Whisper, whisper....

Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I'd be interested to hear what the Yargbian gang, and our small but intrepid collection of commenters, thinks about the CIA holding Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons.

My initial reaction (which surely deserves at least some level of reconsideration if only momentarily) is that outta sight, outta mind, and outta earshot from their tortured wails (or more likely ideological harangues) is fine by me.


chuck said...

I would like to have confidence that the CIA isn't putting these folks on the rack or pulling out their nails like progressive regimes do. Since such things are likely to surface in the safety of secrecy this is the best argument I can make against the practice. So... What purpose is served by secret prisons that couldn't be served by ordinary prisons? Do we need to run the risk of abuse? Is the CIA keeping folks out of sight in order to get away with stuff?

Hmmm... I think the risks outweigh the benefits. Even now I can't make a judgement on what is actually going on because, well, because it is secret. So I can only judge it on the well known tendency of such programs to expand and exceed their original scope. Who is to say that American citizens overseas might not just "disappear". No, I think we need to judge this as an institution likely to get out of hand and lead to abuse. Especially if Gingrich is right and this is a long war to fought philosophically as well as militarily. So I think we should dismantle the prisons.

RogerA said...

I am not one who thinks the government should do this sort of thing--Not being a lawyer, I do NOT believe that terrorist suspects who are not US citizens should enjoy our panoply of civil rights; nonetheless, we do have facilities for holding people such as this: Guantanamo. I would rather take my chances holding them in a facility like that than in a secret location.

Now--another issue--which CIA puke leaked this to the WaPo? The quicker Porter Goss fires all those sorry bastards, the better this nation will be--we have a rogue agency working actively to subvert the war on terror. And further evidence that it was the CIA that did the plamegate crap.

There are genuinely decent and patriotic americans who work for the CIA--probably most of them--But someone should think about sanitizing Langeley .

flenser said...

The real question here is who leaked this classified information, and when a prosocuter will be appointed to investigate it.

I look forward to all those on the left joining me in calling for this matter to be fully investigated, since the leaking of classified information damages our national security.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

chuck is right: I'm agin it.

Rick Ballard said...


There is no allegation of torture pertaining to these sites within the article. There are allegations by released prisoners to "torture" at other sites and at an earlier time but nothing concerning these detainees.

There are very justifiable 'black' detentions of terrorists. Not knowing whether someone is dead or alive disrupts plans that were known to or dependent upon the terrorist in custody. I have no problem with these detentions nor would I have a problem with the terrorists being tried by military tribunals and hanged if found guilty.


This stinks of a tie in to the Fitzgerlad indictments - which I believe were to have included Rove. There is also some sort of article pending concerning the forged Niger docs that has come apart in the past week. La Repubblica has a couple of crackpot journos of the Sydney Blumenthal nature that are almost in tears over the Italian government's total destruction of their fantasy. Berlusconi specifically denied their allegations Monday. Josh Marshal has been touting the "coming attraction" in his usual breathless way.

This is also (IMO) tied to Dirty Harry's snit in the Senate yesterday. It was all supposed to come together in one big week long dirt and stink bomb that would kick off the '06 campaign for the dimwitted Dems.

The more I look at the past month, the more I believe that we've just seen a truly great Lucy and the football play by Rove & c. Mrs. Miers has my sincere gratitude for her part in this.

chuck said...

There is no allegation of torture pertaining to these sites within the article.

I realize that, Rick. But there will be, allegations that is. And if the facilities remain black long enough it is a question of when, not if, torture occurs. It is just human nature and we Americans are not above it. When I look at the Bill of Rights I am always amazed at the ability of the articles to pinpoint areas of potential abuse. Truly prescient, they were, but then they were in reaction to the long schooling of history in the ways of the tyranny, of which secrecy has always been one of the main props. That is why the CIA is so hedged about with congressional oversight. The CIA is arguably necessary, but we should be as alive to potential abuses as the Virginians were. And again, I ask if these facilities serve a purpose that could not be served as well by more public facilities. The risk to morale -- American morale -- just isn't worth it in my book.

Looking over what I have written, I ask: *is* the CIA necessary? Military intelligence serves for the battlefield, the NSA for signals intelligence, the FBI domestically. Is the CIA so generally incompetent and leak ridden that it should simply be abolished and replaced by a smaller and leaner branch of the National Security Council?

terrye said...

How do we even know if this is true?

More and more I doubt these leaks.

I can see situationa in which there might be a desire or even a need to keep a capture secret for awhile...but I am not sure that the potential for real or imagined abuse outweighs the need for secrecy.

Surely there is some way to maintain classified facilities that are open to oversight.

I hope there is not some silliness coming about the forgeries, I am serious when I say I don't believe half this stuff anymore. I don't believe Josh Marshal or people like him..I mean what do any of these people really know about anything?

Knucklehead said...

Now that there's a few comments I guess I can participate.

My comments in the original post re: torture were made with tongue firmly in cheek. As Rick pointed out there is no evidence of, nor allegation of, torture being used. There is really no good evidence or serious (meaning from a serious source rather than the usual Leftist suspects) of torture being used by any US personnel at any facility.

There are perfectly good reasons keeping "secret" facilities for detaining some "suspects". I think it was Rick who pointed out that just keeping the alive or dead status of some detainees is a form of "intelligence". It leaves the enemy speculating.

There are likely other security issues in play.

