Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Bringing In An Expert

You're going to hear a lot of ignorant people arguing that torture is the only way to get information from Iraqi prisoners - painting the human-rights position as foolishly naive. So it's useful to know that an actual interrogator in the U.S. Army doesn't agree.

In the comments section of Electrolite, Staff Sergeant Terry Karney, recently returned from Iraq, tells us about his job:
And that's why the situation at Abu Ghraib bothers me. These were not that time sensitive, these guys didn't need to go off the reservation. If they had as many prisoners as they say they did (and this is just in April, when the fighting in Falluja was the primary thing on the agenda) they could afford to take the extra hour or so it might have taken to get a guy talking.

And before April... they had all the time in the world, because the more prisoners one has to work with, the easier it is to get them to talk. You can play on fears. I come to talk to A: Ten minutes later I come to talk to B:, along about the time I get to G, he will be afraid, because A-F have not been seen since. He's probably been told we will torture, and then kill, him. He's convinced himself this is happening. When all I want to do is ask questions, he tells all he knows, because in his mind he's saving his life.

On the flip side, if I start to hit him, he resists, because that is what he's been trained to do, avoid giving up information in exchange for pain.

And we know this doesn't work. If you think torture is useful in breaking people, and thus garnering information, talk to John McCain, or anyone else who had a room at the Hanoi Hilton.
Read Terry's comments here, here, here, and here.