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Classification Pathologies:

Majid Khan is a CIA detainee. In meetings with his attorneys, Khan has apparently made allegations concerning his treatment during his detention. Yet such information, even as detailed by Khan himself, is presumptively classified, and his attorneys are apparently barred from relating Khan's claims to Congress. Marty Lederman finds this "absurd," and I am inclined to agree. As Lederman asks, "Even if the classification [of the techniques] were itself valid, can it really be the case that the persons against whom the CIA employed its methods may be prevented from disclosing such historical facts to the public?"

I can see an argument for barring Khan's attorneys from disclosing information that might reveal classified operational details (e.g. how Khan was identified and captured) or sensitive intelligence information (e.g. what Khan told the CIA or learned the CIA knows). The disclosure of such information might compromise national security. Yet at issue here is nothing more than information about how Khan has been treated by the U.S. government — information Khan would almost certainly be able to reveal were he not currently detained and which might help inform the public debate about how detainees are and should be treated. (I recognize that Khan could lie about his treatment, but this risk would hardly seem to justify the prohibition at issue; if he were to lie, the government could dispute his claims.)

The Khan case has disturbing similarities with the Higazy affair. As regular readings of Howard Bashman's How Appealing know, Abdallah Higazy is an Egyptian national who was detained by the FBI and who, in the course of interrogation, made a false confession. (Apparently the FBI's interrogation techniques "worked.") Among other things, Higazy claims that the FBI threatened to identify Higazy's family to Egyptian authorities. Fearing his family could be tortured, Higazy alleges this threat induced him to confess. After his release, Higazy sued and, in an opinion last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that his suit could proceed.

Interestingly enough, the official public version of the Second Circuit's opinion is redacted. Although there is no dispute that Higazy was innocent of any wrongdoing — he's an engineering student, not a terrorist — some of the information concerning Higazy's FBI interrogation was filed under seal. Some of this information was included in the original version of the Second Circuit's opinion, which (as Bashman recounts here) was initially posted on the Second Circuit's website (and later posted on How Appealing). The opinion was later withdrawn in favor of the redacted version, and a court official asked Bashman to remove the opinion from his site, a request Bashman refused.

As in the Khan case, the "secret" material concerns the U.S. government's alleged (mis)treatment of a detainee, not the sort of information for which classification could be justified on national security grounds. (See Patterico's analysis here.) The disclosure of such information could be embarrassing to the U.S. government, to be sure, but that would hardly justify keeping such material classified or barring public disclosure. To the contrary, public policy often explicitly encourages the disclosure of such information by protecting (and sometimes even rewarding) whistleblowers and others who disclose potential government wrongdoing.

I recognize that there is much information that, at least for the time being, needs to be kept secret for national security purposes. There may even be an argument for concealing some details about highly sensitive interrogations (though I am skeptical). Yet I see no reason why the specific allegations about how Khan and Higazy were treated should be kept from the public. There are many reasons to classify information and enforce government secrecy, but fear of embarrassing the government with allegations of misconduct is not one of them.

UPDATE: Several commenters argue that there is a valid basis for keeping the details of interrogation methods secret. I agree with this, though I also believe that there are countervailing interests against which such concerns need to be balanced. There are reasons why we would not want our most feared enemies to know all of our interrogation protocols. At the same time, political accountability requires some amount of disclosure (particularly to Congress).

Note, however, that this is not what is at issue in either the Khan or Higazy incident. In these cases, what is at issue is the disclosure of what actually occurred during interrogation. Set aside the allegations of illegal conduct by the interrogators (though this is clearly relevant), in neither case would disclosure give terrorist operatives a detailed understanding of our interrogation protocols. It is simply implausible that the Khan interrogations, for instance, exhausted the universe of potential authorized approaches, and future detainees would have no assurance that they should only expect (and prepare for) what was done to Khan. For this reason, I do not think that the argument for classifying interrogation techniques establishes the need to keep Khan's (or Higazy's) claims secret.

