Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Besides the obvious Bushie torture-lust, I think what strikes me most about this New York Times story is -- once again -- the defiant rejection by the administration of the idea that things should done by people who actually have a clue how to do them:

As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.

The psychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects.

... some of the experts involved in the interrogation review, called "Educing Information," say that during World War II, German and Japanese prisoners were effectively questioned without coercion.

"It far outclassed what we've done," said Steven M. Kleinman, a former Air Force interrogator and trainer, who has studied the World War II program of interrogating Germans. The questioners at Fort Hunt, Va., "had graduate degrees in law and philosophy, spoke the language flawlessly," and prepared for four to six hours for each hour of questioning, said Mr. Kleinman, who wrote two chapters for the December report.

Mr. Kleinman, who worked as an interrogator in Iraq in 2003, called the post-Sept. 11 efforts "amateurish" by comparison to the World War II program, with inexperienced interrogators who worked through interpreters and had little familiarity with the prisoners' culture....

We see this over and over again with these people: Brownie. Monica Goodling. The Konservative Kidz at the Coalition Provisional Authority. Anti-abortion zealot Ellen Sauerbrey overseeing the resettlement (or lack thereof) of Iraqi refugees in America. And, of course, the rejection of pre-9/11 intelligence warnings about Al-Qaeda, and, later, the rejection of General Shinseki's warnings on troop strength for the Iraq invasion and of multiple calls for adequate planning for postwar turbulence.

I'm dreading what I fear will be yet another GOP presidency after the '08 elections, but from what I know about them, I really don't think President Giuliani or President McCain or President Romney or President Thompson will despise knowledgeable people the way this president does. It would hard to top or even equal him in any case. The Democrats, of course, actually like people who know something about the work they're expected to do; in a rational country, after this presidency, that would be a selling point.

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