Sunday, November 20, 2005


Welcome to the Intrepid Liberal Journal. My intention is to advocate progressive principals supported by facts and provoke discussion. I do not lay claim to the holy grail of objectivity. This blog is a vehicle to put forward my own opinions about the issues of the day. I suspect Democrats as well as Republicans will disagree with much I have to say.

All opinions in response to my postings are welcome. Certainly, I hope to persuade others to my point of view but I also want to be educated in return. Just as I lay no claim to objectivity I also don't pretend to possess a monopoly on wisdom. One of my pet peeves are polemicists who shamelessly promote themselves as infallible and all knowing. Another irritant in the current political environment is the lack of civility. Primarily, I blame conservatives, but those of us on the Left must go beyond derisive hyberbole and contribute real solutions to current challenges.

I hope to faciliate debate that is intelligent and civil. As far as I'm concerned, vulgarity in debate is an illustration of weakness. If your opinions can't stand on their own in a civil discourse, then why bother?

At its best, politics is an intense competition in the marketplace of ideas that enhances society. Sadly, today we have a Republican Party bereft of decency, honor, and competence. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party's quality of opposition to the Bush Administration is incoherent, lacking in authenticity, and putting forward virtrioli instead of viable alternatives. The ultimate responsibility for national direction is with us: We The People. Only an informed public that participates in the marketplace of ideas can have the leverage to hold our leaders accountable, treat our hard earned tax dollars with respect, and facilitate a society based upon freedom, personal responsibility, and social justice.


pansophia said...

You're off to a good start! :-)

Rob said...

Thank you for the support. Please visit frequently and participate in the conversation.

pansophia said...

My favorite spots right now:

Anonymous said...

I agree that the lack of civility in the public discourse is troubling. However, I would suggest that Republican and Democrat politicians are only partly to blame for this. A big part of the problem is the nature of media coverage. The press constantly takes the most confrontational quotes of politicians out of context and runs to the other side for "comment". Their agenda seems to be to create controversy to sell papers.

Likewise, they "train" politicians to make outlandish comments in order to get press coverage, which every politician craves. Try making a civilized speech focusing on serious policy without attacking any politicians and see how much coverage it gets!

If you want to avoid this sort of thing here, I would suggest you label neither party as "bereft of decency". People can have honest policy disagreements without bad motives, and the idea that no one could have a different view on Iraq, for example, without being stupid, unpatriotic, dishonest, or immmoral is poisoning the type of dialogue we need in this country to move ahead.

Good luck to you with your new blog.

Rob said...

You make a valid point that our media is responsible for much of the atmospherics in our public dialogue. Disputes and conflicts do sell newspapers and inflate broadcast ratings. Controversy also garners attention for bloggers! Politics is certainly not for the meek.

It is my hope to promote cross dialogue among people of different viewpoints. I'll feel I accomplished something if visitors to this blog after reading one of my posts, or a comment from someone else says, "I never thought of it that way. I learned something." I hope to be educated as well.

However, while I want to promote civility I think it's wrong to sugarcoat the truth. I regret to say that President Bush has shown himself to be bereft of decency in the stewardship of our country. What else can one say about a President that stubbornly advocates torture? I take no pleasure in writing that President Bush is bereft of decency. Indeed, I'm ashamed at the necessity of it.
But I believe it dishonorable to remain silent. The President will always serve as icon for our national values to the community of nations. Consequently, a President's fundamental decency must never be in doubt. Sadly, this one's is and the world needs to know that there is more to our country's values than those embodied by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

I agree that honorable people can disagree about policy. I would like to see more of that and hopefully we can upon the inauguration of a new President in January 2009 - regardless of their party affiliation.

Ghost said...

Well, I have given myself a name now since you know who I am, after making that last post anonymously.

I am somewhat disappointed by your answer. The easy thing to point out is that your original post referred to the entire Republican Party, not just President Bush, as "bereft of decency". I think you should own up to the fact that this was overreaching, unless you truly believe that no one in the Republican Party has any decency.

Let me move on to your point in your response, however. I take it that you believe President Bush is "bereft of decency" because of the means he allows to be used to attempt to extract information from prisoners believed to be terrorists. You believe these means constitute torture, and President Bush and others do not. Lots of countries around the world use various ranges of techniques with prisoners depending on the circumstances. There is lots of dispute about what is effective, and lots of moral dispute about what is appropriate regardless of whether it is effective.

