Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Barry Eisler

Former CIA agent Barry Eisler is the author of many books, including the New York Times bestseller 'Fault Line' and its forthcoming sequel 'Inside Out'

April 30th, 2012 6:28 PM

Interrogators Speak Out: Why Not a Torture Turing Test?

I'm proud to be part of a series of articles by intelligence and military interrogators denouncing torture this week at the Huff Post.  Here's my entry.

When I wrote my eighth thriller, Inside Out, in 2009, the villains were a group of CIA and other government officials who colluded to destroy a series of tapes depicting Americans torturing war-on-terror prisoners.  The plot was of course based on actual events, and I considered naming one of the characters Jose Rodriguez, the Director of the National Clandestine Service at the time the actual tapes were destroyed.  In the end I decided against real names, though, because, after all, the characters in the book were committing terrible crimes, and to name them after real people seemed a recipe for a libel suit.

I needn't have worried.  Since Inside Out was published, former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney have confessed to ordering waterboarding in their respective memoirs, with no repercussions, legal or otherwise.  And now former Director Rodgriguez, in his own memoir, has himself confessed to ordering the destruction of the videotapes that were the basis for the plot of my novel.  He understands -- correctly, I'm sure -- that he will face no more legal action or damage to his reputation than did the president or vice president.  Such are the times we live in.  After all, President Obama disavowed torture on his second day in office.  No, this was not good news.  It merely ratified the idea that torture, illegal by treaty and US law, is not in fact a crime, but rather merely a policy, which some presidents will permit and others prohibit, entirely at their discretion.  And indeed, although Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged during his confirmation hearings what everyone already knew -- that waterboarding always has been and always will be torture -- no one has since been charged or prosecuted for ordering it or carrying it out.

Is waterboarding torture?  The Spanish Inquisition, the Nazi Gestapo, and the Khmer Rouge all used it.  And previous US cases have all ruled that waterboarding is inarguably torture.  And it's hard to imagine that any American, Rodriguez included, would argue waterboarding isn't torture if the tapes in question depicted Iranian or Chinese agents waterboarding captured American pilots.  Just a dunk in the water?  A little discomfort, no big deal, all's fair?

But Rodriguez says waterboarding isn't torture, at least when it's Americans doing it, that it merely makes victims "uncomfortable."  He also says it's vital for US national security that we continue to waterboard terror suspects.  So: why not a torture Turing Test?  If Rodriguez can continue to maintain that waterboarding isn't torture even while being waterboarded, he would be infinitely more persuasive.  I wonder why Rodriguez, and so many other apologists with so much on the line, refuse to make this extremely persuasive point?  After all, they say waterboarding causes no permanent harm.  It's just a dunk in the water, a no brainer, merely uncomfortable, no big deal at all.  Are these people not patriots?  Why won't they submit to an easy dunk and demonstrate powerfully and persuasively and once and for all for everyone to see that waterboarding isn't torture, and thereby make a more powerful case that America should continue doing it?  You know, like rightwing talk show host Mancow did.

It's bad enough high government officials like Rodrigez get away with murder, sometimes literally.  It becomes even more galling when they justify their self-interested destruction of evidence of their crimes by claiming the destruction was necessary to protect America.  Remember the English lord in the film Braveheart, showing up with men-at-arms to rape the bride at a Scottish wedding, and describing the act as a way to "bless this marriage"?

I don't know which bodes worse for the future of the republic.  That officials like Rodriguez can claim such stunningly self-interested reasons for having destroyed the evidence of their crimes.  Or that the pubic is credulous enough to believe them.
Creative Commons License This content is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles