Harsh Methods of Torture Not Always Necessary for Interrogating Terrorists

E-mail Col. Hunt

We have the latest bombshell, or turd in the punch bowl, depending on your point of view: the intelligence community has destroyed tapes of our guys using “harsh” questioning techniques on terrorists.

OK, now listen: CAN WE FIRST STOP TAPING our guys doing things? Do we not get that if you tape it CHANCES ARE IT WILL APPEAR ON TELEVISION AND THE INTERNET?

How stupid can we be? I will answer that. VERY.

However, the debate should not be about the destruction of the tapes; clearly, that is massively stupid and wrong. The debate we should be having is whether, as a nation, use should even be using torture methods. And, let me say this upfront: Waterboarding is 100 percent torture.

What happened is that the intelligence community — and by community, I mean the damn horde, a huge city of 22 separate, competing, overlapping, not doing their jobs, intelligence agencies — panicked over the revelations of Abu Grahib.

So, one of the 22 national intelligence agencies — in this case, the CIA — decided to destroy all evidence of the way they successfully interrogated two very bad men. I say successfully because we are told that the terrorists that were “tortured” gave up information that saved lives.

I think the question this week and for many weeks to come is: should we, as a nation, use torture for any reason? Niccolò Machiavelli wrote something I really wish I had, but it fits this argument: “Good men bent on doing good must learn how to be bad.”

Torture is abhorrent. It is dehumanizing to all involved. The very idea of torture is to cause so much pain that the person you are torturing thinks they are going to die.

Torture does not work all the time, and, when it does, you really have to verify what you learn, since most will say anything to stop the pain. Oh, and yes, sometimes those being tortured do tell the truth.

So what are we going to do? Some argue that if we torture, we are no better than the terrorist. I would argue that sometimes we should not be. Sometimes we have to crawl into the cave to kill the bad guy. Remember, “good men bent on doing good must learn how to be bad.”

However, our government must protect those who are protecting us. We should not be destroying tapes. We should be in the business of protecting our soldiers and intelligence personal that are on the frontlines, making critical decisions — the hard ugly decisions most of us do not want to make. Those who do these things for us are not paid a hell of a lot. They are not rewarded often and they spend years away from their families and the country they protect. Those who do the noble but ugly business of going to war cannot be left hanging in some legal limbo.

So, our government must have the discussion and decide whether this country will use torture or not. I hope we use this terrible tool only as a last resort. I hope we have the guts to back our people up and to carry this fight to the enemy. However, we must decide so that our own government stops burning tapes. We are for sure better than that.

We are in war with murderers, protected by countries who are not burdened with our ethics and beliefs. We have to decide how we really want to fight them. To date, we have not, and we all have witnessed, and our soldiers have experienced first hand, the result of what happens when you fight with one hand tied behind our back. We, as a nation, have to wake up and fight. We have to decide what kind of a nation we are going to be … and, whether it’s really worth fighting for.

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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.