Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mark Bowden(of Black Hawk Down fame) on torture

Originally published in the Atlantic Magazine, October 2003.

This is definitely the most thorough analysis of the subject that I've ever read - Bowden has interviewed several former interrogators from such diverse organizations as the Vietnam-era USMC, Israel's Shabak[General Security Service], and the NYPD; and he properly distinguishes torture from "enhanced interrogation" and the like, and effective from ineffective interrogation methods; also he cites a few actual examples of the much-hypothesized "ticking time bomb" scenario where extracting information has literally been a matter of life and death for others.

He's more optimistic than I am, however, when he says that "no interrogator is ever going to be prosecuted for keeping Khalid Sheikh Mohammed awake, cold, alone, and uncomfortable. Nor should he be." I think of the "Wall" between intelligence and domestic law enforcement that existed pre-9/11, and I can't rule out the prospect of government lawyers being similarly overzealous in the near future.
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