An article on the left-leaning website Truthout announced yesterday that a “new direction in the war on terror” may result from a case that occurred in the last year of the Bush Administration. Bryant Neal Vinas, an American-born suspected terrorist who was captured in Pakistan, was given “all the rights of  American criminal suspects.” The results? Vinas talked.

Not just vague details. Not just misdirecting lies. Invaluable inside information that probably saved countless American lives. So the “new” emphasis “relies more on FBI crime fighters and the civilian justice system than on CIA interrogators and military detention.” 

The FBI has decades of road tested experience in interrogations of every variety. And they have an impressive success record in what they have been professionally trained to do. Torture has been around for thousands of years, and the success record is dismal. Even without vast amounts of historical precedents to clue us in, it would not have taken any rational, emotionally stable individual very long to figure that out in advance.

In the movies, detainees always deliver reliable information,  and the hero goes rushing off to save the human race just before the closing credits. That only works in the world of celluloid fantasy. In real life, you have to consider what kind of personality would be drawn to a job inflicting pain and deformity under the guise of patriotism. The term “sadomasochistic” comes to mind. These people almost certainly have to be goons with bully mentalities, Dick Cheney types, without the neckties or ability to lubricate their way out of prosecution.. They are no match for the professionalism of the FBI. Why did we ever use them?

This “new” strategy is not new at all. It has always been the most effective way to get criminals to talk. Torture never has been. You’ve got to wonder if the only reason for ever using it has been for the perverted entertainment of the torturers.

You won’t find many fans of George W. Bush these days, certainly not behind this keyboard. Even many of his hometown Midlanders are embarrassed by his behavior. We do, however, walk a fine line between holding our highest officials accountable for complying with international law (including the Geneva Convention accords) and the need for national security in a time of crisis. To be fair, consider: What if Bush had not done enough? What if there had been another terrorist attack that took out all of Houston, Texas? Might not Bush have been impeached for his negligence?

But on 9-11, why did he hastily adopt the boneheaded two-pronged war strategy of “find out who did this” and “kick their asses” [his exact words] and allow it to degenerate into the soundly discredited, time-wasting, criminal practice of torture?

In numerous articles, I am publicly on record against the crimes of Bush and Cheney, and specifically, the use of torture. The reasons are: (1) setting precedents that can be used against our own soldiers, (2) violation of the very democratic standards we are trying to protect and propagate, and (3) the stupidity of the strategy.

Unfortunately, it is once again the right-brain impaired lawyers who will get the final say in unraveling all the Gordian knots involving national security, wartime presidential prerogatives, humane but effective treatment of prisoners, terrorism, and democracy. In the meantime, now and in the future we should stick with what we have empirically found to be effective. Skillful interrogation left to professionals, not ill-conceived, panic-driven procedures carried out by skanky personality types that are rightly vilified in cheap horror movies. Even if they wear neckties and regularly lunch with a president who proved all too easy to manipulate.

Be Sociable, Share!