Monday, February 9, 2009
To those interested in the debate over torture, I recommend this brief article, by a man who was "...national security adviser to Vice President George H. W. Bush from 1982 to 1988 and ambassador to Korea from 1989 to 1993, worked for the C.I.A. for 30 years..." It includes these paragraphs:
In regard to a Vietnamese officer who liked to torture prisoners:
This colonel routinely tortured prisoners, producing a flood of information, much of it totally false... The colonel finally relented and turned over a battered prisoner to me, saying, “This man knows a lot but he will not talk to me.” We treated the prisoner’s wounds, reunited him with his family and allowed him to make his first visit to Saigon. Surprised by the city’s affluence, he said he would tell us anything we asked. The result was a flood of actionable intelligence that allowed us to disrupt planned operations, including rocket attacks against Saigon.
And this, referring to Dick Cheney's recent worries:
There’s a sad twist here. Mr. Cheney forgets that the Bush administration followed this approach with some success. A high-value prisoner subjected to patient interrogation by an Arabic-speaking F.B.I. agent yielded highly useful information, including the final word on Iraq’s weapons programs.
His name was Saddam Hussein.
The author acknowledges that a couple of anecdotes don't make a case. But it's not as if he doesn't know what he's talking about.