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Argument: Humane methods of interrogation are better at obtaining information than torture

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Supporting evidence

  • "Why Retired Military Brass Don't Want Torture". Los Angeles Times. September 24, 2006 - "The retired officers believe that the negative consequences of the president's anti-terror policies could have been avoided if the administration had followed traditional military practices. Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Fred E. Haynes, 83, is a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. In 1945, he was a captain in the regiment that seized Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima and raised the U.S. flag there. In March of that year, his unit found two U.S. soldiers dead, apparently victims of torture. On March 17, about 10 days before the battle ended, a Japanese soldier, wearing nothing but his boots and a cotton jock strap, stepped out of a cave with his hands up. He had read one of the leaflets Americans were distributing in artillery shells that promised that anyone who gave up would get his wounds treated and his stomach filled.
The soldier surrendered to a lieutenant who spoke no Japanese. The lieutenant called his company commander to ask what to do with the prisoner.
'As he was talking,' Haynes recalled hearing from soldiers in his unit, 'a Japanese sniper apparently got a good aim on him and the bullet penetrated his helmet at an angle, scooted around inside the helmet and dropped out the back.' Miraculously, the lieutenant was uninjured.
'In good conscience, he could have shot the Japanese [prisoner] dead," said the general, because the soldier could reasonably have concluded that he had been set up. 'But he didn't.'
Instead, the lieutenant waited for the company commander to join them. He subsequently discovered that French was a language he shared with the prisoner. Speaking French, the Japanese man offered to help clear out caves nearby.
When the prisoner was interrogated by two Marine interpreters fluent in Japanese, they quickly determined that he was the chief code clerk for the Japanese commander on Iwo Jima, an extraordinarily valuable catch.
'He not only knew the situation on Iwo, but he had good insight into the situation on Okinawa, which we were to invade on April 1 and did. He even knew a fair amount about the [Japanese army's] situation with respect to China,' Haynes recalled.
The prisoner was immediately sent to the headquarters of Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, and from there to Washington.
'The moral of the story,' said the general, 'is we Americans have been so thoroughly imbued with the idea that you have to treat prisoners humanely — and this [story] is an example of why. It is an illustration of how by treating an individual decently you are much more likely to get any information you might want — and it's more likely to be correct.'"


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