Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Bring them back?

TH15

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I recently finished the book "Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives" by Jose Rodriguez Jr.- the man who oversaw the enhanced interrogation program and eventually headed the Clandestine Service.

By his accounts, when the techniques were applied in the manner in which they were intended to be applied, the results yielded good intelligence. He estimates that 10 or more plots were thwarted as a result of the EIT program in addition to being able to capture or kill other AQ members.

He specifically focuses on the 3 individuals who underwent waterboarding: KSM, Abu Zubayda, & al-Nashiri. According to Rodriguez, once the other EITs were applied and yielded minimal to no intelligence, waterboarding was applied and all three became, in his words, "compliant" and began to talk and produced good intelligence.

Rodriguez goes to great lengths to make clear that the purpose of the EIT program was not to inflict pain, but rather to instill a sense of "hopelessness" in the detainees. The intent being that the detainees would realize their situation would only improve if they cooperated. He went through some of the techniques that were used and to me, they are not torture.

The book was obviously written from a biased point of view soI wanted to get a sense of what other members thought about the EIT program along with a few specific questions:

1. Do you think the EITs should be classified as torture?
2. Are they legally justifiable under our legal system?
3. Are we more safe or less safe now that these techniques are off the table?
4. Is the Army Field Manual an effective tool for interrogating senior level terrorist suspects?

Finally, as Rodriguez mentions in the book, the US has relied on drone strikes to take out terrorists. Should we continue doing this or should we go back to capturing these individuals in order to extract information from them?
 

TH15

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Here's an interview with Mr. Rodriguez himself. The interviewer is a cunt, IMO, but you get a sense of what he's about.

 

fox1371

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This should prove to be quite an interesting topic. I need to wake up for the day and then I'll make an attempt at a well thought out response.
 

Scotth

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The hard part of debating these issues, especially for people like me, who are not involved in intelligence is we really don't know. This guy and other who supported and ran the program said it was good and got results. Others have said it didn't work. You can argue what the definition of torture is and it can go on and on. I think we can all agree if you put a person through enough EIT's they are going to tell you there mother was suppose to be the 20th 9/11 bomber if they think that is what is going to stop the pain. So I think the quality of the intel will probably be much lower than using other means which makes the practice questionable, at least from an outsider looking in.

It's kind of like debating capital punishment for me. When you talk about the "idea" of capital punishment, I have a problem with the government killing people. When you look at the specifics of an individual case there are plenty of people who have done such horrific things they deserve to die and I would happily flip the switch.

At the end of the day I look at the issue from what does our nation stand for? If we want to be the good guys in the world then you have to act like the good guys. When your out in the field on a live op the view is much different I'm sure.

As far as drone attacks. I don't know anyone that would suggest using a drone to kill some one that could otherwise be captured. Where you can't catch someone because of location and timing then by all means a dead terrorist is a much better outcome then nothing at all. I don't have an issue with targeted killing regardless of there citizenship with the obvious caveat that that only applies in cases where the possibility of capture isn't possible. A bad guy in Yemen is much different situation then a bad guy in Montana, regardless of there citizenship.

I really don't see drone killings as something that takes away from the possibility of capturing someone. So I really see no reason to change course on drone killing.
 

SkrewzLoose

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It's hard to quantify something like this so you have to use some other way to answer the question, "does the end justify the means?" Is there a gray area for these techniques, if it leads to high value booger eaters being captured/killed, where some might turn a blind eye to things that would otherwise be considered torture? I haven't read the book, but my simple mind thinks that if the Agency is seeing results with water boarding or some other method, keep using it. There are some things that the American public will never be completely "in the loop" on and I think that's for the best. This is one of those topics. There are plenty of whistle blowers around if a prisoner's rights are infringed upon.
If they are going to conduct water boarding though, just remember, 375 thread count won't work, it has to be 600. :thumbsup:
 

fox1371

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I think that different techniques are going to work on different individuals. Water boarding will not always be effective, just as all techniques leading up to that point will not always be effective either. I do agree that America likes to think of themselves as that beacon of "good" throughout the world and that in some people's eyes, the EIT program is a black eye on that image. The hard question is where do we draw the line between positive and negative actions? You could say that the nation should never go to war and should "turn the other cheek" so to speak, in the nature of maintaining a society with minimal violence. Or you can make the argument that techniques utilized in EIT are 100% worth it, even if minimal intelligence is gained.