To me, if President Bush and those around him honestly believe that they are acting in a manner necessary to help safeguard innocent American lives, then they are not "bereft of decency" because of this policy. This is not the same as saying it is the right policy. You or I may feel that the harm from engaging in such action outweighs any potential benefit, but even if that is true, it does not make those who think otherwise "bereft of decency".

This is precisely my point from earlier. You are basically saying that anyone who believes the conduct you disapprove of is necessary is an indecent (or presumably bad or evil) person. Perhaps you even think they are acting out of bad motives.

In contrast, I think these are very difficult policy decisions on which people with the best of intentions can disagree. The Israelis have struggled with how to interrogate such prisoners for many years. We are faced with an enemy that does not play by any of our rules, and we have the difficult decision of deciding how to most effectively combat them. I believe the vast majority of Americans of both parties want to combat them effectively and honorably, and have many honest disagreements about tactics.

Let me ask you a question. I know you do not have a child yet, but suppose you did and your child was kidnapped by a group. Suppose you caught one of the kidnappers, and you knew the group had killed the other children it had previously kidnapped. How far would you go in interogating the captured kidnapper if it were up to you?

Would you do almost anything you thought may illicit the location of your child? I have children, and I don't think I would object to interogating that person without sleep or with strong lights or loud music. I do not think I would start cutting body parts off or anything like that, but I certainly might want the kidnapper to think that was a possibility. I might even go further if I was certain this person knew where my child was and I was out of other options. Does that make me "bereft of decency"? Are you really sure how you would act in such a circumstance?

The bottom line here is the discussion I think you really want to have concerns what is the correct policy for the United States treatment of prisoners who may have important information in the "war on terror". That is a very valid and important discussion to have, but just labeling the President as being "bereft of decency" for his policy is not an effective means to have it, in my view (unless you just want to talk to likeminded persons who have already decided to agree with you). It is no better than someone saying you do not care about safeguarding American lives because some terrorist strike might not be prevented if your policy was in place.

Rob said...

Ghost -

First I regret any misunderstanding that I'm accusing the entire Republican Party of indecency. That was not my intention and I think you know me better than that. It is the Republican political leadership that I believe to be indecent. The majority of the Republican political class and its machine has served as the Bush Administration's cheerleaders, stenographers, and apologists for indecent behavior.

Specifically, in this instance I am referring to torture and that is what I shall address here. In the future, there are plenty of examples that I will cite illustrating how the domestic and foreign policy of the Republican Party's leadership is indecent. For now, torture will suffice.

Are you aware that there are over 1,800 pictures from Abu Ghraib that Congress was too horrified to release? We're not talking about coercive tactics needed in a time of war. The fine line between coercion and torture was obliterated. It was not obliterated by rogue elements in the military. Rather it was the policy implemented by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense with the approval of President Bush. Most Republicans, not all, but most in Congress have not had the stomach to properly carry out their oversight responsibilities.

Invasive methods such as using sharp objects to penetrate a subject's rectal boundaries were condoned. Other than John McCain and Lindsey Graham how many Republicans can you cite for rebuking Donald Rumsfeld about it? Many of these subjects have yet to be charged with an actual crime. Furthermore, as Senator John McCain a victim of torture himself has pointed out, these tactics are ineffective. They do not enhance our security. For example, Senator McCain told his captors the name of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line when asked to provide names of military personnel. People will tell you almost anything while being tortured. Some might even say they know where to find weapons of mass destruction.

We're already learning of innocent people apprehended for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The fact that this is happening in a country which never threatened us in the first place only compounds the crime. I for one hold my country to a higher standard of behavior. I regret to say that most Republicans in leadership positions do not.

As to your question about how would I feel if my child were endangered, I thought of former Governor Mario Cuomo. Mr. Cuomo as you may recall is against capital punishment. When asked how he would feel if his wife were murdered he acknowledged he would want revenge. I'm sure if a family member of mine was kidnapped, I would be willing to do anything to secure their safety. Civilized socities however cannot and must not be regulated by such impulses.

So I put the question to you as a father: if we were occupied by a country we never threatened, and your child was apprehended for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and tortured because of it - how would you feel? Would you consider the leadership of such a nation decent?

