Political analyst Michael Goodwin attacked opponents of the Muskasey nomination for attorney general as taking positions that invariably assist the ideas of terrorists. “The demand is nonsense of the highest order, one that can only undermine the national effort in a time of war. Why should we spell out for our enemies, on TV no less, exactly how far interrogators can go?” Mr. Goodwin believes attacks on Mukasey about the waterboard technique of interrogation “reveals an utter lack of seriousness about the reality of the war.” He believes the real issue is not whether we should use waterboarding but should we be debating and explaining “every jot and title of our interrogation techniques” since we may be dealing with a “ticking bomb” scenario which requires getting tough with terrorists.
Michael Goodwin trots out just about every argument in support of brutalizing those who become prisoners of America. Of course, neither he nor anyone supporting the argument about the “ticking bomb” situation have ever been able to cite such a specific example other than referring to the TV program, 24. During WWII neither British nor American interrogators ever resorted to such techniques and they certainly confronted numerous situations which could resemble the “ticking bomb” scenario. They ordinarily employed creative ways of getting people to talk. At one point in World War II, the Germans threatened to put every British prisoner in chains. Prime Minister Winston Churchill pointed out that German prisoners were being treated decently, but if the Germans employed such methods, the Allies would be compelled to retaliate. The Germans never carried out their threat.
Fundamental to ‘winning” any war in the Middle East is creating a sense that America stands for decency, is honest in its interaction with people, and respects diverse cultures and people. The spread of stories throughout the world about our government’s support for torture has resulted in widespread dislike of the United States. How many young Muslims turned away from feeling a sense of connection to the West because they associate the United States with brutalizing Muslims? The United States has lost the “high ground” in moral debates with their Muslim enemies, and its actions increasingly resemble those of forces we are fighting. The “ticking bomb” analogy is ridiculous. If an enemy agent knew of the “ticking bomb” due to go off in an hour or so, why not simply lie and tell interrogators the wrong location? He would buy time and send the enemy he hates on a wild goose chase. Every study ever made of torture comes to the same conclusion — it is an ineffective method of obtaining information. Recently, a group of WWII interrogators met for a reunion. One told how he obtained important information from a German general during a chess game with him. George Bush is a bully and like all bullies believes might makes right. We Americans are a moral nation, we did not torture during WWII although the threat to our survival was greatly worse than that posed by some gangsters and thugs. What next, Mr. Goodwin, torture anyone with an Italian name in order to find out about the Mafia?