Saturday, December 8, 2007

McCain on Interrogation and Torture – Not a Good Combination

I know a little something about hostage survival and interrogation techniques. And let me tell you something:

If I’m taken hostage while I’m here in Iraq I want the world to take my views on interrogation techniques or torture with a grain of salt. That is, I could tell you how horrible it is with acute validity, but I shouldn’t be able to shape U.S. policy on it. Now, that sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But let’s consider something…

I’ve often thought of the great mental strength McCain must have to go from P.O.W., suffering countless untold miseries, to becoming a well-known United States Senator. He is one of the heroes of our generation and a great inspiration in many levels. But, (it’s what’s on the other side of the ‘but’ that counts) unfortunately, since he was on the receiving end of the humiliation, he has a fixed, myopic and one-sided view. I believe McCain was interrogated AND tortured.

Therein lay the murky definition of semantics.

The term “torture” is terribly distorted. The public, most members of Congress and the media pundits haven’t come to a solid definition. Who are they to be Monday morning “experts” anyway? I’ve seen the word torture used as a misnomer so many times it makes me sick. And, the word interrogation is not used euphemistically, not by me anyway. There’s a HUGE difference.

There is some outlandish thought that because of Abu Ghraib any person who gets taken captive, or is interviewed or interrogated is really being tortured. That is false. Look, my buddies who’ve gone to SERE school—the military’s Survival Escape Resistance and Evasion school—or who are SERE instructors have told me way before Abu Ghraib, that they were all waterboarded—every single one of them. Do they like it? No. It’s not meant to be fun. It’s meant to extract information.

Now, do we waterboard every prisoner? No way! Are they all sodomized and raped and REALLY TORTURED like our enemies would do—and have done—to us? NO. Are there isolated events of carnality? Sure, and those people should be—and are and have been—punished to the full extent of the law. But, I could tell you stories about the TORTURE that U.S. government personnel taken hostage have experienced that would ruin your delicate minds. By comparison, who cares about intimidation by a barking dog?

Waterboarding and similar interrogation techniques are NOT done to every prisoner. When physical interrogation is done, it is only on extremely rare occasions. And when the predominantly risk-averse government entities use it, we can believe it must be for a good reason.

We are still a civil people. We do not TORTURE people—not in the real sense of the word anyway. America is, and should always be, above torture. But if we don’t interrogate, we can’t catch the worst terrorists or discover the most terrible plots.

Lastly, it is noteworthy to mention that bad guys aren’t interrogated to the point they will more-often-than-not give up false information; hence, our interrogators don’t over-interrogate with physical pressure methods. And the prisoners or detainees all are watched carefully by physicians. That’s a huge difference from what the three DynCorp contractors held hostage by narco-terrorists in Columbia are experiencing. I’ve followed that case ever since they were taken performing a U.S. government counterdrug mission. If a Presidential candidate wanted my vote, he (or she) would stop talking about how terrible torture is and do something about it: rescue our boys! Bring them home now.

No comments: