The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, January 16, 2009

Am I sick?

Well, well. We got almost 101 sign ups for the 101 in the first twelve hours. We'll be shutting down that link soon. Hurry!

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Poor little Jason is in a transitional state. He makes mistakes that get him into trouble, and seems genuinely mystified as to why he does such things. Takes us all a while to figure ourselves out, doesn't it? But he is such a sweet, sweet boy. Wants so much to make Mommy and Daddy happy. It's all gonna work out, in time.

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Saw the Keifer Southerland movie "Mirrors" yesterday. The unrated version. Wet. And fairly scary. Can't call it "good," but I can say that it kept my interest. Give it a "C" unless you really like horror, in which case it might be a "B"

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I suspect that the reason our government was torturing was a matter of wishing vengeance against the people who hurt us. In a sense, the act itself was what we wanted...whether it was efficient or not was entirely secondary. Note the definition of torture as something causing "organ failure." That is insane. You mean if I put a blow-torch to your skin, it's not torture unless the entirety of your skin "fails."? Pulling out teeth isn't torture? Good lord. The only thing I can reckon is that there is an atavistic response, buried deep in the human psyche, that says: "If you hurt us, we'll hurt you back." Can't be logical, because we KNOW that people will say anything to stop it. So it's great to elicit confessions...whether people are guilty or not. To tell you the truth, this is the first time in my entire life that I've been ashamed of America. Relating this to myself, I practice violent sports, like violent movies, often write violent stories. Enjoy watching Jack Bauer put the blocks to the bad guys. I'm pretty sure that this is pure channeling of my own emotional pains and angers into fantasy. Disturbed as I am by the dunces who point to a fictional depiction as "evidence" that something works (I STILL can hardly believe that shit!) I can't quite go far enough to say "we shouldn't have 24. Or "Hostel" or whatever. Because I know that images like that have been a sort of ameliorative for my own wounds. During the time that there were almost NO images of blacks in movies, I took special delight in watching white teenagers butchered in the woods, I kid you not. People often think I'm joking about this, and I'm not. But before someone says that this is evidence that I'm sick, I ask you to remember Vachss' Maxim: "Behavior is Truth." Despite the mountain of shit I was processing, I offer a challenge: thousands of people stream past this blog, some of whom have known me for decades. Is there anyone, I mean anyone, who can remember me ever hitting someone? How about raising my voice? Displaying public anger? Treating people with deliberate cruelty? Anything? If there is, I'd like to know so that I can make amends. But even openly inviting people to rub my nose in it, I don't think there's going to be much dirt to dig up.

I always internalized my pain, and worked to process it. Never asked others to carry my cross for me (note that I'll talk about racial images in film, but have never suggested that the filmmakers should change, or that whites are particularly flawed, or anything of the like.) Always, the problem lies in the universal nature of the human heart. I clung to that idea in my youth, and now in my not-youth, I'm more certain than ever that we all share these problems ("all" meaning about 99.9% of us), and that we'll all move through this together.

Meantime, I'm looking forward to "My Bloody Valentine 3-D"

##

More seriously still, about twenty years ago, I met a karate instructor who read my work. Later, he was accused of murdering and raping a woman in a manner that was disturbingly similar to an event in my first solo novel, "Streetlethal." Boy oh boy, did that ever make me think. What in the hell to do with that? What is my responsibility as an artist? If I didn't believe that my own emotional usage of such imagery had helped me be a healthier, more loving person, I might come to the conclusion that such images are "wrong." But I can't get there. People speaking of such films and books almost invariably talk about "the audience" and "the readers" without discussing how THEY react to it. That's cowardice. I might be considered wrong by some, but I literally cannot count the number of times I felt angry and aggressive, went to see "Friday the 13th" or something, and walked out mellow. I have to assume that I'm not the only person who processes fiction in this manner.

Well...sometimes non-fiction as well. The "Faces of Death" movies were mostly fake, with a bit of real footage. The fake stuff varied in its level of realism, and decades after watching 'em, I can't tell you for certain which scenes I now believe to be real. But I remember a scene where a precision parachute jumper missed his target, and drifted into an alligator farm. Sure looked real. And I remember laughing my ass off. I mean, here was a guy who had bet his life on his skill, and come up snake-eyes. It was like something out of a Road Runner movie, and I couldn't summon a single drop of sympathy. I was in a great mood for a week. Sick? Maybe. But behavior is truth. unless that "sickness" manifests in violence or aggression toward others, I'm not sure it existed at all. I suspect that there is real truth that our fantasies can be lightning rods for our frustrations and wounds. That they are, in other words, symptoms, and not causes. That's the debate, and I've never heard anyone defend them from the POV that they, personally, enjoy and have benefitted. I have two children, and many many people that I love dearly. I want this world to be as loving and safe as it can be. And I think allowing adults to have access to such images is a part of this. Violent images have been a part of fiction since the beginning of story-telling. I don't think it's an accident.

