We Reap What We Sow
May 17, 2007 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Reaping What We Sow? Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.Charles C. Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999. Joseph P. Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994. (Washington Post)
Some other opinions. (youtube) Thoughtful commentary. More.
posted by spitbull (75 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meant to put the op-ed's actual title as the post title: It's Our Cage Too.
posted by spitbull at 7:18 AM on May 17, 2007


Ack. Also, the video link is to C&L, not YouTube.
posted by spitbull at 7:20 AM on May 17, 2007


Additionally - what incentive can you offer someone to surrender if they know - or even suspect - they will be tortured in your custody?
There’s three speeds of stupid going on here: stupid, real stupid, and WHAT THE F*CK!?!?

Of course I don’t think Romney has a chance of being elected. But that someone could get away with saying something like that much less being applauded for it is pretty disturbing.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:31 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't usually get very excited about op-eds, but that first link is a must-read. What I don't get is why the military is so overwhelmingly Republican when the Republicans consistently go against the interests of the military and the values they are defending.
posted by TedW at 7:47 AM on May 17, 2007


What I don't get is why the military is so overwhelmingly Republican...

Flag-burning amendments.

Also, it is very, very depressing that we even have to discuss why torture is a bad idea, let alone fight uphill to stop it.
posted by DU at 7:51 AM on May 17, 2007


I found it pretty bitterly ironic that one the reasons the Brits have chickened out of sending Prince Harry to the middle east is that they could not be assured that if captured he would be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
posted by srboisvert at 7:52 AM on May 17, 2007


White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret.

In secret they do pretty much anything they want to. The problem is that the CIA run has run out of torture ideas and they need the help of White House lawyers to help them sink to new depths of depravity.

"Confess or we will be forced to make you spend 30 minutes listening to Alberto Gonzalez."
posted by three blind mice at 7:53 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Additionally - what incentive can you offer someone to surrender if they know - or even suspect - they will be tortured in your custody?

This is a very good point that hadn't really crossed my mind before. The fear of possible torture was what made so many Vietnamese and Japanese civilians walk up to American soldiers with grenades in hand. With the reality of Guantanamo Bay being in the public eye, fear has turned into knowledge that people can be held indefinitely in isolation and tortured without intervention. If I had to face 6 years to forever in Guantamo Bay, I might pull the pin myself...
posted by slimepuppy at 7:58 AM on May 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wanted to like Romney, or at least I wanted to believe the line about effective governance that could work with opposition like he supposedly did in Massachusets, but every time I hear anything about his primary campaign, I hear "I'm going to continue bringing you everything you've hated about the GOP." Repeal the estate tax, talk about how awesome Ann Coulter is, and... cheerleading on torture. Wow.

And to tie this back into effective governance... I keep thinking about the Bukovsky WaPo editorial on the problems with torture. Not just the moral problems, though heaven knows those should be enough The losses in effectiveness and accuracy that come with abuses that often (maybe inevitably) follow unfettered and unquestioned power.

And how are we doing on that front? How effective are we, say, at even determining whether a particular prisoner is in fact an enemy? According to This American Life:
In a new study by Seton Hall’s law school, researchers simply went to the trouble of reading the 517 Guantanamo case files released by the Pentagon. Here’s what they found:

Only 5% of our detainees at Guantanamo were “scooped up” by American troops, on the battlefield or anywhere else. Five percent. The rest? We never saw them fighting.

And here’s something else: Only 8% of the detainees in Guantanamo are classified by the Pentagon as Al Qaeda fighters. In fact, Michael Donleavy, head of interrogations at Guantanamo, complained in 2002 that he was receiving too many “Mickey Mouse” prisoners.
Both anger and fear make it easy to believe that a "no holds barred" attitude is a necessity. But it's looking more and more like the rules and institutions we're discarding actually served a practical purpose as well as a moral one. That's because they're tied up together. We have processes like habeas corpus because they help keep us accurate (justice is impossible without some degree of accuracy).

If we're going to win any kind of war, we have to be accurate. Maybe not perfect. But you don't get good marksmanship by not caring about good practice or where your marks fall, no matter how righteous your anger or hot your fury.
posted by weston at 8:07 AM on May 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


Well hell, this happened in Columbia, South Carolina -- having lived about half my life there, I'm not a damn bit surprised Giuliani and Romney got applause when they made tough noises. There are people there who think, for instance, that the main thing we're doing wrong in Iraq is not machine-gunning enough Iraqis in reprisal.

"Out here, due process is a bullet!"
posted by pax digita at 8:12 AM on May 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


If I had to face 6 years to forever in Guantamo Bay, I might pull the pin myself...

At least victims of the Spanish Inquisition had the option of a last minute conversion to avoid being burned to death.

The fear of certain torture will lead a man to do anything.
posted by three blind mice at 8:20 AM on May 17, 2007


How does "We need information?" count as a valid argument? Set aside any consideration of morality--torture does not give you information, it gives you misinformation. Torture someone and they'll tell you anything you want to hear, whether they know something or not. If it's such a hypothetical emergency, do you really have time to waste on whatever wild goose chase you'll be set on by torturing someone?

It's just disgusting that this is actually the contention--the immorality of torture vs. the need for information. Morality aside, torture doesn't give you any information! That's why we used to throw out evidence provided under torture, not because torture was wrong, but that you can't trust a thing anyone says while they're being tortured. They'll tell you anything they think you want to hear--they're being tortured!
posted by jefgodesky at 8:22 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wanted to believe the line about effective governance that could work with opposition like he supposedly did in Massachusets.

That's what Bush said about Texas.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:33 AM on May 17, 2007


Minor quibble: The deal with the last-minute conversion during the Inquisition was that they'd afford you the mercy of garroting you before they burned your body at the stake anyhow. Incidentally, while I was checking to see if I'd remembered correctly, I noticed that the inquisitores did something similar to water-boarding, too.

