The CIA Psychologist Who Designed the Torture Program Claims It Was Not Torture


Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor

We have seen and heard the claims from Donald Rumsfeld and others that the leaked Senate torture report is off base because the enhanced interrogation techniques were not only legal according to the Office of Legal Counsel, but they also produced results.  Putting aside the idea that just because an allegedly illegal act is claimed to have been successful in producing actionable intelligence, does not make it any more legal or illegal, is there a reason why we should listen to the participants who authorized the waterboarding and other torture procedures when they claim that all is well?

Now it seems that Donald Rumsfeld has company.  “In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.

The committee’s report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.

But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can’t ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.” ‘  Reader Supported News 

Mr. Mitchell makes some claims that confuse and disturb me.  He seems to link being a torturer to a field agent or a soldier or Marine who puts his/her life on the line.  While many CIA and other defense agency agents do indeed put themselves at risk, I fail to see how waterboarding someone in a secure prison or base is putting your life on the line.

Mr. Mitchell also claims that anyone or any governmental oversight agency that is reviewing the actions of these heroes of torture is merely using hindsight years after the events occurred in order to go after these agents credibility.  Of course, Mr. Mitchell chooses to ignore or has conveniently forgotten that he and his superiors kept these activities secret from Americans for years.  Can someone please remind Mitchell that waterboarding has been illegal in the United States for decades?

Has Mitchell decided to speak out because he is worried about possible legal ramifications of his allegedly heroic torture activities that may be more fully disclosed in the Senate Report if it is declassified?   If Mr. Mitchell personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, maybe he should be worried.  Does it surprise anyone that Rumsfeld, Mitchell and Jose Rodriguez are all going on the record in the last year or two in attempt to whitewash their involvement in allowing, authorizing and undertaking illegal torture procedures?

If you don’t remember who Jose Rodriguez is, he is the CIA supervisor who authorized the destruction of the video tapes of the torture techniques in use and could have proven who said what and what was actually done.  So why would Rodriguez destroy the video tapes if he did nothing wrong and his allegedly illegal efforts produced results?  I think Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Mitchell protest too much.

What do you think should be done with the Senate Report?  Should it be fully declassified?  If the report does prove that agents of the government, no matter how high up, were involved in illegal activities, should they be prosecuted if the law still allows it?  If the CIA and other defense intelligence agencies are allowed to torture an accused prisoner, is any dissenter safe?  What do you think?


67 thoughts on “The CIA Psychologist Who Designed the Torture Program Claims It Was Not Torture

  1. James Mitchell is a total embarrassment to the entire field of psychology. If he truly believes what he is saying, it means that he knows squat about, 1) Psychology, and 2) Interrogation.

    Furthermore, the ethical standards of everyone even remotely involved in the torture program don’t register on any known scale of measurement.

    Here is the official statement from the American Psychological Association, written by the (then) President, Dr. James Bray in 2009. Quoting in part:

    APA has declared that psychologists have an obligation to intervene to stop torture or abuse, and a further obligation to report any instance of torture or abuse. In fact, the public record includes examples of psychologists behaving precisely how APA would expect. Unfortunately, two psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, have been identified in media reports as proponents of using “reverse-engineered” SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) military training techniques for detainee interrogations. These techniques, when applied in this manner, are tantamount to torture as defined by APA and international law. Mitchell and Jessen are not members of the APA, and therefore the association has no jurisdiction to investigate their activities. The APA Code of Ethics however, should be a guidepost for the behavior of all psychologists regardless of the issue of membership status with APA, and we have a responsibility to voice our dismay at any psychologist’s reported role in detainee mistreatment. Furthermore, APA stands ready to adjudicate reports that any APA member has engaged in prohibited techniques.

  2. “should they be prosecuted if the law still allows it?”

    Isn’t torture a war crime? Is there a statute of limitations on war crimes? I don’t think so – else why would be still be seeking those from WWII.

    An I think you have raised a good question, why would the tapes and other materials have been destroyed if they were exculpatory? That may not be evidence at a trial. But there is no reason that common sense inferences should not guide our investigation and understanding of those sad events.

    As for being guided by hindsight, I am pretty sure we can find statements from the time by military men who were flabbergasted by the claim that water boarding and other activities were not clear violations of the military code of justice.

    These people created a sophists interpretation of the law and now they have every reason to fear having their deeds clearly documented for all to see.

  3. When politicians and politics infiltrate the administration of justice or the law, bad outcomes often follow. I think that is the core as to what happens at macroscopic levels such as this.

