Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Very Brief and Limited History of Torture

John R. Schindler, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, writes:

...torture is one of those Big Issues – like, for instance, Guantanamo Bay and drones – which all right-thinking people were very flustered about until January 20, 2009, but which no decent sort talks about since that day since, you know, it’s different when Obama does it[...]
The centrality of torture to Soviet counterintelligence, at all levels, is perhaps why few Westerners have cared to look at it in detail, since it’s anything but a pleasant story. Enthusiasts of “benign” counterterrorism of the sort imagined by au courant thinkers and MSNBC presenters will find little to praise in the Soviet experience, and plenty to lose sleep over. Torturing people, up to and sometimes passing the point of horrible death, was a cornerstone of how the KGB defeated spies, saboteurs, and terrorists[...]
Soviet methods were brutal, pure and simple: “a gallery of fanatics and alcoholics in a chamber of horrors,” recalled a veteran of the program. This was off-limits to the Germans, since Nazi interrogators who crossed such lines, torturing suspects, were subject to severe courts-martial by the Wehrmacht on a routine basis. Unlike the U.S. government since 9/11, the Germans punished those who crossed established lines. This became a sore-point among the German counterintelligence officers charged with going against the Soviets, and losing. Major Johannes Gaenzer and Captains Helmut Daemerau and Kurt Koehler, veterans of the spywar against Moscow, told their American debriefers after the war that “they were greatly handicapped by an express order from Admiral Canaris [head of German military intelligence] forbidding physical pressure as an aid in interrogation.” They added that the “Russians generally fear pain but not death so that ‘intensified methods’ would probably have led to greater successes.”

The Germans were on to something as any intelligence service going up against those who fear pain, but not death, would attest. It is well and good to state that one will not torture, no matter the circumstances. As a former counterintelligence officer, I am proud to state that my country will not – rather, ought not – torture suspects, no matter the circumstances. But let us dispense with sweet-sounding nonsense that torture does not work. It does. Civilized countries ought not use it all the same. Truth beats lies, especially when discussing such weighty matters.


  1. F*cking pieces of sh*t! He's a liar and sicko that is a propaganda tool of the state.

    “The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003. It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.”

    -Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council.

    1. implying the official story about osama is true...which i believe not many here on this blog believe

    2. Of course. However it becomes a logical fallacy to have agents of the government say torture doesn't work, then agents of the government say it does.

      The reality is high level agents of the government say whatever they want to say in order to meet their desired goals.

      I believe there are elements of truth and lies in everything that the government says for public consumption because of this very reason. Even if one was seeking to be truthful as a high level government official, he would still have to rely on information from other functionaries, other branches of government, etc. to provide accurate information. They all have their nefarious reasons for what they do. That is where the rabbit hole starts.

      That's what happens when the foundation of your livelihood is based off of theft of property and not providing goods or services based on free market competition. If you've never worked in government, it's a completely different mind-set. Budget justification for growth is based off of increased spending. If you don't use it, you lose it. Being efficient means you're subject to cuts, which means your career is in jeopardy. This is the exact opposite of the private sector.

      As a professor of the US Naval War College currently in National Security Affairs, Schindler has specific goals in mind given his position and his ambitions by putting a statement out there like this.

      When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Mr. Schindler's position and advocacy of torture fall right in line with what is available to him and the career he has. The outrage is not that he is a POS, but that humanity abdicates our control over our liberties to such disgusting creatures.

  2. 1984

    O'Brien: Winston, do you believe in God?

    Winston: No.

    O'Brien: Then what is it, this principle that will defeat us?

    Winston: I don't know. The Spirit of Man.

    O'Brien: Do you consider yourself a man?

    Winston: Yes.

    O'Brien: If you are a man Winston, you are the last man. Your kind is extinct; we are the inheritors. Do you understand that you are alone? You are outside history, you are nonexistent.

    Let's tell the State to shove it where the sun don't shine. They can't win when they ruin themselves. They are creating more forces for good, I think, than they ever dreamed of stamping out.

    To the State: I will not serve.

  3. What a dictator, how does someone even utter this nonsense in public. Not that it's a shock to anyone but we crossed the evil rubicon a long time ago now. As Doug Casey said would happen, the sociopaths and psychopaths have started evidencing themselves.

  4. What worries me is that our Protectors have probably gone so far beyond physical torture that the worries generated by the article are now laughably antiquated.

    Implanted electrodes w/ chemical enhancement would have you singing every part of Wagner's Ring Cycle if that's what they wanted you to do - and you would love doing it if that's what they wanted as well.

    Even this idea may be antiquated. The problem becomes, "Who do we use it on first?" The answer is, "The Interrogators themselves."

    "Nothing like highly motivated employees..."


  5. Jesus. When the Nazis are better on ANY aspect of human rights than the current government then you KNOW things are fucked up.

  6. Bob had posted a couple of links to Schindler's blog before the fiscal cliff knocked Petraeus out of the news. I read some of this guy's other posts. He had fallen for the nonsense about Paul Ryan being some sort of rabid free-marked advocate, and just generally doesn't seem to know much of anything outside of his bailiwick. He's about as deep into the national security state as you can get, and shows no evidence of having a Daniel Ellsberg type of awakening.