Is Sarah Palin really so wrong about how terrorists should be dealt with? When her words,
If I were in charge, our enemies would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists!
are considered within the context to which they were assigned, many Christians and non Christians alike find no issue with her statement, yet others are aghast. Sometimes good people will never agree, but we must be aware of the manipulators among us. Clear thinking and decisive actions against all threats are challenges for a constitutional republic such as ours, because so many opposing viewpoints are given voice. How can we hope to prevail against those who seek to crush us when we loose site of who we are? Furthermore, who are the voices that advise how we should be? The heart of America must beat fearlessly again with strong moral conviction as defined by our traditional, non collectivist values or we stand to suffer defeat from an enemy that would otherwise be a joke!
At a National Rifle Association’s Stand and Fight Rally on 26 April 2014, in Indianapolis, former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin boldly declared her perspective on how she would handle terrorists and the crowd went wild!
Sarah Palin’s remark about how she would “baptize terrorists” with waterboarding if she was in charge, drew waves of applause from supporters. Of course, her critics were also put on notice that they would not be dealing with a professional politician should she decide to campaign for President of the United States, but rather a real leader who says just what she means and intends to support her words with action. So the issue here is not just about enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT), such as waterboarding, it is also about being honest with the American people. Whether a voter agrees or disagrees with Sarah Palin, at least they have been honestly informed and evil doers are put on notice. Haven’t we had enough slimy politicians who say one thing and do another?
Speaking before an audience at the American Enterprise Institute in 2011, former Vice President Dick Cheney explained,
The notion that somehow the United States was torturing anybody is not true. Another key point that needs to be made was that the techniques that we used were all previously used on Americans. All of them were used in training for a lot of our own specialists in the military. So there wasn’t any technique that we used on any al Qaeda individual that hadn’t been used on our own troops first, just to give you some idea whether or not we were ‘torturing’ the people we captured. Vice President, Dick Cheney, 9 Sept. 2011, foreignpolicy.com
Breaking this statement down I want to assert three points. First, shouldn’t all individuals who fall into high risk intelligence occupations (military or civilian), be trained to experience something about hostile treatment, if captured? Second, fear of what to expect is a big weapon when a prisoner falls into the hands of the enemy. Therefore, it is wise not to expect mercy, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Familiarity with pain will not make a prisoner’s ordeal any easier, but perhaps it can relieve some of the sting caused from anxiety. Only those who have ever been in such a situation can truly know the dread of waiting for what will walk through a door and come at them. Third, I disagree with the former Vice President, such techniques are torture, but if our own people are trained to endure it, so what!
Why should we coddle an enemy that uses women and children as human shields? With regard to foreign policy against those who would seek to do harm against this nation, Palin stands tall, but then she comes from Alaska and no one is more independent and self reliant than Alaskans, because they have to be! Yet, Barack Obama, with his big heart for Muslim jihadists, has currently outlawed such methods, if only he could apply them to his political opponents! So on the home front, what a relief to know that his critics don’t have to fear enhanced IRS audits, for now!
That Sarah Palin would deal harshly with those who plot to destroy this nation is strong rhetoric that many Americans want to hear these days. Linda Lingle, a former governor of Hawaii, endorsed Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention and had this to say about her,
She is real, what you see is what you get.
Let the professional politicians like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spew their double talk and dodge the issues. We need people who speak boldly about their intentions and not deflect tough questions from their outer anal sphincter muscles, so that the voters are fairly informed!
Other Options to Enhanced Interrogations
In an article written for the Huffington Post and published on 30 April 2014, a more genial approach to interrogation is recommended by Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. As an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, Dr. Speckhard conducted psychological autopsies of over half of the one hundred and twelve Chechen suicide terrorists and interviewed hostages from Beslan and Nord Ost. She also interviewed over four hundred terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world. So why did she not include friends and family members of the victims slaughtered by Chechen suicide terrorists in her research? Anyway, she concludes that if the interrogator would first try to find common ground and build rapport, the individual is more likely to trust and open up. I have news for Dr. Speckhard and everyone else, interrogators know that!
Speckard, like so many others, is quick to bring up Abu Ghraib, which was indeed an embarrassment for everyone. That immature and ill supervised misfits ran amok can still provide a convenient conversation that our people are cruel and depraved beasts is tiresome, but it plays well to those who want to believe that such is the case. None of those court martialed for the sadistic offenses committed at Abu Ghraib were interrogators, nor did their mayhem have anything to do with real intelligence gathering. Furthermore, she also brings up the fact that images of children killed in drone attacks serve as useful propaganda for militant jihadi terrorists, but can such tragedies always be prevented? We can only try. Sure sometimes innocent victims are killed, but our people do try to avoid such heart breaks, yet we must be reasonable and fight to win.
My years in the military were between the very end of Vietnam and over before Operation Desert Storm. Furthermore, though I did go through basic interrogation training, I did not study enhanced techniques, but I see how they can sometimes be useful. Therefore, if it becomes necessary, I advocate for the right of our best intelligence operatives to take their gloves off when dealing with a difficult detainee. Since this article is a lengthy read, I have broken it into two parts. In Part 1, I discuss the controversial issue of EIT, specifically the waterboard method, which was used by professional interrogators until Barack Obama became president. Then I argue the case for when EIT is appropriate and why. In Part 2, I will identify many of the loudest voices of those who condemn it and explain why they are wrong. If you hate me already – I can live with it, just keep reading.