On preview, from this link: "Conscientious and sensible judges quite properly attached no great importance to confessions extracted by torture. After long experience Eymeric declared: Quaestiones sunt fallaces et inefficaces -- i.e the torture is deceptive and ineffectual."
posted by pax digita at 8:35 AM on May 17, 2007


jefgodesky: surely you know, deep down, the "getting the information by any means necessary" thing is just a convenient post hoc rationale.

the real goal is to show 'em how tough we can be on america's enemies, real or imagined. it's about proving to ourselves that we're not weak--which, of course, is only necessary because we secretly suspect we are.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:38 AM on May 17, 2007


It's also about mimicking the effectiveness of Jack Bauer in times of crisis - much like the scenario recently posited as a hypothetical to the Republican debaters earlier this week. John Stewart said it best: Republicans think we live in a fictional world.
posted by NationalKato at 8:50 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Morality aside, torture doesn't give you any information!

It absolutely gives you information for which the accuracy is unknown. The information could be:

1. accurate in fact as the prisoner has related it (true in fact)
2. wrong in fact but an accurate recounting of the prisoner's knowledge (wrong in fact, accurate representation of belief)
3. deliberate misrepresentation (wrong, but prisoner knows the truth)
4. false positive (prisoner doesn't know the truth but relates false information anyway)
5. "I don't know" (prisoner reveals and knows nothing).

From the interrogators' point of view, he only receives information or receives nothing. He can't assume the information he receives is false, nor can he assume it is true. but it is a lead, dead end or otherwise.

That's doesn't justify torture as moral, but neither is cutting journalist's heads off or setting bombs on a public street with the intent of killing civilians. War is not about being moral. It's about winning (usually).
posted by Pastabagel at 8:51 AM on May 17, 2007


I am perplexed. Tenet when on tv insisted that aproved methods were ok and helped but that it was not torture. But the guy interviewing him never asked about the outsourcing of prisoners to countries that allow for torture. We know this takes place and yet Tenet takes what he conceives as the high ground and says we do not torture. Al Qaeda does torture...and then beheads. What we do or do not do will hardly change their course of action.
posted by Postroad at 8:55 AM on May 17, 2007


It absolutely gives you information for which the accuracy is unknown.

Which isn't information at all, but noise. Sure, torture's the way to go if you think we need more noise.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:00 AM on May 17, 2007


Pastabagel: That's doesn't justify torture as moral, but neither is cutting journalist's heads off or setting bombs on a public street with the intent of killing civilians.

Be careful when you decide it's perfectly rational to act like those you despise.
posted by NationalKato at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


the real goal is to show 'em how tough we can be on america's enemies, real or imagined. it's about proving to ourselves that we're not weak--which, of course, is only necessary because we secretly suspect we are.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:38 AM on May 17


We are. Regardless of your personal opinion, the majority of americans are now opposed to the war in Iraq and want to pull the troops out because we are losing.

The focus in American culture on "bombing" the enemy instead of "invading" them is because we've internalized the notion that the U.S. cannot win a ground-based guerilla war.

We are beginning to understand that we can only win wars that no one will ever fight against us. There are ways to win these wars of course, but we aren't willing to do it. We may be moral or simply less immoral for not resorting to the tactics necessary to win, but in the eyes of the enemy and many Americans, that is weakness.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2007


Andrew Sullivan on this:
But Romney reveals in this clip that he does not believe the president is bound by the law in this question. He says that he will not provide a definition of "what is torture and what is not torture," because a president should be able to keep terror supects guessing. So he supports "enhanced interrogation techniques" and not torture, but refuses to say what the difference is. And he says the president gets to pick. And U.S. citizens are subject to this regime. The logic of Romney's position, then, is that the president can designate any human being or citizen an "enemy combatant," detain them indefinitely without charges or recourse to the courts, and torture them using any method he wishes as long as he says it's not torture and he is under no obligation to explain what torture is. This is tyranny. Period.
posted by delmoi at 9:06 AM on May 17, 2007


It absolutely gives you information for which the accuracy is unknown

No. It gives you the information you want to hear. That's why torture is useless.

Give me a tank of water, some saran wrap, a blowtorch and a pair of pliers, and I will have you confessing to raping the pope by the end of the day, if that's what I want to hear. Your actual knowledge and actions are irrelevant.

A person being tortured will say whatever it takes to make the torture stop, even if only for a few minutes.

It is useless as an interrogation method for that reason. The information filter isn't the prisoner, it's the torturer, and if the torturer wants to "prove" that you worked with Al Queda, they will torture you until you tell them that.

And, to stop the torture, you will.
posted by eriko at 9:07 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


to pull the troops out because we are losing.

but, wait--i was told we already won and that major combat operations were coming to an end, wtf?

the tactics necessary to win,

win what? seriously. what is it we're really after in the region? if it was to topple saddam, we did that. if it was to make sure iraq had no weapons program that was a threat to our domestic security, we did that, too.

so what is it, really, that we're talking about when we talk about 'winning' in iraq? whatever it is, american's never signed up for it.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on May 17, 2007


torture does not give you information, it gives you misinformation.

Right there is the problem.
To Karl Rove these are the same things.

The GOP candidates advocate torture. No news there. The audience strongly approves. D'oh!

Maybe we really should make South Carolina into JesusLand and kick them out of the USA.
posted by nofundy at 9:08 AM on May 17, 2007


the enemy

boo-ga, boo-ga! what's that in the bushes? is that a snipe?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:09 AM on May 17, 2007


I think the important point in the op-ed is not that torture is ineffective in providing information, but rather that even if torture provided information, it would still be a bad way to run a counter-insurgency. Torture can't be contained to only its arguably justifiable settings: it's a technique that spreads throughout the military. As more prisoners are abused, the news spreads through the population, giving the insurgents/terrorists exactly the kind of propaganda they need to keep their movement strong.

It's a classic dynamic. The whole point of terrorism is to incite a disproportionate response from the state, thereby making the terrorists look good to the people. How could the US be so stupid as to fall right into the trap? I'll never understand.
posted by footnote at 9:14 AM on May 17, 2007 [5 favorites]




Minor quibble too:

"what American soldiers can expect from their captors".

No. Captors range in brutality, and the perceived justice or injustice of american interrogation techniques will play at most, a minor part in how captured american (and western) troops are treated by any enemy.

What this does is set a baseline for leaders of movements to pontificate: i.e. if the yanks are so moral and right and fighting the war for freedom and against evildoers, if they can do this, how can you complain when we sink a little lower. In this case, their pontification would have some validity.

