Gen. David H. Petraeus, President Obama's choice to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told senators Thursday that the U.S. should consider a policy for using special interrogation techniques when a detainee is withholding information that is immediately needed to save lives.So, not only do we have a general officer of the U.S. Army, nominated to head the CIA, calling for the use of "special" techniques -- and justifying them with the single worst example in the history of torture rationalization.
In the vast majority of cases, Petraeus said, the "humane" questioning standards mandated by the U.S. Army Field Manual are sufficient to persuade detainees to talk. But though he did not use the word torture, Petraeus said "there should be discussion … by policymakers and by Congress" about something "more than the normal techniques."
Petraeus, speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, described an example of a detainee who knows how to disarm a nuclear device set to explode under the Empire State Building. Congress may want to give the president the option of taking extraordinary measures to extract that information, he said.
Via Sullyblog, who rounds up some reaction. Conor Friedersdorf hits the nail on the head: consider, he says,
the anthrax attacks, the American scenario that has most resembled a ticking time bomb. Someone was sending a deadly biological weapon to folks around the country. People were panicky. The FBI frantically followed every lead that they could. Soon enough, law enforcement decided that they had their man: a scientist formerly employed by the army. What if they would've used enhanced interrogation techniques to ensure more letters weren't en route to kill someone? Oh yes. In that scenario, they would've wound up torturing an innocent man.... UPDATE (7/1): Via OTB, Spence Ackerman interviews a CIA interrogator who's written a book about his work at a "black site" in the former USSR:
DR: David Petraeus, the incoming CIA director, suggested to Congress that there might be circumstances where a return to “enhanced interrogation” is appropriate. What would you say to him?How many interrogations has Petraeus performed?
GC: That there is almost no conceivable circumstance in which the enhanced interrogation practices are acceptable or work. This belief is a red herring, wrong, and undoes us a bit. We are better than that. Enhanced interrogation does not work, and is wrong. End of story.