Monday, October 08, 2007

taxi to the dark side

Rather than watch the Cold Case marathon on France 1 or 2, I decided to watch a documentary on Arte TV, a French-German network. It's a documentary by Alex Gibney discussing the torture policy implemented at Abu Ghraib and at Gitmo.

I don't want to say much about it because it's so depressing. But one thing that has struck me is how the "techniques" involved simply amounted to rationalized sadism. A person who has resisted interrogation for 8 months is not going to suddenly "crack" because the sadistic, perverse side of the interrogators has been given free reign.

And that doesn't address the question of just what kind of information can be obtained from a person who has already been detained for 8 months. Surely we're well beyond any "ticking time bomb" scenario at that time. Indeed, given the disconnect between the prisoner and Al Qaeda at that point, it's hard to imagine any valuable operational intel would be unearthed at that point.

OTOH, if you were engaged in the practice of trying to get people to confess to crimes to justify the detainment, I can see the desire to continue pressing with harder and harder techniques. This is, of course, the problem of moving backwards from the conclusion to the evidence. But if there is any common thread to the madness that has consumed a certain part of the US in recent years, it's the tendency to conflate "knowing" with feeling a strong prejudgment.

Oh, and when all is said and done, a good number of the people detained have yet to charged with anything and would presumably be considered innocent. And that leads to the title of the film, which concerns a taxi driver taken, tortured, and killed by American troops.


Landru said...

Oh dear. You've changed. And now you're all torturey and stuff. Damn French have turned you into some kinda terrsymp commie. I knew this was gonna happen.

Okay, we'll get the waterboard set up in the basement. Can't wait until you come home!

kl said...

You mean there is more to torture than just banning bread, potatoes and noodles?