We All Lose Our Charms in the End

Econo-Girl got a Management degree years, even decades, ago. There she was exposed to the MAX MIN game theory. The thought is to make the worst that can happen as painless as possible.

Econo-Girl frequently thinks of this theory in relation to a functioning democracy. Since we all lose our charms in the end, you will eventually lose power by losing an election or political battle. When that happens, your actions will come to haunt you rather viciously.

With that in mind, a prudent pol will temper him/herself for a potential future downfall. Not in all cases, but for the most part. And that is part of what makes democracy great.

Econo-Girl is posting from sunny Naples, Florida today. Can't wait for a dip in the warm ocean.


We Must Discuss It For Torture To Stop

It's true. Many readers have expressed the opinion that the very discussion of the effectiveness of torture should not be engaged in. Econo-Girl disagrees. A lot of the underpinning of support for this practice is based on the belief that it is effective. So its effectiveness must be examined dispassionately. From there, the dialog can go to morals and beliefs.

Is Listening to Britney Spears Torture?

BTW - Econo-Girl loves Britney Spears, so this is not slam on you, girl. And a great web site you got.

Let's take a look at one definition:

n 1: extreme mental distress [syn: anguish, torment] 2: unbearable physical pain [syn: torment] 3: intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain; "an agony of doubt"; "the torments of the damned" [syn: agony, torment] 4: the act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean [syn: distortion, overrefinement, straining, twisting] 5: the act of torturing someone; "it required unnatural torturing to extract a confession" [syn: torturing] v 1: torment emotionally or mentally [syn: torment, excruciate, rack] 2: subject to torture; "The sinners will be tormented in Hell, according to the Bible" [syn: excruciate, torment]
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

Of course the disagreement will be in what constitutes extreme mental distress, unbearable physical pain, or intense feelings of suffering. We are all acculturated in our musical tastes such that exposure to something completely different at loud volume would be hard to bear. Or maybe the kids watching the prisoners just wanted to listen to Britney Spears, which is probably more likely.

A comment by IC Guy asked if a person would be more likely to tell the truth under threat of extreme physical pain, and the answer is probably 'yes.' But it is also just as likely they will tell you what you want to hear, judging from the reactions to their previous answers.

In this particular discussion thread, we are ignoring the role of morals.


False Confessions

Econo-Girl sees the use of torture, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as increasing the liklihood of false confessions. Or false information. Or false alarms.

The quicker results may be satisfying to a desparate political apparatus, and the resulting movement may in fact be confused with progress, but in the end you are left with information of dubious value and you are still a torturer.

Will Work Harder on Spelling

Fixed issues pointed out to me. And you're right, it does make a difference.

The Importance of Being Earnest

When Econo-Girl made the ill-fated decision to criticize torture she was being a naive fool. After all, hadn't the DoD and the CIA both decided to adhere to the Geneva Conventions? I really meant what I said, but apparantly they did not. Hence, the termination of employment.

Ah, well. What's done is done and there are no regrets, although a little pain. At a certain point in one's spiritual development, beliefs and actions must agree. That, in the end, is what happened. It was a process I didn't have full control of. There was a lot of profit in compartmentalization, after all.

Econo-Girl has the full support of many in the intelligence field. She knows this because she is continually approached and thanked for her outspokeness. I thank you in return. Your words of support have meant a lot to me.


Refuting a Defense of Torture: Saving Lives

A couple of recurring arguements are made to defend the practice of torture, one of which is that if it will save lives. Such a discussion often goes like this:

"So if some guy knows about an attack, and torture will get him to talk, it will save lives. So torture is OK then."

The fallacy of that point is it rarely is the case that the government knows exactly who knows of an impending attack. How is it that you are going to know the guy sitting in front of you has the information to save lives? These terrorist cells practice compartmentalization of information, so only a few will know enough details to tip off authorities. How could someone tell if they have that guy in custody? Of course, they won't.

