Friday, June 24, 2011

Here we go again: torture edition

I am so beyond tired of talking about torture, mainly because the people who ordered it are sitting in mansions instead of jail cells where they belong. But also because its illegal, ineffective, wrong and just all around a bad idea. But General Petraeus, formerly an anti-torture advocate, had to go blabbing to Congress about the ridiculous "ticking time bomb" scenario.

In the vast majority of cases, Petraeus said, the "humane" questioning standards mandated by the U.S. Army Field Manual are sufficient to persuade detainees to talk. But though he did not use the word torture, Petraeus said "there should be discussion ... by policymakers and by Congress" about something "more than the normal techniques." Petraeus... described an example of a detainee who knows how to disarm a nuclear device set to explode under the Empire State Building.

Is this guy fucking serious? Did he just get done watching a few episodes of '24'? I wouldn't put that past him since its actually been documented that senior officials took cues from the show. Where else would they come up with this shit than from a tv show or a movie? A nuke under the Empire State Building? Did Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer slip a few lines into Petraeus' notes?

Petraeus has to know that torture under "non-ticking time bomb" scenarios doesn't work. If he didn't know that I'm not sure why he wouldn't endorse torture under other scenarios. So why all of the sudden this need for "more than the normal techniques"? I obviously can't tell what's going on in his head. But I will say that he is wrong.

First of all torture doesn't work. Its designed to elicit false confessions. That, and I guess the desire to simply punish people, is why torture has been employed throughout history, at least recent history. Secondly, if by some miracle you get good information it would take a long time. Take the recent bullshit about bin Laden and the right's claim that torture helped. It didn't. But if it did, look how long it took to get the info, use it, and carry out the action. It took years.

Thirdly, the ticking time bomb scenario is as likely to happen as Kristin Kreuk showing up at my door and professing her undying love for me. Let's take Petraeus' example. Why would you plant a nuke under the Empire State Building, walk away, and allow enough time between when you planted it and when you blew it up to get caught? If the nuke had a timer and that was the only way you could set it off, why not start the timer before you plant it and have it go off either right after you have it in place or shortly after you are out of the blast zone? Even then, you wouldn't have to plant it directly under the ESB in order to do the damage you want.

Why would you even bother knowing how to disarm the bomb if you are the one planting it? And given our knowledge of nukes wouldn't there be someone who could disarm it without having to ask the person who planted it? For that matter, how would you even know someone planted the bomb in the first place? If you knew that why didn't you stop him from planting it or even obtaining the bomb at all? If you did know and you captured him why would he tell you where he planted it? How long would it take just to get the location of it, more or less how to disarm it?

Have I asked enough questions to demonstrate how ridiculous the "ticking time bomb" scenario is? If you have questions for me ask them and I'm sure that will lead to at least a few more questions on my end as to how you know the information you know in order to ask me what to do.

And that's not to mention that even if this type of scenario were to occur and you miraculously found out about the bomb, its location, the identity of the person who planted it, the location of that person, were able to capture him in enough time; that torture would be the most effective way to get the info you need to prevent the bomb from going off. Most interrogation experts would tell you torture is not the way.

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