Post-9-11 events and analyses
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Exaggerating The Threats:
It's not the first time that Wolfowitz and other neocons cried wolf. Fareed Zacharia in 2003: "For decades some conservatives, including many who now wield great influence, have had a tendency to vastly exaggerate the threat posed by tyrannical regimes. It all started with the now famous "Team B" exercise. During the early 1970s, hard-line conservatives pilloried the CIA for being soft on the Soviets. As a result, CIA Director George Bush agreed to allow a team of outside experts to look at the intelligence and come to their own conclusions. Team B--which included Paul Wolfowitz--produced a scathing report, claiming that the Soviet threat had been badly underestimated.
In retrospect, Team B's conclusions were wildly off the mark. .. The reality was that even the CIAís own estimates--savaged as too low by Team B--were, in retrospect, gross exaggerations. .. In the 1990s, some of these same conservatives decided that China was the new enemy. .. What followed was wild speculation about the size of the Chinese military and accusations that it had engaged in massive theft of American nuclear secrets. This came to a crescendo with the publication of the Cox Commission Report in 1999, which claimed that Chinese military spending was twice what the CIA estimated. The Cox report is replete with speculation, loose assumptions and errors of fact. The book it footnotes for its military-spending numbers, for example, does not say what the report claims.
Iraq is part of a pattern. In each of these cases, arguments about the threat posed by a country rest in large part on the character of the regime. .. these regimes are nasty, and that does matter greatly. But threat assessment must be based not simply on the intentions of an adversary, but on his capabilities as well. This is an important lesson as we move forward to deal with repressive regimes like those in North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria. They are evil and may need to be confronted. But let us do so with a clear and accurate picture of the threat they pose, not some figment of our fevered imaginations.
What we discovered about the Soviet Union after the cold war was that it was every bit as evil as we had thought--indeed more so--but that it was a whole lot less powerful than we had feared. That is what we will probably discover about Saddam Husseinís Iraq. " 12:19:13 AM
Doing unto others as they did unto us: From M. Gregg Bloche, law professor at Georgetown and a visiting fellow at Brookings, and Jonathan Marks, a barrister in London, is a bioethics fellow at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins. More details in the article.
"How did American interrogation tactics after 9/11 come to include abuse rising to the level of torture? .. Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train U.S. soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody... At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the U.S. Southern Command, General James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.
Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture.. internal FBI e-mail messages critical of these methods .. refer to the methods as "SERE techniques." .. SERE methods are classified, but the program's principles are known. It sought to recreate the brutal conditions U.S. prisoners of war experienced in Korea and Vietnam, where Communist interrogators forced false confessions from some detainees..
the Pentagon cannot point to any intelligence gains resulting from the techniques that have so tarnished America's image. That's because they were designed by Communist interrogators to control a prisoner's will rather than to extract useful intelligence. 12:13:34 AM
A full account of how our leaders reacted to terrorism by re-engineering Red Army methods must await an independent inquiry. But the SERE model's embrace by the Pentagon's civilian leaders is further evidence that abuse tantamount to torture was national policy, not merely the product of rogue freelancers."