    Retroactive twisting of the law is a sign it is happening, eg: Commmitting an act, then minipulating the law to justify the action.

  4. The principles
    Principle I

    Principle I states, “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.”
    Principle II

    Principle II states, “The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.”
    Principle III

    Principle III states, “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.”
    Principle IV
    Main article: Superior Orders:

    Principle IV states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him”.

    This principle could be paraphrased as follows: “It is not an acceptable excuse to say ‘I was just following my superior’s orders'”.

  5. “In Germany, the Nazis came for the Communists & I didn’t speak up because I’m not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews & I didn’t speak up beacuse I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists & I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics & I was a Protestant so I didn’t speak up. Then they came for me. By that time there was no one to speak up for anyone.”
    — Martin Niemoller

    “There are seven sins in the world: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice & politics without principle.”
    — Mahatma Gandhi

  6. Just had surgery on my left eye to repair a torn retina followed by two sessions of lasers being shot into the eye (100 to 150 times)to tack- weld the retina in place …. Forget the Waterboarding — piece of cake swallowing the water …

    The laser shots ride right down the optic nerve which runs straight out of the eye into the central brain area … Feels like someone is whacking the length of the nerve with a 5 lb. sledgehammer … Very painful

    Have contacted Cheney about substitution at Guantanamo … Those prisoners will talk yet ….

    Cheney hasn’t responded … Though I am sure he’s researching this .

  7. Mr. Mtichell’s pathetic attempt to link torturers with “those who risk their lives” has it backwards. In fact by using torture he puts the soldiers risking their lives at risk for the same treatment from our enemies. It makes it impossible to complain about others committing torture when you are doing it yourself.

  8. I have a real problem with the APA. Every member who voted on the DSMs that decided that homosexuality was a mental disease that could be cured by members of the APA should be jailed. Any member who tried to cure homosexuals using the DSM diagnosis criteria should be jailed. Anyone who tried to cure bipolar with counseling should be jailed.

  9. Paul, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association, not the American Psychological Association. Besides the DSM-5 is the current edition, and homosexuality has not been listed as a mental disorder since the DSM-II came out in 1968. I imagine the people involved in that publication are probably dead by now.

    Anyone who tries to “cure” bipolar disorder with psychotherapy alone has no understanding of the disorder. Counseling can help them to come to grips with the idea they are going to have to be on medication and other life issues. But cure? No.

  10. Platos Cave and others as well. You all seem to have forgotten about the war crimes committed against thousands of Innocent American Citizens, our Military people, innocents of all other countries including their own by these horrible torturing and murdering serial killers. MAYBE they got a microscopic amount of what they dump trainloads of on innocents and brag about their brutality with pride!
    W.T.F. is the matter with all of you? War criminals of their ilk do not respect the Geneva Accords or deserve to be protected by them and here you are bending over backwards to have the heads of the very least of such offenders?????
    There is nothing that can be done to them that would scratch the surface of the horrible crimes these monster’s are responsible for committing and continue to inspire even after death.
    Yeah, right – they are all innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?
    They are guilty of what they have done, period!
    Courts do not change that fact, but their butterfinger-decisions let a LOT of the obviously guilty return to commit their crimes again and again.

  11. Darrel,
    What you are suggesting lowers us to the level of the criminal. Or worse. We have to maintain rule of law, or we become that which we loathe. One criminal act does not justify another.

    Anyone with any sense of history knows that criminal acts occur in any war, and are committed by members of all parties. That is one reason we must be vigilant, trying to stamp out criminality when we find it, no matter where we find it. In any war or armed conflict, men and women are called on to do things they would never have imagined when they were younger. The greatest danger is if they get to liking it. That is what seems to have happened with James Mitchell and his cohort, Bruce Jessen.

  12. Enough! Let’s use the ‘techniques’ he designed on the ‘designer’ for 100 days straight, then ask him again, whether he thinks his ‘techniques’ are torture or not. And then, let’s push him out of a plane, with a parachute of course…. over Iraq.

  13. I am astounded that Paul takes up for Nazi war criminals by echoing their cry that Nurenburg was victors justice. Churchill wanted real victors justice by simply hanging the leading Nazis with no trial at all. He also does not know that a number of the defendants were ACQUITED! That is called justice by the way.

