Terrorism, Interegation, & Security

Looking a little deeper into possibly why McCain has reacted like he has and you’ll find a press briefing a few weeks ago about tortue.

In the 6 October 2005 Pentagon briefing, an interesting exchange took place between Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Lawrence Di Rita, and the press. What Mr. Di Rita adroitly avoids is a) the lack of training our interegators have received, b) disregard for field manuals (suggested processes), c) best practices, and d) UCMJ in ordinary or extra-ordinary circumstances.

It is clear the Administration fails to see cause and effect and fails to understand documented superior methods of interegation. True, there are times at which it is no holds barred, but for most of the time, seconds or minutes do not matter. For Mr. Di Rita, there is no distinguishing on these points.

The full transcript is available, but below is the best part of this exchange.

Q Larry, Senator McCain, as you know, has been proposing this legislation that would formalize the Army’s field manual on interrogation.

MR. DIRITA: Mm-hmm.

Q The administration’s position seems to be — and correct me if I misunderstand it — that doing that would tie your hands, would limit to too much of a degree the capability of interrogators to be able to extract information out of people. Is that a correct description of what the administration’s position is?

MR. DIRITA: The administration has issued a statement of policy with respect to amendments like this in which we’ve expressed our opposition to such amendments, anything that would interfere with the president’s ability to protect Americans from terrorism and divert resources from the war to focus on a lot of administrative requirements. For example, one of the things we wonder about is if field manuals started being imposed in statute, how does one address changes to the field manual? And I know that the members think that there may be an easy way to do that. But they’re complicated questions, and we don’t want to — it’s difficult to envision how you would go about conducting — discharging the responsibilities of the department when regulations start becoming statutory.
But nonetheless, the administration has issued a statement of policy that the president’s advisers would recommend a veto if there are any of these kind[s] of amendments that would restrict the president’s flexibility in defending the United States against terrorism. This has turned out to be an extraordinarily clever adversary, one which is trained in the use of our doctrine and field manuals, one which is trained in the — in how to make astounding allegations that get a lot of media attention. And we’ve had to apply the same kind of careful but nonetheless innovative and aggressive types of approaches to interrogating, in some cases. And it’s been done with due respect for the principles that the president established at the very beginning of this conflict. So the administration’s position remains what it is, which is that the president’s advisors would recommend a veto.

Q Larry —

Q Can you put — hang on. I wanted to actually get to the question there. The — can you tell me what flexibility? Like can you give me an example of something that if this were law tomorrow, that you wouldn’t be able to do tomorrow that you can do today? Like if this were — what —

MR. DIRITA: I don’t want to get into hypotheticals, but what we do know is that we are facing a ruthless adversary that is trained in our techniques, knows what our techniques are. The field manuals are posted on the Internet. And they’ve gone to school on that kind of stuff.
So to say that we can impose, with our wisdom, in the laws of the United States the answer to how an individual interrogator’s going to have to, with an enormous amount of supervision and professional training — is going to have to develop a procedure to interrogate, for example, the 20th hijacker, and that in all the wisdom of the — of Washington, D. C., we’re going to be able to encode in statute the way to handle that — it strikes me as wishful thinking. So that’s the position that we have.

[emphasis mine]

Striking to me is the "trained in our techniques, knows what our techniques are" comment. Is the assumption or proven fact that all of the "ruthless adversary", not just the cowards or tag-alongs or opportunists, are trained and will not break except with extreme pain? Religious idealogues are apparently much tougher than political idealogues.

Also surprising is the assumption, proven wrong in Iraq, the interrogator will have "an enormous amount of supervision and professional training".

Posted in War