Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Interview of Rear Admiral John Hutson (Ret.)

Today Glenn Greenwald interviewed Rear Admiral John Hutson (Ret.), who served as the Judge Advocate General of the Navy from 1997 to 2000. He just recently met with Attorney General designate Eric Holder and White House Counsel-to-be Greg Craig to discuss the use of torture and extraordinary rendition (I refuse to merely call it "rendition") on terrorism suspects and others by U.S. military personnel and civilians. I encourage you to read the transcript or listen to the podcast, but I wanted to highlight one quote, when Glenn asked him how much resistance the CIA might offer to any change from the current policy:

[W]e're the United States of America. If our techniques are rapport building, and that we eschew enhanced interrogation and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and torture, we ought to be shouting that from the rooftops. The idea that we will keep our techniques secret, to me, undermines the effectiveness of it.

And be sure about this: whatever the lowest common denominator is, within the agencies, in terms of interrogation policy, that's the U.S. policy. If the Department of Defense had one policy, and CIA, say for example, has another policy that enables them to do other, worse things, then that's the U.S. policy.

Salon Radio: Retired Rear Adm. John Hutson On Torture

I think this is true of all such dodges, frankly. The "neither confirm nor deny" gambit is largely useless when everyone knows who has the motivation and power to do something and who doesn't. One thing that strikes me when I read comments from Iraqis about how U.S. soldiers behave is that they don't make a distinction between our soldiers, our CIA covert action types, and the security contractors. To them, they're all Americans. They all wear body armor, carry weapons, and order them around, threaten them, or shoot at them when they feel they have to. So if any of those groups of people act incorrectly, it's going to reflect on all of them, and by extension, all of us. That's how it is.

Admiral Hutson also makes the point that torture doesn't really provide good intelligence anyway. So, in addition to making it more dangerous for our own people, it doesn't yield useful results. All around, it's a policy that is stupid as well as unethical.

Go read the whole thing. It's worth the time, I think.

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