Ghost said...


I am aware of the many pictures from Abu Ghraib that were not released. However, you make a lot of statements of "fact" that as far as I know are not proven.

First, you suggest these pictures are far more horrible than the ones released and that is why they have not been released. Perhaps, but I have heard others report that they are essentially more of the same. Many who do not want more pictures released feel these pictures at this point mainly serve as propaganda to recruit more terrorists. That is not the same as condoning the actions the pictures record.

You then seem to assume as fact that all the actions were approved or intended by the entire chain of command. No doubt you have read this in certain publications, but it was not the conclusion of the investigations I have seen.

Yes, Rumsfeld and those under him struggled with how far to go in dealing with prisoners and clearly loosened some restrictions. In addition, there were too few supervisors at Abu Ghraib and the rules were too unclear, allowing more aggressive actors to perhaps convince some soldiers that certain actions were to be "winked at".

However, that is a far cry from saying the most abusive tactics were intended by the Administration. If they had that type of control, wouldn't they have been smart enough to forbid taking pictures and passing them around? Or do you think Bush and company got a kick out of the pictures and recording such events?

Perhaps you can reveal your source about the "rectal boundary" claim and your evidence that it was condoned by the Administration?

I really do not think attacking the motives of actors is going to get you very far here. One could be "bereft of decency" in treating prisoners harshly or in treating them "well". For example, if a politician wishing to curry favor was more concerned about having the press praise them for treating prisoners nicely and did not care about getting information that might help save American lives because those Americans were not personally known to them, I would consider that "bereft of decency". I do not for a minute assume that is the motive of those concerned about prisoner abuse, however.

Instead of starting at the end with lots of blame, perhaps you should start at the beginning. What is the correct goal regarding prisoners captured in this war? Is it merely to hold and restrain them from future action, or is it appropriate to try to obtain useful intelligence from them? Can it only be information they give voluntarily, or are any interrogation techniques allowed? How do you draw the line as to what is allowed?

Your statement that torture is "not effective" is a cop-out in my view. First you have to define what you consider torture before you can even have a discussion of whether it is sometimes effective in obtaining information. Obviously, I would not support techniques I believed did not illicit useful information, and few would. You need to address the hard question of those techniques you may not like that are effective.

I will answer your question about my child being apprehended for being "in the wrong place at the wrong time". Obviously, I would be horribly upset. I have great sympathy for people arguing for greater review of detainees to try to release those mistakenly held more quickly. Of course, this would require more resources that many opposed to the war would be quick to criticize.

I would also support a requirement that some kind of showing be made regarding a given prisoner before any aggressive interrogation techniques could be used. However, I have no doubt that a large number of those apprehended are very bad actors, and that is especially true of those moved to areas for formal interrogation.

When you responded about what you would want to do to find your missing child in my question, did you just dismiss your reaction as irrational emotion because nothing you could do is likely to illicit the desired information, or rather, are you arguing that society should stop you even though you think the techniques would work? If you watched the movie, Man On Fire, with Denzel Washington, how many viewers do you think were saying "someone should stop him" as Denzel tortured various bad actors to learn the whereabouts of an innocent girl? You need to take the hard hypothetical of assuming the techniques work, and that the people being interrogated are bad actors with the information desired, and then decide where to draw the line.

Many of these are hard questions, not easy ones with a clear moral highground as you suggest.

Rob said...

Ghost -

In March 1990, while studying abroad I was fortunate to spend time in East Berlin and Poland. Check Point Charlie dividing East and West still stood - even though the Berlin Wall had already come down. The legacy of Communist totalitarian rule remained embedded in the people and surroundings. One thing that overwhelmed me, especially in Poland, was the gratitude and admiration of American values. The people so much as told me that the force of America's moral authority was like a sledgehammer against Stalin's Iron Curtain. Our ideas and example liberated Eastern Europe as much as anything. Our freedom, our emphasis on human rights, our championing the sheer dignity of the individual inspired a dissident movement from the Balkans across the Urals that Moscow could not contain. I felt it most poignantly when talking to a member of Solidarity in Warsaw. He described to me torture at the hands of the secret police in Poland (definitely not coercion) and expressed that the contrast of values between East and West stiffened the spines of people like him to keep up the fight. That left a powerful impression upon me about America's capacity to promote freedom through not only military power but example. It also helped me realize that nations just as people have character. By the way, the gentleman I spoke with in Warsaw joked with me that he lied so much he couldn't remember what he told to which tormentor.

