Wednesday, December 12, 2007

 

The Waterboard Epidemic

To the casual observer, it could easily seem that waterboarding is all the rage among our interrogators. Accordingly, the immediate needs of troop funding and AMT relief will apparently just have to wait as Congress grapples with this pressing problem:

“The top legal adviser for the military trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees told Congress yesterday that he cannot rule out the use of evidence derived from the CIA's aggressive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, a tactic that simulates drowning.” Evidence From Waterboarding Could Be Used in Military Trials

Post writer Josh White senses a controversy:

“Hartmann's testimony conflicted with the views of the former military commissions [sic]chief prosecutor, who resigned in October after concluding that the process had become too politicized. In recent interviews, Air Force Col. Morris Davis said he categorically rejected the idea of using any evidence derived from waterboarding because he believes that the technique produces unreliable information.”

But here’s Gen Hartmann’s testimony – as reported by Post writer Josh White three paragraphs earlier:

“"If the evidence is reliable and probative, and the judge concludes that it is in the best interest of justice to introduce that evidence, ma'am, those are the rules we will follow,..."

Not sure just how much of a conflict there is as for both of them, it’s all about the reliability of evidence. Gen. Hartmann is merely saying such evidence is not categorically out-of-play...and judging by an AP article, also in the Post, his would seem the more practical stance:

“According to the former agent, waterboarding of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah got him to talk in less than 35 seconds. The technique, which critics say is torture, probably disrupted "dozens" of planned al-Qaida attacks, said John Kiriakou, a leader of the team that captured Abu Zubaydah, a major al-Qaida figure.” Questions Linger After Hayden Testimony

I’m just a layman when it comes to these matters but it would seem that a technique that produced information that disrupted dozens of planned attacks has proven it can at least have some modicum of reliability.

But getting back to the original point of just how pressing a problem this really is:

“The CIA has not used the technique since 2003, according to a government official familiar with the program. Hayden prohibited waterboarding in 2006. The U.S. military outlawed it the same year.” Questions Linger After Hayden Testimony

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