What is Waterboarding?
Some who campaign against waterboarding, as practiced by the CIA, compare the technique to that used by the Spanish Inquisition, Imperial Japan, the Khmer Rouge or Nazi Germany. However, Marc A. Thiessen, author, columnist and political commentator disagrees and says, they don’t know what they are talking about. He then backs his claim through meticulous documentation in his book “Courting Disaster.” So what is the truth?
Declassified memos shed some light on the recently banned practice of waterboarding. For the first time, the memos publicly describe the two methods of officially sanctioned waterboard interrogation procedures:
In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth. This causes an increase in carbon dioxide level in the individual’s blood. This increase in the carbon dioxide level stimulates increased effort to breathe. This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of “suffocation and incipient panic,” the perception of drowning. The individual does not breathe any water into his lungs. During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths. The sensation of drowning is immediately relieved by the removal of the cloth. The procedure may then be repeated. The water is usually applied from a canteen cup or small watering can with a spout. This procedure triggers an automatic physiological sensation of drowning that the individual cannot control even though he may be aware that he is not in fact drowning. This procedure would not last more than twenty minutes in any one application. Jay S. Bybee, August 1 2002, p.3-4:
Note – With the CIA method water is not drawn into the lungs!
The individual breathes water into his mouth, nose, sinuses, larynx, pharynx, and trachea but not the lungs. The lungs are elevated by the inclination of the board to keep them “above the waterline” to prevent the water from actually drowning the individual. waterboarding.org
The second memo indicates the the CIA practiced a different type of waterboard technique from that used for standard Survival Evasion Rescue and Escape (SERE) training. Furthermore, the 2005 description of “two sessions, of up to two hours each” significantly surpasses that of the 2002 description.
It is likely that this procedure would not last more than twenty minutes in any one application.
The SERE Method
Former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) Malcom Nance, who underwent the procedure and taught it as well, has this to say:
In the media, waterboarding is called “simulated drowning,” but that’s a misnomer. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water (SERE method). There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning.
Having been subjected to this technique, I can say it is risky but not entirely dangerous when applied in training for a very short period. Malcom Nance, 31 Oct. 2007, nydaily news
Nance explains that the procedure is all about the fear of slow-motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the terror and usually the person goes into hysterics. Fortunately, a team doctor is present to monitor the amount of water ingested, as well as any physiological signals of drowning effect that have advanced beyond that of simple panic to what could be fatal spasms, if not intercepted. Lack of physical scarring or crippling allows the victim to recover and receive repeated threats. Though Nance clears things up for those who were uncertain, I want to point out two things. First, the waterboard technique used on terrorists has been that of the CIA persuasion, not that of SERE. Second, the quick learner will seek to avoid such an unpleasant recurrence and cooperate, which is the goal!
In a article written for How Stuff Works, Julia Layton, reports that when members of the CIA were introduced to waterboard terror as part of their training, most lasted an average of 14 seconds before they begged to be released. Then she claims that the Navy SEALs abandoned this training procedure because it had a negative impact on morale since everyone broke. However, in April 2009, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) refused to say one way or the other if the procedure is still part of their SERE program. That our elite troops would dismiss waterboarding for counter-interrogation training, is curious. After all, was the purpose of this horrific procedure to master resistance or to understand the breaking point, which is something we all have?
When taken prisoner, the average soldier or sailor may have useful information that can begin the frame to a puzzle. However, the intelligence value that an individual is likely to possess is often assumed by rank and occupation. Even then, information such as how many a cook is feeding and access to supplies can be useful to the enemy. That is the main reason that members of the military are told nothing more than necessary and why they are trained to follow legitimate orders without question. On the other hand, high value operatives such as pilots, members of special operations units and the CIA are very likely to have critical knowledge that can solve multiple puzzles, so God help them and everyone else, if they get caught!
Layton further claims that many CIA officials see waterboarding as,
a poor interrogation method because it scares the prisoner so much you can’t trust anything he tells you. Julia Layton, What is Water Boarding?
Her statement is troubling, since they had great success with it in breaking three Al-Qaeda suspects: Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, which I will talk more about later. In any case, interrogators are always mindful of false confessions, no method is fool proof. Analysts review the findings and supply more information that help determine the validity of, or raise a red flag to, any claims.
Jesse Ventura, the entertaining, former governor of Minnesota fondly recalled his waterboard experience as part of his days as a Navy SEAL stated,
You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders! 30 April 2014, Huffington Post
One hour, Ventura?
Mr. Cheney has had heart problems for years, so if Jesse Ventura thinks that it would take an hour to break that rather fragile old man on a waterboard, it says much about his faith and confidence in the former Vice President, even if unintended!
As to the New York Times (NYT) article that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, was waterboarded 183 times in one month by CIA interrogators, the claim is not true. The number is highly misleading, not a first for the NYT. Fox News was informed by a U.S. official with knowledge of the EIT program, that the much cited figure represents the number of times water was poured onto Mohammed’s face, not the number of times the CIA applied the technique on him. In fact a 2007 Red Cross (PDF) report revealed that he only experienced,
five sessions of ill-treatment.
The average time it takes to break an individual with this method is measured in seconds. That KSM lasted two minutes has been noted by experts as remarkable.
My goodness if only bearing a child could be so brief!