    It gets even worse as he tries to hew to the GOP party line and justifies criminal acts and war crimes. If the US could execute a number of Japanese generals and officers for waterboarding US POWs, the US has an obligation to apply the SAME law and principles of justice to our own criminal officials. I hope that the International Criminal Court will issue warrants for their arrest since there is scant chance they will be brought to justice by the US. At least we can make sure that they will be hunted and taken prisoner if they ever leave the US.

  14. Paul Schulte @ 8:49pm: “Nuremburg is victor’s justice.”

    I hope everyone read that statement because out of everything I have read on these posts THAT is the most salient comment made on this topic. I have long held that the exclusion of the ‘Nuremburg Defense’ was wrong. Imagine that you were a German soldier who felt that killing Jews was wrong and refused to carry out your orders. Instead of six million dead, there would have been six million and one. Having served in the Navy for four years, we were always told that if you disagreed with an order you carried it out and THEN protested to your C.O. Now. Should Cheney, Rumsfield, John Yoo, and Bush be tried as war criminals. Of COURSE they should. Should the soldiers and the CIA personal that carried out the orders? Of COURSE they should. After all, the Allies set a precedent at Nuremburg. Isn’t that what jurisprudence is all about?

  15. I can follow the logic of 6 of Gandhi’s 7 sins, repeated by Buckeroo, but what is worship without sacrifice? Worship is a low scale activity in my book, light years below Admiration; certainly not worth Sacrifice, which has its place in other endeavors.

  16. Dante has a place for people like Mitchel.

    Nuremberg was human justice. But Mitchel didn’t just follow orders he designed the program. He wasn’t on the battle field likely to be shot if he said no. He is a war criminal.

  17. They must deny wrong-doing. They fear being sent to prison. Had Natzi Germany prevailed, there would have been no Nuremberg Trials. Once we have withdrawn from Afghanistan, perhaps we can do some trying ourselves. Clearly dishonesty prevailed.

  18. I suppose someone that would know if it was REALLY torture or not would be Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, unfortunately she was one of the first women to die… suicide….once she saw the “enhanced interrogation” being used.

    LISTEN, these war criminals killed a lot more innocent people than at first look, and they deserve to be put on trial for it.

  19. The World War Two generation never supported torture as an official policy.

    During the Cold War we denounced our enemies that perpetrated torture, censorship and domestic spying as the “evil doers” or god-less.

    The real danger is the next generation have no moral compass in regards to torture and crimes against humanity. The clergy, parents, teachers and adults today have cowardly turned a blind eye to these evils.

    The next generation won’t even question these evil practices – that is what is really dangerous. They will torture or assassinate anyone (including their fellow Americans) without any hestitation or moral question.

    This generation has to have some backbone and reverse these immoral and unAmerican practices. Our kids think it’s perfectly fine and won’t know how to fix it.

  20. Please arrest Mr. Mitchell. Please seat grand juries to probe matters of war crimes, no matter where they lead, including the present aiding and abetting administration.

  21. Darrel C Carlson, Charles Stanley already responded to you fairly well, but your comment shows you know nothing about this fight. See, you want to be the tool for OBL and AQ? You are exactly the type of American I’d want if I were your enemy. I would provoke your ignorance of others until I got the War on Muslims I was aiming for. That was OBL’s message, that Americans are savage capitalists that will destroy the world and every good Muslim. That message is easy to pass around America by getting it into your mouth via FoxNews, National Review, Pam Geller, Frank Gaffney, Pete King R-NY, etc. The more I can get you to amplify this message, the better for me (says the enemy).

    The wiser man would realize….
    You are holding people who are either not-guilty, not able to be tried by the US, or of no threat. The United States refuses to charge Abu Zubaydah. They refuse to do so because it would be easier for him to just languish in prison. Do I care what happens to Abu Zubaydah? not an inch. I care about what happens to justice instead. And his case represents very well what is wrong with our courage and confidence in justice. We have none.

    We have accused him over and over, we have tortured him clearly, and yet…he has no pending charges. Go explain….

    Better yet, in your infinite wisdom, please tell me about his and all the other CSRTs you’ve read. I have read everyone of the published CSRTs and other openINT documentation on the standing prisoners. Many have circumstantial accusations at best, “you were here crossing into Pakistan in Dec 2001 and are from Yemen.” to which many respond, “I was there to teach” or “i was on missionary work”

    That’s it. No case in the United States would last this long. But you want special exception due to your hatred, your ignorance, your prejudice and your indifference. This is what America has become so don’t look down your nose very far to find a lowlife.

    Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, Deuce Martinez, Jose Rodriguez, Donald Rumsfeld, and Richard B Cheney should all be sitting on trial for these acts alone. If you have a problem with that, then don’t discuss law again because you don’t believe in it.

    Should you wish to have further edification on the matter, I will gladly educate you on the matter.

  22. Justice Holmes: “He wasn’t on the battle field likely to be shot if he said no. He is a war criminal.”

    Very true, Justice Holmes. His was an even WORSE crime. He wrote the rule book, as it were. I believe in tort law, at least, there is the concept of ‘proportionality’. Since he designed the programs (and I’m certain that he didn’t come up with the torture idea on his own; someone ordered him to do it) he should bear a proportionately higher percentage of the blame. That should travel all the way up the political food chain to Bush, where the buck supposedly stopped.

  23. “where the buck supposedly stopped.”

    Apparently their understanding of ‘the buck stops here’, was that the buck stops and doesn’t reach that far.

    If citizens do not demand accountability for these criminal acts, particularly for the architects of the policy, we can rest assured the policies will continue and the acts will be repeated.

    This is pure conjecture on my part, but my experience is that policies, believed to be successful, tend to be applied in other areas. If we do not make clear these policies are criminal, then there is the possibility that we will see the application of ‘enhanced’ techniques in other areas. Can anyone state with certainty that we will never see the application of techniques like stress position in civilian law enforcement?

    Enhanced interrogation techniques are criminal and we need to make that clear now.

  24. And there’s still more to come.

    Thanks for the posting, rafflaw.

    “Enhanced interrogation techniques are criminal and we need to make that clear now.” -bigfatmike


  25. rafflaw,

    Thanks for this post. That’s an interesting article in The Guardian about Mitchell. Poor fellow! He’s “just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government”–and he did the best that he could.

  26. Thanks Elaine. He may have been on the firing line in the past, but torturing a helpless prisoner is no service to be proud of.

  27. BFM,

    Apparently their understanding of ‘the buck stops here’, was that the buck stops and doesn’t reach that far.

    Lois Lerner…Eric Holder…Barack Obama.

    Apparently their understanding of ‘the buck stops here,’ was that the buck stops and doesn’t reach that far.

    I love it.

    Conspiracies one and all:

    Nixon burglarizes a file cabinet. Result – Removal.

    Obama sells anti-Muslim video in Benghazi. Result – Silence.

    Obama conducts “dirty tricks” campaign through the IRS. Result – Silence.

    Lois Lerner takes the 5th. Result: Silence.

    Apparently their understanding of ‘the buck stops here’, was that the buck stops and doesn’t reach that far.

    On this subject, let’s say, theoretically, a nuclear bomb is placed in a large city and the only way to prevent its detonation is torture, in which a high degree of professional confidence is expressed. To torture or not to torture. That is the question. What say you?

    Interestingly, Churchill decided not to tell citizens of incoming buzz bombs to keep the secret of the fact that the Enigma code had been broken. Churchill allowed the torture of bomb fragments ripping through the bodies of citizens to preserve a high value national secret. And to be sure, anatomical disarticulation and pain are the same if done by human hands or artificial explosive non-local devices.

    Is this discussion an academic exercise or real world decision?

    What if it were your daughter?

  28. Dr. James Elmer Mitchell fraction of a human being, enabler/apologist of torture and war criminal.

  29. “let’s say, theoretically, a nuclear bomb is placed in a large city and the only way to prevent its detonation is torture, in which a high degree of professional confidence is expressed. To torture or not to torture. That is the question.”

    I think this is a pretty good example of my belief that it is possible to sketch a hypothetical for most any situation that justifies most any conceivable solution.

    In this particular hypothetical, the expected answer seems to be contained in ‘the only way to prevent its detonation is torture’, or maybe ‘a high degree of professional confidence is expressed [ in torture] ‘.

    I think there are real problems for the idea that torture is the only possible solution. First of all there seem to be real questions regarding the efficacy of torture. If the useful results of torture were so clear then why would we have repeated, consistent reports that the CIA has presented misleading of false reports of its efficacy?

    But beyond the efficacy question regarding torture, I would argue this hypothetical does not seem very relevant to the situations we meet in real life. The guy we are going to torture might be a terrorist or he might be a cab driver, or a lawyer. He might know where the bomb is or he might have trouble remembering where he left his brief case with important business papers. Even if we know he is a terrorist, the package he delivered might have been a bomb or it might have been laundry for the safe house – he may not know what was in the package.

