T Nation

Zero Dark Thirty - The Case for Torture?

I recently saw Zero Dark Thirty. I enjoyed it. But it left me wondering: did torture play that significant a role in capturing OBL, or was that part of the movie overblown, distorted, or inaccurate? I suspect we really did have a program constructed largely around systemic torture despite official denials, but I wonder if the program was really the cause or moving force in finding OBL.

I am still personally opposed to torture even of it sometimes gets desired results. But I am also curious as to whether it is more effective than some of the narratives about its ineffectiveness as an intelligence-gathering tool would have us believe.

Thoughts?

I am sure it didn’t hurt. Well, I am sure it hurt, but yielded results.

I am not for torture, but I am not naive enough to believe it doesn’t happen anymore. I am also not naive enough to believe it does not work. If somebody has really important information they don’t want to tell you, it’s one of your few options.

It’s my understanding that nobody can authoritatively say whether or not torture was instrumental in OBL’s capture, so most of what’s been written about it has been fairly useless. Which is funny, because you’ve got people taking sides left and right in op-eds and editorials.

I did like the movie a lot.

Here’s an old article Mark Bowden wrote at the beginning of the Iraq War that discusses both the effectiveness and morality of torture. (author of Black Hawk Down)

A while ago I found out that no we did not torture, (depending on your definition of torture,) but that didn’t man it wasn’t available. While we did not do true torture, our military would simply give a prisoner to another military that did. (More often then not the threat was enough.)

As far as the question of whether torture does work or not, it does. I know there are plenty of people who argue that it doesn’t, but they are either biased, trying to stop all forms of it, or just misinformed. Many think of things like the Spanish Inquisition. (Not the Monty Python sketches.) People were tortured, and did admit to things they didn’t do, (I assume.) But they were not torturing to get information, just confessions.

Often torture, or enhanced interrogation techniques are not done in a vacuum, but with a source of information, so they are more likely to know if the person is lying or not, and catching them in a lie will often stop the lie.

Next, with enhanced interrogation that we used, with Al-Qaeda, they believed they were doing the bidding of Allah. They actually didn’t mind telling the truth because they believed what they were doing was divinely ordained, and only the will of God would stop them. But they wouldn’t just give up the information, they needed something to resist first.

And this information comes directly from a high level Al-Qaeda terrorist who actually commended them for water boarding him, and actually told them they should use it on all of his people.

(Why does it feel like I am back in 2004 again?)

The Nuremberg Trials are a classic and verifiable example that torture is bullshit. We don’t “know” how much torture has “worked” or not in the GWOT because of OPSEC, but with historical precedent, we can say it probably doesn’t help in any demonstrable way.

I’ve always found that a cigarette,some coffee and a no bullshit attitude gets me the info I needed.

[quote]Lowe-1 wrote:
The Nuremberg Trials are a classic and verifiable example that torture is bullshit. We don’t “know” how much torture has “worked” or not in the GWOT because of OPSEC, but with historical precedent, we can say it probably doesn’t help in any demonstrable way.

I’ve always found that a cigarette,some coffee and a no bullshit attitude gets me the info I needed.[/quote]

Right.

You have really bad guys protecting really bad guys, methods need to be employed. I don’t believe for a second, torture is not going on right now. Less, sure, more high value targets, sure, but not gone.
Like I said, I am not for torture, but the assholes on the recieving end of it, I am loathed to pity. They are terrorist murderers who would kill with impunity if they could. Not really feeling the pity.

That being said, I think drugs are probably more effective than torture. That’s what I would use. Why beat the shit out of somebody when giving them a shot will give you all the info you need?

[quote]pat wrote:

[quote]Lowe-1 wrote:
The Nuremberg Trials are a classic and verifiable example that torture is bullshit. We don’t “know” how much torture has “worked” or not in the GWOT because of OPSEC, but with historical precedent, we can say it probably doesn’t help in any demonstrable way.

I’ve always found that a cigarette,some coffee and a no bullshit attitude gets me the info I needed.[/quote]

Right.

You have really bad guys protecting really bad guys, methods need to be employed. I don’t believe for a second, torture is not going on right now. Less, sure, more high value targets, sure, but not gone.
Like I said, I am not for torture, but the assholes on the recieving end of it, I am loathed to pity. They are terrorist murderers who would kill with impunity if they could. Not really feeling the pity.