Let us not forget that this man confessed to beheading Daniel Pearl with a knife, then made a video of his evil deed for propaganda purposes. Yet, when asked about a response, Daniel Pearl’s grieving parents stated,
It is impossible to know at this point whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s boast about killing our son has any bearing in truth. We prefer to focus our energy on continuing Danny’s life work through the programs of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which aims to eradicate the hatred that took his life. Ruth and Judea Pearl, 15 March 2007, U.S. edition, CNN.com
Daniel Pearl’s parents are beautiful people and they had a beautiful son!
Since then, faculty members and students at Georgetown University, prepared a report, called The Daniel Pearl Project, that backs up KSM’s confession. Furthermore, this report has led U.S. officials to conclude that vascular technology, or vein matching, proves that the hand of the unseen man who killed Pearl on video is indeed that of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. The report also states that Mohammed told the FBI that a senior al-Qaeda operative advised him to take control of Pearl from his original kidnappers.
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This investigative project was led by Asra Q. Nomani, a former colleague of Pearl’s at the Wall Street Journal, and Barbara Feinman Todd, director of the journalism program at Georgetown. Yet, regardless of their hard work, the report concludes:
Pearl’s actual murderers will likely not stand trial for their crime. Federal officials decided in the summer of 2006 not to add the Pearl murder to charges against KSM in military tribunals because they concluded that would complicate plans to prosecute him and four alleged accomplices in the 9/11 attacks. KSM’s suspected accomplices aren’t expected to be charged, either. One nephew is being tried for the 9/11 attacks, and the whereabouts of the older nephew isn’t publicly known.
Of course most, if not all of KSM’s confessions were under the duress of waterboard influence, which the Daniel Pearl Project only served to credit:
- I was member a of the al-Qaeda council
- I was director for planning and execution of 9/11, from A to Z
- I was commander for foreign ops
- I was directly in charge … of cell for biological weapons, and follow-up on dirty bomb ops on American soil
- I was responsible for shoe bomber operation to down two US planes
- I was responsible for Bali bombing
- I was responsible for second wave attacks after 9/11: California; Chicago; Washington; Empire State, NY
- I was responsible for operations to destroy American vessels in the Hormuz, Gibraltar, and Singapore
- I was responsible for planning operation to destroy Panama Canal
- I was responsible for planning assassination of ex-US presidents, including Carter and Clinton
- I was responsible for planning operation to destroy Heathrow, Canary Wharf and Big Ben
- I shared responsibility for assassination attempt on John Paul II in Philippines
- I was responsible for operation to assassinate President Musharraf
As to the “confessions” which ones, if any, are credible, will be forwarded for prosecution based on a number of factors. Yes, people will say anything to stop pain, but there is more to the process of extracting and crediting information than just a question and answer session. Stupid questions get stupid answers, the interrogator knows that. Though confessions may come, enhanced interrogation is really about moving the individual away from a state of resistance towards one of compliance.
I think of it as a well deserved spanking, when all other ‘nice methods’ have failed and intelligence operatives have serious reason to believe that the subject is withholding critical knowledge. For those who condemn EIT as “immoral,” I argue that if it is conducted by experienced professionals who have also tasted of it’s nasty medicine, then the “moral imperative” has been met. Do not do unto others what you are not willing to experience yourself, I always say. So that certainly leaves out “torture” methods as defined outside of American values, but embraced by many of our enemies, such as:
- Mutilation with electric drills
- Rape – a Taliban favorite
- Splitting knees – Chicago style political persuasion
- Forcing witness of his/her children to suffer and die in order to try to elicit information – another Taliban favorite
It was only after careful consideration and approval from the White House, that the CIA administered the waterboard treatment to Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Never was it used at random, nor was it promiscuously applied by sadistic interrogators who just wanted to get their ‘rocks off’ by watching known terrorists and killers squirm, but rather with forethought and professionalism.
According to Michael Hayden, President Bush’s last CIA director, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were actually detained and questioned in the CIA program, – and of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of the techniques discussed in the memos on enhanced interrogation.
I suggest that just in case KSM survives all the accusations against him, the courts should reconsider the Daniel Pearl evidence.
Other Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
As published by ABC News on 18 Nov. 2005, here is a list of five “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” instituted in mid-March 2002 by the Bush administration and used by the CIA on a dozen top al Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe. According to the sources, only a handful of CIA interrogators are trained and authorized to use the techniques:
1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.
My take – Big Deal!
2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear. Before Dr. Benjamin Spock came along, a hard smack across the face used to be standard operating procedure for parental correction of disrespectful young people so that they would not become juvenile delinquents. Now we see violent offenses committed by our youth on a regular basis and ask why!
My take – If it gets their attention!
3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.
Oh please! This kind of open slap is not a fist punch. I can appreciate that doctors are worried about ramifications and try to error on the side of caution. However, the most damage likely to be inflicted on an individual is a stinging hand print that will fade.
But not on a pregnant woman, ever!
4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.
My take – if they want hard ball, give it to them
5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.
This particular treatment does concern me. We would not want a prisoner to become so sick that he is unable to cooperate. Furthermore, I don’t like long procedures, but some things just cannot be rushed. Hopefully individuals subjected to these techniques will come to their senses quickly, or al Qaeda will just have to train their killers to suffer longer.
