. But those tactics were not only inhumane, they were ineffective. For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession.

Thus the US used techniques designed to extract false information. Thus my 16 month old fear that we might be in Iraq because we tortured Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi makes logical sense. I should point out that I have no way of knowing if the "aggressive interrogation techniques" amounted to torture or even if al Libi's fears were well grounded.

Digby has an interesting post as to how the Bush administration managed to make such a crazy choice. He considers two possibilities, that they didn't know what they were doing and that their true aim was torture for torture's sake to show our enemies how tough and ruthless we are. They amount to one explanation, since Cheney et al should have known that the American people would not stay angry enough to condone torture for long and we would just show how ruthless we aren't.

I have a totally paranoid theory. Techniques designed to extract forced confessions whether true or false were used because the Bush administration wanted confessions and didn't care about the facts. I really think they thought they knew what had to be done, invade Iraq, and were interested in intelligence mainly as a way of convincing others. Thus an approach to intelligence based on getting the answers they wanted whether or not they were true is plausible.

The reason I recognise that my theory is crazy is that I have no idea how this aim could have been communicated down to the SERE experts. I'd go for explanation 1 also favored by M. Gregg Bloche and Jonathan H. Marks who seem to think that the call to take the gloves off left the US military unprepared and they presented the only torture program they had.

I don't dare comment on Atrios's theory, since I am sure he is much much more expert on the phenomenon than I am.


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