Now, back to "torture". I feel reasonably certain that US interrogators know the overall weaknesses of "torture". Inflict enough pain and the detainee will tell you whatever you want to hear whether he has to make it up or not - "Yesss!!! It's safe! (WTF is the idiot talking about with this 'safe' nonsense?)". There's no good reason to imagine that torture is particularly effective.

Now, does anyone know the legal status of using "truth serum" type drugs for interrogation purposes. Does that fall into the realm of "torture"? And regardless of the legal status of such drugs, what do yon commenters think of the use of them?

Knucklehead said...


Surely there is some way to maintain classified facilities that are open to oversight.

Well, yeah, but it is weak system. The people who are authorized to staff them are the ones responsible for overseeing their adherence to whatever rules one wants to impose.

The problem with "oversight" that is acceptable to the larger community is that it includes items like letting independant organizations (International Red Cross) and politically suspect ones (Congresscritters who have shown they have no intention or desire to protect the citizenry if it costs them the opportunity to make political points) have access to them. If they aren't "secret" then the expectation is that the prisoners will have "rights" and the "right" to letting their loved ones know they are alive is among those.

Oh, BTW, from what little info available I don't have a big issue with these facilities unless and until somebody proves that something rotten is going on in them.

But now that their existence, if not the specific facilities and locations, has been made known most will probably be shut down pronto.

Rick Ballard said...


I have a higher opinion of operators than to think that they will give in to the temptation to torture. Torture is (as Knuck notes) rather ineffective in gathering quality intelligence from well trained opponents. Physical coercion up to the level used in the SERES training of our own forces is often quite effective in gaining tactical information from untrained (in resistance) opponents immediately after capture. I do not believe that we even do that as a practice. Michael Yon was very clear in a couple of his dispatches that the units that he was with were not given to using physical stress during interrogation. The Iraqi forces and police are another matter.

I hope that the prisoners being held at the "secret" prisons could be tried at those facilities prior to being moved. It would probably save a bit on transport costs and future expenses in caring for them.

This is just dessert for what has become Fizzlemas dinner. A simple declaration from the WH that the proper disposition of illegal combatants will occurr within a year of capture should solve the political problem. Short trials, short appeals and a short rope all work for me.

terrye said...


Yes you are probably right. Once such facilities are known about they are not particularly useful and in fact could be a burden.

I did hear that most of the detainees at Gitmo will be out of there in a year. But I can not remember where I heard it.

But all of this needs to be resolved so that it does not continue to be a distraction.

chuck said...


Physical coercion up to the level used in the SERES training of our own forces is often quite effective in gaining tactical information

I don't doubt it. And in a battlefield situation I would be loath to judge. I recall a story recounted by James Jones where American soldiers captured three Germans and wanted intelligence; their lives depended on it. The Germans wouldn't talk, so they shot one and the other two became very cooperative. The fellow telling the story said that the Germans didn't seem to think anything unusually bad had gone down. Anyway, in a situation like that, I don't feel in a position to judge. It it long term internment in secret prisons that worries me.

But let's see what comes out. The information now is spotty at best.

ambisinistral said...

Well, this policy is troubling because it could lead in a bad direction. Then again, there are reasons to imp[lement it.

The problem is that this conflict is so different from a convetional war and our adversaries certainly aren't bound by our conventions. The rules have not been written for it yet. Missteps are inevitable as things get sorted out.

I honestly don't know which side of this issueI stand on. Count me as ambivelent and glad the ball isn't in my court.

Rick Ballard said...


The main thing for me is that we don't handcuff ourselves with stupid rules. If we catch someone with a vial of biotoxin then I really don't want to know what happens to him. I just want to know that the source and destination are correctly identified.

The Constitution is not a suicide pact nor do all rules hold at every moment. It is fine to say that torture is bad policy and I agree with that concept wholeheartedly. I simply am unwillingly to bind the hands of the people to whom my grandchildren's safety is entrusted.

Peter UK said...

I am at a loss to understand the extending of the benefits of our constitutions and legal systems to those who would destroy them.There has to be some reciprocity otherwise all civilised laws, mores and rules are negated.
Abiding by them might fuel the feelgood factor of liberals but no conflict has ever been won without some suspension of civilised behavior for the duration.Get it done and get it over.

Rick Ballard said...


It is not as if the problem of exterminating vermin is something new in the world. What is new is the pretense that there are no vermin. The headwhackers are sand pirates. Wrapping their base nature in religion does not elevate them in the least.

The British Navy drove pirates and slavers from the Mediterranean and Carribean with measures that dealt with the crews and masters not as men deserving of honorable treatment but as the vermin that they were. Drumhead courts, a brisk hanging and over the side. We are extremely foolish not to offer only dishonorable death to the terrorists.

The thought that exterminating them with a dishonorable death will raise the probability of even more terrorists being created is ridiculous. Their 'martyrdom' operations glorify death. We should be working to take the glory out of it.

Syl said...

Our guys know that real torture isn't effective. Threat of torture, however, can be.

Now, thankfully, the bad guys know we have places to send them where they will be...tortured!!!

And do they actually know anyone who has come out of one of those places alive to tell a tale?


Perhaps this is all disinformation.

Anonymous said...

Back in the 1940s when we took wars seriously we did not tolerate leaks and treachery. Critical programs, such as the Manhatten project, the breaking of Japanese and German codes, and the plans for Normandy had to be kept secret and they were. Traitors were hung or shot.

It's time to return to that mindset, to be as ruthless as our enemy, and we could start with the leakers that riddle the CIA, the State Department and the DOD.

As for terrorists in secret custody; may they give up all they know and rot in hell. If it means frying them in pig fat, so be it.