What do you guys think about this issue?

21 comments:

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, you hit me a few times ...

poltergeist said...

I suspect that the reason our government was torturing was a matter of wishing vengeance against the people who hurt us.

In part yes, but at the lower hands-on end it's usually all business because vengeance motives on that level can have slippery slope effects that impair professional judgment as a or the interrogator. The preferred practiced approach is not unlike that required by lawyers to act in the best interests of their clients w/o much or any personal involvement whatsoever, or that of a surgeon operating on patients that could have fatal consequences. You have to remain somewhat "above it all" for professional and personal mental health reasons.

Torture, as well as it's attending physical and mental discomforts that aren't by statute defined as torture, is more or less governed by how much time your side has to find something out, deny or disprove something or to possibly set up a play for disinformation or misinformation purposes. It just depends on what the goal is at the time and how much time you have to exploit anything you get.

Generally speaking, if time isn't on your side and the figurative 2-minute warning buzzer goes off matters are and can very well get harsh pretty fast. If on the other hand your have varying amounts of time and some social and psychological insight into the subject there are much lighter and effective approaches to get the job done. A textbook case involved Hermann Goering when he was being held before and during the Nuremberg Trials.

Look at a photo of him shortly after his capture, and then those of him before his suicide. Big difference. "Caloric modulation". Either a lot of food with little taste and even smaller nutritional value, or little food with the bare minimum of taste and nutritional value. Call it just a pre-Jenny Craig diet for people you didn't like and care too much about. You can even alter food appearance to less than inviting degrees with food coloring like purple eggs, yellow bacon, chartreuse bread or shit brown mashed potatoes. Whatever.

He also had an absolute fear, paranoia, or phobia about black people. Take a guess who his guards were in large part when the cameras weren't around. In time he became most cooperative.

Lots of ways, it all just comes down to how much time you have on your hands.

poltergeist said...

Also, the harshest of actual physical torture on one subject may well indeed be a message to someone or others you REALLY want some information from and the guy you send back as a mental and visual-aid is just the unfortunate messenger.

It doesn't take much imagination to figure out how absolutely disconcerting it must be to see, hear, and possibly smell an ally, comrade, or confederate in quite graphic and illustrative physical discomfort as they lay helpless within inches or feet from you with orifice leakage as well as other quite shocking issues.

It's not nice, but it is war. Our collective hands are bloody alright, but for all-out barbarism and creativity we don't even come close to the ancient Romans or Sumerians. Had to have been somewhat effective because trial by ordeal and keeping the kingdom fairly straight worked well before penal institutions came along thousands and thousands of years later. Now THAT was entertainment, literally.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the imagery being an outlet for adults. I have always felt blaming media for driving people to extremes is just another attempt at avoiding personal responsibility for ones actions. I would much rather see someone pop in a DVD than go to the local bar to pick a fight.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

poltergeist, your "textbook case" of Hermann Goering, if true, proves the exact opposite of your point about torture being driven by time constraints. There were no time constraints at Nuremberg. The Nazis were defeated. We had plenty of time to try them. We had plenty of evidence that Goering was guilty as hell of all kinds of awful stuff, regardless of whether we mistreated him at all.

And, precisely because there's plenty of evidence that Goering was guilty as hell of stuff that makes all of our skin crawl, he's exactly the kind of person one would want to suffer, for all the people he hurt. Who sheds any tears for Goering, if he was mistreated? Isn't "unrepentant Nazi" a prime example of the answer to Steve's earlier question of who you'd be happy to see die?

So, if he's your "textbook case," he seems to me to prove Steve's point, more than yours.

I think that the historical evidence shows that torture has been used, over and over, by one country after another, way in excess of any informational value it provides; that evidence leads me to believe that its use isn't primarily driven by the desire for information, but by the desire for other things - confessions of people the torturers just know are guilty, vengeance, and desire to intimidate and subdue those who are seen (rightly or wrongly) as a threat. And I don't think we're the one unique country in the world that tortures for different reasons from everyone else.

Scott Masterton said...