CIA update 2009
- White noise or loud music (at a decibel level that will not damage hearing)
In one case, the individual had to listen to rap artist Eminem’s “Slim Shady” album. Now that is cruel punishment!
- Continuous light or darkness
- Uncomfortably cool environment
- Restricted diet, including reduced caloric intake (sufficient to maintain general health)
A chance to loose weight – maybe we should all join up!
- Water dousing
- Sleep deprivation (up to 72 hours)
Sleep deprivation is what soldiers in combat zones understand all too well, so if we can pass the favor on to those who invited us to war in the first place, why not? The difference is that our own troops are not guaranteed any rest after 72 hours. Soldiers may have to face hardship for days and then in a weakened state still be forced to defend others and fight for their lives. So no, I will not be lenient with an enemy that has remained defiant to all other tactics. Such individuals are really begging for a more unpleasant approach.
Now for the updated “Obama approved” waterboard enhanced interrogation treatment! Our enemies will be thrilled!!
Was Waterboarding A Useful Tool?
Staff writers Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate, published a story in the Washington Post on 29 August 2009, “How A Detainee Became an Asset,” in which declassified CIA memos reveal how enhanced interrogation methods worked to transform dangerous and defiant individuals into amiable assets.
Let’s take a look at the Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005.
the CIA believes ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001. In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques.
The memo continues,
Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM RESISTED GIVING ANY ANSWERS to questions about future attacks, simply noting,
Soon you will find out.
Once the techniques were applied,
interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates
Now consider what enhanced interrogation techniques did for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Before he enjoyed our wonderful world of waterboard hospitality, KSM was quite the tease. However, after his special spa therapy sessions of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, with waterboarding treatments saved for the grand finale, this avowed enemy of the United States was transformed into a human being. Sure still a dirt bag, but no longer a smart ass and yes, he was talking. At first, KSM delivered outdated and misleading information, as well as lies seeded among the truth, but professional interrogators are always ready for that. Soon the man became a “preeminent source” of information for the CIA. In addition, he seemed to enjoy his starring role as an expert on al-Qaeda, so who says that harsh interrogation techniques can’t promote a happy ending?
After enduring the CIA’s harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency’s secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called “terrorist tutorials.”
In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.
Mohammed seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group’s plans, ideology and operatives. Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate, 29 Aug. 2009, Washington Post
Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques
led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave, to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into a building in Los Angeles.
KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. The memo explains that,
information obtained from KSM also led to the capture of Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, and the discovery of the Guraba Cell, a 17-member Jemmah Islamiyah cell tasked with executing the ‘Second Wave.’
In other words, without enhanced interrogation techniques, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York.
Yet, even before KSM was captured and taken into custody, the memo credits enhanced techniques against Abu Zubaydah as the reason for our enlightened understanding of al Qaeda’s ‘organizational structure, key operatives, and modus operandi. Furthermore, a broken Zubaydah supplied detailed information that identified KSM as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks and assisted the intelligence community with a plan that led to his capture.
Zubaydah and KSM also supplied important information about al-Zarqawi and his network in Iraq, which helped our operations against al-Qaeda in that country.
Yet, just as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out!
Many in the intelligence community still do not understand why the Obama administration released pages of unredacted classified information on the techniques used to question captured terrorist leaders, yet blacked out information about the positive results that it achieved.
Please let that sink in for a moment.
A president of the United States takes it upon himself to publicly disclose classified information about how the CIA breaks a hostile and stubborn terrorist in our custody! Remember what I said earlier about fear and dread being powerful weapons that an interrogator can use. If all of our toys are placed openly in the sandbox, then fear is certainly no longer a factor. Furthermore, if “daddy” says that we must play nicely even though these sand bullies do not, then how can we hope to prevail against the darkness of their ideology and the evil deeds that it sanctions?
Whose side is Barack Obama on?
Perhaps the Marxist views of this unqualified, unaccomplished, uncaring Commander in Chief demands that the battlefield be leveled in the same way that the Free Market should be restructured, so that our enemies can have a better “shot” at success?
The Office of Legal Counsel memo stated,
We discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM. Intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 reports and in 2004, accounted for approximately half of those delivered by the Center for Counter Terrorism on al Qaeda.
The memos also refer to other classified documents that included an “Effectiveness Memo” and an “IG Report,” which explain how
The use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information.
Why didn’t Obama officials release this information as well? Perhaps, if the American people could actually review evidence of how enhanced techniques yield successful results from stubborn sources like Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, then more voices would defend it. However, with an administration that refuses to label any violent act as “terrorism” when it wears a Muslim face, what else should we expect?
Former CIA Director says enhanced interrogation is what we did, and what we did worked.
When EITs Are Respected By The Enemy!
Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not provide credible intelligence because people will say anything to stop the pain. However, an article published on 21 April 2009, in the Washington Post by Marc Thiessen pointed out that Abu Zubaydah said this,
Brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.
In other words, Muslim terrorists held in captivity are called by their faith to resist for as long as possible and once they have done so, they are free to cooperate, because Islam will ultimately prevail anyway.