That being said, I think drugs are probably more effective than torture. That’s what I would use. Why beat the shit out of somebody when giving them a shot will give you all the info you need? [/quote]

I found I enjoyed this book

I have no problem with torture. If some asshole terrorist knows when and where a bomb is going off and it took cutting off his fingers to get him to talk and we got our people out of there in time and saved lives then I’m a happy camper. Even if it’s to get the names of people giving money or providing services/safe haven to terrorists or offering services to them. Fuck 'em. They are blowing people up or supporting innocent people being blown up, maimed and killed - shattering the lives of families.

When someone does that or supports people that do that, they have NO fucking rights.

We should use EVERY means available to us to defeat our enemy. We should be publicly dipping our bullets in pigs blood and shooting Muslim captives in the face and putting video of THAT on al-jazeera.

We have become too soft as a nation. We lack the will to win that we had in former generations. How did we win WWII? We NUKED them. Twice. Took the will to fight right out of them. Instead we wage a long, drawn out, under funded war and rebuild their country with OUR tax dollars! They see how weak we are and that’s why they’re attacking us. They don’t fear us, and rightfully so.

“But what about our humanity? Surely we are more evolved than THAT?”, says the tree hugging faggot liberal. Go tell that the families of the people who these assholes blew up. Ask them if they’d be OK if the attacks on 9/11 were stopped because we tortured the information out of some Jihaadest fanatic bent of killing all Americans. Fuck those assholes. I say torture them until they die even after we’ve extracted every useful shred of information from their pathetic little minds. And when they finally die, desecrate their filthy corpse in whatever manner appropriate to cause those still alive to give pause before they fuck with the United States of America.

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
I recently saw Zero Dark Thirty. I enjoyed it. But it left me wondering: did torture play that significant a role in capturing OBL, or was that part of the movie overblown, distorted, or inaccurate? I suspect we really did have a program constructed largely around systemic torture despite official denials, but I wonder if the program was really the cause or moving force in finding OBL.

I am still personally opposed to torture even of it sometimes gets desired results. But I am also curious as to whether it is more effective than some of the narratives about its ineffectiveness as an intelligence-gathering tool would have us believe.

Thoughts? [/quote]

Define torture. Gauging out eyes? Breaking bones. Cutting off appendages? Leaving someone with the impression that they might die a horrible death. That’s torture. Putting a wet towel on someone’s face and turning the tap on is discomfort. Discomfort in an environment where the detainee knows that they aren’t going to die and that they will be fed special meals, have movie nights and receive privileges they have demanded such as infidels not allowed to touch their korans etc.

Is this the movie that came out shortly before the election with Obama portrayed as the hero?

[quote]angry chicken wrote:
I have no problem with torture. If some asshole terrorist knows when and where a bomb is going off and it took cutting off his fingers to get him to talk and we got our people out of there in time and saved lives then I’m a happy camper. Even if it’s to get the names of people giving money or providing services/safe haven to terrorists or offering services to them. Fuck 'em. They are blowing people up or supporting innocent people being blown up, maimed and killed - shattering the lives of families.

When someone does that or supports people that do that, they have NO fucking rights.

We should use EVERY means available to us to defeat our enemy. We should be publicly dipping our bullets in pigs blood and shooting Muslim captives in the face and putting video of THAT on al-jazeera.

We have become too soft as a nation. We lack the will to win that we had in former generations. How did we win WWII? We NUKED them. Twice. Took the will to fight right out of them. Instead we wage a long, drawn out, under funded war and rebuild their country with OUR tax dollars! They see how weak we are and that’s why they’re attacking us. They don’t fear us, and rightfully so.

“But what about our humanity? Surely we are more evolved than THAT?”, says the tree hugging faggot liberal. Go tell that the families of the people who these assholes blew up. Ask them if they’d be OK if the attacks on 9/11 were stopped because we tortured the information out of some Jihaadest fanatic bent of killing all Americans. Fuck those assholes. I say torture them until they die even after we’ve extracted every useful shred of information from their pathetic little minds. And when they finally die, desecrate their filthy corpse in whatever manner appropriate to cause those still alive to give pause before they fuck with the United States of America. [/quote]

A few questions:

Is that how you want America’s enemies to treat American Soldiers?

Are you ok with this type of treatment for merely “suspected” terrorists?

Do you trust the government to label someone a terrorist correctly 100% of the time before torturing them without process or a determination of guilt?

What margin of error would you find acceptable for labeling someone a “terrorist” and torturing them indefinitely without any real process?

