It’s Hard to Get Past the Anger, Part I

The Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report is too big and complicated to address in a single post. Besides, WC is too angry right now to coherently discuss and analyze what the Report means to America and Americans. So WC will approach the issues in a series of shorter posts.

It was President Ronald Reagan who signed the United Nations Convention on Torture, binding the United States to its terms. In his signing statement, President Reagan noted, “Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

There are no exceptions. It’s not okay to torture if you get really good information as a result. The United States is obligated to prosecute torturers.

Unindicted War Criminal and Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Unindicted War Criminal and Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Not that we got reliable information. The roots of the Bush-Cheney Torture Initiative are all about unreliable information. The Bush Administration got its ideas for torture from the SERE program. SERE stands for Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape, a training program run by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whose job was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques considered illegal under the Geneva Conventions. SERE had its roots in the Korean War, where American prisoners were tortured into giving false confessions.

You read that right. The Bush Administration used torture techniques designed by the Chinese and North Koreans to create false information in what Bush-Cheney claimed was an attempt to get reliable information. The SERE program subjected American soldiers to a kind of light-weight torture to help them deal with the real thing if they were caught. SERE was all about false information; specifically, to prevent the creation of false information.

No one in the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency thought of their work as a means of extracting accurate information. Of finding truth. Bush-Cheney perverted that program’s techniques. But the heart of the problem JPRA was supposed to address was the creation of the false confessions by American GIs captured by the enemy. JPRA understood perfectly well that torture created false information, untruth and lies. A person being tortured will say anything and do anything to make the torture stop. Truth, accurate information, information helpful to the torturer, isn’t even on the victim’s radar.

Ask Senator John McCain, who was tortured while a prisoner of the North Vietnamese:

I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who seems to have had one of the key roles in this appalling and disgusting process, may be a satanically evil man. But he’s not stupid. He knows Senator McCain is right; he has known all along torture would produce no useful intelligence.

Which, for WC, means the Bush-Cheney Administration acted out of sadism, hatred and revenge. It’s despicable. It’s a classic war crime. The United States, at the end of World War II, helped to prosecute and execute national leaders who had done less for better reasons. And with regard to those trials, Joseph Keenan, Chief Prosector of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East said at the time, “War and treaty-breakers should be stripped of the glamour of national heroes and exposed as what they really are—plain, ordinary murderers”.

Bah. Now WC will have to take his stomach medicine again.


4 thoughts on “It’s Hard to Get Past the Anger, Part I

  1. On top of all the reasons you espouse, they did it because they were humiliated that this horror had happened on their watch and knew how bad they would look, how weak they would appear. They would never get elected for a second term. So they went FUBAR-and now look what they’ve wrought.
    I hope Cheney hangs. Bush should not get the death penalty due to mental incapacitation/retardation.

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