On Thursday 04/16/2009, the new Obama administration, through the Justice Department, released to the public Bush-era memos graphically detailing – and authorizing interrogation tactics as slamming detainees against walls, waterboarding them and keeping them naked and cold for long periods. It is the most comprehensive accounting, yet, of interrogation methods that were among the Bush administrations’ most closely guarded secrets. Obama said he wanted to move beyond “a dark and painful chapter in our history.”
The memos sparked an angry debate in USA about the limits of what was called “the war on terror”, human rights, and the effectiveness of those methods in protecting American people. Some used the Library Tower Plot as a good example to justify the harsh interrogation, although there is no connection, whatsoever, between the Library Tower plot and USA interrogation technique.
Michael Hayden, who led the CIA under George W. Bush, said CIA officers will now be more timid and allies will be more reluctant to share sensitive intelligence, although those methods are unacceptable among all other Western Democracies. Torture was also justified, by some, as a necessary mean in cases of ‘ticking bombs’ and, generally, to prevent further attacks.
Basically the new documents officially only ratify what was already a common knowledge known publically, although never before confirmed officially.
* THE 9/11
All the necessary information to foil, in time, The 9/11 was already in the hand of USA prior to the attack. It was the absence of information sharing, poor cooperation between agencies and real lack of understanding of the nature of the threat and not torture that enabled the attack to happen (see – Intelligence deficiency ). There is not a single case where there is a clear linkage between torture and a successful foiling of a terror attack in the Western Democracies. Although USA issued few alerts, based on information obtained by harsh interrogations, such as the Summer 2004 alert, the alerts were a general precaution without any substantial evidence that something was really happening.
* Ticking bomb
The situation of ‘ticking bomb’ happens when the integrators believe that the suspect detainee has information of an imminent attack that is supposed to happened soon, may claim
s the life of many and there is no alternative source of information to successfully foil the attack. Although in those cases harsh means of interrogations can be considered ethical – they are extremely rare.
When a close group of people is planning a substantial outlaw operation, whether it is a bank robbery or a terror attack, and someone in the inner circle with knowledge of the 3W – What, When and Where go missing for any reason, the plotters have only two options. The first, if the preparations are in a very advanced stage, to launch the operation immediately before any possible response by the law enforcement or anti terror agencies or, secondly, and most common option, to delay the operation, to change the plan and to chose another target.
Therefore the situation of ‘ticking bomb’ can last only few hours, 72 hours at maximum. People in Guantanamo or elsewhere, in secret jails over the world in the framework of Extraordinary Rendition were subject to harsh interrogation techniques, under the excuse of ‘ticking bomb’ weeks, months and years after their arrest.
Indeed there where some ‘ticking bomb’ cases in Iraq, Afghanistan or the Palestinian Intifada (uprising). In most of those cases the interrogation took place on the spot of the arrest, in the field, immediately after the arrest by qualified field investigators, who managed to create the impression they already have the necessary information when the detainee was still in state of shock, and almost in all cases, without using any physical violence.
* Atmosphere of lies
Torture is the best way to create an atmosphere of lies and to completely twist the reality. According to written and signed confessions, about 10% of the former Soviet Union population, about 20 millions people, were either saboteurs or American spies. Millions were executed and millions were deported to Siberia based on culture of lies and on the usage of torture. In reality only very few were saboteurs or spies, maybe few thousands, all the rest were innocent, horrified and afraid ordinary Russian citizens.
Using torture techniques the main focus is not on the truth but on what the interrogator interpretation of truth is and his state of mind. Information obtained by torture is notoriously unreliable and is a method of finding the truth but of blurring the reality.
Eventually the authorization of torture by USA authorities is a disgrace to the American glorious heritage of human rights and the rule of law, and a reminder to the times that USA acted with panic rather then with basic common sense (see also the case of Aafia Siddiqui).
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