This person served fourteen years in the Air Force, so he has plenty of experience. He used a pseudonym in this piece for obvious reasons, but the piece is one of the best I’ve seen in months. I’ll post a sample, but it really is important to read the entire thing.
I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology — one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they’re listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of “ruses and trickery”). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.[...]
We turned several hard cases, including some foreign fighters, by using our new techniques. A few of them never abandoned the jihadist cause but still gave up critical information. One actually told me, “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.”
Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there’s the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives.
I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.
This has been quite apparent for some time, but yet puts yet another dagger in the argument from those who claim we have to torture anybody we find for any reason to keep us safe due to some imaginary ticking time-bomb scenario.
The same people claiming we have to torture prisoners are the same ones that claimed we were never torturing in the first place. They’re also the same ones that claim they “support the troops,” yet rail against the very thought of providing better body armor, expanding veterans’ medical care or giving them higher pay.
And of course, torture is a violation of United States and international law.
(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
- (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
- (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.