    My guess is that it is rare that real life presents us with a situation where we know we have the terrorist, he knows where the bomb is, we know he knows where the bomb is, and the only possible solution is torture. Maybe it happens that way – but I will wager not very often.

    Of course, you may be asking me hypothetically what would I do. Well, when I am not in a mellow Walter Mitty mood, hypothetically I am a hot head, kick in the door, make my day kind of guy. So, … duh … of course I would torture him – hypothetically. After all, torture is the only possible solution – hypothetically.

    The point I am getting is that it is always possible to give a hypothetical that justifies a particular action, but that does not mean the action is a reasonable model for responsible behavior.

    Maybe I am stubborn. But to convince me that torture is necessary, you are going to have to do more than describe a hypothetical that contains the assumption that torture the only possible solution.

  30. John,
    in order for us to discuss your idea, please provide evidence that torture works as you are claiming.

  31. It would then devolve to your personality. Type A, B or some nebulous, subsequent variant…tick, tick, tick.

    You make the call on what has been proven efficacious.

    Oops! Your time is up.

    Churchill did.

  32. ‘Interestingly, Churchill decided not to tell citizens of incoming buzz bombs to keep the secret of the fact that the Enigma code had been broken. Churchill allowed the torture of bomb fragments ripping through the bodies of citizens to preserve a high value national secret. ‘

    I really do not see how this situation informs our understanding of torture.

    The argument seems to be that Churchill could have prevented suffering by revealing information but instead allowed ‘torture’ to occur in order to achieve a greater good.

    I would argue that Churchill faced no moral dilemma in withholding information about the V1 buzz bombs because reveling that information offered no additional alternatives for the civilian population.

    The population was already under air bombing attack. I don’t see that it makes a difference whether the explosive from a bombing raid is delivered by, for example, an HE 111 or a V1 buzz bomb.

    Is there anything actionable in knowing that the night’s air attack will be carried out by V1 buzz bombs rather than HE 111s? What exactly would a civilian do differently. After a civilian cooperates with air raid wardens, checks the black out curtains, and retires to the shelter in the basement what else is there to do?

    Churchill faced no moral dilemma when he withheld information about V1 buzz bombs because providing that information to civilians offered no additional alternatives. There was no benefit derived from revealing the information. Therefore the choice was easy – don’t spill the beans.

    If there is an analogy between Churchill’s choice not to reveal information about V1 buzz bombs and the question of torture I don’t see it.

  33. Agreed. Churchill’s decision to withold classified data had nothing to do with torture. One can certainly make the case, though it’s unpleasant, that keeping the secret of the codebreaking saved many more lives, and pain and suffering on the part of the Allies, than if he had spilled the beans.This article and thread are concerned with unethical, immorand quite probably illegal acts by senior US government officials to obtain information that, by most research, is unreliable. Churchill’s name shouldn’t even be brought up in this discussion.

  34. The example cited about Churchill is flat out wrong. The V1 was an unguided bomb which had no aim except a general area within about 50 miles or more. The person who brought this up confuses the bombing of Coventry by the Luftwaffe bombers when Churchill knew that Coventry was the target and did not warn the residents. The reason for not warning the residents was to preserve the Ultra secret that the Brits could read the German codes quickly. Of course there was nothing the civilians could do in any case as has been pointed out.

  35. One more thought on Churchill and Ultra. If Sir Winston had informed the public, the Germans would have changed the code. That would have rendered any further warnings moot, and also would have denied the Allies ability to monitor U-boat and other military activity.

    If the residents of Coventry and London had that information, what would they have been able to do with it? A false analogy in comparing a military tactical decision to the war crime of torture.

    The residents of New Orleans had ample warning that Katrina was coming, but what were they able to do about it? Not much.

  36. The subject is the morality of inflicted pain also known as torture. Torture, or inflicted pain, was approved by Churchill to protect a compelling military secret. Churchill rationalized inflicted pain. People died in the bombing. Bodies were torn asunder by shrapnel. Churchill knew this and lived with it and justified it. I would consider it torturous to have a large piece of hot shrapnel rip through my abdomen. Is it better or different if an enemy shoots you or if a torturer disembowels you?

    Pain equals torture and torture equals pain. Justify the pain. Justify the torture. Churchill saved the military secret by allowing the pain inflicted on the citizens of England during WWII.

    Torture would be justified and rational if there were a compelling national interest at stake such as a hypothetical nuclear bomb in a major city.

