Friday, March 30, 2007

His brain has not only been washed, as they say... It has been dry cleaned.

It's a no-brainer that the letter released yesterday from captured British sailor Faye Turney was coerced, probably at the point of torture-

"Unfortunately during the course of our mission we entered into Iranian waters. Even through our wrongdoing, they have still treated us well and humanely, which I am and always will be eternally grateful.

I ask the representatives of the House of Commons after the Government had promised that this type of incident would not happen again why have they let this occur and why has the Government not been questioned over this?

"Isn't it time to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future?"

Doesn't exactly make it sound like she's sitting in an Iranian hotel room, sipping a cup of tea and dashing a letter off to mum and dad, does it?

Tony Blair is filled with righteous indignation-

I just think it's completely wrong, a disgrace actually, when people are used in that way. That's contrary to all international laws and conventions, and is not going to make any difference to us.

Really Tony? Completely wrong?

Then why didn't you speak up last month when this story hit the news?

WASHINGTON -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to cutting off the head of American journalist Daniel Pearl, as well as plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a revised transcript of a statement released by the U.S. military.

Before I continue let me add the obligatory observation that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is an evil man and it's obvious he did probably have a leading hand in the September 11th attacks and I hope he burns in hell after his inevitable execution. Under no circumstances am I defending this man.

But it's just as obvious that his confession to so many acts of terrorism over so many years would put him into a category of supervillain somewhere between the Riddler and the Green Goblin. It is virtually impossible that he did all the things he told the tribunal he did. (His confession ran off the rails for me personally when he claimed that he had "moved the iceberg of Allah into the path of the infidel Titanic.")

Most of Western media and talk radio has acknowledged this reality but written it off as simple bravado. The man's trying to appear more important than he is. He's a terrorist with an ego the size of Donald Trump. Mohammed's wide ranging confession was itself turned against him as a sort of character flaw.

To me his confession brought uncomfortable similarities to years of seeing images of our own servicemen held by hostile forces in Vietnam, Iraq and North Korea "confess" to whatever the man pointing the gun at them off-camera was telling them to confess to. These images were never convincing for a simple reason: coersion and torture don't bring out the truth.

Anne Applebaum wrote a great piece in the Washington Post a couple of years ago entitled The Torture Myth which takes to task the assumption that torture is an effective means of discovering information.

Meet, for example, retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was "not nice," he says. "But we did not physically abuse them." Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet -- as he remembers saying to the "desperate and honorable officers" who wanted him to move faster -- "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."

Reading Blair's statement on Turney's confession is painful. After years of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib the UK and United States have exhausted our moral capital. Blair has no standing to complain about forced confessions and "international laws." We have encouraged reciprocity in our enemies and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.


Don Snabulus said...

Odd that there is nothing in the article about whether the letter was signed. In fact, the British Foreign Secretary said she had never seen the letter. In fact, no mention is made where the letter came from; only that it was "released." Released by whom? Released from what process?

This reminds me of the Gulf War I story about the Iraqis throwing babies out of incubators that made it to the floor of Congress even though an advertising agency working with the US government admitted to making it up (of course, with no consequences to lying to Congress).

So I take the whole thing with a Kremlin-sized grain of salt.

It would be interesting to know how the hostage exchange with those Iranians taken in Iraq is going to turn out.

As far as Le Sheik, I am not sure why the American press or government released that story. It does make it seem like either the ravings of a loony or a forced confession, neither of which make us look any better in our current discredited state.

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Dean Wormer said...

I wouldn't put it past 'em forging it except I really do believe Britain and Blair want to extricate themselves from the Iraq mess.