6 May 2011

On torture - again

The tide of bull-shit about how torture helped to send OBL belatedly to hell has risen to the nostril level. I have expressed the view from the other end of the electrodes previously, and also questioned its practical usefulness, but both bear repeating.

Matthew Alexander, a former senior military interrogator who conducted or supervised more than 1,300 interrogations in Iraq, writes eloquently on how unnecessary and even counter-productive it is in Foreign Policy. As he says, the US oath of allegiance says "Liberty and justice for all", not "liberty and security for all".

Actually, since well before the twin towers went down, the operative concept has been "such liberty as shall be judged compatible with security for all", which is of course no liberty at all.

I was myself tortured once, happily by a sadist who only wanted to hear me scream and who quit after he felt I was sufficiently humiliated.  But while I was hooked up to the "talking machine" I would have told him anything he wanted to stop him turning that damned hand-crank.

He made a serious error in letting me go, as I was working for some very powerful people and not long afterwards learned that he had suffered a fatal accident. I am in no doubt that prompt revenge spared me the worst aspects of PTSD and I empathize fully with the celebrations of those who lost friends and family on 9/11 upon learning that OBL had been erased.

Revenge is good. It's healthy. Condign punishment helps victims heal and, frankly, who gives a shit about the predators. If they can't do the time then they should not have done the crime.

But real torture (as in causing physical agony - not the mental coercion that limp lefties seem to think is equivalent) corrupts the torturers and the system that employs it.


  1. I agree without hesitation when it comes to torture involving violence and pain, but the problem is that the human rights brigade are continuously trying to push the boundary of what we call torture. There was a lady lawyer on the TV a couple of years back complaining that her client had been tortured. When questioned it seemed obvious (to me at least, maybe not the interviewer) that the alleged torture was indistinguishable from her client having had his pubic hair shaved to combat lice. At the same time, I'm sure it is possible to hold a razor near someones crotch in a fashion capable of causing an awful lot of quite understandable fear, but would that actually constitute torture if no physical damage is done? Where do we draw the line between allowable interrogation techniques and torture? You get the impression from the human rights lawyers that the interrogators should be forbidden from raising their voices or talking harshly in case the terrorist suspect feels put upon.

  2. Human Rights Biz is a nice little earner for shysters like Cherie Blair, and they will always seek to expand the boundaries of their profitable domain. As far as I'm concerned psychological pressure is not torture: only the systematic infliction of pain qualifies.