Twelve Vital Questions That Must Be Asked About the Use of Brutal interrogation Techniques

Though the issue of the efficacy (effectiveness) of the brutal interrogation techniques is a pertinent factor, it is not the most critical or controlling factor in determining whether such methods should have been used and whether they should be used in the future.

1 Who are we

1. Does our position reveal anything about our personal and our nation’s fundamental character and values?

2.If it does, should we focus primarily on efficacy (does it work) or ethics (is it right)?

3. If “what’s right” turns on our belief as to whether it works, are we comfortable telling our children our flag stands for the principle; “the end justifies the means” when security is at issue?

4.Is the Golden Rule naïve and impractical in important matters?

5. How influential is the fact that other countries have and will use such methods (is there any validity to the idea that America stands for a higher standard of justice and respect)?

6.Is it consistent with our values to use a different standard of humanity and respect when dealing with non-Americans?

7. If it’s justified to use brutal methods that are illegal (unconstitutional) when dealing with suspected murderers, rapists, and political fanatics at home, should we alter our constitution to allow the same standard domestically?

8. Does it matter whether we are dealing with the potential killers themselves or people who may have information that could help us stop an attack?

9. There are six factors in determining whether a particular interrogation technique was effective: did it yield 1) true, 2) important 3) previously unknown information that 4) led to prevention of an attack or apprehension of a dangerous person 5) that could not have been obtained by less harsh (brutal) methods.

10. If extreme harsh methods are used that causes enduing psychological harm, intense fear, and or severe physical pain what level of certainty should the interrogator have that the method will yield valuable information from a particular subject (e.g., a basic principle of the American judicial system is that it is better to let 10 guilty men go free than to punish one innocent person). What is the tolerable number of innocent people who can be subjected to these techniques in pursuit of valuable information.

11. If the techniques work should we continue to use them?

12. If safeguards are established for the use of these methods, how can we monitor their use?

Comments 8

  1. Unfortunately, I think historically, it is undeniable that pain does assist in gaining co-operation, although when time is not an issue other strategies may eventually prove to be better.

    Here’s a suggestion–before examining those questions, let’s start with two terrorists abducting your wife and children. You catch one of them. Where would you draw the line on getting his cooperation to locate your loved ones?

    Now consider at a nuclear weapon hidden somewhere in your hometown, New York, Jerusalem, or London. Now where would you draw the line to find it before it’s detonated?

    After honestly answering these more concrete, personal, and truly costly questions, you might be ready to engage in abstract, idealistic, seemingly cost-free, esoteric philosophical debates.

    1. But we’re NOT considering these (again) hypothetical situations. These interrogations have been used to try to find and assasinate (without trial) people who have planned previous attacks. Asked in these simplistic terms, the answers are obvious. Grow up. The real world is a lot more complicated than the scenarios you have posed and basically you’re saying between the lines that anything is OK. Let me propose another example to you. What if intelligence indicates that YOU are linked to a terrorist cell (in error) and you are picked up and your family is threatened with torture and death? Hmmm. Shoe’s on a different foot now. It’s just not that simple.

  2. Mr. Hart, I suggest you thoroughly read the questions above before commenting, which are clearly asking about future actions: Question 8. “. . . dealing with the potential killers themselves or people who may have information that could help us stop an attack?”

    Your hypothetical query about being swept up in an investigation would be addressed when posing answers to question 12: “If safeguards are established for the use of these methods, how can we monitor their use?”

    Repeatedly characterizing sincere contributions to a discussion as too “simplistic . . . the answers are obvious.” in order to try to dismiss them without proposing a logical response, is not a persuasive argument—in fact, it’s no argument at all.

    Resorting to argumentum ad hominem by making demeaning statements (“grow up”) seems to indicate a lack of confidence in the strength of your position, if it were to stand on it own.

    By the way, “assasinate” is spelled “assassinate”.

  3. Not any of this is simple but the truth is any of these hypothetical situations are very possible; that’s the world we live in. These people want to kill us and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal; so whatever method our law enforcement has to use to stop that should be done and I do not believe we need to know everything they do simply because we find these methods repulsive. Yes we should have a high standard for the way we live our lives and I believe we do; take an honest look at how a large part of the world looks at life and I honestly believe our standards for justice and the greater good are without question, interestingly I am disappointed with how in our highest levels of government they portray us differently then that and are constantly apologizing for the red, white and blue. Its my opinion that we have to do whatever it takes to keep us and our friends as safe as possible; if those that seek to harm us don’t like our methods then find something better to do then cutting innocent people’s head off and killing women and children in the name of some crazy religion!!! they might be surprised if they worked together what kind of life they might could have for themselves and their families.
    George

  4. Isn’t it ironic that today the Taliban killed 126 Pakistani children right after this was posted. What if someone heard that it was coming down and captured one of those evil beasts and tortured them beforehand. These children would be alive today. How moral is that? Think of the lost young lives, their parents suffering, the many injured, on and on. I condone killing and torturing these evil satinist. What they sow, they reap. The Taliban are backward dinosaurs, living in their primitive world with access to modern weapons. What happens if they go nuclear. It’s a different world now.

  5. Enhanced interrogation techniques have a record for producing agreement with what the interrogator is perceived to want, at best.
    The interrogator often has an idea about what ‘the truth’ is, and challenging this ‘truth’ with one’s own knowledge under the threat of torture would seem to me an unwise practice on the part of the prisoner, whose torture would likely intensify to the degree that the information volunteered does not fit the notions of the interrogator.
    See http://armenianweekly.com/2014/12/16/fatma-tokmak/ for the effects on a Kurdish mother (and child) in Turkey. (The nation in question in this account is Turkey, not the US)
    It seems logical to me that one can gain far more cooperation from a positive bonding with the person to be interrogated than with the sort of antipathy created by ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods. Why should the prisoner trust that the interrogator will cease ‘torturing’, if said interrogator has even some slight belief that the prisoner knows something more about other issues not originally addressed?

  6. This torture amounts to things that frighten but do not physically harm a person. KSM has not been harmed by waterboarding or sleep
    Deprivation etc. Thus the debate over the definition of torture. Our own troops are waterboarded in basic training.
    The evidence is conclusive the these techniques in combination with other intel have worked exceptionally well.

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