So from the Muslim perspective, a warrior of Allah is only expected to remain steadfast against his captors to a point. If life gets too disagreeable, then Allah’s chosen is permitted to reveal everything, but it is important that he not be seen as a ‘wuss.’ After all, this potential martyr must be able to brag that he suffered beyond endurance, that he was “tortured,” because a warrior on fire for Islamic principles must play hard-to-get. Thiessen cleverly turns the complaints raised against EIT upside down and redefines the interrogator’s role as one that provides an honorable way for the detainee to cooperate. In fact, some of these individuals like to impress, but only with “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding, can they be seen as courageous defenders of Allah. So who is Obama and his cronies to deny these righteous warriors a chance to expose their wicked deeds and shine? They really want to tell, so let us help them out!
Before the Obama administration changed policy in favor of our enemies, the well of information obtained from enhanced techniques saved lives, but since that time the morale of our intelligence community has suffered. Other than inform our enemies about the limits of our interrogation methods, what more can Barack Obama do to help them out? He can repatriate five of the most vicious Taliban leaders in the al Qaeda network and assure that more Americans and decent Afghans will be slaughtered. Oh, done that already! For the sake of an alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl, the Obama administration released Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Norullah Noori, and Mohammad Nabi Omari from Club Med at Guantanamo to fight yet again.
When Enhanced Techniques Are Appropriate
and When They Are Not
When waterboard persuasion and other enhanced techniques are appropriate:
- The ticking time bomb scenario – As much as some people like to discredit this setting as one of dark fantasy from morally deficient and power crazed authoritarians, it cannot be dismissed, just ask the Russians! When lives are on the line and time is short, who can afford to play psychological games with a stubborn source? Moreover, a battlefield scenario is very different from a secure compound like Guantanamo or a CIA secret facility that is far, far away from the danger and madness. Professional interrogators always try to establish rapport and gain cooperation from an individual through the most expedient and least negative means possible. Sometimes offering a cigarette or cup of coffee is all it takes.
- A case that may lack the clarity of the ticking time bomb scenario only because the length of the fuse or the nature of the next attack is uncertain but agents have good reason to believe that an enemy captive is likely to have knowledge of high-value information that can save lives and they know the danger is great. Intelligence operatives know they must act but have no idea where or how to begin until they have more information.
Of course, the morality of torture hinges on whether at the time the information was important enough, the danger great enough and our blindness about the enemy’s plans severe enough to justify an exception to the moral injunction against torture. Charles Krauthammer, 1 May 2009, The Washington Post
When waterboard persuasion and other enhanced techniques are not appropriate:
Never should waterboarding or any other form of EIT be used on prisoners of war (POWs). In fact, the Geneva Convention expressly forbids torture and humiliation of POWs. An enemy soldier is an honorable combatant, who follows the laws of war. When one is taken prisoner, the only information a POW is required to give is name, rank and serial number for Red Cross purposes. Of course, interrogators will try to learn what they can from these individuals, but strict guidelines are observed, because enemy combatants must be respected as worthy adversaries. Enemy soldiers follow a chain of command, just like we do, they fight and die just like we do, so they are afforded the protection of the Geneva Convention. Furthermore, enemy combatants of a legitimate military are recognized by their uniforms with a distinctive insignia. Prisoners apprehended when not in uniform do not fall into this category and can be considered spies or terrorists, in which case the Geneva Convention does not apply.
In times of war or peace, regardless of who they work for, spies have always been with us. Spies are usually about, but not limited to, gathering information and the nature of their work requires that they remain undetected. In general they are not combatants, but they can do great harm. If discovered, spies have no illusion about their grim status. Then there are the committed terrorists, who not only hide among innocent civilians but target them as well. Terrorists are all about carnage and lots of it. Some of them will gladly strap bombs to their own children from a sick sense of righteous mandate. Slaughter is part of their ideology. Whether Jihad or Communist, blood is the egg shell breaking; After all, the omelet can be made in no other way. Those who use the expression, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” really need to wake up! Ambivalence helps no one, sooner or later we will all be forced to take sides.
Does that mean that all human decency should get tossed out the window? For the United States of America, of course not, but then I am not a Collectivist/Communist/Marxist/Fascist/Globalist.
Obviously such an expectation of high standards does not apply to Communist regimes where mistreatment is a way of life. Consider, China today, or any day for that matter, how it preserves/controls the social order of it’s people through fear, intimidation and torture. Is it any wonder that regardless of having signed the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, Communist North Vietnam mistreated and tortured our POWs, during the Viet Nam War? What happened to John McCain and many others at the infamous Hanoi Hilton was definitely illegal. Yet, when all was said and done neither the United States nor our allies ever formally charged North Vietnam with war crimes. Then again, some mischief occurred on our side of the fence as well.
Forgive me if I sound a little sexist here, but female POWs deserve special consideration. During the war in Viet Nam, some female Viet Cong prisoners experienced unspeakable treatment by our South Vietnamese allies. That we turned a blind eye to such conduct is inexcusable.
They confined women Viet Cong into tiny cages without a shower for months, “eating, urinating, and defecating” and tearing up their clothes for sanitary napkins during their period. Günter Bischof, History News Network
Until 1974, female service members were either nurses or clerk typists and unlikely to come into contact with a situation such as this one where we could have made a significant difference. Thank goodness new doors have opened for us. Having said that, I do not want to see women forced into the Infantry!
When it comes to coercive interviews, one major difference should be noted between the United States and Communist countries. The U.S. is not interested in forcing “confessions” for propaganda purposes, we seek information that affects national security, wins a battle and saves lives.
I argue that members of the Taliban, like terrorists, are not entitled to, nor do they deserve the same respect as enemy combatants of a nation’s proper military.
