Monday, March 30, 2009

The Torture Fallacy

Who doesn't love 24? We have now spent six whole days and part of a seventh following around tough, uncompromising CTU agent Jack Bauer. As the body count mounts, disasters avoided, plots foiled and any woman who is crazy enough to get close to Bauer dies or is irreparably emotionally scarred, Americans are exposed to one "24 fact:" Torture works.

Unfortunately, like other Hollywood magic, the myth that torture works is false. Just like talking horses, flying men and guys working at a big-box Electronic superstore dating ridiculously hot women (yeah...I'm talking about you Yvonne Strahovski.), the myth of torturer working is just that: a myth. Turns out the usual thing that happens when you pop a cap into someone's knee (other than that person limping for the rest of their life) is they LIE TO YOU.

Your local tech installer with Best Buy has a better chance of scoring with Chuck's "girlfriend/handler" than of torture obtaining any good information.

Back in February of 2007, word got out that the Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan the Dean of West Point travelled to Hollywood to have a come-to-Jesus-meeting with the creative team of 24. Seems like the military thought the unrealistic results the show gave to torture weren't exactly helping fight the war on terror. Funny...I don't recall anyone on FOX News calling anyone from 24 unpatriotic. Maybe it's because the show's creator, Joel Surnow (a self-described "close friend of Rush Limbaugh"), skipped the meeting because he "couldn't sit still that long" and he had a conference call with Roger Ailes. He was probably being uber-patriotic on the conference call, so they let it slide in the interest of being "fair and balanced."

Anyway, since then, where are we? I'm pretty sure I have yet to the see the 24 scene where Bauer tortures a suspect, gets info, scrambles everyone from CTU, Homeland Security, DoD, FBI and the local Sheriff's office, only to have them wind up holding their pricks in their hands because Abu fed Bauer a load of crap just so he could keep his index finger.

Remember this fella: Abu Zubaydah? You know, the guy President Bush said was the "chief of operations" for al Queda? Turns out, that was a bit of a stretch. Sullivan pulls the meat from the Washington Post article:

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of
Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions, according to former senior government
officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads
attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful
information from Abu Zubaida -- chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates
-- was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said. Moreover, within
weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they
had misjudged Abu Zubaida. . . . None of [their earlier claims] was accurate,
the new evidence showed.

So if all they get is crap, why bother? Herein lies the rub:

As weeks passed after the capture without significant new confessions, the Bush
White House and some at the CIA became convinced that tougher measures had to be
tried. The pressure from upper levels of the government was "tremendous," driven
in part by the routine of daily meetings in which policymakers would press for
updates, one official remembered. "They couldn't stand the idea that there
wasn't anything new," the official said. "They'd say, 'You aren't working hard
enough.' There was both a disbelief in what he was saying and also a desire for
retribution -- a feeling that 'He's going to talk, and if he doesn't talk, we'll
do whatever.' "

Ladies and gents...this is what our souls were sold for. Doesn't seem like much, huh? least Robert Johnson got some wicked-mad chops on the guitar for his. We got worldwide shame, the loss of our ideals and turned an unknown number of people against us. Oh...and we waste time and resources tracking down all this bogus crap.

Sullivan goes on to point out that despite Senate Intelligence Committee members pressing the CIA since 2006, they cannot point to a single solid specific lead that came about through the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on this "chief of operations."

I can't sum it up any better than Sullivan; "We sold our souls for lies."

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