    That torture is effective would be intuitive. While I am not in favor of torture and would never be able to inflict it on another person or animal or insect, I can imagine that I would say anything to save an appendage or two, or worse. How about you?

    My wife watches CSI and Criminal Minds and I have to leave the room.

  37. “That torture is effective would be intuitive.”

    Not really.

    “I can imagine that I would say anything”

    Yes, and that’s one of the problems.

    “This latest claim will come as news to Mr. Mohammed’s prosecutors, to his fellow detainees (whom he instructed, at his arraignment, not to cooperate with the United States) and indeed to Mr. Mohammed himself. He told the International Committee of the Red Cross that “I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear.””

    (That the practice of “torture” seems to satisfy the bloodlust of some is a certainly — the sadists and psychopaths of the world seem to like it. And that’s the only reason that it’s employed, IMO — it’s a tool used to satisfy primitive urges.)

  38. John,
    You apparently have a poor understanding of history, military tactics and interrogation techniques. Not to mention the psychology of gathering real intelligence, as opposed to the psychology of testosterone or psychopathy. The real world is not comic book simple, nor is it a TV drama.

    Perhaps you missed the piece I wrote on interrogations and gathering intelligence. Here is the link.

  39. woody voinche

    The CIA and other agencies have a long history of mind control experimentation …
    They should use it on themselves to see if they can control themselves like the decent human beings around them.

  40. The infliction of pain with deliberation and aforethought is without distinction from torture. Pain, from the perspective of the experiencer, is all the same.

    1. Churchill deliberately allowed pain to be inflicted on British citizens. This was done rationally and justifiably with plausible deniability per protocol. You may wish to deny the same type of decision regarding Pearl Harbor and that Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy that deployed Oswald as a patsy. You may believe and perpetuate the big lie of a fuel tank explosion on Flight 800. You may have heard that you can keep your doctor. You may not know the facts. The truth may not be useful to you. The following excerpts may inform:

    Did Churchill Know About the Attack?

    Sources in this Story

    ◦The BBC: The Blitz: Sorting the Myth from the Reality
    ◦The BBC: 1940: Germans bomb Coventry to destruction
    ◦Coventry & Warwickshire News: The Coventry Blitz
    ◦The Guardian: Coventry’s ordeal
    ◦Time: Ne Plus Ultra
    ◦The Churchill Centre: Churchill Let Coventry Burn To Protect His Secret Intelligence

    By November 1940, British codebreakers at Bletchley Park had developed a system, known as Ultra, to decipher Germany’s Enigma code, allowing them to intercept German intelligence. Several authors have argued that Prime Minister Winston Churchill received an Ultra message days before Nov. 14 warning of an attack on Coventry. Churchill, they say, chose not to evacuate the city because it would have signaled to Germany that its code had been broken.

    F. W. Winterbotham, an RAF Group Captain who handled Ultra intelligence, was the first to present this theory in his 1974 book, “The Ultra Secret.” In a review of the book, Time writes, “Ultra picked up German bombing orders for a blitz of the cathedral city of Coventry, well before the attack was due. Winterbotham relayed word to Churchill, who then faced a ‘terrible decision’: whether or not to evacuate Coventry and almost certainly give Ultra’s secret to the Germans. Churchill’s choice doomed a city.”

    William Stevenson, Anthony Cave Brown and Christopher Hitchens have written similar accounts.

    2. If you do not believe that torture obtains fact and truth, the following insightful excerpts from “Torture’s Truth,” Georgetown Law, might reveal and edify:

    It is this insight that links embodied pain with confession and in- formation. What is wrong with torture is that it reminds us of some- thing that we do not want to know: that our belief in materialism and our belief in the existence of human will cannot be reconciled. More- over, torture forces us to resolve the conflict by admitting, against our “will” (if you will), that we have no will. When the pain is intense enough, we must concede that we are no more than our bodies. Elaine Scarry has made the point as eloquently as anyone. For her, “[i]ntense pain is world-destroying. In compelling confession, the torturers compel the prisoner to record and objectify the fact that in- tense pain is world-destroying. 76 This is so because “physical pain al- ways mimes death and the infliction of physical pain is always a mock execution.” Torture reminds us of death in a concrete way, and when we are so reminded, we begin “to experience the body that will end [ ] life, the body that can be killed, and which when killed will carry away the conditions that allow [a person] to exist.”” Of course, Scarry is not claiming that we do not die. It is not, then, that torture convinces us of something that is not true. Quite the con- trary, torture convinces us of a truth with which we literally cannot live. The torture victim learns that he is the slave to his body,

