I’m interested in this current discussion about torture and whether enhanced interrogation techniques yield what proponents contend is “actionable intelligence.” Survivors like Senator McCain say no; others yes – and that the ends justify the desperate means. Any viewer of the hit drama, “24,” acknowledges that if you abduct someone’s eight-year-old child and threaten to slice their eyes out with a rusty razor blade, yes, they will probably cave in. The broader question is: what does that do to our national character?
Many of you read and appreciated the blockbuster WWII book, “Flee the Captor.” John Weidner, a gentle Adventist Christian, ran “Dutch-Paris,” a successful escape organization that helped Jewish refugees and Allied airmen escape from occupied France. But those who were captured by the enemy were subjected to brutal torture. Prisoners who dangled from handcuffs pinned to a concrete wall were whipped mercilessly until their backs were shredded meat. They were forced to kneel down on steel bars set on end, causing excruciating pain.
The gendarmes finally captured Suzy Kraay, a central operative who was helping in the refugee effort. Stripping her naked, they forcibly held her down in freezing water until she nearly drowned. Over and over and over, then combining the torture with electrical shocks administered to sensitive spots. And the bottom line is: yes, their actions yielded actionable intelligence. Under the horror of it, Suzy finally broke and gave up the entire escape organization. Names, addresses, contact info, routes. Trembling and in mental collapse, she spilled a trove of secrets. So the techniques worked . . . big-time.
But the men who tortured Suzy were NAZI BUTCHERS! And forever vilified in the eyes of the entire world.