I realize that some folks may be tired of reading about “torture”—whether real or imagined. If the subject bores you, no one is forcing you to read this post.
However, we are in a war with a fanatical foe, and there are forces in our own country determined to disarm the various departments and agencies that would protect us from this mortal threat, so while may not make for fun reading, what it lacks in entertainment value is make up for in survival value. I’ve excerpted some comments by a Navy SEAL on interrogation techniques from the following blog:
"Giving the intimate details of any interrogation techniques that we simulate on our own people, or use on an enemy combatant that has knowledge of other terrorists or plots to kill innocent people, is sedition, in my opinion."
Having debates over the finer points of interrogation techniques in open settings "only benefits those we may need to interrogate."
Mike's secondary specialty in the SEAL force is as an advanced combat medic. Without getting into specifics on his experiences, Mike strongly disputes Nance's exaggerations of waterboarding. There is a word for people who have "pint after pint of water" filling their lungs: dead. "In fact," according to Mike, "they would be very, very dead. By definition, anyone who has drowned is in fact dead. A large percentage of true drownings do not involve ANY water entering the lungs because the epiglottis closes off the air passages as water enters the throat. People who die immediately from being immersed in water actually die of suffocation, not water entering their lungs. Not only that, many people who survive a near-drowning who do have even small amounts of water that slip by the epiglottis and enter their lungs can die later of fluid shifts and pneumonia. I can assure you that we do not use any technique that involves true suffocation or aspiration of water into the lungs. One cannot get questions to answers from people who suffocate or have water fill their lungs in any interrogation technique, which would render that technique more than a little self-defeating. Dead men tell no tales -- and also make rather poor soldiers."
Mike emphasized that modern military interrogators receive excellent training and know that coercive techniques do not usually work as well as "positive incentives" and they will generally work through "echelons" of interrogation to obtain critical information. Mike would not go into any detail on "positive incentives" anymore than he would about coercive interrogation techniques generally used as a last resort. He continued to emphasize operational security (OPSEC). However, there are many different scenarios for interrogations, including time-critical emergencies, such as hostage rescue or impending attacks. "Effective interrogators need every range of options in these cases, including methods that use coercion to elicit information, for the different situations that our forces not only might face, but have faced. He used the examples of rescuing captured American soldiers from terrorists when we know they will be brutally tortured and murdered if not found immediately and rescued. "I'm guessing that the vast majority of Americans who vote would not have a problem with us using coercive tactics to get that kind of information from a terrorist."
However, Mike has serious concerns about this nation's perspective in this war, and whether it indicates an inability to defeat our enemies. "It's just blows me away that we're talking about the frickin' waterboard over here, when they're cutting off people's heads over there." Even the Abu Ghraib scandal, which was "unnecessary, unprofessional, and without purpose," has been overplayed into some kind of systemic and universal blight on the American military. Those responsible "got prosecuted … as they should be," but it pales into insignificance in comparison to what Saddam and his forces did at Abu Ghraib - "the most sadistic forms of torture." Those tortures continue with al-Qaeda to this day, but we seem uninterested in discussing that, instead spending years talking about a few isolated incidents and fret over how we treat the enemy in this war.
Mike continued with a rather chilling set of thoughts. "Many terrorists we capture already exploit what they perceive to be our weaknesses because of the media. They frequently ask for an attorney as soon as they are captured, medical care for the most trivial things and claim all sorts of abuses. The message has obviously been grossly distorted. OK, this my own opinion here but you want the enemy to believe the reality of this war as follows: Yes we will kill them swiftly if they resist capture. No, we will not kill them if they give up and do not resist capture. Yes we will start off by being humane, accommodating of their religion and culture and even give them positive incentives if they cooperate during interrogation. But they absolutely must believe that we are fully authorized by our country to use any measure necessary to extract time-critical information from them if there is a need to do so.
“Anyone suggesting that we should enact some kind of strict rules against what they perceive to be torture in time-critical wartime interrogations is not only naive but also dangerous. Interrogators in war zones who are up against any kind of time frame to recover captured American or coalition forces are likely to go right up the echelon of interrogation techniques including different types of coercion no matter what anyone says back in this fantasyland in the States. And if the interrogators think they could be charged with some kind of crime because the subject could file a case against them for carrying out their duties on a known terrorist who is withholding vital information, there is one likely fate for that individual at the end of his interrogation…death…sort of the reverse of what these left wing whackos claim to be seeking."
Mike also repeated his belief that anyone including politicians who disclose classified information during a time of war should be charged with treason. "I realize that the words sedition and treason are probably no longer found in the PC dictionary, but that is what this all amounts to. Why is it that the only legislators willing to make a stand are standing up for the non-existent civil rights of terrorists who are considered spies, saboteurs or guerillas and therefore not even covered under any Geneva Convention? Where are the patriotic attorneys who will put their party plans aside to prosecute those who give away classified information during a time of war? I strongly believe that it is high time that people in our country who give solace to the enemy and the secrets of our country to the press are charged with treason and given the strictest of penalties under the law."