Especialy in guerilla wars, hewing to geneva conventions is not going to stop non-state actors from being nasty. But, aside from the moral imperative (which is pretty fuckin huge) and the uselessness of torture as a tool, the main reason to stick to these principles it is that it is unjust - probably as unjust as any action can be.

Injustice loses us hearts and minds from the civillian majority in droves. As we all know, if we fuck up civilians/innocents, we've handed the war to the 'opposition' on a platter. Appropriate all the $billions you want: if you lose civilian support, you'll never win a guerilla war.

Torture is a 3-way loser: ineffective, immoral, and unjust. Its the trifecta of fuckuppery and what future generations will judge us on. The fact there is discussion in this country at all about what kind of torture we'll use makes me despair on both a moral and intellectual level.
posted by lalochezia at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Which isn't information at all, but noise. Sure, torture's the way to go if you think we need more noise.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:00 PM on May 17


I'm not endorsing torture, I'm just trying to correct the mistaken belief that you never get anything out of it.

Ask yourself this. Having no knowledge of the actual activities of Mefites, how many mefites would I need to start interrogating before I found a major drug trafficker? (If there is some theory that gives the answer, I'd be curious to hear about it) Note, I don't need to find a Mefite who is a drug dealer, I just need to find either a mefite who is a drug dealer OR a mefite who through some x>=1 degrees of separation is a major drug trafficker.

So how many would I need to sweep up? 100? 10? 1? How many interrogations total would I have to go through to get to the drug trafficker? 6? 20? 200?

Replace mefite with iraqi males under 30 and drug dealer with bomb maker or insurgent and you get the picture. Again, I am not endorsing torture, but simply explaining that it may result in useful information eventually, and that given the circumstances, it may be the fastest route to that information.

Of course, you could probably start with any population and get to insurgents eventually, but starting with a population that more closely matches in many respects with actual insurgent raise the probability of success on the first round (e.g. insurgents are male and under 30, so it's more likely you;ll round up some insurgents by focusing the sweep on that population).
posted by Pastabagel at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2007


On preview: footnote above. The 1 minute summary of what I just wrote!
posted by lalochezia at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2007


The main irony is that torture in general and particularly Romney's 'Double Guantanamo' are in direct opposition for what has become the justification-of-choice for the entire war (WMD having been cosigned to the memory hole). The tyrannous abuse of power and the utter disregard for the due process of law characterize the regime-that-had-to-be-changed, supposedly. I wonder if Saddam ever read A for Andromeda?
posted by Jakey at 9:21 AM on May 17, 2007


I'm not endorsing torture, I'm just trying to correct the mistaken belief that you never get anything out of it.

Pastabagel - I don't think this problem can be approached from your common sense, statistical view. In theory, torture may produce some information. But I'd much rather listen to the people who actually know a lot about war, interrogation, and investigations. Those experts have resoundingly rejected the utility of torture.
posted by footnote at 9:25 AM on May 17, 2007


The only allowable torture anywhere in the world should be to put someone in The Cube
posted by ZachsMind at 9:29 AM on May 17, 2007


Torture is a 3-way loser: ineffective, immoral, and unjust.

Do you live in Candyland? Of course it's immoral and unjust!

American on behalf of their government have tortured the enemy in every war they have every fought. Americans have illegally tested chemical and biological weapons on their own soldiers and citizens. Is it really moral to spare your enemies the same fate? Or is it immoral to treat your people worse than you treat the enemy?

Is it really moral and just to use satellite guided weaponry to bomb a restaurant where Saddam is suspected of eating, knowing that it will kill civilians in the process? That was this war's opening salvo.

Was it moral to carpet bomb Germany to end the war? Or to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force the enemy to unconditional surrender, when doing less may have led them to a mere cease fire?

Was it moral NOT to nuke Moscow and instead leave the Russian people, and Eastern Europe under the totalitarian oppression? for a few more decades?

Compared to these things, is it really immoral to beat the shit out of some guy in secret who has a 1% chance of being the guy who killed your fellow soldier two weeks ago, so you can find out who his boss is?

Or is it only immoral when it becomes public? Had those Abu Ghraib photos never been released, would we be discussing this, even in the face of numerous other reports from prisoners that they were tortured?
posted by Pastabagel at 9:34 AM on May 17, 2007


I'm with you, pastabagel. Dropping a bomb is terrorism just as much as detonating an IED. It's all immoral.

But because we don't live in candyland, we have to stand up for whatever lines we have succeeded in drawing around the depravity to which we are so strongly inclined. Torturing prisoners should be unthinkable, so we can work on making bombing neighborhoods unthinklable.
posted by spitbull at 9:38 AM on May 17, 2007


Having no knowledge of the actual activities of Mefites, how many mefites would I need to start interrogating before I found a major drug trafficker?

Pastabagel, you're missing the point. There are, what, 60,000+ registered members of MetaFilter? Yes, I'm sure that somebody here is a major drug trafficker. But how will torture tell you who? Let's say the scenario plays out like this:

Torturer: Are you a drug trafficker?
Victim: No, I'm not a drug trafficker!
*crunch* *slice* *sizzle*
Torturer: Are you a drug trafficker?
Victim: Yes! Yes! I'm a drug trafficker! For the love of God, yes!

Pastabagel, based on that statement, would you be willing to stake your reputation on the theory that the victim is a drug trafficker? Would you be willing to stake your life on it? How about the lives of all your friends and family? I sure as hell wouldn't.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:44 AM on May 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


Drug-Trafficker Kidnapper Guy: So, Mister PastaBagel, are you a cop?
PB: No!
(sound of hose being turned on)
Gurgle, gurgle, scream, splutter, cough . . .
DTKG: I said, are you a cop trying to bust a drug trafficking ring on MeFi?
PB: Yes, yes, for the love of god yes.

That is hard-headed reality. Ask John McCain.
posted by spitbull at 9:52 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


...Or is it only immoral when it becomes public? Had those Abu Ghraib photos never been released, would we be discussing this, even in the face of numerous other reports from prisoners that they were tortured?

