We are there. The ancient red Mercedes made the trip -- again. Time to go after all those cowering hearts and minds it is our mission to awaken. The following might well leave certain of you queasy, so jump off the dynamite wagon now before we skirt the cliffs.
These reflections grew out of another of those toxic sendalongs my cousin in Chicago makes sure I see. Pushes the right buttons -- I suspect retirement has aroused his demonic side
This beauty is attrubuted to Don Cherry, a Canadian hockey commentator for CBC television. Somebody apparently called in and asked what Cherry thought about torture of suspected terrorists.
"If hooking up one terrorist prisoner's testicles to a car battery to get the truth out of the lying "LITTLE =/+&*" will save just one life, then I have only three things to say: "Red is positive, black is negative, and make sure his nuts are wet."
I took the bait. "With contacts like yours, who needs shingles?" I wrote my cousin. "Have you ever had your nuts wired up? I came very close in western Turkey once, and it is reasonable to believe I wouldn't have appreciated it. My CIA and FBI friends tell me that torture is the worst way available to elicit good intelligence. The victim will tell you anything to make it stop, and send you on a wild goose chase while the threatened atrocity comes down. What works is to win the prisoner over -- the right cell mate is often effective -- and keep him talking. Hatred chokes off disclosure."
With a book in mind to follow up on my study of the early CIA, The Old Boys, I have been reading my way through contemporary intelligence literature. Much concerns, inevitably, our conduct during the "War on Terror," which is our government's euphemism for its campaign against Muslim extremism. President Obama, with his genius for walking gracefully on both sides of the street, often simultaneously, seems to have closed down the worldwide rendition parlors, to which the Bush administration consigned prisoners it intended to charm into disclosures with thumb screws, but pumped up the drone attacks. The claim is made that every victim is meticulously identified, the moment is selected when a minimum of "collateral damage" might result, and pooh-bahs in the administration as high as Obama himself must sign off.
The fact is, under this president hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of "targeted killings" have been authorized and executed. The residual CIA and the burgeoning Joint Special Operations Command vie for assassination privileges. What is becoming apparent, even to such professional hardasses as Generals McRaven and McCrystal, is that each of these murders is engendering perhaps hundreds of Al Qaeda recruits, given the character of Arab society.
Unlike us, atomized as we have become, the Mohammedan world is still largely organized into tribes, clans. You kill a favored nephew, you take us all on, and all can number into the thousands. Such computer-friendly techniques as "signature strikes" -- based sometimes on the presence of a group of young men algorithm programs have suggested might possibly be unfriendly and now known to be gathering in some marketplace in Waziristan -- have resulted in casualties high enough to inflame a village. We have become radical Islam's best recruiters. Bin Laden's strategy was simple -- stir The Great Satan up, and he will bring on war.
All this is expecially true where many of those fighting are mercenaries, not subject to any nation's laws or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In his important book Blackwater, Jeremy Scahill points out that during Desert Storm one in sixty participants were mercenaries. During the Iraq occupation one in three were "contractors," a frequently lawless, brutal bunch, at home in Abu Ghraib, many roustabouts from death squads from El Salvador and Chile to South Africa. The population rose against us.
Torture really doesn't work on either a national or a personal level. Don Cherry should go soak his head -- or his nuts -- and then reexamine his position.