CDU (mail):
This may be splitting hairs, but from what I've read, the information about Higazy's interrogation was simply filed under seal. Of course, it could be classified as well, but I'd think that if it were, the Second Circuit would have played that card when they were trying to unring the bell after they mistakenly disclosed the information. Overclassification and filing this sort of information under seal may both be symptoms of an underlying secrecy pathology, but they are different mechanisms and I think it's useful to recognize the differences between them (a judge can unseal a sealed filing, for instance).
11.8.2007 12:25am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
CDU --

That's a good point. I certainly recognize the distinction and my post may have glossed over it. Perhaps I should have titled the post "Secrecy Pathologies" instead.

JHA
11.8.2007 12:44am
Todd Doyle (mail) (www):
I think it's terrible that Bush hasn't been impeached yet. Ron Paul for president! If you'd like you can check out my website and get a free gift. http://www.whizkidsecrets.com/2/
11.8.2007 1:09am
Kazinski:
Isn't it up to the Judge what is sealed and/or redacted? If the Government is trying to hide misconduct they should be told no dice, if the judge decides there are real security concerns then he needs to balance the interests involved.

Todd,
I don't want your stinking free gift, whatever it is.
11.8.2007 1:53am
JoeNik:
I disagree. Methods of interrogation deserve to be classified operational details just as much as how Khan was identified and captured. Khan's attorneys have not been prevented by the classification of the details from informing Congress and the public that an allegation of misconduct has been made. If Congress believes them, it can investigate, behind closed doors, without exposing classified information. If Congress then determines that misconduct occurred it can take action including forcing the disclosure of the details of the interrogation.

Yes, public debate is important and is harmed in this case. But the work of the CIA is also important and should not be unduly impeded.
11.8.2007 2:15am
Just a Nut (mail):
I agree with JoeNik. In these matters, the more secrecy the better. Making the torture memos public has already provided fodder to the neo-Nazis, who now have a legitimate claim that whatever the Nazis may have done, they did not torture the millions they are accused of imprisoning and exterminating. After all, making detainees work with little food or freedom is far short of causing organ failure. Many of the emaciated prisoners, who were still alive at the end of the war, eventually lived long lives.
Keeping prisoner treatment and interrogation techniques classified will assist United States control the damage caused by excessive disclosure.
There is no legal authority cited by others to justify why embarrassment to an agency of the US or even to individual agents is not a threat that needs to be countered by classification. Avoiding embarrassment by classifying such information is a valid use of that power. As far as I know, the statute does not provide such an exception nor does the practice in the US and abroad justify such a narrow reading of the law.
To accept a narrow reading of the law is a slippery slope that eventually will lead to interpretations that can only help enemies of the United States.
11.8.2007 4:37am
TokyoTom (mail):
Jon, let`s hope that any Congresscritters brave enough to arrange to hear testimony from Khan`s lawyers also reject that rules of classification applies to information about Khan`s treatment. But one should not expect Khan`s lawyers to argue the point for now, as if they were to do so and be successful they would likely lose access to their clients, and other detainees be similarly affected.

Their letter to the Senators makes it clear that they can, but under conditions that protect the classified information.
11.8.2007 5:45am
Swede:
Beware geeks bearing gifts.
11.8.2007 6:12am
tarheel:

There is no legal authority cited by others to justify why embarrassment to an agency of the US or even to individual agents is not a threat that needs to be countered by classification.

To the contrary, while it's not exactly on point, the Pentagon Papers case basically stands for the proposition that embarrassment to the government is not a valid reason for imposing a prior restraint (i.e. it's not a danger to national security). In fact, I would love to see any legal authority at all for the idea that classification decisions can be motivated by a desire to avoid embarrassment.
11.8.2007 7:24am
cboldt (mail):
-- Keeping prisoner treatment and interrogation techniques classified will assist United States control the damage caused by excessive disclosure. --
.
Well done satire! Be on the lookout for Godwin's law.
11.8.2007 8:03am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Yes, public debate is important and is harmed in this case. But the work of the CIA is also important and should not be unduly impeded.
How is the work of the CIA impeded by revealing this information? Be specific. No vague claims about "sources and methods" or "operational details."

(And no, claims that the CIA will be impeded politically -- that if people knew, they would put a stop to it -- don't count.)

Please don't give the b.s. argument that if others out there knew how they would be treated if they were captured, they could prepare for it. It doesn't pass the laugh test.
11.8.2007 8:16am
AntonK (mail):
You really think that "There may even be an argument for concealing some details about highly sensitive interrogations (though I am skeptical).