+ a billion

This is so central to the issue. If there was no damning proof of torture, then they could just deny, deny, deny, and these accusations would be treated as the ravings of a fringe group. The only lesson they learned from Abu Ghraib is to ban cameras.

But the administration is so morally bankrupt that they not only are willing to stoop to these measures in secret, they actually think they have some divine right and justification to do so, without shame - Gitmo, suspension of Geneva convention and other basic rights, rendition.

They're sending the message loud and clear that the US is simply the biggest baddest mofo on the dirtball, and all that stuff about freedom, human rights, "All men are created equal", "Don't tread on me" is just mythology for internal consumption.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:53 AM on May 17, 2007


Or for that matter, ask Jesus (if you believe in Him).
posted by spitbull at 9:53 AM on May 17, 2007


It's think it's awesome that two generals would put their career, honor and pension on the line to tell the president that torture is unacceptable. In the NYT no less!

Wait. Their both retired. Long retired.

Both are honorable men, but are retirees and McCain the only people we can depend on to get the message across to that child in the White House?

Where are the rest of the voices? Are there any?
posted by jsavimbi at 10:00 AM on May 17, 2007


Pastabagel, you're missing the point. There are, what, 60,000+ registered members of MetaFilter? Yes, I'm sure that somebody here is a major drug trafficker. But how will torture tell you who?

A mefite rats out a friend who does drugs. You interrogate the friend to give up his dealer, you beat up the dealer to give up his supplier, you electrify the testicles of the supplier to give up, his distributor, etc. until you get to the guy you want. And you keep everyone along the way locked up so you can have the credible threat of "I'm going to check this out, if I find out you're lying, I'm going to come back with a wrench for the truth", etc. In addition, you're searching everyone's residences, etc.

Keep in mind, the cops can get results in this fashion without the torture and by cutting plea bargains. You get the picture.

The points about it not being the proper way to run a counterinsurgency are valid, of course. But that assume we actually care about the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and building a stable govt., which we don't.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:15 AM on May 17, 2007


Pastabagel, are you being obtuse or are you really as dense as you appear? How do you sort out false confessions from true ones? Answer me that question, please.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:19 AM on May 17, 2007


Pastabagel, are you being obtuse or are you really as dense as you appear? How do you sort out false confessions from true ones? Answer me that question, please.

By torturing the people who are fingered of course! Once everyone is tortured it will be like the rapture with people sorted into piles of saved and unsaved.
posted by srboisvert at 10:24 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


If you torture 200 people, you will get 200 sincere, believable confessions.

You are now back where you started. Congrats.

Or, you could always bind their hands & feet and throw them into a nearby lake. If they float, they are obviously guilty. But if they sink...
posted by BobFrapples at 10:29 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I find it distressing that in any discussion of torture, there seems to be an implicit assumption that anyone who is under interrogation is either guilty or does in fact have desired information.

Someone should ask the Republican candidates under what circumstances is it justified for innocent people to be tortured.

That is the reality of what they are advocating.
posted by uri at 10:41 AM on May 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Maybe we really should make South Carolina into JesusLand

you wish -- Israel will never take them
posted by matteo at 10:46 AM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Any bets that some of the intel that led to the Iraq war was garnered in a candyland CIA gulag in Eastern Europe?
posted by zerobyproxy at 10:50 AM on May 17, 2007


I don't think we should announce that we are going to torture people. Sets the wrong tone. Torture, like diplomacy, is best conducted out of the public eye. I think. Maybe. Not sure, really.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:56 AM on May 17, 2007


there seems to be an implicit assumption that anyone who is under interrogation is either guilty or does in fact have desired information

Jesus, there has been torture ever since a first caveman person was in charge of another. It isn't this complicated.

You get 100 people, okay? You ask or torture all of them to tell you whether they take drugs. Assume they all admit to taking drugs under torture. You ask them who sold them the drugs, and then you go watch and or arrest or search those named people.

If any one of those named people are caught selling or have drugs on them, then torture worked, even if the first 100 people all lied, never took drugs, but just named to the first random person they could think of. If none, do, you round the named people up and repeat. Eventually you will catch a drug dealer.

The reason this works is that there are in fact people a lot of people buying and selling drugs.

In Iraq, there are in fact insurgents and people making bombs. I assume the CIA doesn't assume everyone they caught is a mastermind.

I haven't taken into account that a lot of people naming the same person implies a greater likelihood that the named person is in fact guilty of whatever they were identified for.

I also haven't taken into account statistical sampling of the first group of 100.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:59 AM on May 17, 2007


Eventually you will catch a drug dealer.

You have kind of a funny definition of "works". Of the 99 (or more) innocent people you just tortured, how many turn against the government now? How many of their friends and family follow them? Is this really a net gain?
posted by DU at 11:07 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


You get 100 people, okay? You ask or torture all of them to tell you whether they take drugs. Assume they all admit to taking drugs under torture. You ask them who sold them the drugs, and then you go watch and or arrest or search those named people.

If any one of those named people are caught selling or have drugs on them, then torture worked, even if the first 100 people all lied, never took drugs, but just named to the first random person they could think of. If none, do, you round the named people up and repeat. Eventually you will catch a drug dealer.


You're an idiot. While it's true that if you scoop enough people up off the street, sooner or later you'll find a guilty one, why not cut out the middleman of torture? Just start arresting random people, and if you grab enough of them, you're sure to find one carrying drugs eventually!
posted by EarBucket at 11:10 AM on May 17, 2007


I believe what Pastabagel is describing is the laymans understanding of the 1% doctrine (which Dick Cheney is a big fan of and talks about incessantly on the Sunday morning political shows that you all should be watching so you can be as angry at government as the Ruby Ridge kids were).
It is the belief that in order to stop terrorism, you have to act like everyone is a terrorist. No, wait, that's not it, hold on. It's the belief that everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Dammit, that's not it either. Oh, wait, here we go. It's the belief that tyranny is justified if the money is right. That's right. Yes, we can do anything we want because we have all the money and all the power.

The One Percent Doctrine.

Criticism of the one percent doctrine from a math professor.
posted by daq at 11:19 AM on May 17, 2007


Torture? Arrest? Hell, if we just nuke the country from orbit we're sure to stop the insurgents! How's that sound, Pastabagel?

