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March 11, 2008



And THIS is being posted at Comment Is Free? Oliver, why do you do this to yourself?

David Duff

"Torture is wrong and does not work."

On the first clause I can make no useful comment being possessed, myself, of decidely dodgy morals, however, the second is wrong as a matter of historical fact. Torture works exceedingly well as any study of German counter-intelligence operations both in their Fatherland and in NW Europe during WWII will attest, showing as they do, network after network being rolled up. I recommend "The Red Orchestra: The Soviet Spy Network Inside Nazi Europe" by V. E. Tarrent published by Cassell Military Classics as a very good primer on the efficacy of torture.

I repeat, the morality of it is another question, as is the definition of 'torture' as opposed to 'harsh treatment'.

David Duff

And 'decidedly' dodgy spelling, too!


Could you provide some more explanation? Does your support for rendition still stand if it is done through US allies in Europe and without their knowledge?


This rather hefty document from the American Defence Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon looks into the effectiveness of torture.


This Washington Post article provides a summary:

There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community's use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism, and experts believe some painful and coercive approaches could hinder the ability to get good information, according to a new report from an intelligence advisory group.

The 374-page report from the Intelligence Science Board examines several aspects of broad interrogation methods and approaches, and it finds that no significant scientific research has been conducted in more than four decades about the effectiveness of many techniques the U.S. military and intelligence groups use regularly. Intelligence experts wrote that a lack of research could explain why abuse has been alleged at U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq.

Washington Post article


Hmmmm, failed to provide the link. Here it is, but I'm afraid it won't fit:


In the event of my failure, google "Interrogation Research Is Lacking, Report Says" and it's the first link.


"Rendition does not mean torture."

A ferry is not a brewery. There is therefore no such thing as a "booze cruise".

Conor Foley

I compared this to Nick Cohen's 'torture piece' at CiF, but, thinking about it, I am more struck by the similarities with Neil Clark's Iraqi translators article.

David Duff

After a quick glance at what looks like a fascinating document kindly linked by SteveF, I conducted a brief thought experiment with myself. Suppose, I said to myself, that that report was TOP SECRET and I had the 21 principal advisers who wrote it in my hands for one week. I reckon I would have all the details, and confirmation of them, within three days. I would use methods in which I was trained in the '60s and thus none of my 'prisoners' would be touched apart from moving them from place to place. Nothing that I did to them would have any lasting effects.

However, were I to be granted the use of a blow-torch, I would have the entire report within three hours, not three days.


If a person reasonably suspected of terrorism by country 'A' is in country 'B' where he is protected (either by a sympathetic government or by legal obstructionism) then I can certainly see why country A is entitled to circumvent B's due processes and simply grab the suspect.

I can't see how country B can be entitled to ditch their own legal system in order to get rid of the suspect.


Mr. Foley,

I don't happen to agree with Mr. Kamm on this one; but if you don't mind me asking, does it ever get cold up there on the moral high ground?


If a person reasonably suspected of terrorism by country 'A' is in country 'B' where he is protected (either by a sympathetic government or by legal obstructionism) then I can certainly see why country A is entitled to circumvent B's due processes and simply grab the suspect

How are we to know that the suspicions are 'reasonable' if the evidence supporting those suspicions is not tested? How are we to know that 'legal obstructionism' is not adherence to proper legal principles? If certan citizens of Bhopal feel that the US and Indian states' unwillingness to extradite Union Carbide executives is obstructionism does that mean that they have the right to kidnap them and bring them to India on their own account?

By the by, could Mr Kamm supply a reference to his claim that the European Court of Human Rights 'specifically ruled' that rendition of Carlos the Jackal was not illegal. On searching the court records for myself I could find only one case, relating to his continual solitary confinement in jail, which he duly lost.

William J Spring

Dear Oliver Kamm, I have only heard of you before in a sort of distant fashion, as I wd have heard of Dr Goebbels. And you do sound like him. The final and absolute proof that the neo cons represent fascism in its latest most abhorrent manifestation is yours and President Bush's endorsement of torture. You are veritably the Beast of Belsen come alive to haunt us all. William J Spring

Oliver Kamm

HarryTheHorse (probably not your real name): the reference is to Illich Sanchez Ramirez v France, Application No. 28780/95, Commission Decision of 24 June 1996. You're looking at a separate case that "Carlos" brought four years later, which is why you're confused.

Mr Spring, my readers may wish to judge your thought-provoking observations alongside the information that you are an adulator of the fortunately deceased Slobodan Milosevic and that your life was transformed by a mystical experience in Crouch End in 1978.

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