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Enhanced interrogation is not torture

by admin November 10, 2009

BURNABY, B.C. (CUP) &- One of Barack Obama’s campaign promises was to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility a year after he took office. The closing date is tentatively planned for January 2010. Just recently, the American senate voted on a bill that would allow current detainees to be moved from Gitmo to be tried in the United States.

The impetus to close America’s most notorious prison comes from the allegations of torture being used. The photographs of such acts committed there, as well as in Abu Gharib, were some of the defining imagery of the Bush era.
But was it really torture? In a historical context, torture was used quite freely during the medieval age in Europe.

The Europeans &- the Brits in particular &- came up with all kinds of ghoulish devices to lethally extract information from those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end. There was the Rack, which involved some poor sod having his hands and legs attached to ropes, and then having the ropes tightened, pulling the arms away from the legs. Extreme stretching and tearing of muscle fibres came first, then dislocation, and eventually separation of the joints.

What is especially important to note about this historical use of torture is how imprecise and unscientific it was. Little regard was given to “how much was too much” &- how much force could be applied without damaging or lethal effects.
Canadian author, activist and symbol of the far left, Naomi Klein, examined the modern scientific research into the field of torture in the first section of her 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine.” The first part of the book gives a narrative of research that was conducted at Montreal’s McGill University in psychiatric shock therapy. This research determined how to inflict temporary anguish and pain in order to extract information from a subject.

Now, note that operative word: temporary. The effects of modern enhanced interrogation techniques don’t leave any permanent damage, though they are designed to simulate such effect. The idea is to give the person being interrogated the idea that if they do not give up the requisite information they will be permanently injured or perhaps die at the hands of their interrogators.

In an August 2008 article for Vanity Fair, journalist Christopher Hitchens underwent the procedure known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning. In the article, entitled “Believe Me, it’s Torture,” he gives a graphic outline of the effects of the procedure, describing the experience as being “flooded with sheer panic.” This certainly sounds unpleasant, but does it belong in the same category as instruments like the Rack? Definitely not. After all, Hitchens is alive and well today &- with the experience having little ill effect at all.

Despite the fact that these well-honed methods are at the disposal of interrogators doesn’t mean they should be applied indiscriminately. There are certain circumstances when the use of enhanced interrogation techniques is justified, and these methods should be reserved for such times. As Machiavelli said, there are certain times where it’s appropriate to employ an “evil deed well used.”

“Jack Bauerism” is the modern ideological incarnation of Machiavelli, and in it, enhanced interrogation methods are used to diffuse an imminent terrorist attack, the results of which would be so catastrophic that simple logic dictates that some suffering in the detainee may be necessary so lives can be saved. In the glory days of its earlier seasons &- the Bush era &- 24 depicted such acts, often to the chagrin of Amnesty International and the bleeding hearts.

Of course, these methods are unpleasant and undignified for the recipient, but in this Long War we face an enemy for whom their use may be appropriate.
Don’t advertise it as torture; that hardly fits the bill.
The methods used are precise and scientific. A Guantanamo interrogation of an enemy combatant is a far cry from an interrogation in the medieval era, or one which would take place under many of modern despots.

In fact, Guantanamo Bay isn’t such a bad place at all. Many of the inmates actually gained weight there, their imprisonment being the first time in years that they were properly fed. The waterboard is a far safer alternative for interrogation than modern methods used in, say, China or Iran, such as electrocution.
On the topic of the waterboard controversy, FOX News’s “Red Eye” host Greg Gutfeld, said it best: “People have done kinkier things in their bedrooms.”

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