In all seriousness, no one here is asking for you to explain torture or describe its long tradition in human history. In your examples, it's not that torture is working - it's just that you're benefitting from some law of large numbers. The fact that you're attributing that success to torture just shows how out of touch you are.
posted by NationalKato at 11:22 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


it's not that torture is working - it's just that you're benefitting from some law of large numbers.

Excellent point. Just try using psychic powers instead of torture in his example and see what happens: Get a psychic to give you 100 names. Watch those 100 people. If none of them are drug dealers, get the psychic to give you 100 more names. Eventually you catch a drug dealer. Ergo, psychics are effective.
posted by DU at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel...

Here's how it works in Chicago:

Cops pick up a guy who looks suspicious (wrong place, wrong time, wrong color, whatever). They kick his ass until he confesses to selling drugs, gang activity, rape, you name it.

They keep kicking his ass until he gives up a friend. They go over to the friend's place- maybe they don't find drugs or evidence of a crime, so they plant some. Or kick his ass too. Or electrify his testicles. He must be guilty anyway, his friend gave him up.

Repeat until promoted. Or mayor.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:33 AM on May 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Torture works great if you want a specific person to confess to something. The Inquisition wasn't interested in who was actually a heretic, they were interested in finding reasons to execute Ferdinand's political enemies. Torture worked great for that. That's what torture is good at. But getting accurate information? No, torture gives you what you want to hear. If you're looking for justification, then torture works very well. If you're looking for information, it's completely contrary to your goal.

So, why is the Bush administration so interested in torture? If you take a look at what torture's good at, and what it's not good at, then the intention becomes crystal clear. But under no circumstances should we allow this nonsense frame of "getting information to protect America" to keep going.
posted by jefgodesky at 11:46 AM on May 17, 2007


I wasn't replying to you, Pastabagel. Whether or not you, personally, can cut on people until you find someone who has committed a crime seems to me to be entirely besides the point.

My comment was meant to single out what I consider to be an essential question. Under what circumstances is it justified for innocent people to be subjected to torture? How many innocent people being tortured do we consider to be acceptable?

These are the sort of questions that should be asked when setting up any system that deprives people of their rights or lives.

How many innocent people being jailed is acceptable?
How many innocent people being executed is acceptable?
How many innocent people being killed by a bomb strike is acceptable?

To avoid voicing such questions in order to pretend the answers are zero is both intellectually and ethically dishonest.
posted by uri at 11:59 AM on May 17, 2007


If you want an effective way to weed out (ha!) the drug dealers on Metafilter, start with some basic intelligence work: that way, you don't necessarily end up with 99 non-drug-dealing-MeFites pissed at you.

So you read through the threads and make note of who talks most, and most knowledgably, about drug use. Then you go out and scoop them up. Offer them incentives to snitch. You might have to threaten them. Then go do some research on the people they name: is there any corroborating evidence that these people are drug dealers, or does your orginal snitch have a non-drug-related beef with them? If you determine that any of these people might be druggies, go out and scoop 'em up. Rinse, repeat.

Remember that old lady who was killed by cops who raided her apartment because someone told them she was a dealer? That guy lied. The cops really wanted to make a bust anyway, and didn't do their homework. That didn't work out so well for anyone.
posted by rtha at 12:05 PM on May 17, 2007


“From the interrogators' point of view, he only receives information or receives nothing. He can't assume the information he receives is false, nor can he assume it is true. but it is a lead, dead end or otherwise.”

I think jefgodesky’s implication was that torture doesn’t yield any useful information and may yield information that is low confidence or downright contrafactual. And he’s correct.
Any reliable interrogator won’t waste resources - his time and the time of investigators - with useless leads.
Information gleaned from a source has to be accurate otherwise you risk tipping off the subjects. Unless of course one doesn’t care about actual accomplishment, but the appearance of it.
Which is why the cliche rounding up of the “usual suspects” is so comical. Much like Emmet Kelly sweeping up the spotlight. It certainly appears the broom is effective in pushing together photons into smaller and smaller piles, but there’s a tacit agreement there between the light man and the clown, not anything real being accomplished.

“War is not about being moral. It's about winning (usually)...and that given the circumstances, it may be the fastest route to that information.”

Tactics are about winning. Any particular engagement is about winning. Once you’re in a firefight, it’s about winning. War - not so much.
War is about achieving objectives that cannot be otherwise achieved. That’s why the objectives must be so scrupulously judged and overseen and subject to checks, balances and public scrutiny (in theory).
Those objectives dictate strategy. What objectives can be derived from the pursuit of a strategy involving torture?
At best it is a waste of resources.

“The reason this works is that there are in fact people a lot of people buying and selling drugs.”

Unfortunately abuses in drug investigations doesn’t lead to more and greater resistance and more and more people dealing drugs. Bomb making and guerilla tactics, different story. It’s counterproductive.
Indeed, partisanship 101 - get the government to overreact and harm innocent people to draw more people to your cause.


“...is it really immoral to beat the shit out of some guy in secret who has a 1% chance of being the guy who killed your fellow soldier...”

It’s use on a tactical level is debatable. Typically a short torture session (breaking bones, etc) indicates you’re willing to kill an individual if he doesn’t talk rather than an indication you are willing to subject him to further torture at a later time removed from the current event.
And that might happen in combat, but it should never be a matter of policy - who then wouldn’t die first?
And again - the object isn’t torture, but making death a more earnest reality, it’s not only a localized rare occurance and incidental, but manifestly self-defeating as a practice (to anyone who’s been in an unfriendly area).
(It’s this understanding of it as self-defeating that roots it back in morality.)

Investigations run on incentives. It’s the most often used, most often taught method because it’s the most efficient. Torture isn’t. It’s that simple

“Where are the rest of the voices? Are there any?”

Civilians control the military. Period. Any words on policy they have for their superiors - and there are plenty - and many of them are four lettered considering the amount of resignations - are stated behind closed doors.


“We may be moral or simply less immoral for not resorting to the tactics necessary to win, but in the eyes of the enemy and many Americans, that is weakness.”