    – “”that all that he believes, values, and loves is, in the end, hostage to his physical well-being, that he is willing to give up everything to bring about the cessation of physical pain.”” –

    For many torture victims, this lesson is rein- forced by the sense of betrayal-of self and others-that torture pro- duces. When the torture victim speaks-revealing the location of a comrade in arms, for example, or verbally repudiating the cause he has
    75 See Strawson, Freedom and Resentment at 68 (cited in note 72) (“A sustained objectivity of inter-personal attitude, and the human isolation which that would entail, does not seem to be something of which human beings would be capable, even if some general truth were a theoreti- cal ground for it.”). 76 Scarry, The Body in Pain at 29 (cited in note 10). 77 Id at 31.
    HeinOnline — 72 U. Chi. L. Rev. 905 2005
    The University of Chicago Law Review
    fought for-the victim is often implicated in the destruction of rela- tionships and commitments that, he had previously thought, defined his essence. It turns out, the victim learns, that his essence lies elsewhere. It consists of something much baser-of the flesh and sensations he shares with animals rather than the ideas and ideals that, he had thought, linked him to something higher. How can we expect a person who has learned this lesson to continue his life? How is he again to make sense of his plans, hopes, and attachments? Even when the vic- tim’s body survives, torture is a kind of death precisely because it re- duces the victim to his body. Anyone who doubts any of this need only listen to the voice of the tortured. Consider the words of Jean Am6ry: Whoever is overcome by pain through torture experiences his body as never before. In self-negation, his flesh becomes a total reality…. [O]nly in torture does the transformation of the person into flesh become complete. Frail in the face of violence, yelling out in pain, awaiting no help, capable of no resistance, the tor- tured person is only a body, and nothing else beside that.

    “”Whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world. The shame of destruction cannot be erased.””

    Trust in the world, which already collapsed in part at the first blow, but in the end, under torture, fully, will not be regained.” 8 We do not want to know what Jean Am6ry knows, and our fear of this knowledge is what explains torture’s linkage between pain on the one hand, and the extraction of information or confession on the other. Information and confession are important components of tor- ture because they can be extracted only by the exercise of will. They are not the only components of torture, however. After all, the state regularly uses various forms of coercion to commandeer the will so as to extract information and confession in circumstances that do not remotely resemble torture. I do not file my tax returns because of a perfectly free and uncoerced impulse to tell the government about my sources of income

  41. John proclaims:
    “Torture would be justified and rational if there were a compelling national interest at stake such as a hypothetical nuclear bomb in a major city.”
    (this is called special pleading and is illogical)
    “That torture is effective would be intuitive.”
    To whom?
    “If you do not believe that torture obtains fact and truth”

    Ok, lets get this over with here…
    “obtains facts”? how do you know you obtained a fact from torture from a non-fact meant to get your torture to stop? Now much white noise is fed into intel systems to satisfy the torturer’s demands?

    See, you may have a wife to watches CSI but you clearly have no background in fact finding on the level of interrogation or in torture. The most you’ll get from torture is a “confession” and there is now way to know how true this confession will be. A confession isn’t the truth just because the subject tortured says it to you under demand. This is clearly in the modern terror trials alone. The intel that is juxtaposed with some subjects clearly demonstrates that THIS torture we’re talking about, the US Torture of Detained Foreign Nationals did not produce “truth” via torture.

    Case in point, Abu Zubaydah:
    Abu Zubaydah gave more information to my friend John Kiriakou and to Ali Soufan than to Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell under torture. Deuce Martinez (number cruncher) was no more capable of getting a “confession” out of Abu Zubaydah than you would be able to with your advocacy of torture.
    Why did it work for Soufan?
    Because Soufan, like Steve Kleinman and other professional gators know how to ask the question and look for the answers. They are scientists with many years qualification in getting to the truth.

    If you have to waterboard someone 89 times, if you have to subject him to physical abuse that is beyond your already allowed extremes, you aren’t doing your job very well. This is absurd TV garbage to hear that “if a nuke were” and the like. Give me a break, we don’t have to guess.

    When you are in a town in Iraq going house to house trying to find insurgent bomb makers you rely upon good intelligence without creating dangers for the local population that destroy your read on where the threat will be. Miss the info and you’ll send US troops into the wrong house, tripping off the bad guy perhaps 2 doors down.

