Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Senate's Torture Report

Only some observations, but first....my entry into the discussion.

Years and years ago, I worked at a base in Louisiana and we had this guy in the organization that I barely knew (bumping into him once or twice a week....he was noted for always having a 'problem').  He came up one day with the problem of a neighborhood dog that was coming onto his property and taking a crap....more than once a day in fact.

My associate got peeved about this and talked up his frustrations.  Finally, one day.....he announced he was putting some poisoned meat.  A guy or two in the group voiced concern....you'd just get into more trouble this way.  But he did anyway.

A week passed....nothing much said, then he comes over to discuss the new problem.  A cop had come over the night before and asked if he knew of any problems in the neighborhood....someone had poisoned three dogs, with two of them dead.  My associated said no, then asked which dog had survived.  Of course, it was his arch nemesis.....the bad dog he'd talked about for weeks.  My associate said nothing much and the cop left.

From the group.....the general discussion was....there's a bunch of trouble if they figure out you did this.  But our 'problems' guy saw it differently.  In truth, three separate dogs were coming over and visiting his yard (not just one), and his wide-spread method of justice fixed his over-arching problem.
So, onto this torture report.

First, the Department of Defense had a simple rule book on interrogations that existed since the 1950s.  You had various ways to interrogate prisoners captured in a war situation.  Torture was not one of the prescribed methods.  You could make the guy's cell miserable.....limit them to just water and basic food....and intimidate them in various ways.  Hurting them or denying them medical care.....was not allowed by the book.

Having been through  the intelligence school that the Air Force had.....I asked the question during the seminar we had on interrogations.  It was an interesting response.  After WW II....the US had asked a lot of questions to the Nazis and German army.  At the conclusion of the war, the Germans had come to figure out that physical suffering in the name of torture for interrogations....had very limited value and usually got you a lot of bad information.  You could limit a guy's sleep pattern, make them tired, and do various tricks to achieve a better interrogation.  So the US military bought into this and went in this direction.

The CIA?  From the 1950s on.....they experimented with drugs, and a thousand other methods of interrogation.

So, when the 9-11 event started.....it was the CIA who ventured into this physical method of interrogation.

Second, who watches over the CIA?  A Senate select committee.  For several years, they've done their best to deny they ever heard of such episodes.  Maybe it's factual.....maybe it's false.  You don't know.  But if they don't know.....what does it say about the Senate managing our intelligence apparatus?

Third, you can sit and imagine Bush finally being told of the events going on.....twelve to eighteen months after they started.  He's sitting and wondering who the heck authorized it.  Basically, all you can see here is the CIA running off on their own agenda and dragging people along with them.

Fourth, once Bush finds the stuff going on.....then they have to have a legal review of the business....deciding what's right and what's wrong.  Basically.....lawyers deciding the ethics of interrogation and torture.  It's kinda like having your barber get into marriage counseling between you and your wife, or providing gardening advice.

Fifth, it took the Senate five years to build this entire report.  Between all of their real work, and full-time duties......they hired up enough people to pump out something.  Just makes me wonder if we could use them for other projects....like finding jobs for unemployed Americans or fixing medical costs in America.

Sixth, what happens now?  Nothing.  You can imagine this President with his Nobel Prize going off to some European meeting and this war-crimes topic gets brought up.  He can't sit there and talk his way around it.  Normally, in this type of mess.....you need to clean the room and do the rest of the job.  In his case, President Obama doesn't even grasp that part of the mess that has been created.

Seventh, is the Senate willing to turn Americans (CIA members and contractors) over to some UN war-crimes court?  You can guess that they've done everything possible to avoid saying that, but the question is sitting there.  Can they go and grab sixty guys and put them on some plane to Brussels?  Is there some legal paperwork sitting there which would be useful in just grabbing people and sending them off to UN justice.....while admitting that the US justice system can't do nothing over this?  Pretty bogus, if you ask me.

Eighth, all of this leads back to some event in 2016 or 2017, dangling in the hands of some Republican President.....having to face down some UN challenge to hand over the guys responsible for war-crimes.  In a way, it's like the story I led off with....a dog crapping in your yard....with the Senate having laid out some drastic crap, and you end up having to bulk-poison the yard....to get a solution.

Socrates would ask a bunch of questions....like how we got to this situation, and how much value we actually put into morals.  A bunch of losers who claim some religious war and killed three-thousand-odd Americans....doing something pretty inhumane and immoral.  We retaliate by doing some more stuff ourselves pretty inhumane and immoral.

So, the final word.  Strangely enough....the Senate report didn't touch the new strategy of President Obama.....using unmanned drones to kill people outside of war-zones.  If you ask me....it's pretty inhumane and immoral.  Just seems like we need the new Senate meeting in January to start a new five-year campaign....getting to the bottom of drone-executions and who authorized them.....under what American law....and how 'fair' it is.  Seems like the war-crimes folks of the UN would want to investigate that as well.