I do not usually blog about the issue of torture, but I came across this Andrew Sullivan blog entry and was genuinely surprised:
We know that civilized countries have resisted the very torture techniques Dick Cheney was so eager to grasp and wield. What many do not know is that even evil regimes understand the flaws of torture as a form of actionable intelligence and have used it primarily as a tool to get propagandistic false confessions (as, increasingly, it seems, Cheney was intent on as well). Here is part of the Wiki profile of Hanns Scharff, Hitler’s chief intelligence interrogator. He had more disdain for torture than Dick Cheney:
Hanns-Joachim Gottlob Scharff (December 16, 1907 – September 10, 1992) was a German Luftwaffe interrogator during the Second World War. He has been called the “Master Interrogator” of the Luftwaffe and possibly all of Nazi Germany; he has also been praised for his contribution in shaping U.S. interrogation techniques after the war.
Merely an Obergefreiter (the equivalent of a senior lance corporal), he was charged with interrogating every German-captured American fighter pilot during the war after his becoming an interrogation officer in 1943. He is highly praised for the success of his techniques, especially considering he never used physical means to obtain the required information. No evidence exists he even raised his voice in the presence of a prisoner of war (POW)….
Scharff was opposed to physically abusing prisoners with the intent to obtain information. Taught on the job, Scharff instead relied upon the Luftwaffe’s approved list of techniques which mostly involved making the interrogator seem as if he is his prisoner’s greatest advocate while in captivity.
Scharff’s interrogation techniques were so effective that he was often called upon to assist other German interrogators in their questioning of bomber pilots and aircrews, including those crews and fighter pilots from countries other than the United States. Additionally, Scharff was charged with questioning V.I.P.s (Very Important Prisoners) that funneled through the interrogation center, namely senior officers and world-famous fighter aces.
After the end of WWII, Scharff was invited by the United States Air Force to give lectures on his interrogation techniques and first-hand experiences. The U.S. military later incorporated Scharff’s methods into its curriculum at its interrogation schools. Scharff’s methods are still taught in US Army interrogation schools…
Now in no way am I comparing Dick Cheney to Adolf Hitler or calling him a Nazi so spare me any comments to that effect. However, I do think this sheds an interesting light on the entire debate. Also, it seems that those that support these interrogation methods also have no problem with torturing the truth. Barack Obama did not voluntarily release the torture memos prepared by the previous administration. Rather he was obligated to release them based upon a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
For those that believe these methods are justified because they are necessary to protect us, my question is where do you draw the line? If waterboarding is acceptable because it advances our national security interests, then doesn’t such a policy justify any form of torture if it will yield similar results?
Surprisingly, Shepard Smith of Fox News Channel had the courage to go off the reservation. Be sure to see the portion that starts about 3:40 into the segment.