The Taliban is not a legitimate Army, but rather the militia of an Islamic fundamentalist political movement that entrenched itself in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion. It has been extremely brutal to the Afghan people ever since, they are thugs. Again, does that mean that all sense of humanity should be dismissed when dealing with them, no. However in their case, if after all other efforts have failed and enhanced techniques, such as waterboarding is the only way to break their spirit and elicit cooperation, then I am all for it. Think of it as their opportunity to reflect on their own inhumanity through physical pain, which is laughable compared to the pain and suffering they inflict on others.
Though some draw a distinction between the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Afghan Taliban, they have much in common. Listed below is just a fraction of offenses committed against humanity by both the TTP and the Afghan Taliban as posted by Abdul Nishapuri on Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP). Though mutilations, beatings and arbitrary executions are standard operating procedure for the Taliban, they are guilty of much more:
- The torture of children – infants were savagely beaten during the Islamic militia’s 14-month occupation of Taloqan, the former headquarters of the Alliance, usually for the supposed crimes of their parents.
- Eight boys shot dead for daring to laugh. – Evidently nothing funny happens in Afghanistan!
- The Taliban jailed children as young as 10 in Kabul to root out dissent. On one occasion the nephews of an escaped political prisoner, aged 10, 13 and 19, were rounded up. The eldest was tortured and subjected to a mock execution.
So the Taliban plays with mock executions!
The only way some people ever learn the error of their ways is to experience what they dish out to others, but then I am an old fashioned girl. I was not raised with a silver spoon in my mouth and teachings that social injustice is the root of all evil, but rather,
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7
So for those with a history of abusing others, a trip to the woodshed to taste of their own horrors does have a ring of social and moral justice to it. Unfortunately, we are not about to deliver anything close to what these monsters have forced others to suffer. We Americans do try to be a kind people, whenever possible. Yet, let us not be a stupid people. Unfortunately, kind is not always wise, but rather bitter medicine and tough love are the more effective cures.
- The Taliban also jails leaders and military commanders for being traitors on only the flimsiest evidence.
- Children being beaten in front of their parents because their fathers were unable to hand over a weapon to the Taliban.
- Hands amputated from men accused of stealing bread to feed their families.
- Women raped after their husbands were taken away and imprisoned in Kandahar or Mazar-i Sharif.
- People burned alive
They burnt some of us alive.’ It was almost the first thing he said to us. In the dust and squalor of a refugee camp, Salahuddin told yesterday how the Taliban burnt an entire family to death in their own home in revenge for the American bombing. He says he saw them bringing out the blackened bodies of the children. Then the Taliban took Salahuddin and the other villagers to the front line, where they ordered them to gather up scattered bits of bodies, all that was left of Taliban soldiers killed by the American bombs.
- People slaughtered and hung from lamp posts as a warning to others.
- A doctor shot dead for not treating a wounded Taliban soldier quickly enough.
- 400 Afghan Taliban soldiers were shot when they tried to defect to the Northern Alliance.
- Though they fought bravely for two hours, the Afghan town of Bamiyan was totally destroyed by the Taliban. Evidence has also emerged of Bosnian-style ethnic cleansing in the region involving the execution of hundreds of local ethnic Hazara men.
- September 1996 — Upon capturing Kabul the Taliban castrated President Najibullah, dragged his body behind a jeep for several rounds of the palace and then shot him dead. His brother was similarly tortured and then throttled to death.
- January 1998 – In the Western province of Faryab, the Taliban massacred approximately 600 Uzbek villagers. Western aid workers who later investigated the incident said civilians were dragged from their homes, lined up and gunned down.
- August 1998 — The Taliban entered Mazar-I-Sharif and went on a frenzy killing shop owners, cart pullers, women and children shoppers.
- August 2000 – Taliban executed POWs in the streets of Heart as a lesson to the local population.
Unlike nations that abide by the Geneva Convention and avoid targeting hospitals, aid stations, and houses of worship, the Taliban makes no such distinction.
- June 2001 – The Taliban bombed the administrative center of Yakaolang, including the district hospital and an aid agency office.
- According to Amnesty International, eyewitnesses reported the deliberate killing of dozens of civilians hiding in a mosque: Taliban soldiers fired rockets into a mosque where some 73 women, children and elderly men had taken shelter.
- Massacre at Robatak Pass — The May 2000 massacre took place near the Robatak pass. 31 bodies were found one site, of these, 26 were positively identified as civilians. The victims were Hazara Shi’as.
- Massacre in Bamiyan — When the Taliban recaptured Bamiyan in 1999, there were reports that Taliban forces carried out summary executions upon entering the city. According to Amnesty International, hundreds of men, and some instances women and children, were separated from their families, taken away, and killed. Human Rights Watch reports that besides executing civilians, the Taliban burned homes and used detainees for forced labor.
- July 1999 – Massacre in the Shomaili Plains — Human Rights Watch reports that a Taliban offensive here was marked by summary executions, the abduction and disappearance of women, the burning of homes, destruction of property, and the cutting down of fruit trees. According to a report by the U.N. Secretary General on November 16, 1999,
The Taliban forces, who allegedly carried out these acts, essentially treated the civilian population with hostility and made no distinction between combatants and non-combatants.