During this particular trip I also walked the grounds of Auschwitz and another concentration camp nearby (either Birkenbau or Treblinka I was never certain). That left an even deeper impression upon me: there is unadulterated evil in this world and sometimes we're asked to choose sides.

We are currently engaged in a conflict with unadulterated evil and it is absolutely vital that we prevail. Military power will NEVER be enough in this conflict. The sad reality is we are using Saddam's facilities of torture against the people we supposedly liberated. Whether those held in captivity are petty criminals, terrorists, on innocents is not the point. As John McCain has so eloquently expressed: it's not about who they are its about who WE are. Our current example is undermining our efforts severely in this conflict.

Truthfully, I don't see a gray area between coercion and torture. We know the prisoners of Abu Graib have been physically abused, even killed. That is not coercion and there is no defense for it. I think your hiding behind legalisms in order to cover up for moral discomfort. And that is simply wrong. As for labeling my description of torture as ineffective a "coput," tell that to John McCain and the gentlemen I met fifteen years ago in Warsaw. I don't think you would get a polite response from either man.

Finally, the burden is not on us to trust President Bush's motivations. Putting Bush's abysmal track record of lies aside for the moment, we are a government of laws, not men. Prior to the Enlightenment we had little choice but to trust the motivations of Kings and accept their whims. But according to our Constitution, no one is above or beneath the law. That is not only an important principal but a bedrock value for our society. The burden is on elected officials to demonstrate that their motivations and judgment are sound. Given the context and track record of Bush's stewardship I cannot blindly trust his motivations and believe we don't torture just because he says so. I very much fear that the damage he has inflicted upon our honor and prestige is irreparable. As the 21st century progresses, we may not be the sole superpower anymore. And that will make the baggage we carry from our behavior in Iraq even heavier - inciting even more terrorism.

Ghost said...


Gee, you sure make me sound like an evil and stupid person at the same time; one who believes in horrific interrogation techniques that also happen to be completely ineffective! The only problem is that is not what I said.

Let's go step by step through your response very carefully, and I will try to be clearer.

First, everything you said about your visit to Germany I agree with. I actually went into East Germany when it still existed in 1981 or 1982. I am convinced the only reason they even let us in was because they desperately needed hard currency (we were required to exchange a certain amount into East German marks at the absurd official exchange rate). I absolutely agree that it is important to maintain clear moral differences in what we believe is acceptable conduct.

Next, you seem to cast me as defending the severe misconduct at Abu Ghraib prison. I am not. I would guess that in large part we would agree on specific techniques that are out of bounds, such as severe physical abuse or parading prisoners around naked and photographing them in humilating positions. What I questioned was your assumption that these types of techniques were known about and condoned at the highest level. You specifically cited rectal insertion and the IG report. I asked you to show me where in the IG report it discussed this, and where it found Administration officials to have condoned such conduct.

I do not think I would have much trouble having a conversation with McCain as you suggest. My understanding of what he and many others have said about severe physical or psychological coercion is that the information extracted is very unreliable. Specifically, you get a lot of false information the prisoner thinks you want to hear as they will say anything to stop the pain. No doubt this is true, but it does not mean torture never illicits useful information. What it does mean is torture is most effective as an interrogation technique when the right types of questions are asked and the right circumstances are established. The prisoner must both have the information you want, and know that you will be able to quickly confirm whether what he or she says is true. Furthermore, they must believe that if they provide the true information their treatment will improve, but if they provide false information they will shortly experience discomfort again when you discover the falsehood. Under these conditions, the only way for them to stop the pain is to provide the truth, and I suspect pain would be effective.

However, this is not to say that I approve of using such techniques even if they are effective. I just do not like the easy answer of saying you do not have to weigh the balances because the techniques would not work. Given all the people and countries, from the mob to Israel who have employed these techniques, I think it is clear they can work in the right circumstances.

No less a liberal icon than Alan Dershowitz has made a case for allowing "torture" warrants in exceptional cases. Clearly he thinks such techniques can work in the right conditions.