Yeah. But they’re wrong. Many Americans and a vast chunk of “the enemy” have never been in combat.
Strength is adhering to principle despite adversity.
Even at the cost of your life - and “the cost of your life” means so much more than just dying. There are men returning home without a mark on them who have very much lost their lives.

Again, winning is defined by the objectives. We are not at war with the Iraqi people. If you define someone as an enemy only because you can defeat them - or kill them on a large scale - what you are doing is not war. It’s genocide. And it’s been long recognized as such.

What makes us weak is not a lack of tactics, but a lack of moral courage.
Schwartzkopf said (and I think he stole it from me) leadership is the potent combination of strategy and character, if you can only have one, you can do without the strategy.
What we need to “win” is not more firepower or the shedding of more blood, but more character.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:08 PM on May 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


You're an idiot. While it's true...

First of all, thanks for calling me an idiot and then agreeing with me that it works.

Second, genius, I said twice in this thread already that I'm not advocating torture. I'm not defending its use. I'm against it. But God forbid you agree with people on principle but not their reasoning.

Finally, I never said torture worked well, or that it was the best approach, or the fastest, or anything else. I didn't qualify it, I just said you can get some results by doing it. And they have gotten some results. This was in response to someone saying you get nothing.

Here's a mental exercise for you. Forget about torture. You have a group of people in a room. You ask them factually verifiable questions, but you don't know whether they are telling the truth until after you verify, right? You can ask them the license plate # and color of the car they drive, they can lie or they may make something up when they don't know, but you can check in any case.

You DO NOT ask them questions that you can't independently verify. You cannot torture them, but you can hold them indefinitely. You can also arrest other people.

Do you understand that given these conditions, you can get whatever information you need, eventually? You'll be able to map drug trafficking, shopping habits, sex partners, whatever you want. It's not that everyone is guilty or directly possesses the information you want, but that everyone is connected by some chain to people who have what you want. Furthermore, I contend that that chain of people you have to go through is probably a lot shorter than you think.

So relax.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2007


Up there should be *or the fastest in every situation* Ugh.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:16 PM on May 17, 2007


Finally, I never said torture worked well, or that it was the best approach, or the fastest, or anything else. I didn't qualify it, I just said you can get some results by doing it. And they have gotten some results.

Well, I suppose that's true, it will give you some results. Worse than random chance, mind you, as you plumb a whole social network that may be quite divorced from what you're looking for, but some results, yes. But at that point, you can increase your intelligence-gathering effectiveness by outfitting all of your interrogaters with magic 8-balls.

Here's a mental exercise for you. Forget about torture. You have a group of people in a room. You ask them factually verifiable questions, but you don't know whether they are telling the truth until after you verify, right?

Torture differs from that kind of pure logic exercise because each possibility is equally likely. Under torture, the option of "I don't know" disappears, and everyone that would have otherwise fallen into that category now falls into the false positive category. So simply by adding torture to your questioning, you significantly increase the amount of misinformation you're recieving. That's the point. Take the same group of people and question them, and you'll eventually get who you're looking for. Torture them, and it takes much longer, and you'll never be sure which one it is even when you get the one you're looking for.
posted by jefgodesky at 12:27 PM on May 17, 2007


Here's a mental exercise for you. Forget about torture. You have a group of people in a room.

Holding people in a room and asking them questions is a world away from electrifying testicles and waterboarding. Since you chose to use torture as your original method, I'm sure you can now see why your point wasn't being accepted.
posted by NationalKato at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2007


Since you chose to use torture as your original method, I'm sure you can now see why your point wasn't being accepted.
posted by NationalKato at 3:29 PM on May 17


I "chose" it because that is what the thread is about.

Tactics are about winning. Any particular engagement is about winning. Once you’re in a firefight, it’s about winning. War - not so much.
War is about achieving objectives that cannot be otherwise achieved. That’s why the objectives must be so scrupulously judged and overseen and subject to checks, balances and public scrutiny (in theory).
Those objectives dictate strategy. What objectives can be derived from the pursuit of a strategy involving torture?
At best it is a waste of resources.


I don't really disagree with anything you say, except to say that you are arguing from a position of what "should be", and I'm trying to argue and determine what is, whether it's right or not.

War is about achieving largely economic objectives, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that in practice war is only used when the goal is otherwise unachievable. It seems there are more than a few examples of wars not fought as a last resort. For the people in power making the decision to go to war, and their backers, what is their objective? It's not what the US's objective is, because the US didn't make this decision. Fewer than ten people made it, ostensibly acting on our behalf, but in reality, and at best, acting on our and their joint behalfs (i.e. what is our collective best interest given their personal best interests). So what is their objective?

You ask what objectives can be derived from the pursuit of a strategy involving torture, but you don't give the answer. But there is an answer, isn't there? There has to be some answer in the head of whoever came up with the strategy. People don't torture prisoner's unless they have some reason to do so. If I'm wrong and torture never yields useful information, and furthermore if it is so obvious that torture is ineffective that bloggers and experts agree, then what do you think the reason is?

In this thread, I trying to explain why someone might torture, because you can get information from it. It may also serve some other function that is not served by other methods of getting information.

And is it really a waste of resources? What else would those resources be tasked with? Someone is making a decision to allocate resources in this fashion (people didn't allocate themselves), they must have thought it through and determined it was worthwhile, so why?

Every time this comes up, everyone shakes their head about how awful it is and how crazy the Bush administration is because we all agree they should not be doing it, and yet both parties are in near complete agreement on keeping it open. Why?

What is the reason in fact for doing this? There is some reason. Everything that the government has done or tried to do has fit some plan. They choose to get information one way, and not other more effective ways. They choose to invade Iraq rather than overrun Afghanistan with troops looking for bin laden.

So, if torture yields nothing, then why are they doing it? What is their answer, and what is the real answer?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2007


So, if torture yields nothing, then why are they doing it? What is their answer, and what is the real answer?

Their answer is that torturing people keeps America safe. The real answer is that torturing people creates more enemies who will encourage a state of perpetual war, which will generate fear, which in turn will create an environment conducive to keeping the Republican party in power and funding corporate interests.