Good post Steve. You hear pundits speak so often about violence in media etc. But take a look at some of the old fairy tales and traditional stories from almost every culture. Wow. Freddy And Jason are pretty tame compared to some of that stuff.

I think the stories that people tell/write/film are archetypal. They seem to reflect and maybe help process the internal fears of cultures. Possibly giving a voice to some of these things is an important way of processing them. I remember watching an interesting documentary on horror movies and how they reflected societal fears. The makers of the film noted that you could tell when a genre of horror was about to change when the films were spoofed, i.e, Abbott and Costello meet the (Fill in the Universal monster that you like the most).

Japanese children see an awful lot of violent imagery and the crime rate is relatively low there. Regardless...interesting stuff.

Peace,
Scott.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

On fictional violent imagery, I'm unsure what to think, or where the lines should be drawn.

I'm a Quaker; there's some degree of Quaker tradition of suspicion of pretend violence as well as (of course) real violence, at least to the extent that Quaker parents are probably more likely than other parents to do things like restricting their kids' playing with guns.

At the same time, I've played fantasy role playing games, sometimes playing the part of rather violent characters, read violent books, watched violent movies. The story I started as a chick lit novel turned into a screenplay where the protagonist tracks down a white supremacist gang; putting a white supremacist gang in the story inherently adds a certain violence. And now I'm working on a murder mystery; it seems that the murder/thriller genre is where my fictional mind is.

There's research evidence, of various kinds, that show negative effects of play or fictional violence - small children acting more violent toward other small children after being encouraged to hit Bobo the clown, "mean world syndrome" studies where viewers of more violent mass media see the world as unrealistically violent and scary. So, there do seem to be downsides to violent content in stories - certainly for kids, and even for adults.

On the other hand, it seems to me that context matters here. And, there's a certain kind of "Christian" stuff that, in its avoidance of violence and sex and protagonists who have serious faults, comes off way too happy clappy to be interesting; I don't really want to write that kind of stuff. As Christian-oriented literature goes, I prefer the more conflicted and interesting fictional world of Graham Greene. After all, the Bible doesn't flinch at telling the story of David's arranging the death of Uriah to cover his sleeping with Bathsheba.

So, there may be some forms of violent entertainment that I'm not willing to watch - or write - but I think the place of fictional violence is complicated, rather than purely negative.

Marty S said...

I see the whole question of the Bush administration's approach to protecting the U.S. from terrorist attack much like evaluating a drug for use by the public. Before a drug is released to the public two questions must be answered.
1) Is the cure worse than the illness? That is how bad are the possible side effects?

2) Is the drug effective in curing the illness it is aimed at.

To determine the answers a study must be conducted and it must include a group that takes the drug and a control group that doesn't. The last seven years of the Bush administration serves as the group that took the medicine. I expect the next four years of the Obama administration will serve as the control group. If we are free of major terrorist acts during these four years it will confirm the opinions of those who feel the Bush approach was unnecessary, while if we suffer a major attack upon relaxing these procedures then the opinions of those who support the Bush administration's approach will be confirmed.

Anonymous said...

How one handles these sorts of inner demons is really personal; and I'm no genius at it. I feel no desire whatsoever to tell you or anybody else what you can't think or imagine. I care about what you do, not what you think -- but then, palpably, so do you!


--Erich Schwarz

Robin James Burchett said...

The minister at my Unitarian church once gave a whole sermon on his love of horror movies. Made a very eloquent case for their positive role in his emotional life. Says that when he tells people this, they are generally dumbfounded, and often try to talk him out of it. (A minister of all things!)

Dan Moran said...

Is there anyone, I mean anyone, who can remember me ever hitting someone? How about raising my voice? Displaying public anger? Treating people with deliberate cruelty? Anything?

Nothing to be embarrassed about -- who among us hasn't found himself a bit short when the bars were closing? Certainly I've rolled my share of drunks too....

Your basic point is correct, of course. It was all in good fun, and no one got hurt.Bir

Christian M. Howell said...

Well, I've been just surfing the celluloid and found a real doozy for your collection:

Brooklyn's Finest

An excerpt from the Sundance review:

Last but not least, there are some more than sexy moments between Richard Gere and newcomer Shannon Kane, who spends all of her screentime in the nude — and it is glorious.

This is a young black woman with an old white man directed by a young black man.

Now that's a SAMBO ALERT.

Steven Barnes said...

Perry--
And thoroughly enjoyed every moment of your pain. Of course, I've got lumps from you, too.
##
Christian: exactly right.

poltergeist said...

