Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
During his presidential run — and several times since the election — Donald Trump has mentioned that he’d once again make it permissible for the government to torture terrorists in order to gain valuable information.
Trump stated, “These savages are chopping off heads, drowning people… This is medieval times, and then we can’t do waterboarding?”
I (sort of) agree with him.
Obviously, many people think torture is horrific. They can’t imagine torturing anyone, even if that person has murdered innocent people.
To those who claim they don’t believe in torture and say the U.S. government should never do it, consider this:
Imagine it’s a beautiful fall day.
Your child is playing outside in the leaves while you’re doing some work in the house. You step out onto the front porch to check on your child and you see a man jump out of a van and snatch your child from the driveway.
You scream as you see the terror in your child’s face as they cry for help.
You jump into your car to follow the van and lose it around a corner. Two minutes later, you find the van stopped in front of a building. You exit the car, rush up to the van and find the kidnapper sitting in the front seat with an evil grin on their face.
The kidnapper tells you that your child has been moved to another car and you’ll never see them again — your kid is as good as dead.
If, at that moment, someone told you that waterboarding would get this kidnapper to confess to the whereabouts of your child, thus saving their life, are you telling me you wouldn’t go for it?
I don’t think there’s a parent on this Earth that’s going to say, “No, it’s not right to waterboard you, so go ahead and murder my child.”
My point is unless you find yourself in a terrifying situation where you’ve got someone evil in your grasps and they have information that could save lives… it’s easy to say you’d never, ever torture someone and that you don’t believe in it.
But with that being said, I’m a firm believer that torturing a terrorist should always be the option of last resort.
Anyone that does interrogations will tell you it’s a lot better to talk to the person first and try to get them to open up through the powers of persuasion.
In other words, an interrogator should act like a master salesman and try to get the information by figuring out what the other person wants — money, material possessions, etc.
If you take this approach, you’re more likely to get honest information out of the subject. When you torture a person, they’ll often lie and tell you whatever you want to hear just so you stop torturing them.
In fact, a good friend of mine who’s excellent at interrogations has never, ever tortured anyone. He is so good at making the subject think he is on their side that he always gets the information he needs without having to physically harm the person.
I’ve heard him say, “I can sit across the table from some guy who deserves to get his throat slit and I can pretend to be his friend, just to get the needed intelligence.”
The bottom line is with Trump in office, torture and interrogation will likely come up in the news more often.
Before you rush to judgment, consider what you’d do in a life-and-death situation, although I hope you never find yourself in one and that you never have to make that decision.