- August 1998 – Massacre in Mazar-I-Sharif – The Taliban captured Mazar-I-Sharif. There were reports that between 2,000 and 5,000 men, women and children, mostly ethnic Hazara civilians were massacred by the Taliban after the takeover of Mazar-I-Sharif. During the massacre, the Taliban forces carried out a systematic search for male members for the ethnic Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek communities in the city. Human Rights Watch estimates that scores, perhaps hundreds, of Hazara men and boys were summarily executed. There were also reports that women and girls were raped and abducted during the Taliban takeover of the city.
With a special fear of and hatred for women, below are just a few laws issued and enforced by the Taliban government in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
A denier of the veil is an infidel and an unveiled woman is lewd.
- A woman’s veil had to cover her whole body and her clothing could not be thin, decorated, colorful, narrow or tight to prevent her “seditious limbs” from being noticed.
- Women were not allowed to walk in the middle of a street, leave the house without their husband’s permission, talk to, look at, or associate with strangers and when speech could not be avoided, they were to speak in low voices and without laughter.
- All ground and first floor residential windows were painted over or screened to prevent the visibility of women from the street. A Taliban representative explained that,
The face of a woman is a source of corruption for men who are not related to them.
- Women were forbidden from the balconies of their apartments or houses.
- Ban on women’s presence on radio, television or at public gatherings of any kind.
- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams.
- Women were forbidden from riding in a taxi without a mahram.
- Segregated bus services was introduced to prevent males and females from traveling on the same bus.
- Women were forbidden from work outside the home, studying in schools or universities, gathering for any recreational purposes. At the time, because 25 percent of government employees were female. Virtually all of the elementary school teachers were women, elementary education of all children was shut down in Kabul.
- Women were prohibited from practicing family planning, nor could they be treated by male doctors.
- Women could not receive surgery from a medical team that included a male member.
- Women had no legal recourse
- Women were publicly stoned even if only “accused” of having sex outside of marriage.
- Women were forbidden to deal with male shopkeepers or talk or shake hands with men outside their families.
- Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women was considered appropriate for not being clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.
- Women were whipped in public for exposing their ankles.
- Women were banned from washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place.
- Ban on female public baths.
- Watching movies, television and videos was banned for everyone.
- The traditional new year (Nowroz) on March 21, was banned because the Taliban proclaimed the holiday as un-Islamic.
- Labor Day (May 1st) disavowed, because it was considered a “Communist” holiday.
- All people with non-Islamic names were ordered to change them to Islamic ones.
- Men were ordered to wear Islamic clothes, cap and not to shave or trim their beards.
- All people were ordered to attend prayers in mosques five times daily.
- Kite flying was banned because it was considered “un-Islamic”
- Anyone who possessed objectionable literature was executed.
- Anyone who converted from Islam to any other religion was executed.
- Non-Muslim minorities were forced to were a distinct badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their dress, so that they could be differentiated from the majority Muslim population.
- The Internet was banned for everyone
Now lets talk about some of the punishments dished out by the Taliban:
- In October 1996, a woman had the tip of her thumb cut off for wearing nail varnish.
- In March 1997, a married woman, from Laghman Province, was caught attempting to flee the district with another man. The Islamic tribunal found her guilty of adultery and condemned both her and her lover to death by stoning.
- In May 1997, 5 female CARE International employees with authorization from the Ministry of the Interior to conduct research for an emergency feeding program were forced from their vehicle by members of the religious police. The guards used a public address system to insult and harass the women before striking them with a metal and leather whip over 1.5 meters (almost 5 feet) in length.
- In 1999, a mother of seven was executed in front of 30,000 spectators in Kabul’s Ghazi Sport stadium for the murder of her abusive husband. Since she was imprisoned for 3 years and extensively tortured prior to the execution death must have been a mercy.
- When a Taliban raid discovered a woman running an informal school in her apartment, they beat the children; threw her down a flight of stairs causing her to break her leg; and then imprisoned her. They threatened to publicly stone her family if she didn’t sign a declaration of loyalty to the Taliban and its laws.
I can think of few individuals who deserve to be waterboarded more than members of the Taliban, those who commit acts of terror, except those who want to change this nation into a flock of sheep that offers no resistance to the politically correct and approved viewpoints of influential far left wing elitists.
Since the end of the Soviet Invasion, the Taliban ceased to be about defending Afghanistan and began to specialize in terrifying old men, women and children. For a better understanding, how about the testimony of a former Taliban official who grew disgusted with the atrocities that he was “forced to commit.” Hafiz Sadiqulla Hassani, ruthlessly carried out his orders until his conscience could take it no longer and defected across the border to Pakistan. As instructed by the commandant of the Afghan secret police, Hassani was told,
You must become so notorious for bad things that when you come into an area people will tremble in their sandals. Anyone can do beatings and starve people. I want your unit to find new ways of torture so terrible that the screams will frighten even crows from their nests and if the person survives he will never again have a night’s sleep.
This riveting interview granted to Christina Lamb and published in the The Telegraph 30 Sept. 2001, is a must read.
Like many people, I did not become a Taliban by choice. Hafiz Sadiqulla Hassani, 30 Sept. 2001, The Telegraph
Young, educated and from a prominent family with land, Hassani claimed that he was coerced into joining the Taliban because they were beating his elderly grandfather. Yet, the family was told that the old man would be released if another member of the family would join their ranks, so Hassani did. At first he was impressed by the group.