In other words, you can't see how the enemy might use familiarity with out interrogation techniques to mitigate the effectiveness of those techniques? Or to put it another way, you think that our forces go through training in being subjected to interrogation techniques just for fun?

Grow up Adler!
11.8.2007 8:25am
Anderson (mail):
AntonK fails the laugh test.
11.8.2007 8:55am
Happyshooter:
Jon:

You are just plain wrong on this issue. Any information given regarding the conditions will be used to prepare other members of the enemy force to resist or to give disinformation.

We are not dealing with a gang that held up a 7/11, we are opposing an organized group of illegal combatants who are trained and supported internationally. They cannot be fought by using the criminal justice system.
11.8.2007 8:59am
Marklar (mail):

In other words, you can't see how the enemy might use familiarity with out interrogation techniques to mitigate the effectiveness of those techniques?


I really can't. There's at least a colorable counterargument that making the "techniques" known will cause folks to sing like canaries before they are necessary. My understanding is that historically, torturers and torture masters have spilled their guts (metaphorically) the moment they were arrested. Their thorough "familiarity" with torture did not "mitigate" the effect of those techniques.

I advised a State Police force for several years. Their investigators could make folks talk. Indeed, they used to talk about some *other* force where the investigators competed in bars to see who could get women to talk about their bra sizes quickest. I can't recall an instance where they could not get people to talk. People want to talk. And from my recollection of the relevant US Army manual on Survival, Evasion and Escape, it explicitly advises servicemen to maintain a strict silence - because, in its words, a skilled interrogator can get the truth out of anyone once they've talked.

Of course, here comes the wingnut rejoinder: those manuals were talking about civilized people like Nazis and Soviet commies, not dirty brown hairy hordes.

Of the many problems with torture, here is another one: inevitably, people who do it will eventually do it for pleasure.

If torture was such a cure all, countries that use those techniques - many - would never have any crime problems. And we know what parables of peace and serenity say, Latin American dictatorships are.
11.8.2007 9:06am
Oren (mail):

Methods of interrogation deserve to be classified operational details.


Then all the interrogators are guilty of revealing classified information to unauthorized persons.


In other words, you can't see how the enemy might use familiarity with out interrogation techniques to mitigate the effectiveness of those techniques?


Absolutely. Due to the current publicity about waterboarding, it's highly likely that Al Qaeda operatives are working very hard to evolve gills, thus completely negating the effect. Whether or not the War on Terror will be over at that point remains to be seen. . .
11.8.2007 9:13am
Ken Arromdee:
Any information given regarding the conditions will be used to prepare other members of the enemy force to resist or to give disinformation.

For that to work, it would also have to prevent actual terrorists from providing the information to other actual terrorists. I think it's pretty fair to say that we don't even try to keep that from happening, and there isn't really much we can do to prevent it anyway.
11.8.2007 9:17am
Oren (mail):

You are just plain wrong on this issue. Any information given regarding the conditions will be used to prepare other members of the enemy force to resist or to give disinformation.


If our interrogators are so inflexible (read: stupid) that they cannot change their strategies to exploit the particular situation then we are seriously *****ed. Good interrogators are capable of thinking on their feet.
11.8.2007 9:18am
loki13 (mail):

We are not dealing with a gang that held up a 7/11, we are opposing an organized group of illegal combatants who are trained and supported internationally. They cannot be fought by using the criminal justice system.


We are fighting the Legion of Doom? I just thought it was Al-Q.... Someone, quick, call the Justice League of America! No regular criminal justice system can handle this existential threat. We need Torture, Justice, and the American Way to Prevail.
11.8.2007 9:35am
Anderson (mail):
Silly Inquisition! They began by displaying the instruments of torture to the victim (which led to a confession in a great many cases, no further acts needed).

Didn't they know they were revealing the secret interrogation information and thus allowing the victims to prepare themselves against the rack, the pincers, etc.?

Also, on the Torture Fans' logic, we CAN'T EVER RELEASE ANYONE WE INTERROGATE ... whether he's innocent or guilty ... because he might release the details of his interrogation.

