Looking Back on Our New War Time Interrogation Policy


By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings

My musing from 2004 entitled “Only in the U.S. of A.” (Remember those shocking photos of the “abused” enemy prisoners of the Iraqi war held in Abu Ghraib, Iraq?)

For the comfort of those Americans troubled by cruel and unusual punishment in military prisons in Iraq, the Pentagon adopted more humane guidelines for the treatment of incarcerated insurgents and detainees held against their will. These guidelines are temporary, however. They remain in effect until the current outrage by the humanitarians of the world is assuaged.

The new instructions eliminate the use of any coercive actions by interrogators and prison guards to elicit information about Osama bin Laden, arms of mass destruction, and al Qaeda terrorists who may have infiltrated Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Ignoring the generally accepted principle that formerly governed all past military and civil conflicts (namely that “All is fair in love and war”), the Pentagon has struck out on a new tact which begs the following questions:

1. Are the new rules for conduct applicable to detention camps such as the one at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and to military prisons like the famous one at Leavenworth, Kansas?

2. In the interest of fairness and human dignity, are the new rules to be enforced “in love” as well as in Iraq?

3. Is coercion now inappropriate for all future conflicts or undeclared wars where in the past it was a common practice to use force to conquer nasty opponents and dangerous adversaries?

4. In love, are the hetero and homosexual combatants and victims to remain fully clothed and free to report inappropriate advances when they are hiding information about paramours, trysts, and plans for the destruction of a personal relationship?

5. Are brainwashing techniques to be restricted also? If so, will rules be implemented to control media practices aimed at manipulating audiences, teachers’ efforts to educate recalcitrant and lazy students, and police interrogation methods used on the popular crime-solving TV shows where the guilty are always quick to confess and squeal on their accomplices?

6. With this first step at banishing coercion from our international relations, will the US be able to protect her undeclared “interests” from those who don’t adopt the same strict guidelines? Will a Kyoto Treaty or a Geneva Convention be necessary to obtain world-wide support of our new policy?

7. Will any country of the world accept our new definition of “unfairness” for love and war that isn’t based on a justice system with floating legal criteria promulgated by local politicians, the rich and influential, popular unions, and the leaders of religious cults?

8. In love, will the typical coercion by male participants behind “consensual sexual acts” – such as that used by basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and (name withheld to protect an innocent non-virgin) female – be investigated by a new police force of fundamentalist Christians, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims? Is the cost of this new police force in next year’s budget?

9. If in the future “coercion” is determined to be a crime (felony or misdemeanor), what will be the acceptable punishment that fits all the different crimes presently being committed by the CIA, the FBI, the military police, and our friendly local police force? And who will pay for the defense attorneys and the new prisons to house the guilty?

10. How are the whistle-blowers and squealers to be rewarded? By a promotion to Chief of Interrogations in the organization involved? By a new identity and inclusion in the witness protection program? By an overnight stay in the White House? Or by a guest appearance on some popular anti-crime TV reality show?

Most of us at one time or another have tried to learn the truth in an investigation or interrogation of our kids, our students, or our employees. Maybe you’ll remember how tough it was to uncover the facts without the use of some kind of threat or intimidation tactic. So, what worked for you? Send your suggestions to the Pentagon. They need all the help they can get in deciding how to broaden this new policy.

All kidding aside, I doubt that you have spent much time wondering about where this abrupt change in direction will lead us. Isn’t it time to reevaluate the long term consequences? Obviously, our leaders haven’t.

Maybe we should ban cameras from the premises of Iraqi prisons so that we can’t humiliate our military any further? I’m sure that the North Koreans and the Iranians aren’t publicizing what goes on in their prisons and circulating photos and videos for public viewing in the US of A!

Meanwhile, try to stay out of your neighborhood hoosgow. You may not like the present methods of obtaining confessions there.

Chic Hollis is a longtime drummer and motorcyclist, who served in the US Air Force in North Africa. Married 4 times with 5 children born in 5 different countries on four continents, Chic is a politically independent citizen of the world interested in helping Americans understand the reality that is life overseas where many intelligent, educated, and industrious people aren’t as privileged as we are in the US. He studied Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German and ran several large companies. Sadly, Chic Has left this planet and we miss him very much, but we are very pleased to display his amazing writing works.