Now, that said, I agree with McCain that our standards for the treatment of prisoners should be clear to our interrogators and approved at the highest levels. I have no trouble with his proposal to have a manual with the standards, but I am concerned with using a manual freely available to the enemy. This is a major problem if it is quite specific, as it would allow them to train for our allowed techniques and probably render them completely ineffective. Therefore, I would support a classified manual of allowed methods, that could be modified only through a proper documented process at the highest levels.

I may disagree with McCain on specific techniques - I do not know which he allows and which he does not. Sleep deprivation, forcing someone to stand for long periods of time, using bright lights or playing annoying music, etc. are all coercive techniques that I would be inclined to allow in certain circumstances. Whipping someone or breaking bones are techniques I would not allow, even though they may be effective to gather certain information. For the more coercive techniques that I would allow, I would want some documented showing about the prisoner prior to approval of the use of those techniques. This would protect detainees who were just "in the wrong place at the wrong time", as you described them.

What types of coercive interrogation, if any, do you believe should be allowed?

As for your final point about Bush and his Administration, I am not asking you to blindly trust anybody, just not to blindly assume that anything that went wrong was intentional. Sandy Berger stole classified documents during the 9/11 investigation and pleaded guilty, but I do not assume that Bill Clinton knew he was doing it.

Lots of things go on in the government and the military. A lot of people are involved. When something like Abu Ghraib happens, you can certainly blame higher ups for not establishing proper supervision. However, it is a big leap to assume they wanted all these things to happen. Why would they? You must think they are really stupid as well as evil, since it is pretty obvious that widespread mistreatment like that will become public one way or another.

Bottom line -
I respect you desire to maintain a clear difference in how we treat even the worst of people and how the terrorists treat the innocents they behead or blow up. I agree with you on this, and there are definitely interrogation techniques I would not want used even though they may sometimes work.

I agree with McCain that we need lines that are clear to our own people, and that they should not be freelancing, but I do not think these lines and standards should be available to any terrorist with an internet connection.

I do not approve of much of what went on at Abu Ghraib, but have not seen any evidence that people above Karpinski actually knew what was going on there. Some of them, like General Sanchez, should have known, and can be faulted for that. That makes him negligent, not evil, in my opinion.

If you are hoping to convince anyone who disagrees with you to consider your opinions, then you should stop acting like it is obvious that Bush is "bereft of decency". That just suggests to people like me that you think either I am also bereft of decency, stupid, or severely misguided. Furthermore, such labeling is unnecessary to having the more important discussion of what is the right policy. The vast majority of the people (and even the politicians) in all parties are trying to do the right thing most of the time (although too often politicians think the ends justify the means).

Well, I am off to have LASIK surgery tomorrow, so this will be my last post for a while. Probably much to your relief!

Rob said...


I certainly don't think you're evil or stupid; nor do I claim to have a monopoly on wisdom. And you're views are always welcome. I was hoping to hear from you about my posts on civil liberties.

Nevethless, I believe your position here is dangerous on multiple levels. Sadly you're legalistic arguments empower and legitimize those who are in favor of torture - even if you're not. I recommend you take a step back from the cold detached legalistic nuances over coercion and torture. Far from being stupid you may actually be too cerebral about the entire issue. I believe there are people on a visceral level who approve of torture. Their views probably go something like this, "if they're in custody they must be up to no good. They're barbarians. They have to learn we mean business. Maybe we can send a message not to mess with us. They deserve whatever they get anyway." Yet on an intellectual and emotional level, such people know this position to be wrong. Hence you're giving them a veneer of respectability and just the rationale they need to support immoral behavior. As far as the Bush Administration is concerned, the Geneva Convention is a straightjacket. Hence they wanted to get outside its boundaries and define coercion on their own terms rather than the bounds of the Geneva protocol. When you have policy makers and a public that on a visceral level want revenge and believe torture to be justified - that is a slippery slope.