I suspect the Torture Fans are all right with that, but god knows I'm not.
11.8.2007 10:01am
Houston Lawyer:
If you are being interrogated and you know the limits that apply to your interrogators, you have an advantage. If you do not know the limits, you are at a disadvantage.

I see good reason therefore for classification of interrogation techniques. This should not prevent Congress from investigating what is going on and acting legislatively if they think it is proper.
11.8.2007 10:24am
wm13:
Then, Marklar, it's a shame that the IRS, SEC, etc. employ all those accountants, lawyers, investigators etc. Obviously, if people "want" to talk, all you have to do is sit down with an Ivan Boesky or an Enron executive, and he tells all.

No doubt, criminal low-lifes who don't have the self-control to get or hold a job often talk. Obviously women trying to pick up men in bars can be induced to talk about their breasts. None of that has any relevance to, say people engaged in insider trading or tax evasion, much less to dedicated, ideologically-motivated terrorists.
11.8.2007 10:25am
Zathras (mail):
Marty Lederman has some interesting thoughts on these issues here.
11.8.2007 10:28am
U.Va. 3L:
Someone, quick, call the Justice League of America!

Or the New Age Outlaws. If I remember my late-90s WWF correctly, LOD never could beat them...
11.8.2007 10:29am
Dan Hamilton:

Silly Inquisition! They began by displaying the instruments of torture to the victim (which led to a confession in a great many cases, no further acts needed).

Didn't they know they were revealing the secret interrogation information and thus allowing the victims to prepare themselves against the rack, the pincers, etc.?


The people knew that the Silly Inquisition would actually USE the instruments so they broke.

The terrorists know that WE will not! Training to resist interrogation techniques is valid and done by our military and by the terrorists. The more the terrorists know about out techniques the better their trainning and the more they can resist. To think otherwise is foolish.

You cannot have it both ways. Either our people can't use torture in which case training to resist the interrogation works or they can use torture so it doesn't matter if the terrorists know the techniques.

You cannot argue that it is OK to let the terrorists know the techniques because they cannot train to resist them. Not if you want to be taken seriously. The arguement doesn't pass the laugh test.
11.8.2007 10:36am
Marklar (mail):

No doubt, criminal low-lifes who don't have the self-control to get or hold a job often talk.


I was quoting a field manual.

But if you have any police or investigative experience at all, you should know that people are often bursting to talk. Their motivations - fear, envy, pride, lust - may differ, but a moderately competent interrogator can determine those relatively quickly.

An Israeli (those notories softies) police officer recently told a colloquim I attended that his best tool for interrogation had been offering "a cigarette and a sympathetic ear."

Will it work invariably? No. The issue then is, will the marginal benefit gained by torture offset the marginal costs we inflict on ourselves? What about the (frequent) tendency to torture the wrong person? Or torturing folks for fun?

If you had a genuine Jack Bauer type situation, it would be one thing. But I'm not sure there's been a single instance since 9/11 of a clear cut case like that. But there have been plenty of documented instances of abusive use of torture by frustrated questioners. For example, Iraqi Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush (incidentally, clearly covered by the Geneva Conventions as an officer of an enemy force) was beaten to death.

Once you start down that slope, there's no turning back. Better not to start. We've given up enough as it is for the illusion of safety.
11.8.2007 10:42am
Marklar (mail):

You cannot have it both ways. Either our people can't use torture in which case training to resist the interrogation works or they can use torture so it doesn't matter if the terrorists know the techniques.



You're changing the premise to set up a straw man argument that no one made. Our point was that IF you can "train" to resist torture by "familiarity" THEN torturers would never break. After all, many of them enjoy long ignominous careers torturing. But they're historically the first ones to crumple. Thats why your "training" argument doesnt pass the laugh test.
11.8.2007 10:48am
Shawn Michaels:

Or the New Age Outlaws. If I remember my late-90s WWF correctly, LOD never could beat them...



Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. Degeneration X proudly brings to you its WWF tag team champions of the world! The Road Dog Jesse James! The Bad Ass Billy Gunn! The New Age Outlaws!
11.8.2007 10:55am
one of many:
Not certain which inquisition you are talking about, the historical inquisition never acted that way. While logically it might be taken to mean that no one who is ever tortured can be released, it also means intelligence can never release any intelligence information (which the recipients might release), grand juries can never finish with witnesses in sealed indictments (who might reveal information which unseals the indictment) and so on. The logic fails because instead of dealing with those who have given up their rights to communicate classified information (the lawyers in this case) it depends upon people who are under no obligation not to reveal classified information. Long standing principal, only those who willing give up the right to reveal classified information can be prevented from revealing the information (remember the pentagon papers?).
11.8.2007 11:26am
Anderson (mail):
You cannot have it both ways. Either our people can't use torture in which case training to resist the interrogation works or they can use torture so it doesn't matter if the terrorists know the techniques.

Says you. Professional interrogators think otherwise.

Standard rapport-building techniques play upon the prisoner's loneliness, ego, whatever emotion drives him, to make him open up to the interrogator. That's how the Nazis' best interrogator worked. That's how we interrogated Japanese prisoners in WW2. That's how we got results with Zubaydah, before the torturers took over. That's how real interrogators do their job.
11.8.2007 11:27am
Kevin Lynch (mail):
Yet such information, even as detailed by Khan himself, is presumptively classified, and his attorneys are apparently barred from relating Khan's claims to Congress.

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm confused about this sentence. Doesn't Congress has essentially unlimited investigatory powers when it comes to crafting legislation? And don't they have essentially unlimited power to compel testimony and grant immunity for such testimony? So how is the law against revealing classified information to the public a bar against Congress getting the information it wants? I would tend to assume that Congress could get what it claims it wants in this case, but that they see it as better politics to wring their hands and claim they are powerless than to actually get to the bottom of the issue. Or am I not understanding something?
11.8.2007 11:27am
one of many:
You're changing the premise to set up a straw man argument that no one made. Our point was that IF you can "train" to resist torture by "familiarity" THEN torturers would never break. After all, many of them enjoy long ignominous careers torturing. But they're historically the first ones to crumple. Thats why your "training" argument doesnt pass the laugh test.


Not certain about the logic here. Are you saying that all people trained in using torture are also trained to resist torture? I'm not certain how you can conclude that. If this works can police save money on bulletproof vests by becoming more proficent in firearms, I mean as they become more familiar with shooting firearms they should also become more proficient in resisting being shot by firearms.

I am also not sure about the factual basis for the claim, how ooften are torturers threatened with torture? If it is true that torturers "crack" more easily is it corellative or causitive - I don't know any torturers personally but I expect that if one were a professional in the field one would have to create a rationalization justifying the action, and my experience is that those who create these type of rationalizations are eager to justify thier actions to others (confess).
11.8.2007 11:38am
Kazinski:
Anderson, Marklar,

While I agree with you that the Government should not be able to hide lawbreaking and/or misconduct behind a national security wall, absent extrordinary circumstances, I think it is a no-brainer that disclosure of interrogation techniques can make them less effective.

But I don't think that is a problem in this case, if the techniques used in this case are illegal then they shouldn't be used in the future and there is no point in keeping them classified. If they are legal then Khan doesn't have much of a case and there isn't any overriding public good in disclosing lawful techniques that could be rendered ineffective.

Our military has waterboarded thousands of soldiers in order to make it less effective in interrogating our troops. If knowledge and experience didn't make it easier to resist why would they go to all that time and effort?
11.8.2007 11:58am
David M. Nieporent (www):
You cannot argue that it is OK to let the terrorists know the techniques because they cannot train to resist them. Not if you want to be taken seriously. The arguement doesn't pass the laugh test.
Either they cannot train to resist interrogation, in which case it doesn't hurt for them to have this information -- or they can train to resist interrogation, in which case they'll train to resist interrogation, in which case it doesn't hurt for them to have this information.

The effectiveness of torture/interrogation does not depend on the subject not knowing about it. (Anybody who's watched TV knows good cop/bad cop; do you think that means it doesn't work?)
11.8.2007 1:14pm
Brian K (mail):
Our military has waterboarded thousands of soldiers in order to make it less effective in interrogating our troops. If knowledge and experience didn't make it easier to resist why would they go to all that time and effort?