Lynn Gazis-Sax,

"...your "textbook case" of Hermann Goering, if true, proves the exact opposite of your point about torture being driven by time constraints. There were no time constraints at Nuremberg. The Nazis were defeated. We had plenty of time to try them. We had plenty of evidence that Goering was guilty as hell of all kinds of awful stuff, regardless of whether we mistreated him at all...So, if he's your "textbook case," he seems to me to prove Steve's point, more than yours.".

I wasn't looking to prove anything, save for an explanation of torture methodology and perhaps the thinking behind it. This wasn't an exercise of poltergeist versus Steven's position. The thought never occurred to me.

Your assumption is the methodology was Hermann Goering specifically driven is faulty because it's inaccurate. His complicity and guilt were assured to get him convicted as a war criminal on it's own face. The reasoning behind the treatment he received was driven by his knowledge of other matters that he initially chose to be less than candid and forthcoming about just by the mere polite asking alone would have proved effective. He wasn't just Luftwaffe Reichmarshall, alone you know an for quite sometime going back into the 1930s had been head of overall finance; not the Minister thereof, but the man over the ministerial position as well as a kind of Grand Looter of Europe when quite a bit of art and gold, as well as other valuables at a time when they were missing and who knew just exactly where all of this was. Plus, the Russians, British, and French had some questions for him as well and they weren't all that picky about the circumstances under which he provided some answers.

The time constraints of his issues at Nuremberg had jack to do with anything. Try and view this from an intelligence play perspective, if possible. If it's your desire convict a person for war crimes during which a trial has already been or will be convened shortly and you're reasonably sure of a conviction and the penalty of such is death, what reason from the condemned person's perspective is there to provide you with any information at all that you deem useful if he knows ahead of time he's going to be HANGED?! Any questions you have on anything had best be answered BEFORE a conviction, wouldn't you think? It's a classic game of carrot and stick, then carrot, with the final stick being a trap door, regardless. Didn't happen that way as he cheated the hangman, but the interrogators reasoning was sound enough.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

You're telling me that Hermann Goering was tortured in some fashion and that people's willingness to do that to him had nothing to do with the fact that he was Hermann Goering? That flies in the face of everything I know about human nature.

As for time constraints - look, there was no "ticking time bomb" situation of the type that's so often trotted out to justify torture. The Nazis had lost the war. Whatever information was sought from him (and not given) can't have involved time constraints of that variety, given that his side had already lost the war.

Sure, the Allies may have wanted to pump him for all they could get while he was still around to be pumped, and that's a rational goal. But it's not the rational goal that's usually raised to justify torture. The scenario that gets trotted out for that is one where you supposedly save lives by getting information about some urgent death threat.

If you had a non-Herman Goering, who were, say, terminally ill and with little time to live, who had information that might be useful for our intelligence to have, and this were a person you totally didn't see as your enemy or dehumanize in any way, I have a hard time believing most intelligence agents would mistreat the person.

If "Try and view this from an intelligence play perspective, if possible." means that I assume that torture is mainly driven by a rational intelligence calculation, no, I'm not going to take that perspective. If that happened, the world would look a lot different. For one thing, since 9/11 there's been a lot of top down and public support for torture in situations where people who've worked as interrogators seem to be saying it isn't actually useful. For another thing, the use of torture spreads way faster than I'd expect it to if people were really being rational calculators here.

poltergeist said...

"You're telling me that Hermann Goering was tortured in some fashion and that people's willingness to do that to him had nothing to do with the fact that he was Hermann Goering?".

*******

No, I'm telling you that his, or any other subject's discomfort level is tweaked, for matters more to do with what they're highly suspected of KNOWING rather than who they ARE.

*******

"As for time constraints - look, there was no "ticking time bomb" situation of the type that's so often trotted out to justify torture".

*******

The time constraint in Goering's case was an eager hangman and other allied judges that wanted him as dead as Julius Caesar. That the Germans had lost the war didn't go to explain other things the allies wanted to know.

*******

"Sure, the Allies may have wanted to pump him for all they could get while he was still around to be pumped, and that's a rational goal. But it's not the rational goal that's usually raised to justify torture. The scenario that gets trotted out for that is one where you supposedly save lives by getting information about some urgent death threat".

*******

So filmdom and cover stories would have you quite successfully believe. It's the best scenario going that most people will accept, true or not. Nobody wants to scare the children anymore than possible. That it's the most frequent scenario presented SHOULD be a red flag in and of itself. Do you truly believe that the Jack Bauer scenarios are the only ones that exist? Oh my, heavens no. They're just more palatable. Not sure if it's policy or not, but a going theory is that those who allow torture can't possibly be above a little obfuscation or straight out lying to the public about any applications, justifications, and usages.

