Back in 2005 Wretchard (Richard Fernandez) of the Belmont Club posted on the subject of torture:
At one level the debate over the use of torture in the War on Terror is moot. The United States military has a long operational history of forgoing possible practical advantages in favor of upholding certain national values. The most obvious modern example are rules of engagement in the use of fires. During the recently concluded assault on Fallujah and in current operations in Iraq, military restrictions on the use of firepower around mosques or populated areas are enforced with the foreknowledge that such steps will result in statistically higher casualties to troops. This practice follows long historical precedent. The policy of precision daylight bombing during World War 2; the tendency toward 'No First Strike' during the Cold War and even the restriction on political assassinations in the Carter years are all examples of unilateral renunciations of military advantage
Thinking along those lines I posted:
There are several minor points against the use of torture and I would say a
It is not very reliable. The subject is inclined to say what will end the session, i.e. what they think the interrogator expects to hear. The interrogator quite possibly does not have the means to sort this out. Since it is what the interrogator expects to hear they will give it little challenge.
Most often they will talk without torture sooner or later.
It opens our soldiers to retaliation in kind. Even if the current enemy does not a future one may do so.
It gives a motive to enemy personnel not to surrender increasing our casualties.
Allowing torture and similar activities tends to break down military discipline. Having allowed it in one case it is much harder to expect orders not to do similar things in other cases to be obeyed.
If it becomes public it creates a terrific public affairs problem and invites outside intervention into the running of our armed forces.
The Major Problem.
If we allow torture then we will sink to the level of Osama bin Laden and
his scum. Even when bin Laden loses (which he will in any case) we will lose
Andrew C. McCarthy is the federal prosecutor who prosecuted the 1993 bombers of the World Trade Center. He was invited to attend a Justice Department conference on fighting terrorism. Part of his response to Attorney General Holder declining to attend:
Moreover, in light of public statements by both you and the President, it is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makers—like the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policy—may be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct. Given that stance, any prudent lawyer would have to hesitate before offering advice to the government.
When it is prudent to for a lawyer not to provide good faith advice to the government because a change in governmental policy will result in a prosecution for giving that advice; then we can be certain that governmental decisions will not be made with good legal advice, a problem that is much worse than the original problem. Either the decisions makers will be acting blind or assuming they will be prosecuted in any case will simply ignore any limits on their actions.
This kind of legal strategy will tend to put us at the same level as Osama bin Ladin which is what torture does. WE STILL LOSE
NB: I read the memos in question, it is very clear that the authors were trying to offer legal advice. There is difference between bad advice and particpation.
HT: Southern Illinois Catholics
My posts on Torture
6 months ago