That's a silly argument. basically you're saying that it works because they did it. so the government/military has never done anything that didn't work? ever? by your logic every single government policy has worked otherwise "why would they go to all that time and effort?"
11.8.2007 1:26pm
David M (mail) (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/08/2007 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
11.8.2007 1:30pm
Mike Keenan:

Although there is no dispute that Higazy was innocent of any wrongdoing — he's an engineering student, not a terrorist — some of the information concerning Higazy's FBI interrogation was filed under seal.


It certainly seems that Higazy is innocent, but this sentence is absurb. Engineering students can obviously be terrorists -- and damn effective ones at that.
11.8.2007 1:35pm
Chris Bell (mail):

I agree with JoeNik. In these matters, the more secrecy the better. Making the torture memos public has already provided fodder to the neo-Nazis, who now have a legitimate claim that whatever the Nazis may have done, they did not torture the millions they are accused of imprisoning and exterminating.

Wait. We should keep this stuff secret because if the truth comes out it makes the Nazis look good by comparison?

Poe's Law says that it's impossible to tell the difference between a religious nut and someone being incredibly sarcastic. I feel like some version of that may be at work here....
11.8.2007 2:10pm
Happyshooter:
It certainly seems that Higazy is innocent, but this sentence is absurb. Engineering students can obviously be terrorists -- and damn effective ones at that.

This is a fairly common debate mis-statement used by the left in public statements.

The classic version is 'The police didn't have to shoot that child, he was turning his life around and going to go to colege.'

A personal favorite of mine was the local democratic newspaper ran an article last week about a middle school football game shooting. The shooter was black and the paper is on a kick to downplay minority violence in the area.

The facts were that the highschool age shooter was in a local gang, saw some rival members at the game, grabbed his sawed off rifle out from under his coat and blasted in the direction of the rivals. Several people in the crowd were hit.

The newspaper, not joking, ran that the shooting was not his fault because he was a good student---the local high school only has one third of the students pass the state assessment testing each year and he was one of the passers.
11.8.2007 2:18pm
Anderson (mail):
Not certain which inquisition you are talking about, the historical inquisition never acted that way.

If you mean "showing the instruments," you're mistaken; but perhaps my comment was unclear and gave the impression that the "Torture Fans' argument" would imply that no interrogated person could ever be release. Of course, the Inquisition released plenty of people -- silly them, without the wise counsel of the Torture Fans.
11.8.2007 5:12pm
Bart (mail):

UPDATE: Several commenters argue that there is a valid basis for keeping the details of interrogation methods secret. I agree with this, though I also believe that there are countervailing interests against which such concerns need to be balanced. There are reasons why we would not want our most feared enemies to know all of our interrogation protocols. At the same time, political accountability requires some amount of disclosure (particularly to Congress).

Note, however, that this is not what is at issue in either the Khan or Higazy incident. In these cases, what is at issue is the disclosure of what actually occurred during interrogation. Set aside the allegations of illegal conduct by the interrogators (though this is clearly relevant), in neither case would disclosure give terrorist operatives a detailed understanding of our interrogation protocols. It is simply implausible that the Khan interrogations, for instance, exhausted the universe of potential authorized approaches, and future detainees would have no assurance that they should only expect (and prepare for) what was done to Khan. For this reason, I do not think that the argument for classifying interrogation techniques establishes the need to keep Khan's (or Higazy's) claims secret.

How can a true and correct disclosure of how Khan was interrogated not reveal our interrogation protocols to the enemy?

To claim that such a disclosure is not a revelation because it does not reveal all of out interrogation protocols is like saying that Aldrich Ames was not really a spy because he did not give the Soviets all of the CIA's classified materials.

On the other hand, if Khan lies about being tortured, which is SOP for al Qaeda and the more likely outcome, then we are simply providing the enemy with propaganda which will disinform rather than inform the debate.

If Congress wants to investigate the Khan interrogation, then the Intelligence Committees can request Khan's partially classified statement given to the combatant status tribunal and take testimony from the CIA interrogators in closed session.
11.8.2007 9:01pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
How can a true and correct disclosure of how Khan was interrogated not reveal our interrogation protocols to the enemy?

