Interrogation techniques and the Christian"peace" activists

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Reader Tom Carew from Dublin, Ireland writes about the sort of interrogation techniques which may have led to the release of the ungrateful "peace" activists last week:

The rescue of Norman Kember & 2 colleagues raises some thought—provoking challenges, such as those with which the eminent Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has recently grappled. Two members of the kidnap/murder gang were captured and talked. Or were got to do so. On reflection, I consider that if official limits for such Interrogation  excluded " lasting serious mental harm" as well as "lasting physical harm", and  any "excruciating" treatment, but authorised  "measures extremely unpleasant or distressful for the victim", then you are back in a balanced and proportionate moral calculation.
 
Coercive elements, such as being naked, doused with water, deprived of sleep, or other similar elements of pressure, such as noise, cold, odours, lights, total darkness, hooding, handcuffs or chains, isolation, food or drink deprivation, loss of exercise, daylight, or, as I recall from Israel at one point, shaking, when supervised and limited in both duration, purpose and intensity, seem to me to be reasonable pressure to use in dealing with utterly ruthless mass murderers such as Bin Laden & his lot. 
 
If what is permitted is [a] strictly specified, [b] excludes anything not specified, [c] is supervised in implementation, [d] is restricted to serious suspects, [e] is duly authorised in advance, and [f] each suspect is medically and psychologically assessed both before and after such procedures, then a formal, standardised controlled environment and mechanism like that seems to avoid the risk of abuse or excess.
 
The US Army Field Manual point about inherently unreliable information being yielded from torture, may not be valid if limited coercion as outlined is what is involved. And if even "water—boarding" is [a] as publicly described, but [b] so terrifying that most people crack within seconds, and [c] cannot drown the suspect, then perhaps it is not inhuman, even if cruel, and not to be excluded in all circumstances. 
 
Normal people can scarcely imagine those who can readily behead innocents like Dublin woman Margaret Fitzpatrick {Hassan}, or incinerate a passenger train, and so we react with the unreal assumption that we are not here facing a savagery and true evil that is rare in history. To defeat such evil we need to know exactly what we face, and how ruthless and fanatical the enemy is, and nice liberal assumptions should not prevent our consideration of new approaches. After all, the first priority in any such interrogation is not a criminal conviction, after due process, and based on guilt being established "beyond reasonable doubt", but simply "actionable intelligence" to prevent the next atrocity.
 
The successful rescue of Kember & colleagues, due particularly to effective questioning of suspects, convinces me, for the first time, that there actually may be a decent middle—way, between inhuman brutality, and ineffective, traditional "light" questioning of suspects.  And I write as someone disgusted by reading Dr Sheila Cassidy's story from Chile some year ago, or the harrowing book "Mayada" about Saddam's Iraq.

Reader Tom Carew from Dublin, Ireland writes about the sort of interrogation techniques which may have led to the release of the ungrateful "peace" activists last week:

The rescue of Norman Kember & 2 colleagues raises some thought—provoking challenges, such as those with which the eminent Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has recently grappled. Two members of the kidnap/murder gang were captured and talked. Or were got to do so. On reflection, I consider that if official limits for such Interrogation  excluded " lasting serious mental harm" as well as "lasting physical harm", and  any "excruciating" treatment, but authorised  "measures extremely unpleasant or distressful for the victim", then you are back in a balanced and proportionate moral calculation.
 
Coercive elements, such as being naked, doused with water, deprived of sleep, or other similar elements of pressure, such as noise, cold, odours, lights, total darkness, hooding, handcuffs or chains, isolation, food or drink deprivation, loss of exercise, daylight, or, as I recall from Israel at one point, shaking, when supervised and limited in both duration, purpose and intensity, seem to me to be reasonable pressure to use in dealing with utterly ruthless mass murderers such as Bin Laden & his lot. 
 
If what is permitted is [a] strictly specified, [b] excludes anything not specified, [c] is supervised in implementation, [d] is restricted to serious suspects, [e] is duly authorised in advance, and [f] each suspect is medically and psychologically assessed both before and after such procedures, then a formal, standardised controlled environment and mechanism like that seems to avoid the risk of abuse or excess.
 
The US Army Field Manual point about inherently unreliable information being yielded from torture, may not be valid if limited coercion as outlined is what is involved. And if even "water—boarding" is [a] as publicly described, but [b] so terrifying that most people crack within seconds, and [c] cannot drown the suspect, then perhaps it is not inhuman, even if cruel, and not to be excluded in all circumstances. 
 
Normal people can scarcely imagine those who can readily behead innocents like Dublin woman Margaret Fitzpatrick {Hassan}, or incinerate a passenger train, and so we react with the unreal assumption that we are not here facing a savagery and true evil that is rare in history. To defeat such evil we need to know exactly what we face, and how ruthless and fanatical the enemy is, and nice liberal assumptions should not prevent our consideration of new approaches. After all, the first priority in any such interrogation is not a criminal conviction, after due process, and based on guilt being established "beyond reasonable doubt", but simply "actionable intelligence" to prevent the next atrocity.
 
The successful rescue of Kember & colleagues, due particularly to effective questioning of suspects, convinces me, for the first time, that there actually may be a decent middle—way, between inhuman brutality, and ineffective, traditional "light" questioning of suspects.  And I write as someone disgusted by reading Dr Sheila Cassidy's story from Chile some year ago, or the harrowing book "Mayada" about Saddam's Iraq.