to what lengths?
this is sortof off the cuff, but it's something i've been wondering since the whole torture scandal kicked off. (it turns out not to be one of my lengither and probably less well written posts, but i think it is an extremely interesting question anyway...)
the question is, to what lengths are we willing to go to protect ourselves?
i know that the motivation of the soldiers in abu garib is still in question, as well as the nature of the prisoners they did it to, but just for argument's sake; let's say that they were acting under orders to extract information from people who had been busted trying to set traps or ambushes for military convoys, and potentially had information related to others doing the same thing.
i know it's a bit of a leap of faith, and the way they did it seems like a really silly way to go about doing it (unless, of course, what they did is really as bad as the press would have us believe, a penalty "worse than death").
but just assuming that they were doing it for legitimate reasons, is it justified? humiliation, intimidation, sleep deprevation are proven methods of interrogation, especially in a culture as uptight as strict islam.
some of the things reported as "torture", such as threating the prisoners with rifles or guard dogs (threatening, not letting them bite, which is a mistake) are more in the realm of daily operation in such a place. if the prisoners don't fully believe in the power and willingness of the guards to hurt or kill them given the provocation...well, there's at least ten prisoners to every one guard, you do the math.
but on to the more provocative aspects. if it is proven that dehumanizing and humiliating prisoners is the best way to get reliable information out of them, then how far can we take it before we cross the line? physical pain rarely gives useful information, prisoners are more apt to give whatever their captors want to hear rather than useful truth. the threat of pain via intimidation and humiliation is generally more effective, from my amatuer understanding. so the problem becomes, how does one truly break a prisoners will, since that is the ultimate object in any form of interrogation.
if putting a prisoner on a crate and telling him he will be electrocuted if he steps off it, and cannot get off it until he starts answering questions truthfully (with certain questions where the answers are allready known mixed in to judge truthfulness) is proven as a reliable method to get useful information, is that justified? keeping prisoners awake and messing with their time-frame (i.e. serving them meals at odd times, telling them only an hour has passed when five really have and the other way around next time) is universally understood as one of the best methods of breaking a subject, but is it within the moral realm of the american psyche?
i'm not writing this as a means to justify what happened at abu garib, i don't know exactly what happened there and neither does anyone else who wasn't there. from the pictures it seems that these fools were acting either on their own volition, for their own entertainment, or taking "orders" way beyond where they were meant to go. but seperating it from that and strictly as a moral or philosophical question, how far is too far? if winning the war and saving both american military and iraqi civilian lives depends on humiliating, dehumanizing, and generally making terrorist captives suffer then how far can we go before we've crossed the line into mengele-esqe sadism? because that can be a very thin line, i'm tellin ya, but at the same time i for one am willing to do whatever it takes to cause these bastards to fail in their attempt at destroying everyone and everything they don't agree with. if that means doing unspeakable things to the ones we get (and that we *know* are said bastards), then i have to say i'm regrettably for it.
does that make me a bad person? i don't get a kick out of hurting other people, and am repulsed at the idea of doing harm to another person. but if doing so, to such creatures as could unrepentingly cut the head off a living human being or indiscrimatly kill thousands of innocent people, if making them suffer as much as a human being can live through can help us to find and defeat others like them, then i'm going to have to say i agree with it. agree with it, would be willing to do it myself if necessary, and hope that we do if that is what is needed.
i have no mercy for the less-than-human scum that commit such atrocities as 9/11, or the nick berg murder, or hundreds and hundreds of other less publicized events. and i have absolutely no objections to doing whatever it takes to wipe them out, so long as what we are doing is absolutely necessary to make that happen.