Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Outmoded, Amateurish, and Untreliable"

Per today's Times:

"As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable."

Outmoded, amateurish and unreliable: in a nutshell, the Administration's entire approach to national security. (And plenty of other things.)

Still, read the article. The comparison between the highly-trained, language-proficient interrogators of WWII, who spent hours prepping for each hour spent questioning prisoners, is a stark contrast to the intelligence officers of today, whose training never seems to have included foreign languages, much less a review of the relevant academic and professional literature of interrogation.

The weirdest revelation is that the various forms of torture used by US interrogators seem to be "reverse-engineered" -- that is, borrowed from Cold War-era Army manuals which described the methods we thought our enemies might be using. How many things are wrong with that picture? We are borrowing what may have been the torture techniques of an Evil Empire -- techniques which, to judge from the empire's fate, never worked all that well.

We're spending $200 million per day in Iraq. How much would our intelligence-gathering capacity be expanded if a week's worth of war funding were diverted to advanced training in Asian languages for soldiers and spies, and if another's week's worth were diverted to rigorous, systematic, peer-reviewed study of successful, proven, morally acceptable methods of interrogation?

1 comment:

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