The Right's Jack Bauer Fantasy: 'Clip the Electrodes to His Balls and Turn on the Juice'
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Bush was even willing to disrupt a two-year, 600-man, British terrorism investigation in order to get a good headline before the 2006 election. The result was that "the mastermind" escaped after he was arrested, and the prosecution of the plotters fell apart due to lack of evidence.
If there had been a real plot and these guys had actually stopped it, they would not have kept it secret, they would have made John McCain campaign commercials out of it.
Here's a real life ticking-bomb scenario: It's 1943. A German soldier has been captured.
We have a lot of people in captivity today, in Guantanamo, in Iraqi prisons, in secret CIA prisons around the world and prisons run by other countries. It has been amply demonstrated that many of the people in captivity are not "terrorists."
But back in World War II, when we captured that German, we could be dead sure certain that he was an actual enemy. He was part of an organization planning to kill Americans in the immediate future. Within hours or, at most, days. We could be certain that they had lots of weapons of mass destruction. And factories that were making more.
He represented a country that committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and that had mistreated POWs and civilians in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
So let's torture the mutha-fuggin' Nazi pig-plugger! That's a no-brainer, right?
He refuses to give more than his name, rank and service number. We say OK and accept our obligation to feed and cloth him, give him medical attention, allow him to follow his religion, read books and even have access to a musical instrument if that is his inclination.
Why don't we torture him?
It has been against American policy since George Washington fought the British. It is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, to which we were signatory back before WW II. We accepted those standards, even though the enemy did not live up to them.
According to Army Field Manual FM 34-52 -- Intelligence Interrogation, torture does not produce reliable information. How do they know?
Experience indicates that the use of prohibited techniques is not necessary to gain the cooperation of interrogation sources. Use of torture and other illegal methods is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts and can induce the source to say what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.
FM 34-52, 1987.
Clearly they tried it, probably quite often, and it failed.
Revelation of use of torture by U.S. personnel will bring discredit upon the U.S. and its armed forces while undermining domestic and international support for the war effort. It also may place U.S. and allied personnel in enemy hands at greater risk of abuse by their captors. Conversely, knowing the enemy has abused U.S. and allied [prisoners of war] does not justify using methods of interrogation specifically prohibited by [international law] and U.S. policy.
FM 34-52, 1987
Most of all, what we were fighting for, and fighting as, was to be a country that is committed to the dignity of the individual, even an enemy, and to the rule of law, even in difficult circumstances.
OK, time for a different movie. "Judgment at Nuremburg" (1961). It has all-star cast, including: Burt Lancaster, Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Richard Widmark. It's based on a real trial. The men being prosecuted are very interesting.
They didn't run the death camps, plan the Final Solution, run wars of aggression or even fill the top ranks of the Nazi Party. They were judges. Men who simply put the legal veneer on the laws of genocide and oppression, which were national policy.