"Don't fool yourself - there is a part of you that will say, 'This is fun.' ''
It should have made large waves in the press and the media, but it didn't. They have been too busy with Robert Blake, Michael Jackson, and Terri Schiavo. The major problem with the press and the media is not political bias--though this exists and always has, and anyone can have their own self-righteous take on where it exists, and who displays it. The problem with the press and media is the trivial incompetence that cannot separate important news from entertaining inanity.
The President and the Congress have also been too busy with some of these same things, like Terri Shiavo. We are all well aware of their political biases. But the major problem with them, as demonstrated perfectly by their role in the Schiavo affair, is trivial incompetence, as well.
INTELCON was covered, however, in the Boston Globe, and it should be required reading for every American who has the courage to face facts, whatever their political biases about those facts. My biases, of course, show in the title of this essay, but I do have the courage to face facts. I don't think very many of the people who are all whoop-de-do about the "falling dominoes of Democracy" in the Muslim world have the courage to face facts, and many of them lack the capacity to even recognize facts when they happen to encounter them.
This is the most salient part of the story for anybody, no matter what their political persuasion:
To the extent that the point of the conference was to demonstrate that various elements of the intelligence community could gather in one room, talk openly about the challenges they face, and exchange business cards and ideas, Intelcon was a success. On the other hand, the open forum showcased enduring, intractable divisions among intelligence professionals on fundamental issues like the war in Iraq and a prevailing cynicism about the current capabilities of American intelligence to keep the country safe.....It was a dispiriting spectacle. Three and a half years after Sept. 11 our spies cannot even agree on such fundamental issues as what kind of a war the United States is engaged in, what kind of threats its enemies pose, and whether those enemies are now or have ever been connected.....Circling the wagons, everyone in the room seemed to concur that they had succeeded in preventing another attack in spite of and not because of political efforts to redress intelligence problems in the intervening years.
The people who have the most real contact with our enemies--up close and personal--are disorganized, demoralized, and disheartened about our "War On Terror". For example, they apparently still can't get enough linguists proficient in colloquial and dialect Arabic to make significant progress placing spooks taking notes where they will do the most good. No wonder they torture--even though any intelligent person can infer, and the evidence is overwhelming that, torture merely makes people tell you what you want to hear, and not what you really need to know.
Do we hear anything about this from our fine Republican governmental majority? No. Do we hear anything about this from our friends in the Conservative blog community, and, particularly, from those bloggers who fancy themselves roughshod realpolitikos in the style of Tom Clancy? No. Do we hear anything about this from the rest of them in their continuous Democracyfest or Schiavo protest? No.
Do we hear anything about this from the "centrist" National Security Democrats like Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, who are busy "positioning" themselves for 2008? No. Though, in fact, all that us other Democrats ever really hear from them is about how we should concern ourselves with National Security, and not what intelligent suggestions they have to make about it.
And, of course, you don't hear too much about it from the rest of us Progressive and activist Democrats, either. But nobody expects us to think about these things, do they?
For the record, I found out about INTELCON on the Daily Kos.
Let's let the interrogator speak. William Tierney is a former Army officer, a former member of the Defence Intelligence Agency, a former UN weapons inspector, a former civilian interrogator at Guantanamo, in 2003 was an "analyst" for the BBC, and, at INTELCON, had just returned from eight months working as a contracted civilian interrogator for US forces in Baghdad. He's quite a colorful character and you can read some more about him here.
The reason he is so former in the Military intelligence community is that he occasionally favored using the carrot as well as the stick when doing interrogation. Such things were unorthodox and went against military procedures, though they appear to have actually worked now and then. Or, as a former Marine offier said, when asked at INTELCON about interrogation techniques, ''I'm a fan of 220 volts."
This is what Mr. Tierney had to say about the matter:
''The Brits came up with an expression - wog. That stands for Wily Oriental Gentleman. There's a lot of wiliness in that part of the world.'' And when it comes to interrogating wily insurgents, Tierney explained, he favors ''smarts over smack.''
''It's the amateur who resorts to violence. There's always a mental lever to get them to do what you want them to do. I tried to be nuanced and culturally aware. But the suspects didn't break.
"They did not break! I'm here to win. I'm here so our civilization beats theirs! Now what are you willing to do to win? You are the interrogators, you are the ones who have to get the information from the Iraqis. What do you do? That word 'torture'. You immediately think, 'That's not me.' But are we litigating this war or fighting it?
''Sadism is always right over the hill. You have to admit it. Don't fool yourself - there is a part of you that will say, 'This is fun.' Right now the Army wants to get interrogators right out of high school. A high school grad does not have the maturity to handle this job. There was a 19-year-old with me in Baghdad. What's going on in her head is what kind of fingernail polish she's going to wear. And she's sitting across from a guy from Yemen....''
Teaching kids fresh out of high school to interrogate and torture. Isn't that special. No wonder we have 27 prisoner deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan offically listed as murders--and, no, it's highly unlikely that the prisoners there are murdering each other. No wonder we had Abu Gariab.
The current Administration is not only busily creating the social and economic conditions of Weimar Germany in 21st century America, it is gaily making the paramilitary core of young thugs to lead a potential facist revolution and with skills to staff a potential secret police. Well, gee.
Not to mention what a post high school introduction to the pleasures of interrogating prisoners may be doing to the moral compass of your young son or daughter abroad. We don't really think about such things like moral compasses anymore, unless, of course, its the moral compass of someone we disagree with. But then maybe the skills of an interrogator of prisoners will help returning young soldiers get ahead in civilian life. Combine it with that college bonus they were promised when they signed up and who knows what they could do with themselves.
Then again, if the Bush Administration decides to eliminate the bonuses to cut some more taxes, who knows what they will do with themselves.