Page: You're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. I'm Susan Page, filling in for Diane, and our topic today is harsh interrogation tactics which the Bush administration has approved and defended, but which President Obama seeks to end. Our guests are Mike Posner, President of Human Rights First; Jess Bravin, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and Mark Thiessen, former speechwriter for President Bush. Mike, what's the story on harsh interrogation?
Mike: The Greatest Generation had a strict anti-torture policy, and they beat the Axis. We have a pro-torture policy, and we can't beat a bunch of scruffy cave dwellers.
Mark: We don't define it as torture if it works. Our interrogators tried going by the book and got diddly, but with harsh interrogation techniques we got info on all kinds of evil, and used that info to stop attacks on Americans.
Page: Such as?
Mark: Al-Quaida was totally gonna go ape all over us, but we got the info and stopped it.
Mike: Can you back that up with specifics?
Mark: I'm afraid I can't reveal the kind of high-level secrets that only speechwriters are privy to.
Jess: You know, I sat in on some Army interrogation training, and the by-the-book tactics aren't softball at all. They push people pretty far.
Mark: Nah, I've seen it. It's totally vanilla.
Page: Let's take some calls. Hello Fred, you're on the air.
Fred: I'm a psychologist so I know what I'm talking about when I say that in Vietnam we learned that you do ANYTHING to get the information. You can't have your hands tied. You do whatever it takes to get the information. I can't tell you how many times I had to tie a guy up, slap him around, and press my genitals to his sweating, bristly face, just to get information out of him.
Mike: So those were the interrogation tactics used in Vietnam?
Fred: They were my tactics, and I find they're just as applicable to therapy.
Fred: I've turned many a troubled teen around.
Mike: Say, didn't we lose in Vietnam?
Fred: Who's we, white man? Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Mihn! He taught us how to win!
Page: And that's about enough of Fred. Here's Becky from Nashville on line 2.
Becky: Speaking as President and Founder of the Nashville branch of the Daddy Touched Me And I Liked It Society, I believe real American Christian Men are tough. and in my White Christian McMansion with Thomas Kinkade prints on the wall, tough means being strong enough to put panties on the head of a guy who's been tied to a bedframe.
Mark: Now you're talkin'.
Becky: Don't forget, Jesus was a torturer!
Jess: Actually Jesus was tortured, not a torturer.
Becky: Are you saying Jesus was a terrorist?
Jess: No, the Romans thought he was a terrorist, so they tortured him on a false pretext.
Becky: That never happens I'm not listening LA LA LA. If you drew a Venn Diagram of "People Who Get Tortured" and "Terrorists" it would show a total overlap. We are an exceptional, moral, blessed nation, and that means we can do anything we want without jeapordizing our exceptional, moral, blessed status. If that means torturing a few creeps, so what?
Mark: Wow, I usually have to pay $3.95 per minute for this.
Page: Becky, thank you for your keen insights. Mark, zip your pants back up.
Mark: Look, this word "torture" is getting thrown around too freely. It's not torture if they're HEROES.
Mike: Where I come from Heroes is a dopey superhero soap opera. Only Neo-Cons think it's a reality show.
Mark: Mike, why do you love 9-11?
Mike: Suck it, gnome.
Mark: Okay then, Mike, let me ask you something. If you could have prevented 9-11 by sticking bamboo shoots under a terrorist's fingernails, would you have?
Jess: If I may interject here, 9-11 didn't happen because no one in America had the moral courage to torture terrorists. It happened because the CIA and FBI were acting like middle-schoolers who think each other is too stuck up. If they had shared information that they already had, the whole thing could have been averted.
Mark: Where's the fun in that? I can't go back to highlighting favorite passages in Naked Lunch! Tormenting young Arabic men is too important for the imagination alone! It needs to be explored... in all its shiny, wet glory...
Page: My hand to God, we are never discussing this topic again.