To claim that such a disclosure is not a revelation because it does not reveal all of out interrogation protocols is like saying that Aldrich Ames was not really a spy because he did not give the Soviets all of the CIA's classified materials.
No, it isn't actually like that at all, because you completely ignore the claim being rebutted by the argument you quote. The claim is that if Khan tells what happened to him, then our enemies will know the limits of how far we'll go. But that's wrong. If Khan says that X happened to him, future detainees won't know that we won't go to X+1 with them. Or that we won't do Y, Z, and W to them.
And can we stop dressing up our statements with silly jargon like interrogation "protocols"? Only bureaucrats trying to obfuscate use terms like that.
11.8.2007 10:04pm
one of many:
Thanks Anderson, it has been a while since I've had occasion to read Lodge. While an interesting fellow and apparently a brillant physicist, he was also very much a product of his time and place. Not as out there as Crowley (well maybe) but hardly to be considered an authoritative historian.

The 5 steps of the inquisition he refers to bring to mind the mid-18th century anti-Catholic English historys which are pretty ahistoric. There are several good histories of the inquisition out there, some quite recent (and from non-Catholics too, so don't consider them a whitewash) which use the extensive documents created by the inquisition to describe it. One of the problems with historical research is that while a 16th century anti-catholic tract (of which there were many) may be a historical document, what it documents is anti-catholocism not catholocism, however people in the 18th &19th centuries used them as historical documents about the Catholic church (in Britain mostly) and present some fairly ahistorical facts as history.

I should have realized that the concept of the unreliablity of many historical "facts" dealing with the Catholic Church in English histories is not general knowledge. (Really I should have, I asked 6 rather intelligent and well educated people about it over diner and only one had a vague recollection of it. Anyone here know what a catspaw is?) It is an intersting phenomena to some people and a more modern similar event can be found in Holocaust Denial and Iran, I imagine without some upheaval in 50 years Farsi history texts will be completely unreliable on Judaism (haven't read any but many say they are now) and 100 years later otherwise reliable Farsi historians will believe the most ahisorical facts to be well documented truths. There are several other areas where history has become an echo chamber like this and only historians who try to get as close to the original sources should be trusted. As for the inquisition, after WWII the British historians had compared their history enough with the history of the rest of Europe to notice the discrepancies so the better sources can be trusted / anything by a Cathoilic can be suspected of being a whitewash - look for a non-Catholic post WWII source who uses documentation from the records of the Inquisition.

As for the logic and the torture fan argument, you are engagining a flse dilemma. Merely because revelation of interogation techniques may be part of the reasoning used to justify classifying information about those techniques, it does not necessarly provide sole justification for indefinite detention of persons.
11.9.2007 1:03am
Bart (mail):
David M. Nieporent (www):


BD: How can a true and correct disclosure of how Khan was interrogated not reveal our interrogation protocols to the enemy? To claim that such a disclosure is not a revelation because it does not reveal all of out interrogation protocols is like saying that Aldrich Ames was not really a spy because he did not give the Soviets all of the CIA's classified materials.

No, it isn't actually like that at all, because you completely ignore the claim being rebutted by the argument you quote. The claim is that if Khan tells what happened to him, then our enemies will know the limits of how far we'll go. But that's wrong. If Khan says that X happened to him, future detainees won't know that we won't go to X+1 with them. Or that we won't do Y, Z, and W to them.

Intelligence is based on partial disclosures. While the Enemy may not know that the CIA will go to X+1 unless the NYT provides them the information, al Qaeda will know that we will perform A through X. That is an A through x too far.
11.9.2007 11:32am
David M. Nieporent (www):
al Qaeda will know that we will perform A through X.
So what?
11.9.2007 3:15pm
NickM (mail) (www):
There are tactics that you can train to resist - sleep deprivation (which I don't consider torture) comes to mind. I'm not saying that we do this, but drugging certain products (cigarettes, for example) that a detainee might be offered and use with a "truth serum" is another where disclosure of the tactic might negate its effectiveness. If the tactic were only used on detainees who were expected to be detained for the rest of their lives (i.e., unlawful combatants who had committed serious war crimes), there wouldn't be much risk of them revealing the tactic on release.
I see no justification from the material being classified as against Congress though.

Nick
11.9.2007 4:32pm