I can guess why some Politicians want and need a National Day of Fast to Atone for their own sins, but please do not drag me into your personal hell foxhole comrade.
Public officials, media outlets and members of the public who use the words torture and coercion interchangeably are making a huge mistake - one that could threaten our safety and security.
Formerly top-secret documents declassified recently by the Obama administration describe in detail 10 interrogation techniques, including the now-infamous water-boarding. This has led to the unfortunate branding of all coercive techniques as torture.
We cannot apply absolutes to these ambiguous scenarios. We need reasonable guidelines that allow discretion for those risking their lives to gather the information needed to protect us.
And finally: Shall we address water-boarding? It is critical to remember that contrary to the portrayal in some media, enhanced techniques were used principally on hardened terrorists who refused to cooperate through rapport building and other noncoercive methods.
For example, intelligence officials believed Abu Zubaydah, a hardcore terrorist and planner of the 9/11 attacks, retained valuable insight into the inner workings of al-Qaida at the highest levels. He had successfully resisted all other methods of interrogation. However, it is almost impossible to train to resist water-boarding. Ultimately, he lasted 32 seconds. Given this context, I am confident most Americans would not object to using that technique.
U.S. policy must authorize the use of certain interrogation methods that fall below the threshold of torture. We cannot allow our enemies to draw a moral equivalence between compelling a prisoner to kneel for 10 minutes and chopping off his fingers one by one. Our government must insist that making a terrorist uncomfortable should not be confused, or in any way equated, with torture.
Richard Saccone, a retired counterintelligence agent, teaches international relations and political science at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and is the author of "The Unseen War in Iraq: Insurgents in the Shadows."
Customer Book Review:
Counterintelligence for the layperson. Richard Saccone's up close and personal vantage point in Iraq, especially Abu Ghraib gives the outsider a unique perspective that is missing from liberal and mass media reports of the Iraq war's counterintelligence challenges. It is a compendium of scenarios that reveals the depths of what we face in Iraq from Titan defense contractors' hiring of local interpreters to the undeniably soul-ess manner in which the enemy tortures and kills innocents in their quest for an untenable goal. Particularly compelling are his descriptions of the Abu G prison and how insufficiently trained and overworked government and military guards/Military Intelligence sometimes miss important clues on smuggling and intelligence gathering.
Mr. Saccone parts the veil on what happens inside Abu G. Reports from biased Red Cross evaluators to the rabid liberal international and U.S. media on how prisoner treatment are truly one-sided and do not paint an accurate picture of how the U.S. is the preferred administrator to the inmates. Although American leadership did allow Abu G excesses in the scandal, the prisoners are far more fearful of the harsh treatment and living conditions under Iraqi hands.