    There is no need to guess about the art of interrogation and the ticking bomb. We have already seen the art displayed with people who have wired those bombs. “Love of family” works wonders in Iraq on men with their sons at risk. “Mutt and Jeff” works awesome for the tough guy who thinks he can play the good cop for a fool.

    You watch all the Jack Bauer nonsense you want, but in the real world, torture is a war crime sure…no problem, but is a tactical mistake on so many levels that you would be wise to correct your view quickly. It only feeds the narrative used to recruit people to be hostile to the US.

    It is wiser to have the clear message be, “Al Qaida kills Muslims without regard for their families. They torture women and children and destroy what is around them” than to have “the United States does not care if you are a good Muslim or not, you are a Muslim and they want you dead. Don’t believe me?” and play any bit of FoxNews or some of your favorites like Frank Gaffney, Peter King etc.

    I mean, John, you claim you want to be smart about this, right?
    I am no bleeding heart. Find me a man who has blown up women and children and I have no problem putting that person on trial and if found guilty, execute them. But trials matter and forced confessions (torture) does not help us get there. Torture is illegal for a reason, it is wrong.

    George Washington knew this when he issued his notice about torture to Trenton. Before then, we knew that the Brits would kill you. It helped us recruit both British fighters to our cause and Hessians who understood the clear distinction.

    Torture doesn’t work. Show me where it does and I’ll be interested to see your example. I know it doesn’t work.

  42. I think that appropriate agencies should have the tool of torture available. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Churchill believed he was justified in deliberately allowing the infliction of pain on the citizens of Coventry, through omission, to retain the intelligence of having broken the Enigma code. If the situation were dire, agencies should have the tool of torture available. Presumably, they would have the expertise and discretion to use it. If you don’t intend to win the war, don’t start it.

  43. “I think that appropriate agencies should have the tool of torture available.”

    I am too lazy to fish it out, but somebody, a few years ago, wrote a piece arguing for torture warrants.

    I am not sure how much protection a torture warrant would be – considering that the FISA courts authorize about 99% of every thing that comes before them.

    I realize the FISA courts don’t authorize torture. My point is that the FISA courts seem to be a reasonable model of how well courts protect individuals when the subject is national security and compelling state interest.

  44. ” If the situation were dire, agencies should have the tool of torture available. Presumably, they would have the expertise and discretion to use it. If you don’t intend to win the war, don’t start it.”

    Unfortunately it is not always possible to decided to start or not to start – unlike Iraq.

    Others have pointed this out, but the rational argument for torture depends critically on support for the efficacy of torture to produce useful information.

    I doubt anyone here needs to be reminded that the efficacy of torture is controversial at best. And, surprisingly, those in the best position to know seem dedicated to the task of preventing a clean evaluation of the record…hmmm.

    It may not be very relevant, but it is interesting to consider the changes in conventional wisdom regarding torture. Through WWII, I am not sure there was much though given to the efficacy of torture applied to US service personal.

    The experience of ‘brain washing’ during the Korean conflict brought new consideration. I think it is fair to say the conventional wisdom was that anyone who is tortured would reveal what they know. The only reasonable strategy would be to delay and slowly give up what is know. I am pretty sure there was a change in the uniform military code of justice that allowed service people to reveal more than name, rank, and number without being charged with crimes like aiding the enemy, to reflect that new appreciation for torture.

    Now the conventional wisdom seems to have changed. The view now seems to be that torture can never produce useful information because the victim of torture will either attempt to mislead or will say what ever they believe the torturer wants to hear. Of course, it that were true the question would be, how then does information derived from torture differ form any other data derived from intelligence methods. There is always the question of the real source and reliability of the information.

    Then there are some of us who believe the question of torture cannot be reduced to the efficacy of torture. Torture is unacceptable.

  45. That’s why the real government has black ops and budgets, right? Because desperate times call for desperate measures no matter how, oh my, what’s the word, certainly not effeminate, maybe, polite the “elected officials” have become.

  46. I am a former Marine Corps interrogator and take pride in knowing and practicing that skill with honor and dignity and IAW with law … those who say what we have done is not torture, quite frankly do not know… they want their opinion and emotion to trump facts. My library on the whole issue is here and I invite you to check it out

    My motto is simple: “Those who can make us believe that torture is acceptable can make us believe any absurdity.”

    Danny M. Francis (1st Lt., USMC (Ret.) Watertown, NY

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