Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Balance in all things

If you'd like an intelligent article about appropriate interrogation methods for detained terrorists, as opposed to the chimeras the press imagines, check out this Heather Mac Donald in City Journal. She opens by positing a scenario in which a detained Saudi, caught in circumstances clearly showing active terrorist connections, chants prayers endlessly when polite questions are put to him.

Even if the 16 traditional psychological gambits codified in the Army Field Manual would ever stand a chance on this guy, you can’t even try them, because he drones over your openings. I don’t know how Marty Lederman would respond, but here’s what some interrogators tried to do: break his concentration. Some interrogators would call out random numbers like a football play. Others played advertising jingles to distract him—never at ear-splitting levels. And yes, the Meow Mix theme may well have been one of those jingles. Call me callous, but my conscience is not shocked. I fail to see how such treatment comes anywhere near to torture or abuse, or how it could possibly inflict psychological damage in the short or long term. If such methods are psychologically lethal, the interrogator is also putting himself at risk, because he is in the room as well.
More importantly, Mac Donald points out that most of the things Lederman and his ilk are excited about are tactics that the Pentagon has prohibited:
I’m happy to debate interrogation methods, but would prefer to focus on methods that were actually approved. Lederman, however, continues his penchant for worrying about techniques that were explicitly rejected by Pentagon officials. Thus, in his recent post (paragraph 5), he places considerable emphasis on boilerplate language by DoD General Counsel William Haynes that three proposed methods were “legally available.” Lederman does not disclose that in the same sentence Haynes rejected those methods as at odds with military tradition. Donald Rumsfeld accepted Haynes’s recommendation and never approved them.
It used to be that people said, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." The current political mantra is, if you can't say something mean, make something up!