*******

"If you had a non-Herman Goering, who were, say, terminally ill and with little time to live, who had information that might be useful for our intelligence to have, and this were a person you totally didn't see as your enemy or dehumanize in any way, I have a hard time believing most intelligence agents would mistreat the person".

*******

Depends on your definition of the term "mistreat". Torture need not be physical. Mental works, too. On a terminally ill person false hope can be provided. You'd be amazed at how the subject can be of actual assistance in those matters. Perhaps some family leverage. Lots of ways. It all goes back to how much time is available and how creative the interrogator can be with respect to a subject's mores, system of beliefs, phobias; of which death is a doozie, and other factors.

*******

"If "Try and view this from an intelligence play perspective, if possible." means that I assume that torture is mainly driven by a rational intelligence calculation, no, I'm not going to take that perspective".

*******

That might go to explain why I haven't come across any Quaker CI folks or interrogators? PO-LENTY of Roman Catholics though. Might be the Inquisition tie-in? I dunno.

*******

"For one thing, since 9/11 there's been a lot of top down and public support for torture in situations where people who've worked as interrogators seem to be saying it isn't actually useful".

*******

The flip-side of that coin is that when it IS useful and productive intelligence folks aren't inclined to run around blabbing about it like a PR campaign to drum up support for it's usage. Only the failures and fukkups seem to make good copy. The successes are kept mum for what can only be the obvious of reasons.

*******

"For another thing, the use of torture spreads way faster than I'd expect it to if people were really being rational calculators here".

*******

Again, definition time. There's a world of difference in what intelligence honchos deem rational as opposed to what John Q. Public thinks is rational.

Not for nothing ... but Jesus the general public live lives of pure unknowing bliss. My cynicism almost prompts me to point out the benefits of having proxies do the societal dirty work as well as taking-on any attending nightmares, doubts, and toll for the general good. Must be nice.





*******

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I'm not sure what issue you're asking about exactly.

As for liking representations of pain, I suspect the human race is crazy, but it's pretty clear that people generally have a wide sadistic streak. There are a lot of people who feel better when they torture Sims. How weird is that?

I believe that some large percentage of people like seeing pain, and I've certainly been drawn into a lot of scenes of character torture-- and quit reading Orson Scott Card because I was creeped out by how fascinated I was.

I believe that civilized people sublimate their love of pain into fiction and non-fiction (like the news and history). Organized sports is a marginal case. How cool is it when someone keeps playing with a bad injury?

I have never seen you be deliberately cruel, and I was quite impressed when you were upset that you might have been rude to one of your commenters over something that was such light teasing that I barely noticed it.

*****

Unintentional cruelty is another matter. Steve, I'm a virgin. I've never been in a romantic relationship. The only time I fell in love, the man died of cancer before the relationship got established.

I'm 56. My ability to trade beauty for power is going to be somewhat limited in any case.

I'm probably in this situation because of a combination of a very low-affection childhood plus some early sexual abuse (deduced from plausible effects-- no clear memories), combined with an inability to force myself to endure more emotional pain in order to appear like a normal person-- that is, a person who likes sex.

So, when you'd say things like "who you're with is who you are", it would sound as though you're saying that I don't exist.

And that I was a general failure because I don't meet any of your specs for a person worthy of respect. At this point, I don't know how much was my mental glitches, and how much was what you were saying. I suspect a combined effect there. There may even have been a theraputic aspect-- Steve Pavlina (another human potential writer) says that anger can be a step up from depression.

I believe you when you said you spoke to yourself more harshly than you push your readers. I think there's a personal difference (and possibly an average gender difference) in whether criticism is motivating vs. how much it's paralyzing.

I realize that, once it registered with you that some of the ways you were pushing people weren't registering well with some of your readers, you dropped them quickly, and I am quite impressed with that.

*****

Lynn, one more angle on the idea that torture isn't about practicality-- why is torture to get people to sign false confessions so common? Wouldn't it be easier to just forge the signature?

******

Poltergeist, How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq is about establishing social connection and trust as a means of effective interrogation. I haven't read the book yet, but in interviews, it seems that it doesn't take much time, and getting the prisoner on your side means that you don't just get the address of the house you're interested in, you get told whether it's booby trapped.

It's just that it's very hard to treat someone who you hate as a friend, no matter how well it works. Torture is easy, no matter how badly it works.

