Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The oldest lesson of intelligence: torture doesn't work

From an article by Peter Taylor of the BBC, we can (a) understand the terrorist mindset Mr Abbas makes no secret of what he taught at Camp Hudabiya, which evolved from a clearing in the jungle to become, in his words, a fully-fledged military academy. ... Did he train people to kill? His reply gave a hint of why he eventually underwent such a remarkable transformation. "I train people for war, for battle," he said. "We are killing for defence. We are fighting for our right. And we are not attacking civilians but soldiers." According to Mr Abbas' philosophy of jihad, it is acceptable to fight and kill foreign forces occupying Muslim countries like the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Americans in Iraq or the Philippine army occupying ancestral Muslim lands in Mindanao, but killing innocent civilians - men, women and children - is forbidden. and (b) understand what changes a terrorist's mind: This is the philosophy of modern violent jihad outlined by Palestinian Abdullah Azzam, acknowledged to be the "father" of modern violent jihad. With this distinction in mind, the 2002 Bali bombings in which 202 civilians died, made Mr Abbas think again about the organisation to which he had belonged for almost a decade. When he discovered that his former students, whom he had trained in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, were responsible, he was deeply shocked. "I feel sorry, I feel sin," he said, "because they used the knowledge to kill civilians, to kill innocent people." It was only when he was arrested six months later in April 2003, that Mr Abbas finally decided to put his past behind him. As he was taken off for interrogation, he feared the worst. "I believed that the police were very cruel and used torture to get their answers," he said. But Mr Abbas was in for a surprise. He was treated with civility and Muslim respect. He was also surprised that so much was known about him and was puzzled as to how his interrogators knew. He was arrested one evening and kept silent until the following morning. Then he decided to talk and help the police, because he thought it was God's will. He said he felt "responsible, in front of God, to stop all these bad deeds." From that point on, Mr Abbas tried to persuade his former comrades that their interpretation of the Koran was wrong. He urges them to "return to the right path of Islamic teaching." But he did much more than that. He actively assisted the police in tracking down and arresting some of his former comrades and felt no guilt in doing so. Torture doesn't work. Everyone knows it. What works is convincing people they chose the wrong side. When you torture people, you convince them they chose the right side.
Some would argue it depends on your goals.

Torture's Dirty Secret: It Works

I have utmopst respect for Klien, but even as a tool of social terror, it seems to me that torture wouldn't work. For long.
Did it serve to prevent the rising in the Warsaw ghetto? Did it break the French Resistance? Did it preserve France's hold on Algeria, or the American hold on Vietnam?

So, I agree with you. It works as a tool of social control only for a time. And then people start realizing that losing one's self respect is worse than losing one's limbs, one's genitals, one's life, or even one's mind.
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