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 WWII interrogation masters speak out 
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Post WWII interrogation masters speak out
"We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."

Very good article from the masters of WWII era interrogation, and another cold reminder on how War has changed people from 60 years ago to our so-called age of advancement and humanitarism.

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Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:47 am
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Yeah. You know that Western Civilization we used to have?

Yeah. Slippery slope and we're still sliding down.

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Sun Oct 07, 2007 10:29 am
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I'd come up with something smart to say, but this isn't the rant section. :) Well said, though.

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Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:25 pm
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Different rules. In WWII, we had a pretty good handle on German and Italian culture, and we could get inside their heads. Anthropologists were commissioned by the War Department (e.g., Ruth Benedict, among others) to try to get inside the heads of the Japanese, with mixed results. We don't seem to have that here, and there's that old saw about when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

We need some anthropologists who can get inside Arabic and Persian heads. Then maybe we can quit swinging hammers at the bastards, right?

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Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:42 pm
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Very true. Not denying the Middle East is a different beast. I'm just wondering if it's this lack of knowledge...or is it frustration, anger or inexperience that would be the bigger cause of the more physical interrogations we've all seen on the news.

So many things to consider. Time-limits, accuracy of information retrieved, and all kinds of legal boundaties being crossed even before you get to the 'dehumanizing' ones. I'm sure the PO Box fellows would have been considered monsters for hiding people away from the Red Cross, even if they DID treat their prisoners civilly - scary how the scale shifts and slides.

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Sun Oct 07, 2007 3:05 pm
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Christopher Fiss wrote:
Very true. Not denying the Middle East is a different beast. I'm just wondering if it's this lack of knowledge...or is it frustration, anger or inexperience that would be the bigger cause of the more physical interrogations we've all seen on the news.

So many things to consider. Time-limits, accuracy of information retrieved, and all kinds of legal boundaties being crossed even before you get to the 'dehumanizing' ones. I'm sure the PO Box fellows would have been considered monsters for hiding people away from the Red Cross, even if they DID treat their prisoners civilly - scary how the scale shifts and slides.


I rather suspect that it's "all of the above" Chris. Back when I was On, I remember reading in one of the cop journals an op-ed called "Ethics and the Sipowicz Factor" (doesn't appear to be online, sorry). Thesis was that the fictional character Detective Andy Sipowicz did bad things for good reasons, and that that was a very dangerous path for real-life cops to follow. The reasoning goes, "I know it's wrong to tune this guy up, but the alternative is to give the guy a pass and he and his buddies will kill more people. " The scary part isn't the abstract of how the scale slips and slides in the abstract - the scary part is when you search your soul and realize just how easily you could find yourself doing the exact same thing.

(Parenthetically, that's why I don't cut myself any slack on integrity issues - it's not because I'm noble; it's because I know that, if I let myself have the temptation, there's a very good chance I'd yield to it)

And, in this so-called modern age of enlightenment, I'm quite sure that the PO Box guys would be vilified for holding those Germans and Italians incommunicado. Let's not kid ourselves about how much better they were than we are...

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Sun Oct 07, 2007 7:45 pm
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And of course, secondarily to the moral issue, *any* information dervied from torture is *useless* for the simple reason that, any person, will say any thing, to stop the pain.

Even drugs, different people respond to drugs in different ways, so what may extract truth from one person, may lead another to hallucination.

'nother part of that I think is the 'easy fix' mentality. The "oh, pain in the ass to do all that bs, I'll just break his arm and make him talk, it'll be easy" kinda mindset.

Bitch of it is that sometimes torture *does* yield actionable information, but rarely so, and even then only to the effect of preestablished probability.

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Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:01 pm
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I've been wanting to say the same thing, B, but I was scared it would come across as too much "Captain Picard/Cardassian Torture scenes" righteous indignation in my post. ^_^

Classically, the biggest breakthroughs in "enemy intelligence" have all been technological in nature. Discovering a code, learning a tank's weakness via a captured machine, that kind of thing. What kind of info taken from torture have we seen like that? Very little, I suspect, if any...but then again, I would imagine the impact of information would be more local for Iraq. IE "who set up that car bomb" not "where are the Germans going to attack"

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