When you talk about "tweaking someone's discomfort level" as a way to get them to say things they really don't want to say, I think you're trying to get us (and possibly yourself) to not register the reality of what's being done to people.

*****

As for violent art and real world violence, manga can be very violent, but they aren't especially personally violent.

I suspect that differences in violence rates has more to do with how much people believe they're safer if they use violence to protect themselves.

*****

Marty, Bush vs. Obama on torture isn't a formal experiment. If AQ happens to get a nuke (or got it three months ago and has been working on delivery methods as fast as it can) and uses it on the US, this wouldn't be the result of Obama's policies. Nor would it be if some terrorist group avoids 9/11 envy and starts using car bombs.

poltergeist said...

Poltergeist, How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq is about establishing social connection and trust as a means of effective interrogation. I haven't read the book yet, but in interviews, it seems that it doesn't take much time, and getting the prisoner on your side means that you don't just get the address of the house you're interested in, you get told whether it's booby trapped.

*******

Steven initially spoke of torture as-in a MEANS of interrogation. A method thereof, if you'll allow. I addressed JUST the physical aspects of torture in response to Steve, then went on to address interrogation while at the same time pointing out that it need not be JUST physical torture, but life-support system (Goering's food), going after a person's system of beliefs, mores, and phobias as well. There are also environmental and sensory ways as well.

The disconnect we seem to be having here is thinking all forms of interrogation is physical torture based. It isn't, and I've TRIED to make that clear. Lying is acceptable in interrogation. So is deception be it verbal, sensory, or otherwise. Like any art, interrogation isn't ALL thissaway or ALL thattaway. It ALL begins in knowing your subject as best you can, and then factoring-in such things as Time, Purpose, Expected Outcome, other Intelligence as a kind of litmus-test, and even more factors.

*******

It's just that it's very hard to treat someone who you hate as a friend, no matter how well it works.

*******

If an interrogator hates his subject he/she has NO business being an interrogator, PERIOD. Let me try and explain something to you ...

Do you suppose all cops that interrogate perps, suspects, and those convicted hate them? Do you really buy that all soldiers of one side hate the ones on the other side? Hate is a VERY strong emotion as we all know and it generally takes quite a bit to instill it, even among the most hardcore of interrogators. Interrogators just aren't given a play book and told to run with it you know. There's some training involved first and a series of psychological testing that goes on even before you even SEE your first subject. Interrogation tends to be a clinical undertaking, if you choose to believe that and not indulge "Is it safe?" fantasies a 'la Marathon Man and such the like. Well, from a US perspective that is. You just can't afford the emotion of hate. Also, and believe it or not, there is a system of more or less checks and balances going on. You don't take a subject's word as Gospel just because it's said under some kind of duress, and bear in mind that CAPTIVITY in itself is duress, lest we continue on the course that EVERYTHING in interrogation is an exercise in physical torture. It's not. It's inclusive. Sorry, just the way it is.

*******

Torture is easy, no matter how badly it works.

*******

Think so huh? OK.

*******

When you talk about "tweaking someone's discomfort level" as a way to get them to say things they really don't want to say, I think you're trying to get us (and possibly yourself) to not register the reality of what's being done to people.

*****

No, here's what I'm thinking at the moment ...

I'm thinking once again we have this disconnect using polar extremes where torture is synonymous with interrogation. It's not ... it's a TECHNIQUE within interrogation. And, it's a technique than when possible is used very, very judiciously and sparingly because interrogators are supposed to be smarter than their subjects in certain regards as it relates to the interrogator and the interrogatee.

Subjects come in ALL forms. Hardcore, soft core, those conscripted; voluntarily or otherwise, those with grudges, those without grudges, those that may have their own agendas, any, all, you name it, it's there. It's up to the interrogator, and usually in conjunction with an intelligence officer with a greater sense of the Big or Bigger Picture to come up with a workable plan to exploit the best interrogation method and tecnique at the time ,and Time is ALWAYS a factor and I don't mean that Jack Bauer nonsense either. What I mean is something like this ...

The other side isn't stupid. It's pretty much a worldwide accepted standard operational procedure to change the game plan to the or any degree that's workable and feasible based upon who's captured, if you know they've been captured, can reasonably expect them to be interrogated, and the amount of what they might possibly know that would do you harm if it came out during the interrogation process.

There's even more to it than this, but then I'm not trying to write the definitive book on Steve's blog on the subject. Trust me, there's more to it than meets the eyes or ears.

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