I would codify appropriate interrogation techniques by returning to the Geneva protocol. I think it worked rather well for over half a century. Most military brass are in favor of it as well. It also has the support of the civilized world. The Bush Administration has put us in opposition to the civilized world. I know the easy and knee jerk reaction to that point is, "our enemies are not civlized and don't play by our rules." That is certainly true. All the more reason for us to set an example and offer a contrast of behavior. To the world at large the pictures from Abu Ghraib were clear as a bell. There was no subtle distinction between coercion and torture in those photographs and it served as a propaganda rallying point for the Islamic Jihadists. To the Iraqi's, our conduct in Abu Ghraib makes us no different than Saddam. As far as their concerned, Saddam was an evil SOB but at least he was one of them. And for the world, President Bush threatening to veto legislation that bans torture only widened the gulf between America and the community of nations. Since we're confronted with an implacable and elusive enemy that is not a good place to be. Military power will never by itself prevail in this conflict. We need all the moral authority we can muster to mobolize the civilized world to our cause. I also must add, that while 90 Senators supported this, the majority of Republicans had to be shamed into it by John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Is it any wonder that nations which should be on our side dissapprove?

Another important point, you've referred to Israel in a couple of posts. I remind you that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that torture was illegal. This is a country where people know to never eat near the front entrance of any restaurant or cafe because they risk being more susceptible to a bomb.

As for President Bush and his administration, I don't have a problem directly saying they've been incompetent and yes stupid. These people actually believed we would be greeted with flowers! Six months ago Dick Cheney said the insurgency was in its "last throes." They exhibited horrible judgment in how many boots to put on the ground even when their top brass begged for more. They STILL haven't properly provided body armor for the troops. And due to their incompetence the detainess were not supervised by true professionals with appropriate traning and standards. Perhaps that's how they wanted it. I do not put it past them to have been stupid about how their techniques would be perceived. And Bush as Governor had no problem turning down appeals for people on death row even when confronted with substantial evidence putting their guilt into question. He laughed about the pending execution of a woman who committed horrofic crimes and then found religion. It's not a stretch for me to believe he's indecent enough to condone torture.

A gentleman we both know well gave me John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations for my fourteenth birthday. To this day I consider it among the most cherished of gifts I've ever received. The very first quote I ever read in that book was from Christopher Dawson who in 1942 wrote in The Judgment of Nations: "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."


ghost said...


I sent you a section of the Geneva Convention which you keep referring to as some sort of "gold standard" for the treatment of all detainees.

If you read it, it clearly prohibits any kind of coercive efforts to obtain information. In fact, under the Convention, POWs are entitled to keep their secrets, other than name, rank and serial number. The point to the Convention was that both sides had their secrets, and they decided on a quid pro quo to not attempt to obtain such secrets from each other's POWs through any coercion. Here we are faced with a very different calculus.

From previous comments you have made, I do not believe this is in fact your position. Obviously, if we use no coercion at all and simply treat people under such standards, we will get very little or no useful information. Do you believe we should not even consider an attempt to extract useful information other than by polite questioning? If not, I think you will have to give up on relying on the Geneva Convention and actually get into the nitty gritty of deciding which techniques (isolation, sleep deprivation, etc.) may be used on which prisoners (all or only those for whom so showing has been made about what they may know). This is the approach I would favor (i.e., a set of guidelines applicable for different levels of prisoners). So, prisoners could only be subject to mild techniques without a showing before some kind of military review body. Then, with such a showing, more coercive techniques could be used.

The alternative is the position that it simply is not worth the "costs" in US image to attempt to extract any useful information from prisoners by any means they may find at all unpleaasant. They clearly have such information that on occasions may save many lives, so I am not willing to draw such an absolute line.

McCain has apparently indicated that in the case of a "ticking nuclear bomb" he suspects the President or others would simply have to break his proposed law and hope to be pardoned afterwards. With all due respect, this sounds absurd to me. It would basically create a strict liability standard against trying to extract life saving information. If you do not save lives, then you go to jail no matter how reasonable a believe you had that the prisoner knew something critical.

Here is a link to an article responding to McCain's position that I think you should consider:

Frankly, I still think the best approach is to have secret, but codified, techniques that are allowed. The use of many of these techniques should require various levels of showings before some kind of magistrate before they could be used on a prisoner. The point of keeping these techniques secret, rather than publishing them for the world, is to maintain their effectiveness.

It is the sense, rightly or wrongly, that our own people do not know what the standards are and therefore freelance far to much, combined with the use of coercive measures on detainees that we have little evidence actually know anything, that bothers me the most. This can be addressed without compromising our ability to learn of imminent terrorist plots through more than pleasant conversations over a cup of tea with detainees!