Sadly, Michael Scheuer, author of this article in the Washington Post
, does not seem to understand this. What is even more tragic is that his biographic info attached to the article reads:
"Michael Scheuer, the chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, is the author of "Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq."
A summary of the article is this: we have to torture people because there might be a ticking time-bomb scenario and torture is not only the sole way of getting life saving, actionable intelligence, that is 100% accurate.
This article is full of illogical statements, massive leaps of faith, assumptions, and self delusion. A cursory reading by anyone with an IQ over "potted plant " level will realize this. But, let me point out a few of the juicier ones:
1. Note that the scenario is fictional. As in not real.
Also, note that the author was in charge of catching Osama Bin Laden. Mr. Scheuer, it would be nice if this scenario was real, and Bin Laden was actually in custody. Perhaps you could spend less time writing fiction, and perhaps volunteer at the CIA to help capture him?
2. The author clearly demonstrates that he has no idea how terrorist groups based on cell structures work. In the scenario, Bin Laden, as the more-or-less head of Al Queda has operational and tactical intelligence about the exact timing and make up of a terror attack. Al Queda, in reality, works nothing like this.
The principles of cell-based terror organizations are that: Cell A has no idea who is in Cell B, Cell A has no idea what Cell B is planning, Cell A does not even know Cell B exists. This insures that when you are captured (and tortured like Jack Bauer does in this weeks fully-erect episode of 24!
), you have no information to give them, because you do not actually know anything about what goes on outside your cell.
Cliff's notes: Bin Laden tells his terror-pals to "go out and do bad things to hurt the great satan that is America" via audio tapes, video messages, and notes that go through layers of cut outs and dead-drops.
3. Mr. Scheuer labels Obama's change in interrogation tactics as the President imposing his moral view on the rest of us. Completely wrong, Mr. Scheuer. Obama was elected by the majority of the voters in a democracy. He campaigned on changing the way we execute the War on "Terror." He also campaigned on closing Gitmo and ending torture. Therefore, he is not "imposing his own personal morality" on defense policy. He is imposing the morality of the nation, or at least the majority of the voters who bothered to show up on election day. This is how democracy works, Mr. Scheuer, the government does what the people say. If you do not support this view of government, you are welcome to move to more enlightened nations such as North Korea, or Cuba, where Dear Leader knows best.
At the risk of sounding redundant, it bears mentioning that in the real world, reality matters. Mr. Scheuers fanciful editorial might get him noticed by the producers of "24" who might offer him a consulting contract to help write episodes, but it will not help apprehend Bin Laden, nor will it help disrupt terror attacks that are being planned, or in the stages of execution.