There's your answer.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


There was a really good piece in the Alantic Monthly about Israel's former top interrogator. His method of getting answers was to befriend the captives and gain their trust. He didn't physically hurt them but merely talked them, becoming a friend and by doing that, he got a lot of terrorists to talk.
Very interesting way of it.

There was another article about Paletstine's attempts to calm down some of its homegrown terrorists when it become more useful to use the system as opposed to bombings. They tried many things, bribes, reconditioning etc and nothing much work.

What finally did work is marriage. Once they got the terrorists married off and having families, they mostly refused to be reactivated or continue.

Anyone else remember those articles and/or have a link?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:56 PM on May 17, 2007


In this thread, I trying to explain why someone might torture, because you can get information from it. It may also serve some other function that is not served by other methods of getting information.

Yeah, except it doesn't give you any information. As your exercise illustrated, any situation where you could apply torture, you will get more information by not torturing. Torture doesn't give you information, it gives you confessions--it gives you confirmation of what you want to hear. If you don't really care what's true, and you're intent to barrel ahead on your agenda, that may be exactly what you want, but it's not information you're after, it's an excuse.

And is it really a waste of resources? What else would those resources be tasked with?

They could be used on an actual investigation, which would provide actual information. Instead of torturing some confirmations of drug dealing out of 100 MeFites, you could use those resources to look at posting history, draw up a limited list for surveillance, and gather some real information.

Someone is making a decision to allocate resources in this fashion (people didn't allocate themselves), they must have thought it through and determined it was worthwhile, so why?

At the innocent end of the spectrum, it could simply be ill-conceived after watching one too many action movies. At the more cynical end, it could be that they don't really care who the insurgents are, they just want confessions so they can say they captured X number of insurgents, or X number of terrorists.

Every time this comes up, everyone shakes their head about how awful it is and how crazy the Bush administration is because we all agree they should not be doing it, and yet both parties are in near complete agreement on keeping it open. Why?

Mostly, I think, it's because this frame has been allowed to continue, this widespread myth that torture will produce good information, that you can trade morality to get reliable intelligence. It's a myth, but it's propogated in so much of our shared cultural mythology that it produces a visceral effect. Even understanding that torture is counter-productive to getting reliable intel, the felt, cultural response to a candidate saying he won't torture is that he'd endanger the country for his principles.

Humans are rational agents only in the dreams of economists.

What is the reason in fact for doing this? There is some reason. Everything that the government has done or tried to do has fit some plan. They choose to get information one way, and not other more effective ways. They choose to invade Iraq rather than overrun Afghanistan with troops looking for bin laden.

So, if torture yields nothing, then why are they doing it? What is their answer, and what is the real answer?


Oh, I should think that would be clear. Torture doesn't give you information; it gives you confessions. It confirms what you want to hear. Doesn't that answer the question rather fittingly?
posted by jefgodesky at 1:01 PM on May 17, 2007


Any bets that some of the intel that led to the Iraq war was garnered in a candyland CIA gulag in Eastern Europe?

No need to bet. The Bush administration tortured Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi into saying that Iraq and al Qaeda were collaborating in chemical weapons (he was the only basis for that claim), and and continued to cite his statements after February 2002, when the DIA said he was most likely "intentionally misleading the debriefers."

Anyone else remember those articles and/or have a link?

Mark Bowden's "The Dark Art of Interrogation," from the October 2003 Atlantic.

Bruce Hoffman's "All You Need Is Love," from the December 2001 Atlantic.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:49 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, there's a lot of question begging going on here. It doesn't matter whether or not torture does or does get you good information. Torturing is a bad idea for other reasons.

In a conventional war, torturing enemy POWs will get you troop levels and movements, where the supply lines are and what the overall plan seems to be. Torturing civilians can get you other fun things. Troop levels and movements again, as well as low morale in the populace and some free shit. Torture can reliably get you all this, but it's a bad idea anyway because you also seal your own prisoners' fates when you do it. Your enemy is doing the same thing to you, and your net advantage is back to zero, but with a lower overall morale (the prospect of torture has that effect.)

But we're not in a conventional war are we? That's what they tell us. The point has been made that our captured soldiers will be tortured regardless of what we do, and I think there's something to that. That doesn't make torture a good idea though. It's still, at the end, your own nuts on the electrode. We cannot hold up the bad men torturing our soldiers up as monsters because WE'RE DOING THE SAME THING! And when terrorists blow up one of our buildings? It was a building that supported torture! Violence against us becomes just for the same reason violence against them becomes just. Torturing makes us bad people.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:54 PM on May 17, 2007


Pastabagel writes In Iraq, there are in fact insurgents and people making bombs. I assume the CIA doesn't assume everyone they caught is a mastermind.

But many, if not most of these "insurgents," are not Al-Qaeda, but Shia and Sunni Iraqis. They don't want us there.

So, the military goal now is to stabilize/democratize Iraq. And the populace doesn't want us there. So every time we torture an Iraqi to find out where a bomb-maker is, we're alienating him and at least ten of his friends and family members.

Can't you hear how ridiculous you sound? "Insurgent" implies some sort of concrete wall between "good" and "bad" Iraqis. Fact is, most of them hate us (they have every right to, IMO).

Get out. End this farce.
posted by bardic at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2007


Our best informants on Al Qaeda's activities weren't tortured- we bought them houses.

Here's how it works:

You sit down with a guy you've caught* doing something fishy. You say, "look my friend, we've got you. Your friends gave you up. We know everything. You're fucked. You're going to spend a long time in jail. Your friends hung you out to dry. They sold you out and they sold out your ideals. The methods they use won't really solve your problems, but they don't care about that, and they don't care about you."

You spend time doing this, you work at it and you build rapport with the suspect. You lie to them. If you are controlling their access to information, you should be able to manage this. Then you say "We can help you. You made a mistake, we understand that. We respect what you were trying to accomplish, you just made some bad choices. Help us, and you'll see your family again, you won't go to jail, you'll be important to our mission, and we might be able to help you with your objectives." Give them something to believe and reward them when they do what you want.