It had been a crazy situation after the Russians left, the country was divided by warring groups all fighting each other. In Kandahar warlords were selling everything, kidnapping young girls and boys, robbing people, and the Taliban seemed like good people who brought law and order.
So Hassani became a Taliban “volunteer”, assigned to the secret police. Many of his friends also joined up as land owners in Kandahar were threatened to either ally themselves with the Taliban or lose their property. Others were bribed with money earned through the drug trade.
At first, Hassani’s job was to patrol the streets at night looking for thieves and signs of subversion. However, as the Taliban leadership began to issue more and more extreme edicts, his duties changed. Instead of just searching for criminals, the night patrols were instructed to seek out people watching videos, playing cards or, keeping caged birds. Men whose beards were not long enough were arrested, as was any woman who dared to venture outside her house, even owning a kite became a criminal offense.
Basically any form of pleasure was outlawed and if we found people doing any of these things we would beat them with staves soaked in water – like a knife cutting through meat – until the room ran with their blood or their spines snapped. Then we would leave them with no food or water in rooms filled with insects until they died.
We always tried to do different things: we would put some of them standing on their heads to sleep, hang others upside down with their legs tied together. We would stretch the arms out and nail them to posts like crucifixions.
Sometimes we would throw bread to them to make them crawl. Then I would write the report to our commanding officer so he could see how innovative we had been.
Maybe the worst thing I saw was a man beaten so much, such a pulp of skin and blood, that it was impossible to tell whether he had clothes on or not. Every time he fell unconscious, we rubbed salt into his wounds to make him scream.
That was Hassani’s turning point, he swore an oath to devote his life to the Afghan people and tell the world about what was going on in his country. With so many ugly deeds of his life publicly exposed, I cannot help but wonder what, if any, redemption can be found within the Faith of Islam to renew a soul racked with guilt and in need of forgiveness. The Christian Faith is clear, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses and renews a contrite heart. When the individual confesses to the sin and crimes they have commited, abandons their wicked ways and follows Him (Jesus Christ) from that day forward, they are spiritually reborn. Yet what Muslims believe on this issue, I do not know.
I think many in the Taliban would like to escape. The country is starving and joining is the only way to get food and keep your land. Otherwise there is a lot of hatred. I hate both what it does and what it turned me into. Hafiz Sadiqulla Hassani, 3 Sept. 2001, The Telegraph
The way an interrogator approaches an individual depends on what has been learned about the prisoner’s values, attitudes, reasons for joining an organization, circumstances of capture, etc. On the other hand, deserters and defectors are gifts, all that may be needed is a little confirmation that they have done the “right” thing, just in case doubt starts to creep in.
As long as they still have a conscience, EIT methods such as waterboarding for young and misguided people like Hassani, is usually unnecessary. Reminding such individuals about their sense of right and wrong as reflected by their behavior and measured against the values of their Faith and family honor is more likely to produce positive results. In other cases a little incentive, such as physical comfort often does the trick. Yet, what about those who respond to nothing and remain defiant, say for example, the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) witnesses claim that a suspect planted in a field or along a road side? What to do in such a case?
If after all ‘nice attempts’ to elicit cooperation fail, then I suggest blind folding the culprit and watch him/her zigzag a safe path for those who would otherwise have been his/her victims. Perhaps the individual would prefer a date with the waterboard? After a few seconds of such therapy, he/she will not only be ready to draw a map, but probably help disarm all IEDs as well, now that is what I call cooperation!
Yes, pain, whether it is physical or emotional serves a purpose. It is a compass that tells us to change our direction. Though I can’t speak for everyone, the Geneva Convention and human rights are never far from the mind of a professional interrogator, but common sense must prevail. Those who consider placing an insect near a detainee terrified of bugs as inhumane, are total twits. These “morally superior” fools have never tasted nor witnessed the horrors that terrorists inflict on their victims, so they eagerly rush to defend them and shut down the creative efforts of hard working intelligence operatives to protect us. That a once defiant and impossible individual would pee his pants and cooperate at the mere suggestion of a waterboard episode and tell everything he/she knows, is a good thing; Life should be so uncomplicated!
For those who are so concerned about psychological scars to these individuals, why don’t you apply that concern to the many victims and their families that these people have crippled and slaughtered physically, as well as psychologically? If Barack Obama had been as concerned about our veterans who he ordered into Afghanistan, who now suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and numerous physical disabilities, as much as he has been about the “rights” and “feelings” of suspected terrorists, we would not have yet another unnecessary Veterans Administration scandal on his watch!
A good Commander in Chief, does not send his troops into a fight without giving them the best possible advantage for victory and consideration for survival, but then we are talking about Barack Obama aren’t we! Extortion 17, is one of the best examples of how rules of engagement set in place under his administration not only aided the enemy, but caused far too many unnecessary American deaths. Some of us cannot help but wonder if these fine men might have been deliberately delivered up to the Taliban!
Whenever possible, virtue should always be applied in any work that we do, interrogation is no exception. Taking the time to discover contributing factors that drive vulnerable individuals to commit violent acts of terrorism and open their eyes to the villains that are manipulating them is a noble goal. We must always strive to help such victims see the light and change course. Yet, are all terrorists victims? What of the puppet masters? Time is not always a luxury and when information is critical to save lives, the enemy must know that we mean business, because make no mistake, they do!
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