One Man Says No To Harsh Interrogation Techniques – NPR Fresh Air

One Man Says No To Harsh Interrogation Techniques – NPR Fresh Air

Working on a piece about torture, and discovered this interview – an incredibly articulate description about being on the frontlines of interrogating terrorists.  And here’s what he had to say about “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

“DAVIES: You’ve written in the book, and you’ve spoken, about the harm that’s done with enhanced interrogation techniques – you know, harsh techniques like water-boarding and stress positions and sleep deprivation, torture, abuse. And you believe that a lot more information comes when you get to know the detainee. You build trust, and elicit information that way.

There is, of course, those who argue strongly that the particular demands of the war on terror mitigate against that argument, that you need to get tough with people; you can’t be nice to these committed terrorists. I mean, there were, of course, the CIA reports that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed broke down and cooperated after he was water-boarded. Do you put any stock in that story or those arguments?

Mr. ALEXANDER: Well, I won’t be one to tell you that torture never works. I’ve had friends who have given me examples of when torture did work. But I don’t care because to me, this isn’t about efficacy. We have other things that work 100 percent of the time, like chemical weapons and flame-throwers. We don’t use them.

And the reason we don’t use them isn’t an efficacy argument, it’s because it’s against our morality, or because the laws of war have determined that they cause unnecessary human suffering, and we’ve outlawed them. And there’s no exceptions to that.

I think my big disappointment is the shift in priorities – from an America that stands for principles, to an America that stands for security. My oath of office, when I took it as an officer in the United States military, didn’t mention security. It mentioned allegiance and defending the Constitution, which prohibited torture when we ratified the convention against torture – and other provisions within the Constitution.

So to me, I don’t care if torture works 100 percent of the time. I’m not going to use it because it goes against the very principles that I signed up to defend.”

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