That's how you turn an informant. Torturing someone, as many have pointed out, gives you a bunch of (mostly unverifiable) data in the short term and nothing down the road. Turning an informant gives you a resource. This has been proven by intelligence services since at least World War II. In times when agencies have strayed from this (1970s, England, "The Troubles"), they have usually gotten bad information, and ultimately been burned by it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:01 PM on May 17, 2007


* By "caught" I mean apprehended as the result of systematic and rigorous investigation using proven and legal methods.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:02 PM on May 17, 2007


the idea that the fear resulting from ONE! terrorist attack is some sort of justification for americans becoming totalitarian torturers is utterly reprehensible.

Is the rest of the world allowed to use the fear we might feel from having 8000 FUCKING NUCLEAR WARHEADS POINTING AT US as a justification for how we treat you?
posted by lastobelus at 11:14 PM on May 17, 2007


“except to say that you are arguing from a position of what "should be", and I'm trying to argue and determine what is,”

And I’m telling you what is. Torture yields inferior information contrasted with other methods - including methods used in hot zone conditions. That’s the reason it is not taught as standard operating procedure in intelligence schools. (as TheWhiteSkull, et.al pointed out)

“in practice war is only used when the goal is otherwise unachievable. It seems there are more than a few examples of wars not fought as a last resort.”

Agreed. But I was referencing Clausewitz regarding your inference of the use of force. War as a continuation of politics. I respect a good deal of your reasoning, but winning in war is a highly nuanced dynamic.
You are, in fact, arguing for the ideal, rather than the reality. War will never be waged in such a way that participants will use all means at their disposal to destroy an enemy. Military objectives always support the political objectives. And the political objectives are limited to defense or acheivement of whatever goal - not complete defeat of the enemy. The last statement, it appears to me, is implied in your assertion that the U.S. won’t go far enough to “win.” My assertion is winning under those conditions is not necessary or useful in any practical measure. But that’s the war college answer. Politics being what it is today, perhaps the political goals are different (which leads to the next bit).


“If I'm wrong and torture never yields useful information, and furthermore if it is so obvious that torture is ineffective that bloggers and experts agree, then what do you think the reason is?”

In the first place your premise is incorrect. You’re assuming a basic rationality behind the use of torture. Any number of non-rational answers are possible - fear, sadism, thrill of power, etc. Or a blend of rational and irrational - Idi Amin comes to mind.
The most rational reason is intimidation.
Typically if you don’t have many other tools, torture is used.
In Iraq the U.S. has superior firepower, enough men to cow, if not control, the populace and enough straight power to topple any serious government contending with U.S. forces. We have plenty of other tools.
What you have to ask is - why torture when torture is unnecessary?
In the former Communist countries the secret police were very efficient and well funded. Opposition, resistance, was nearly impossible. Given the surveillance capacity of the secret police, the vast network of informers (indeed, the Soviet folks were extraordinarially submissive their identies virtually sublimated in the collective - hence if you argue with an older Russian you almost always hear an ego assertion “Do you know who I am!?”)
So given the massive efficiency of the police state and the virtually non-existant resistance, torture as a policy on a broad scale was virtually superfluous - so why’d they use it?

Well, typically once the apparatus is in place, it just keeps going. Finding reasons to continue to exist. This is in part because a lot of people find torture thrilling. I assume exceptions in all present company. But even by proxy such power can be compelling.
Even so - what’s the justification for people self-aware and self-controlled enough not to pursue it just for the thrill of power?

Repression of - and propagation of - opposition. The “reasonable” goal being stability.

That smacks of Orwell’s “boot stamping on a human face forever” but the simple fact of the matter is an “other” or an “enemy” needs to be defined as terrifying as possible.
One way to do that is to use measures against such an “enemy” that are exceptional.
These guys are just so bad, we have to torture them. And you hear that in the president’s speech we have to use the harshest measures possible because these people are so hard ass.
Well, that’s tautological ultimately. Because anyone you torture and anyone who cares about them is going to oppose you by any means possible.
And thus - you have your enemy and your - continuing - justification to torture.

Again - I respect your reasoning, but your premise is flawed. You can get some information from torture. However one can get some work out of a slave. Therefore one can make a similar case for slavery.
I would however point out that the precursor to the steam engine was discovered in Ancient Greece. The king it was presented to agreed that such an engine could perform vast amounts of work.
“But” - he said - “What would we do with the slaves?”
Stability.

And therein lies the flaw.

In case that’s not plain enough - torture is a mechanism better suited for the generation of enemies than it is for the generation of information. It is used for that reason.
Similarly - slavery is less efficient than even early industrial technology much less modern machinery.
Slavery, or it’s economic relatives, is still used to preserve an imbalance much the way torture is to preserve resistance while it oppresses.

I will note that, in keeping with my central argument on efficiency, slavery (pure slavery) stopped becoming a standard practice not when it was morally opposed but when it became less economical than other means.

Torture is precisely about the creation of opposition where there might otherwise be reconciliation or at least acceptance. The Soviets - for example - had pretty much en masse submitted to the power of the state. If the state then ceased to have enemies - why is the apparatus still needed? So, you must create unacceptable conditions.

I’ve seen this in microcosm as well. You get two people fighting, one surrenders, but the other guy has a chip on his shoulder or has something to prove other than just winning the fight, so he causes the submitter some unacceptable pain to get him to keep going.
The point there is obviously something other than winning.

I’ve seen it in cops too. A guy will surrender and a cop will have him, and there’s say 20 cops around everyone, no chance for this guy to go anywhere and suddenly he flips out and starts swinging at the cop who’s trying to cuff him. Well gee, I guess the suspect was just an irrational nut, why would he swing on an officer when he’s completely surrounded.
Well, what some cops do is carry a small sharp something or other in their hand and jab the guy in a certain spot to cause him a great deal of pain. If he doesn’t react, he’ll keep doing it. At some point even Ghandi would swing at the cop to get him to stop. And it’s important to note that many cops don’t do this and disapprove of it which is why it’s done surreptitiously.
It’s a microcosm, but it’s the same dynamic.
The point is something other than getting the suspect cuffed. Which, by most standards, would be the “win” in that situation.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lt. Cmdr. Diaz Receives 6 Month Sentence For Revealing Gitmo Names
posted by homunculus at 10:28 PM on May 20, 2007


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