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
I recently saw Zero Dark Thirty. I enjoyed it. But it left me wondering: did torture play that significant a role in capturing OBL, or was that part of the movie overblown, distorted, or inaccurate? I suspect we really did have a program constructed largely around systemic torture despite official denials, but I wonder if the program was really the cause or moving force in finding OBL.

I am still personally opposed to torture even of it sometimes gets desired results. But I am also curious as to whether it is more effective than some of the narratives about its ineffectiveness as an intelligence-gathering tool would have us believe.

Thoughts? [/quote]

Define torture. Gauging out eyes? Breaking bones. Cutting off appendages? Leaving someone with the impression that they might die a horrible death. That’s torture. Putting a wet towel on someone’s face and turning the tap on is discomfort. Discomfort in an environment where the detainee knows that they aren’t going to die and that they will be fed special meals, have movie nights and receive privileges they have demanded such as infidels not allowed to touch their korans etc.

Is this the movie that came out shortly before the election with Obama portrayed as the hero?[/quote]

The movie suggested sustained tactics that did not disfigure, but went beyond just waterboarding, including physical abuse, beatings, and stuffing them in small boxes for weeks at a time and giving them the impression they were going to die a horrible death. Based on the portrayal of the tactics in the movie, I’d say it met your definition of torture, but did not involve gouging out eyes or cutting off appendages (but it also left open the possibility that that was happening by non-Americans through rendition).

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:

[quote]angry chicken wrote:
I have no problem with torture. If some asshole terrorist knows when and where a bomb is going off and it took cutting off his fingers to get him to talk and we got our people out of there in time and saved lives then I’m a happy camper. Even if it’s to get the names of people giving money or providing services/safe haven to terrorists or offering services to them. Fuck 'em. They are blowing people up or supporting innocent people being blown up, maimed and killed - shattering the lives of families.

When someone does that or supports people that do that, they have NO fucking rights.

We should use EVERY means available to us to defeat our enemy. We should be publicly dipping our bullets in pigs blood and shooting Muslim captives in the face and putting video of THAT on al-jazeera.

We have become too soft as a nation. We lack the will to win that we had in former generations. How did we win WWII? We NUKED them. Twice. Took the will to fight right out of them. Instead we wage a long, drawn out, under funded war and rebuild their country with OUR tax dollars! They see how weak we are and that’s why they’re attacking us. They don’t fear us, and rightfully so.

“But what about our humanity? Surely we are more evolved than THAT?”, says the tree hugging faggot liberal. Go tell that the families of the people who these assholes blew up. Ask them if they’d be OK if the attacks on 9/11 were stopped because we tortured the information out of some Jihaadest fanatic bent of killing all Americans. Fuck those assholes. I say torture them until they die even after we’ve extracted every useful shred of information from their pathetic little minds. And when they finally die, desecrate their filthy corpse in whatever manner appropriate to cause those still alive to give pause before they fuck with the United States of America. [/quote]

A few questions:

Is that how you want America’s enemies to treat American Soldiers?
[/quote] They are already having their heads cut off on Al-Jazeera by Islamic fanatics[quote]

Are you ok with this type of treatment for merely “suspected” terrorists?
[/quote]Yes. If you lie down with dogs, you come up with fleas. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If you are knowingly associating and supporting terrorism, you deserve to find out how your left nut tastes while getting your fingertips drilled.[quote]

Do you trust the government to label someone a terrorist correctly 100% of the time before torturing them without process or a determination of guilt?
[/quote]I don’t trust the gov’t to get ANYTHING right, much less 100% of the time. I’m sure mistakes will be made. But that’s already happening with drone strikes killing innocent people. It’s called collateral damage. It sucks, but it’s a fact of life when you are at war. Accept it.[quote]

What margin of error would you find acceptable for labeling someone a “terrorist” and torturing them indefinitely without any real process?
[/quote]

That question doesn’t make sense. Are you asking me what’s my standard for labeling someone a terrorist? Or what is an acceptable margin of error? or how I feel about lack of due process?

If the CIA/NSA has them seen/heard/visually verified by trusted source to be associating with know terrorist, then they are fair game. An acceptable margin of error is impossible to quantify - I only care about results. If we are getting results, the Muslims are fearing us and the attacks are stopping, then we are doing it right. Due process is a fucking joke anyway. Seriously, a minority American citizen in regular criminal court can barely get a fair trial, so what makes you think that at TERRORIST is going to get one? And what are we going to do, give them a dime for a phone call when they are picked up so they can tell their terrorist friends to change protocol? Please, just spare me your liberal fantasy land bullshit on that subject.

There’s a real easy way to avoid all that: don’t associate with terrorists. If you find out that someone you know is a terrorist, turn them in. If you are captured by the United States government and don’t want to be tortured, then cooperate fully. The problem is that fanatical Muslims are mixed in with “non-radical” Muslims BUUUUUUT, and you know there’s a but, the “non-radical” Muslims are either too afraid of the fanatics OR they agree with them and their cause deep down but don’t have the stones to act on their beliefs. Either way, it would further our interests if they feared US more than they feared them.

And why did we give UBL a clean Muslim burial? His dead ass should have been thrown into a pen with starving pigs who would have eaten him and turned him into the piece of shit that he was. Muslims (especially the easily manipulated stupid ones - you know, the same kind that can be manipulated into putting on an explosive vest) believe that if they are tainted by the swine, they will not go to heaven and get their 77 virgins, so WHY THE FUCK are we not using this fact to our advantage? Because it’s not politically correct? But you’re OK with giving NON-US citizens who try to blow us up the same rights as citizens? WTF is wrong with you?

Angry Chicken, you seem pretty hostile towards me and I’m not sure why. I am happy to talk/work through some of your points and have a discussion but I’d prefer to do it without name calling and personal attacks.

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Angry Chicken, you seem pretty hostile towards me and I’m not sure why. I am happy to talk/work through some of your points and have a discussion but I’d prefer to do it without name calling and personal attacks. [/quote]

From what I read, AC never directed anything at you except for the statement of giving Non-US citizens the same rights as a citizen.

I would agree, why would you give them the same rights?

Trying to fight an enemy in a PC manner just hands him the victory.

[quote]2busy wrote:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Angry Chicken, you seem pretty hostile towards me and I’m not sure why. I am happy to talk/work through some of your points and have a discussion but I’d prefer to do it without name calling and personal attacks. [/quote]

From what I read, AC never directed anything at you except for the statement of giving Non-US citizens the same rights as a citizen.

I would agree, why would you give them the same rights?

Trying to fight an enemy in a PC manner just hands him the victory.[/quote]

I don’t believe I ever said I’d give foreign terrorists the “same rights” as domestic U.S. citizens. But I would also disagree with the notion that that means foreign terrorists have no rights, especially if their status as a terrorist is in question, i.e., if they are “suspected” terrorists or “former suspected terrorists.” How many suspected terrorists were detained at Gitmo and tortured who were later determined to have only a tangential or zero connection to the 911 terrorists? I don’t know the answer to that because I don’t know how many were tortured, but I do know lots were detained (and still are being detained) who were later determined to not be a security threat and who had no connection to the 911 terrorists. E.g.:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:

[quote]2busy wrote:

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
Angry Chicken, you seem pretty hostile towards me and I’m not sure why. I am happy to talk/work through some of your points and have a discussion but I’d prefer to do it without name calling and personal attacks. [/quote]

From what I read, AC never directed anything at you except for the statement of giving Non-US citizens the same rights as a citizen.

I would agree, why would you give them the same rights?

Trying to fight an enemy in a PC manner just hands him the victory.[/quote]

I don’t believe I ever said I’d give foreign terrorists the “same rights” as domestic U.S. citizens. But I would also disagree with the notion that that means foreign terrorists have no rights, especially if their status as a terrorist is in question, i.e., if they are “suspected” terrorists or “former suspected terrorists.” How many suspected terrorists were detained at Gitmo and tortured who were later determined to have only a tangential or zero connection to the 911 terrorists? I don’t know the answer to that because I don’t know how many were tortured, but I do know lots were detained (and still are being detained) who were later determined to not be a security threat and who had no connection to the 911 terrorists. E.g.:

[/quote]

[quote]angry chicken wrote:

And why did we give UBL a clean Muslim burial? His dead ass should have been thrown into a pen with starving pigs who would have eaten him and turned him into the piece of shit that he was. [/quote]

You’d have liked Thebes.

^ Which is to say that this kind of atavism was considered the purview of shit-flinging monkeys more than two millennia ago.

[quote]smh23 wrote:
^ Which is to say that this kind of atavism was considered the purview of shit-flinging monkeys more than two millennia ago.[/quote]

Creon was hardly a shit flinging monkey… Or was that directed at me?

If using psychological warfare against your enemy is atavism, then so be it. What is it that you call what they’re doing to us? What’s the word for twisting politics and religion to convince ignorant people to kill your enemies by promising them a good time in the afterlife?