A radical group that endorses torture and abuse, also destroys precious, priceless cultural artifacts. We can unite with the world to defeat these monsters without sacrificing our values.
Stanley McChrystal makes a crucially important point: A bureaucrat who hoards information is more dangerous than a leaker. Secrets are “secret” to protect sources and methods, not to keep the information gathered by government employees from being shared. I would also add that secret agreements are not meant to protect government employees from responsibility for illegal actions, like torture and abuse.
I will add this, too: The American intelligence bureaucracy is both a marvel of technical prowess and an engine of distraction for its operators, much a reflection of technology in our society. So it’s not so much that crucial information doesn’t get spread around as it is that the one piece of information that should raise an alarm bell gets casually dismissed in view of the overload. Bureaucrats become absorbed in the processing of bits rather than in the solving of the puzzle.
Veteran U.S. Navy chemist and celebrated author Isaac Asimov explains the inhumanity of extremist ideology. In watching this video, I wonder what the appeal of ISIS is to young Muslims in the West and how can it be countered. How do we convince those willing to fight to channel that energy in a peaceful, productive direction?
In 2007, Veteran interrogator Stuart Herrington explained the shock investigators experience when torture comes up for debate: We’re incredulous — because we know it’s immoral and ineffective.
(Good article. I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions about the Reid Technique. If it’s used properly, it can be effective without being coercive. — Editor)
Interested in this field? (Note: The following is the opinion of the editor of this site.) Many qualities make up a strong interrogator. Foremost, I believe, is learning how to become a more mindful person. There are plentiful books written in our era about this subject. However, I recommend this 2,000 year-old philosophical treatise by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, his Meditations, as a solid starting point:
The 9/11 Commission warned that accusations of abuse make it more difficult to win conflicts. From page 380:
“Coalition warfare also requires coalition policies on what to do with enemy captives. Allegations that the United States abused prisoners in its custody make it harder to build the diplomatic, political, and military alliances the government will need. The United States should work with friends to develop mutually agreed-on principles for the detention and humane treatment of captured international terrorists who are not being held under a particular country’s criminal laws. Countries such as Britain, Australia, and Muslim friends, are committed to fighting terrorists. America should be able to reconcile its views on how to balance humanity and security with our nation’s commitment to these same goals.”
“Recommendation: The United States should engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists. New principles might draw upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict. That article was specifically designed for those cases in which the usual laws of war did not apply. Its minimum standards are generally accepted throughout the world as customary international law.”
This has been at the forefront of my thoughts for years: why do we promote government and military officials who fail us? Below is an article that speaks to this question.
We’ve started compiling a list of books for those interested in this field.