IMO, if a we wage war against a country, then we must do everything within our means to win that war. It is unfortunate that the details of war have been coming into the public light for people to criticize and debate. I completely support the checks and balances system, however the balance seems to have been off for quite awhile. Unfortunately red tape seems to kill more coalition troops than anything else these days.
 

Brill

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Well, the book for one.

But also the executive order Obama signed in 2009.
http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2009/01/obama-issues-torture-ban-orders-cia.php

Am I wrong in saying they are off the table?

I do not know of any classified findings however, I firmly believe that our government does not reveal all of it's cards in the intel game. Plus I only believe half of open source info and even that half is most likely false. No, I've never seen anyone with mustard stains from DPRK night jumps.
 

JohnnyBoyUSMC

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We talked a bit about this in a student group of mine at college. I told em straight up I didn't think some of the EI methods used were "torture". Guys who went through POW camps in Vietnam got tortured, horribly. Simulating drowning with waterboarding, stress positions, isolation and sensory deprivation, that doesn't even come close to a definition of torture. Watch the movie Unthinkable with Samuel L. Jackson and Carrie Ann Moss, now THAT is some torture, though honestly given the situation I can't sit there and say I'm against what he does.....
 

TH15

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Extraordinary rendition is a big loop hole that Obama never closed.
This is true. But that program is only effective for a certain breed of AQ. They have to be wanted for a legal process in a certain country and there's only a select few who fit that mold, according to the guy who headed the program back in the 90's- Michael Scheuer. Even then, based on what I've read, we don't get the best intelligence from guys in the rendition program. Part of the reason being torture and part of the reason being the host country having their own agenda with the individual. Again, this is coming from Scheuer and not me, so this can all be debated.
 

TH15

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When I think of torture, I think of the scenes from Law Abiding Citizen or Casino Royale. I don't think of open hand slaps to the chest and water being poured over the face of a terrorist as torture.

I think that's one of the common misconceptions of the entire EIT program. The idea wasn't to inflict so much pain on these guys that they'd say whatever they thought we wanted to hear to make it stop. The idea was to make them as uncomfortable and feel as hopeless as possible with the hopes that they would cooperate. I think it's important to understand that waterboarding was used on only three guys. In the case of Abu Zubayda, Zubayda felt that waterboarding allowed him to reach a certain threshold. He felt he was religiously obligated to resist to a certain point and waterboarding breached that point for him. He apparently told his interrogators that they "must do this for all the brothers."
 

JohnnyBoyUSMC

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When I think of torture, I think of the scenes from Law Abiding Citizen or Casino Royale. I don't think of open hand slaps to the chest and water being poured over the face of a terrorist as torture.

I think that's one of the common misconceptions of the entire EIT program. The idea wasn't to inflict so much pain on these guys that they'd say whatever they thought we wanted to hear to make it stop. The idea was to make them as uncomfortable and feel as hopeless as possible with the hopes that they would cooperate. I think it's important to understand that waterboarding was used on only three guys. In the case of Abu Zubayda, Zubayda felt that waterboarding allowed him to reach a certain threshold. He felt he was religiously obligated to resist to a certain point and waterboarding breached that point for him. He apparently told his interrogators that they "must do this for all the brothers."

It's always a thin line. One has to be careful from "just pouring water on their face" thinking that since it isn't working the next logical step is to get a car battery and some jumper cables. It's a slippery slope sometimes, one that has to be watched. Actual interrogators that have been screened and trained to do this sort of thing know how to do things without going down that slope. As for the general public, most of them are too fascinated and hypnotized with celebrity gossip and ad placement to worry about things like AQ and EI unless it affects them directly. The ones that actually are interested in these things fall either in the category of hopelessly inept/misinformed or the complete opposite to that.
 

Brill

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Dude, it's a fucking book, written for the purposes of making a profit for the author and the publisher. It is unwise to base an opinion, that will turn to fact if left unchecked, on any single source of information. CURVEBALL taught many lessons.

Interrogation is all about the realization and ultimately acceptance of the changeover of power from detainee to interrogator. Questioning is simply about getting information in exchange for something: better treatment, no pain, etc.
 
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