Terrorists Denied Dessert, Sent to Rooms

John Hinderaker, assessing the thousanth media report on whether President Bush set the stage for abuses at Abu Ghraib by authorizing tough interrogation tactics in special cases, is struck by the following:

[Rumsfeld] approved 24 interrogation techniques, to be used in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions, but said that any use of four of those methods would have to be approved by him in advance. Those four were use of rewards or removal of privileges from detainees; attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee; alternating the use of friendly and harsh interrogators, and isolation.

Says John,

I hate to disillusion liberals, but as a trial lawyer, I routinely use two of those four techniques in cross-examining witnesses, and I use at least one of the other two on my children. Frankly, I find it appalling that those in charge of terrorist prisoners may only “reward or remove privileges from detainees” with the permission of the Secretary of Defense. If the Democrats had any sense, they would argue that these documents indict the administration as soft on terrorists.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin, who has several posts this morning suggesting that Bush and Co. aren’t being aggressive enough.

In related news, Bret Stephens argues that, contrary to assertions by Sid Blumenthal and others, President Bush is actually much better than Hitler and the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib is not as bad as the Soviet Gulag. I found it persuasive.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Ryan says:

    Vote Bush: He’s not as bad as Hitler!

    Remember here that ‘priviges’ includes sleep, clothing, food and water (at least in practice at Abu Graib). Which I thought came under the category of ‘rights’. But then I’m a ‘liberal’.

    The treatment of prisoners on Bush’s watch, many of whom have not been charged with any crime, is utterly morally reprihensible, he holds the ultimate responsiblity whether he personally ordered it or not, and the man should be impeached, or perhaps stood on a box with wires attached to his fingers and a bag over his head naked (eeuw). Okay, impeached, because the latter thing is a really shitty thing to do to someone.

    So stop prevaricating and condemn what you can see is obvioulsy wrong!

  2. McGehee says:

    Ryan, if we impeached every president who did “really shitty things” to other people, no president would stay in office throughout the day of his inauguration.

    Y’know what? I’ll bet this very day you did something “really shitty” to somebody without even realizing it.

    Grow a skin, buddy.

  3. La Femme Crickita says:

    Ryan, oh please do tell me how compassionate
    and kind the Al Quada were when they sawed of Nick Berg’s head, bombed the WTC, blew up the Cole,
    etc etc etc. You are such a simp. Get a life.

  4. Jeremiah says:

    What’s reprehensible is a lack of perspective from liberals who seem to view US abuse in prisons with the same rancor as Saddam’s torture and maiming and killing.

  5. Ryan says:

    I forgot how tetchy James’s commenters were. Not that I didn’t come at this in a fairly argumentative fashion I suppose.

    McGehee – if you impeached every president who did really shitty things, *maybe they’d stop!*. Grow a skin? Grow a skin meaning waht? Stop caring?

    La Femme Crickita – they were’nt very kind at all, they were brutal murderers. Now tell me how compassionate and kind it is to torture people and arrest them without trial, not to mention to fire missiles into residential areas. Not as bad as Al-Qaida.

    Vote Bush: He’s not as bad as Hitler!
    Go America! We’re not as bad as Al-Qaida!

    The challenge is to keep in proportion the extent to which al-Qaida actions are wrong, and the extent to which some American actions are wrong, and to keep your rage in the correct proportion. Saying, look, al-Qaida are not compassionate, does not change a thing.

    (I paraphrase this from somewhere. I read it recently. I’d source it if I could remember where.)

    Jeremiah – I can’t speak for every ‘liberal’ in the world, but personally it’s a different rancour. The key difference is that you expect better from America. What is reprehensible to me is that as soon as an enemy comes along, non-‘liberals’ seem to think that any disgraceful action is justified up until the point at which ‘we’ become as bad as ‘them’.

    America should act like the America advertised on the packet.

  6. La Femme Crickita says:

    Residential areas that had been proven as places for insurgents to hide…