Presidential candidate Donald Trump has made no secret of his intention to use enhanced interrogation techniques in order to collect intelligence the government considers critical to protecting the United States. “The enemy is cutting off the heads of Christians and drowning them in cages, and yet we are too politically correct to respond in kind,” he has repeated numerous times. Polls show that perhaps two-thirds of America agrees. Perhaps they should rethink this view.
Techniques to extract information from an enemy are not new. An acquaintance shared with me what was required of him to extract information from the enemy in the Vietnam War. If the enemy did not disclose the information requested he was thrown from a helicopter in flight. His friends, riding with him, watched with horror until it was their turn to be thrown. My acquaintance, whose job it was to throw them, said that they usually had the information needed before the last prisoner. But the Vietnam War ended 41 years ago.
What is enhanced interrogation today? According to ABC News, the CIA has used the following techniques: waterboarding, hypothermia, stress positions, abdomen strikes, slapping, and shaking. In waterboarding the prisoner is “bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Material is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over it, asphyxiating the prisoner,” who believes that he is drowning.
In hypothermia the prisoner is “left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), while being regularly doused with cold water in order to increase the rate at which heat is lost from the body. (A water temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) often leads to death in one hour).” In stress positions the prisoner is forced to stand, handcuffed and with his feet shackled to an eyebolt in the floor, for more than 40 hours, causing his “weight to be placed on just one or two muscles. This creates an intense amount of pressure on the legs, leading first to pain and then muscle failure”(ABC News, CIA’s Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described, Brian Ross, Nov. 18, 2005). Violent abdominal strikes, slapping, and shaking are self-explanatory. A bipartisan Congressional Report issued December 2008 added forced nudity and sleep deprivation up to 40 hours to the list that we have used.
The George W. Bush administration, which engaged in enhanced interrogation, did not define these techniques as torture. The rest of the world did, however. In two separate pronouncements the United Nations “denounced the U. S. abuse of prisoners as tantamount to torture” on Feb. 16, 2006, and on May 19, of the same year it viewed “the U.S.-termed enhanced interrogation techniques … as a form of torture” (UN Calls for Guantanamo Closure, BBC, Read the Full UN Report into Guantanamo Bay, February 16, 2005).
Only one man in Congress actually knows what torture is and that is Senator John McCain and he opposes the practice as the information extracted is unreliable (the victim will say anything to ease the pain) and it is just plain wrong. He says that we should be on a higher plain. He was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam sustaining two fractured arms and a broken leg sustained in the fall, then was bayoneted and beaten by villagers who first found him. Although these wounds were not torture inflicted they were not treated for some time thus they became torture related. His beatings and interrogations lasted periodically for five years and included two years in solitary confinement. At the height of their attempt to break him he was bound by tight ropes in very painful positions and beaten every two hours for four days, breaking teeth and bones (Politics in America, by Thomas R. Dye, 2009, p 280). He finally broke.
In regards to our locating the secret courier leading us to Osama bin Laden by enhanced interrogation—it never happened. McCain asked CIA Director Leon Panetta if that were true and he said: “The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda” (CIA Director Leon Panetta to Sen. John McCain: “Torture Not Key to Finding Bin Laden” by Joan McCarter, May 16, 2011, Covey Views).
With such controversial results enhanced interrogation should not be considered. Even if enhanced interrogations were the reason that we found and removed Osama bin Laden, I cannot imagine any of the Founding Fathers endorsing such practices. This argument is countered with theirs was a different time and culture.
But there exists natural law that proclaims, “Vengeance begets vengeance.” Yes, each can do terrible things to the other and follow this with even more horrible, unspeakable things such as punishing the relatives of terrorists, which has already been suggested by Mr. Trump. But why degenerate to their level and further accelerate the degeneration? Some of us still want God on our side. How can that be if we are no different than they? Fortunately the Constitution prohibits the “Corruption of Blood” practice (punishing relatives for the behavior of one of their own) in Article III, Section 3, Clause 2, but perhaps “the Donald” does not know this.
To read more of Dr. Harold Pease’s weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.