I recently had a conversation on the phone with a Vietnam Vet. We were talking about current events and he said the whole “torture” or extreme interrogation techniques used to question terrorist suspects really struck a nerve with him. He said he was involved in prisoner interrogations while deployed in Vietnam. And he said torture techniques do not work. The prisoner will say anything to get you to stop. The prisoner will say what he thinks you want to hear. After a while, say 150 times, it becomes an exercise in sadism.
I can’t verify that his story is absolutely true, but he sounded authentic. And he’s definitely of the right demographic to be what he says he is.
His take added to the volumes of testimony from military and CIA experts who almost (almost) universally agree that torture (almost) never works, and that there are other, more effective ways to extract information from evildoers – Jack Bauer’s technique notwithstanding.
Pick your favorite Hollywood torture scene: Marathon Man (“Is it safe?”); Lethal Weapon, Casino Royale. So we have a little waterboarding (or a 168 times) here, a gunshot to the leg there (just saw The Hunt for Red October on TV again), a little pressure on an open wound (Jack Bauer seems to favor this). So how come “contractors” were doing the interrogating instead of the official folks? At some point reality blurs with fiction. Which really happened and which didn’t?
Olivier gave new meaning to “drilling down for more information” in Marathon Man:
What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?
Some political hair-splitters, as opposed to terrorist-splitters, are complaining that Nancy and company knew about the waterboarding as far back as 2002, and now there’s the back-and-forth of so-and-so misled us, so-and-so’s a liar, liar, pants on fire.
It would be nice if just once, somebody had the courage to say, “Well, we really screwed up here, and we’re sorry.” Instead we have posturing and territorial, um, watering.