Thursday, June 30, 2005

David Frum: "Grey Lady Proves Rove Right"

David Frum's Diary: "Take for example this [NYT'S] story, which appeared on the front page, upper left hand corner of Friday's paper. Here's the lede: 'Military doctors at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have aided interrogators in conducting and refining coercive interrogations of detainees, including providing advice on how to increase stress levels and exploit fears, according to new, detailed accounts given by former interrogators.'
And it continues: 'The accounts shed light on how interrogations were conducted and raise new questions about the boundaries of medical ethics in the nation's fight against terrorism.'

You might well wonder: what questions could this story possibly raise? What on earth could be wrong with the military using psychologists to help it figure out how to interrogate more effectively? Or - to be more specific - how on earth could even the NYT possibly find this use of psychologists objectionable? The interrogations in this case after all involve terrorists captured in Afghanistan, the war that the NYT tells us it unequivocally supports. The psychologists were not involved in any alleged abuse or maltreatment of prisoners.

Yet the paper gives prolonged and highly visible credence to complaints that 'there was no way that psychiatrists at Guantanamo could ethically counsel interrogators on ways to increase distress on detainees.' How, how, how? Hold your jaw in your mouth with both hands and listen:
'Several ethics experts outside the military said there were serious questions involving the conduct of the doctors, especially those in units known as Behavioral Science Consultation Teams, BSCT, colloquially referred to as 'biscuit' teams, which advise interrogators.

''Their purpose was to help us break them,' one former interrogator told The Times earlier this year.'
In other words: in the view of the NYT's favored experts, and of those editors who adjudged this story worth of the most prominent spot on A-1, it was the very act of extracting information from terrorist detainees that was morally problematic.

And that's why conservatives like Karl Rove express doubts about the liberal commitment to the war on terror."

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