For those wondering, Matt has been extraordinarily rendered to the very torture training facility I reference. Let' s hope he makes it. Since I caused so much controversy with my support for gays in the military, I decided to tackle a much simpler issue I'm sure we all can get on board with, torture. There has been an ongoing debate as to what US policy should be regarding the interrogation of detainees in our custody, particularly unlawful enemy combatants who do not have Geneva Convention coverage, period. There is a military funny at the end of this regarding torture-related training, so persevere.
One of the philosophical arguments centers on ticking bombs and the propriety and efficacy of torture to ensure the counter stops on the proper 0:01. The answer to that dilemma was given perfectly by a former military interrogator in a message to National Review Online:
"On more than one occasion, I had discussions with some of our operators regarding the obtaining of information in the ticking bomb scenario. Our discussion ran along the lines of "It's against the law. It's against the UCMJ. We'd go to jail. But if we knew the bomb was ticking, and this guy had the information that could save dozens or hundreds or more people, or if the team (the operators and the unit) were going to be wiped out if we didn't get it, I'd whip out a hatchet and an entrenching tool and go to work on him.
We were comfortable with this fairly horrible ambiguity and the bad consequences that would accompany it only because the military ethos was to sacrifice ourselves for others, and the notion of incurring legal jeopardy to save others struck us as a righteous cause, but it had to be predicated on the necessity of the ticking bomb. We did not want torture legalized. We did not want a guide book. We were fine with the notion we'd be punished had we ever used it - we never got into the neighborhood, much less seriously considering using it on anybody, BTW, we were just prepared to do what we had to do because it occurred to use that we could be in that position."
And there you go. We should never as a country have an official policy allowing torture, but if this extreme scenario occurs then we know all means of stopping that ticker will be employed. Next slide, on to the US Army torture training facility.
The more difficult question is the interrogation of the murderous swine involved in a global war to slaughter as many infidels as necessary in order to restore the glories of 12th Century Islamic splendor to the world. What methods are proper in attempting to obtain names and numbers of their friends and co-jihadis? Some reasonably smart folks have been having difficulty naming methods they would approve of in helping these people see the light. I have no such difficulty and I will name away, and for now I will stick to those I have personally had done to me in military SERE training.
SERE is Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape training and is a course for those in high possibility of enemy capture i.e. Special Forces, SEALS, Rangers, Force Recon etc. The course starts with Survival which is self-explanatory, many bunnies die so we may live, then comes Evasion where the students attempt to evade capture while being pursued, they are eventually scarfed up and then comes the fun part, Resistance. Students are transported to a prison facility and then get the Full Monty of coercive interrogation techniques in order to get them to sign a paper admitting to war crimes. All students know going in that they would spend less than a week in the prison, and that they couldn't actually be damaged permanently, yet virtually everyone of these macho studs "Signs Ze Papah" (Remember him stupeed one?). All of the students go in talking smack about how they will hang on and tough it out and in the end, I have only heard of one time when a group of Rangers banded together and fought their way out, all the rest of our biggest tough guys caved.
The course is classified and I won't leak any more info than I already have, which is already common knowledge. But I will comment on the 6 interrogation techniques used by the CIA and which amazingly almost mirror those used to break the will to resist of all those barrel-chested freedom fighters. Pic is my buddy LST in Khabul on the one year anniversary of 9/11, We were advising NGOs on security, me from America, Sam from Afghanistan. More on him later. First the six approved CIA Coercive Interrogation techniques:
1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.
Horrifying I know, but a good opening gambit.
2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.
Are you listening to me Khalid? Don't make me sheikh, sheikh sheikh you.
3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.
And there you have it, designed to cause a little pain but no lasting damage.
4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.
Plenty of standing around and if you caught any sleep you were beating the system, because the loudspeakers were blaring and the guards were always jacking you around.
5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.
This went on in cells or in the courtyard standing in formation, and you can believe that your will to resist is significantly reduced by this. Add female guards belittling your manhood, parentage and prowess for grins and you get the picture.
6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
This is where I caved and I didn't even get strapped to a board. Nope a canvas bag over the head and water continually dripping over my face triggered a visceral fear I have of drowning and I started screaming, crying and signing. If I had any information period that would have made them stop it, I would have told them. The human will is strong, but it can be broken without having to break the mind or body, you just confuse and degrade it, and play mind games with it's owner until finally the ability to resist is gone. That is the whole point of coercive interrogation, breaking the human will to resist which is an artificial construct of each individual. Find their weakest area, exploit and overload the brain and body and eventually the brain will overrule the will and survival instinct will cause cooperation to make it stop.
Tens of thousands of troops have been through this training and yet somehow the idea that we do these same things to the scum who murder innocents in order to protect innocents is beyond the pale. BS. Why don't we just institute the jihadi draft, make them members of the military and give them a little Resistance love. They have earned it and we can't afford to miss a single tidbit of intel that could help us send more of them along to Allah.
Bottom line is coercive interrogation techniques are proper and should be employed and the line drawn at causing permanent damage to the mind or body. Temporary suffering, degradation, humiliation and even distress are acceptable to me and I believe we should formally state that these are approved for high value prisoners. I also think we should hint that we might even do worse, in a nudge, nudge, wink , wink kinda' way to increase their effectiveness, while stating for the cameras that "The US never sanctions the use of torture".
Now on to the funny. I received a coveted slot to HALO (Military Free Fall Parachuting) school and my buddy Little Sammy Thistle (LST) tagged along to try and get in on a stand by slot. He was a wicked good skydiver and took me on my first illegal skydive, but no luck on the HALO slot, so he needed a reason to stay at Bragg while waiting for the next HALO school. The only slot he could get was for SERE and that is hardly a vacation, especially when he knew I would spend the time flying around the sky. But he took it and I started HALO school, a few weeks later I got a call from him saying they had finished Survival and were prepping for Evasion. Now there is a real danger of the students losing too much weight while foraging for grubs and what not in the mostly picked over lanes where the Evasion portion is conducted so they monitor the student's weights. LST had found out which evasion lane his team would use and asked me if I was game for the scheme we had hatched after finding out he was going to SERE. This involved me preparing and then caching supplies for his team to recover during evasion, but it required both knowledge of which lane they would travel and also a map of that area, and those were controlled items.
I called a buddy I went to the SF Q course with who now worked at the school house and nonchalantly asked him for a map of the SERE lanes. He gave me a very skeptical look and said "I really don't wanna know about why, do I?" I said no and left with the document in hand. Sam called again that night after sneaking away from the compound and we schemed a cache point at the first power line pylon east of a certain road. I then proceeded to the grocery store where I went on a deserted island shopping spree. Instead of buying trail mix and survival foods, I went for xmas morning and bought goodies. Pop Tarts, pistachios, Twizzlers, Doritos, and for a kicker I bought Copenhagen, Marlboros and a six pack of Bud. I did add beef jerky and some other more sensible stuff eventually filling a large garbage bag. It was no problem finding the prospective cache point since I was driving a rental car not walking the brush, but I had no way of knowing if Sammy and his team would even have a chance to try for it, since they had the 82nd ABN chasing them down their lane.
I continued with HALO training and there was a time when we were using a drop zone that was on the same compound as the prison camp for SERE. I then instituted the second plan which was PSY OPS to keep his spirits up while in prison. Once I opened my parachute at around 4,000 feet I would visually locate the prison and scream obscenities about the guards and start throwing mini-Snickers bars I had in my pockets in that direction. Sammy told me he never heard me, and I was never close enough for the Snickers to get there, but it did help him knowing I was skydiving. He also took a couple of beatings for looking up when he heard our chutes opening.
I finished HALO school and caught back up with LST after they finished SERE and got to meet his evasion team when they declared me a hero and took me out on the town in thanks. As it turned out Sammy got a chance to go after the cache, but had no confirmation I had set it or that it was in the correct spot, it also entailed an addition 10k (6 miles) of walking to get there and back. He decided to trust me and he and another guy made the hump to the cache, where they were stunned to find 25 lbs. of amazing chow. They humped back to the rest of their starving and dead-tired team and deposited the bounty before the amazed group. They spent the next couple of days hiding out and stuffing their cakeholes, before heading off in one last dash trying to make the end of the lane. Like everyone they were scarfed up and sent off to prison, where they got physicals and were weighed to ensure they hadn't lost too much weight. The cadre were stunned to see they had all actually put on a pound or two. This got them all special interrogation where they paid homage to Sammy's skill as a hunter and fisher which kept them fed. Oh and they all caved in the end too.
Sammy eventually became an instructor at SERE in the Survival phase and if you went through in the mid 90s you probably met him. He liked to walk up to the students on their first day when they were all nervous about a savage school and as they sat in the bleachers contemplating the "torture" awaiting them, open up saying "Hello my name is Sam and I'm an alcohol.....Oh crap wrong class" to break the tension. He died a couple years back and if you knew him you probably knew me, so drop me a line and I will fill you in. Blue Skies LST.