Monday, May 11, 2009

My interrogation commentary at "Dissenting Justice"

The blogger at Dissenting Justice, Darren Hutchinson, is a left person whose opinions I respect,  though very often disagree with.

Darren's latest on interrogation/torture.

I believe GWB deserves some credit for trying to act morally with regard to interrogation. Before GWB, Bill Clinton immorally rendered captives to Egyptian torturers.  GWB tried to rectify the moral problems with Clinton's rendition policy; tried (and succeeded, imo) to bring U.S. policy into a state of morality. Now, if you assert this, you often assert it to persons whom  have never considered such  possibility.  They are aghast and dismissive of your apostasy and foolishness.  
gcotharn said...

Darren says:

"I believe your [Greg's] argument fails because you project a moral dimension to torture...."
Torture IS a question of morality. I believe your argument fails b/c it fails to recognize this. At minimum, we are operating off of different premises.

Darren says:
"Torture is about domination and intelligence gathering."
Here's my premise:
There's nothing immoral about domination and intelligence gathering. [Action] only become immoral if a captive is treated inhumanely.

Darren says:
"Why are indefinite detention and enhanced interrogation in GITMO less troubling than enhanced interrogation and indefinite detention in some CIA or foreign government cell in another country?"
Again, we are operating from different premises. My premise is: we should act morally. Therefore, if we render to Egyptian intelligence which has no qualms about inhumane treatment: that is unquestionably immoral action by us. If we interrogate at Guantanamo, using techniques we have taken pains to determine are moral, then we are acting in accordance with our moral principles as we understand them. Other Amercians disagree about when inhumane treatment begins, and we are having that national conversation - a moral process all the way around - far more moral than the unquestionable immorality of rendering to Egyptian torturers. 

Now, you are asserting that GWB did not act in good faith, and therefore immorality occurred. Maybe so. But it's unknowable, as we cannot see into GWB's heart. What is knowable is that rendition to Egyptian torture, as practiced by Clinton, is absolutely immoral. GWB's process - assuming he acted in good faith, which I suspect he did - was part of a moral national process of setting standards for interrogation. But, I see why you cannot respect GWB at least for the morality of the process: you believe GWB, from the beginning, never acted in good faith.

Shifting and addressing another commenter: Anonymous

Anonymous says:
"No, but I suspect you're not a big enough liar to claim one wasn't torture."
I do not believe we tortured either KSM or Abu Zhubaydah or whoever the third guy was that we waterboarded. I cannot in good conscience allow your sneer to go by without forthrightly declaring my opinion. I respect your opinion that waterboarding is torture. 

Anonymous says:
"Now, were the Armenians subjected to a better or worse genocide than the Jews, or would I have to be a cunt to even pursue such a distinction in an effort to paint a politician I liked in a better light ? That's like trying to justify syphilis in order to defend a pedophile. Get a fkn soul."
Each circumstance is individual, and must be considered on own merits. The [potential] treatment of KSM in Egypt vs [actual treatment] in Guantanamo does not compare to a genocide example or to a syphilis example. More specific and proper comparisons might be: 
  • fingers sliced off, bit by bit, finger by finger, vs getting waterboarded
  • suffering pain of electrocution vs getting waterboarded
  • being subjected to psychotropic drugs vs getting waterboarded

Lastly, Anonymous said this to someone else, yet I'm going to respond:

Anonymous says:

"...people were waterboarded 100+ times and NOBODY is claiming that any plots were stopped as a result...."
I object to this mischaracterization: "NOBODY". You get to choose who you most believe, but you don't get to say "NOBODY" without being challenged. The following persons have said plots were stopped (and over half of all our intelligence about Al Qaeda was gathered) as a result of waterboarding:

Former President GWB
Former VP Cheney
Former Director of CIA Tenet
Former Director of CIA Gen. Michael Hayden
Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey

gcotharn said...

Dick Cheney, Dec 2008:

"There was a time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from one source[KSM]".
Charles Krauthammer:
Did it work? The current evidence is fairly compelling. George Tenet said that the "enhanced interrogation" program alone yielded more information than everything gotten from "the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together."

Michael Hayden, CIA director after waterboarding had been discontinued, writes (with former attorney general Michael Mukasey) that "as late as 2006 . . . fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al-Qaeda came from those interrogations." Even Dennis Blair, Obama's director of national intelligence, concurs that these interrogations yielded "high value information." So much for the lazy, mindless assertion that torture never works.

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