Sunday, November 30, 2008

"I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq"

That is the title of an article in today's Washington Post by Matthew Alexander. This is the man whose interrogations led to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He's a pro. He's also promoting his new book. But this is how the article begins.
I should have felt triumphant when I returned from Iraq in August 2006. Instead, I was worried and exhausted. My team of interrogators had successfully hunted down one of the most notorious mass murderers of our generation, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the mastermind of the campaign of suicide bombings that had helped plunge Iraq into civil war. But instead of celebrating our success, my mind was consumed with the unfinished business of our mission: fixing the deeply flawed, ineffective and un-American way the U.S. military conducts interrogations in Iraq. I'm still alarmed about that today.
This should give one pause.

Later he writes:
Amid the chaos, four other Air Force criminal investigators and I joined an elite team of interrogators attempting to locate Zarqawi. What I soon discovered about our methods astonished me. The Army was still conducting interrogations according to the Guantanamo Bay model: Interrogators were nominally using the methods outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual, the interrogators' bible, but they were pushing in every way possible to bend the rules -- and often break them. I don't have to belabor the point; dozens of newspaper articles and books have been written about the misconduct that resulted. These interrogations were based on fear and control; they often resulted in torture and abuse.

I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.
Perhaps this would be a good time to ponder the assertion of George W. Bush that "the United States does not torture," an assertion I believe has been repeated by his parrot, Condi Rice (unease be upon them).

I suppose I do not need to repeat my frequent assertion that Bush and Cheney and their gang of thugs all should be tried at the international level for war crimes. That they have not been impeached is a horrid indictment of Congress, which has failed in its constitutional duty to act on high crimes and misdemeanors. The Founding Fathers surely weep.

You can read the whole article here.

h/t to Brandon Friedman
--the BB

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