I came across this piece in Small Wars Journal by Malcom Nance, a US counter-terrorism guy, on how waterboarding as an interrogation practice is torture, pure and simple, and how equivocation in US government and media circles on its continued use is a “crisis of honor”. A must read for anyone interested in military ethics. Here’s a sample:

“Until recently, only a few countries considered it effective. Now American use of the waterboard as an interrogation tool has assuredly guaranteed that our service members and agents who are captured or detained by future enemies will be subject to it as part of the most routine interrogations. Forget threats, poor food, the occasional face slap and sexual assaults. This was not a dignified ‘taking off the gloves’; this was descending to the level of our opposition in an equally brutish and ugly way. Waterboarding will be one our future enemy’s go-to techniques because we took the gloves off to brutal interrogation. Now our enemies will take the gloves off and thank us for it.

There may never again be a chance that Americans will benefit from the shield of outrage and public opinion when our future enemy uses of torture. Brutal interrogation, flash murder and extreme humiliation of American citizens, agents and members of the armed forces may now be guaranteed because we have mindlessly, but happily, broken the seal on the Pandora’s box of indignity, cruelty and hatred in the name of protecting America. To defeat Bin Laden many in this administration have openly embraced the methods of by Hitler, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Galtieri and Saddam Hussein.”

0 Responses

  1. Well, yes. The denial of the obvious compounds the evil. I suspect as the threat diminishes we'll see more expressions of conscience such as this one.

  2. never understood how we, the 'good guys', are better than the 'enemy' when we stoop to such horrific measures. how are we better?

  3. Steve:

    Hopefully conscience is more robust that that. What Nance also says of note in the article is that the intel generated by such measures is overwhelmingly worthless, which raises the question of utility as well as morality.