Monday, November 30, 2015

REFLECTION TIME: How We Got into Iraq and Now, Here We Go Again

War Cabinet in 2001
(Now out of sight, and hopefully out of mind)

How many remember these events seen in this very excellent historical review?

Title: “Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq

The Mushroom cloud, the Duct Tape, the Judy Miller piece, the “Informant” Curveball: Recalling how Americans were sold a bogus case for the invasion of Iraq.  

Then this issue which followed war that we as a nation still struggle with today: The irrational “TICKING TIME-BOMB FALLACY”

Scenario: The September 11 attacks brought the torture debate into sharp relief, both because of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism policies and because it revealed the United States' vulnerability to terrorist attacks. One argument often used to defend torture describes a fictional scenario in which a massive weapon is set to go off, a detainee in custody is thought to have information on the attack, but that he refuses to give. U.S. forces are faced with the question of whether to torture the prisoner or allowing untold millions to die.

Why the “Ticking Bomb” Scenario is Unpersuasive: Certainly if millions of lives are at stake, the prisoner in question could be and would be tortured. It would not matter whether or not the practice of torture is illegal, because those doing the torturing would almost certainly be either pardoned or acquitted by jury nullification. When our criminal justice system makes allowances even for justifiable homicide, it is naive to believe that laws against torture would have any significance in a true “ticking bomb” scenario.

The Efficacy of Torture: This leaves unaddressed the question of whether torture actually works. When the Bush administration used torture against Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) over 80 times water boarded alone, they didn't simply spill the beans. They revealed info what they thought we wanted hear.  That is the heart of discussion about whether torture works or not requires a simple response: No, it does not work as intended. Someone who is being tortured will happily say that grass is blue and the sky is green if he believes it'll end the torture, which is only inflicting pain as a main purpose, and not to gain valuable actionable intelligence for the ground commander, which in turn makes it an unreliable interrogation method to say the least.

No one has ever offered any validated evidence that torture produces reliable intelligence.

While torture apologists frequently make the claim that torture saves lives, that assertion is directly contradicted by many Army, FBI, and CIA professionals who have actually interrogated al Qaeda captives.

Exhibit A: The torture-extracted confession of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda captive who told the CIA in 2001, having been worked over in Egypt, that Saddam Hussein had trained al-Qaeda to use WMD.  It appears his confession was the only information upon which, in late 2002, President George W. Bush, Vice President  Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Condi Rice all repeatedly claimed that “credible evidence supported that WMD claim.” That was even in face of a now-declassified DIA report dated February 2002, that questioned the reliability of the confession because it was likely obtained under torture. In January 2004, al-Libi recanted his “confession.” A month later, the CIA recalled all intelligence reports based on his statements.

Exhibit B: In this case of Manadel al-Jamadi was an Iraqi deemed to be a “high-value target (HVT) by the CIA. After being beaten to an extent that he had several broken ribs, he was subjected to a form of “crucifixion known as Palestinian hanging.” Forty-five minutes later, he was dead, never having revealed whatever vital, ticking-bomb information his American interrogator was seeking or thought he knew about.

And here we are again today – ready to possibly re-invade Iraq in full force or even Syria to combat the rise of the brutal ISIS. 

So, are we prepared for 10 more years or longer in that region again? As the 2016 campaign heats up, we are about to see who is the most hawkish on that aspect.

Stay tuned and as always, thanks for stopping by.

This is also a good time to recall this quip often attributed to Mark Twain: “History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

No comments: