Thursday, March 11, 2010

Retropost: Interrogation for Dummies

I watched the fascinating interview between torture cheerleader Marc Thiessen and Jon Stewart on The Daily Show this week. It's a fascinating look into the mind of the pro-torture crowd, illustrating how hollow their tough talk is considering how much they whine when people put their logic into stress positions.

That led me to read this brilliant take down of torture by former military interrogator Matthew Alexander, which reminded me of the original brilliant take down of torture as an interrogation technique, "The Dark Art of Interrogation" by Mark Bowden that ran in The Atlantic Monthly in 2003.

Once again, with this whole Al-Qaeda 7 nonsense, we've re-entered the realm of not just arguing for torturing detainees, but also the with-us-or-against-us zone of equating people who don't agree with said torture as being terrorist sympathizers. That makes it seem like a good time to revive this post, which had been held in my archives against its will without any representation since 2006.

Interrogation for Dummies

From the creators of Classroom Bias for Dummies and American Foreign Policy for Dummies!

by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Hola, future interrogators!

I am excited—so very excited—that you are interested in learning more about interrogation. Because the key to winning the War on Terror is information, and most of the time, the only way to get reliable information is to beat it out of someone.

However, as a society, we also follow certain rules and regulations. . . especially when the media are watching us! So to help make sure your next Q&A doesn’t venture into too much S&M, we present this handy guide. Read it, live it, and if necessary, rip the pages out and force feed them to an uncooperative prisoner.

Good luck!

Calibrating your compassion

It is imperative when conducting forceful interrogations to know where to draw the line. The following quick comparisons will help you understand what is considered acceptable behavior, and what is just barbaric.

Hooking a Sears Die Hard battery to a detainee’s scrotum—acceptable
Unhooking life support from a human vegetable—barbaric

Turning prisoners over to countries that practice torture—acceptable
Turning stem cells over to scientific researchers—barbaric

Ignoring the Geneva Conventions—acceptable
Ignoring the Ten Commandments—barbaric

Discarding the Fourth Amendment during a time of war—acceptable
Obeying the system of checks and balances in a time of war—barbaric

Smothering a detainee in a sleeping bagacceptable
Sharing a sleeping bag with a naked cowboy—barbaric

Beating prisoners with plastic cablesacceptable
Exposing children to plastic boobies on cablebarbaric

Forming naked detainee pyramids—acceptable
Publishing photos of naked detainee pyramids—barbaric

Lie detection checklist

You’ve been at it for hours with an interrogation and your subject still says he’s not Al Queda. Can you believe him? Before you accept his gurgling pleas as truth, follow this checklist.

Did you:

[ ] Attach electrified nipple clamps?
[ ] Let dogs gnaw on detainee’s appendages?
[ ] Rub fake menstrual blood on detainee?
[ ] Sodomize detainee with a glow stick?
[ ] Allow detainee to sit in a mound of his own feces?
[ ] Waterboard?
[ ] Cause sleep deprivation/suicidal tendencies by putting "Sister Christian" on repeat?

If you’ve done all these steps and still haven’t gotten a confession, congratulations, you’ve determined that your detainee is innocent. Pat him on the back and tell him he's free to walk away (or crawl back to freedom if his knees are broken).

Making your extraordinary renditions extraordinarily legal

One of the keys to good interrogation is knowing when to ask for help. That’s what extraordinary rendition is: asking a helpful partner in the War on Terror to see if they can extract information from a prisoner.

Due to the meddling of freedom-hating liberals, however, it is against the law to hand prisoners over to countries that practice “torture.” Here’s how you can make sure your rendition partner isn’t going to “torture” the subject.

1) Ask the representatives from the country if they torture prisoners
2) Check representatives for crossed fingers
3) Ask them again if they torture prisoners, and this time make them swear on the religious book of their choice
4) If yes, hand prisoner over

What to do if you are accused of torture

- Do not admit fault

- Do not discuss the incident with journalists, activists, tribunals, or anyone except your superior officer, the Attorney General, or the Secretary of Defense

- Ask accuser to define torture

- Acknowledge that said definition is only one of many definitions of torture

- Remind accuser that enemies regularly practice torture

- Ask accuser if he or she would like to see the world ruled by a pro-torture Islamic caliphate

- Deny that you are changing the subject

- Offer to show accuser just how humane waterboarding is

- Find the lowest-ranking person involved and blame everything on him or her


That's all the training you need to be a qualified interrogator. So grab your digital camera and billy club and get ready to embark on an exciting career in information extraction. And remember, your job isn't just to get people to talk, it's also to keep people from talking about what you're doing.


Jennifer said...


Brando said...

The topic or the jokes? ;-)

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Scott Horton:

In her speech, highly critical of the US’s conduct during the war on terror, the former secret service chief implied that the leadership in Washington was inspired by watching the TV espionage thriller 24. She said: “Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld certainly watched 24″. Dame Eliza said: “The Americans were very keen that people like us did not discover what they were doing.” She insisted that she had been unaware of what was going on until her retirement in 2007. One of her retrospective discoveries was the interrogation method used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When she asked her subordinates why the senior al-Qa’ida member was offering so much information, they told her he was “very proud of his achievements when questioned”. She added: “It wasn’t actually until after I retired that I read that he had been water-boarded 160 times.”

Churlita said...

"American Foreign Policy for Dummies!" Is this what Sarah Palin referenced when she wrote all those notes on her hands?

Kathleen said...

painful yet funny. a combo the CIA itself works hard to achieve in its interrogations.