So what are the options then? An interrogator could torture every person who hits the radar screen of suspicion. You know, just in case. And the whole time tell himself that he is saving lives. Another option is to choose someone who seems like a leader, and torture that guy until something good comes out. Of course, such things tend to be self-fulfilling prophesies.

This entire point of view is supported by the belief that people tell the truth under physical duress. How about that they will tell you anything to get the pain to stop? That seems more likely.


Starting a National Discussion on Torture

Econo-Girl is going to start a national discussion on torture and interrogation, not as an expert, but as a person who is driven to know and communicate.

We cannot ignore the role of faith, morals and identity in this discussion.

All perspectives need to be aired, including the tit-for-tat and effectiveness arguements. If, indeed, torture is effective, we need to discuss it, as morally abhorrant as that is to some. Keep in mind that effectiveness is not the final word in the discussion.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of various interrogation methods?

What is the impact of false confessions to counter-terrorist analysis?

What constitutes torture? What is its definition?

Let's examine the conflict between what is said, and what is done. Thank you in advance for your participation.


Can We All Agree That Torture Is Wrong?

Some of you make the arguement that torture is necessary at times. But working towards a common ground of understanding, do we all agree that torture is wrong?

Saddam Hussein Also Disliked the Geneva Convention

Remember Gulf War I? The first President Bush was raising a fuss about Saddam Hussein and his gassing of the Kurds. He doesn't adhere to the Geneva Conventions! He must be stopped! It was used as one of the reasons to go to war.

Now we as a nation have decided to, finally, follow the Geneva Convention once again. And when I write to support that new policy, all hell breaks loose. That's fine. Econo-Girl is sure she angered a lot of people, and what's the point of living if you're not going to do that once in a while?

But the whole time he was rallying support against Saddam Hussein, the first President Bush never suggested we become just like him. He had the sense not to go into Iraq to begin with. That old geezer is looking better all the time.


Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?

Econo-Girl is! Hence the article in the paper. And I hope I don't look that old in person. The photo in the paper makes me look like my mother, who looks great for her age, but still.

Recently, a Federal contractor was indicted for exceeding authorized use in an FBI computer system. Let's review his crimes: he circumvented security to install a printer, he failed to get approval to install said printer from FBI HQ in Washington, DC. Further, he took the password file and demonstrated that it was not protected properly.

Econo-Girl freaked out because when she was let go, it was for exceeding authorized use of a Federal computer system. Was an indictment to follow? So she went public.

Aside from that, how is the FBI going to attract good IT people if everyone knows that installing a printer requires HQ approval, and a little initiative to improve security of a password file results in indictment?


Waterboarding is Torture, and Torture is Wrong

Not to mention ineffective. Econo-Girl has serious doubts as to whether European lives were saved.

Econo-Girl's purpose in writing this blog is to start a dialog on the Geneva Convention, since it now applies to the Department of Defense again. Guess it's not quaint anymore, eh?

Over the next few weeks, Econo-Girl would like to post articles about the Geneva Convention, like its origin and major provisions. Legal analysis is not the magic some would have you believe.

If the grunts and paper pushers are knowledgeable, the anti-torture infrastructure will be strengthened.

- - - - --

The above post is a recreation of a post that got me fired from the CIA. It is not exact, but covers the main points as best I remember them. I had a blog called Covert Communications on a kind of classified Internet. I wrote a version of the above post and classified it so that only Americans with clearances could read it. You couldn't even get to the blog if you had less than a Top Secret and above clearance anyway.

Another purpose of the blog post was to start a dialog on interogation techniques with the people who are asked to do the interogating. It was to be a public education campaign, of sorts. I was going to do the research on my own time and type in the results when I got to work. I never spent more than 15 minutes writing any of my posts.

What can I say? Waterboarding is torture, and torture is wrong.


Ken Lay is Dead

And in the end, that is where we all will be. So was defrauding all those people worth it, Ken, now that you have some perspective on the matter?

Econo-Girl is reminded of that girl who stole a book from some published author, got it published again under her own name, and got caught. Econo-Girl read a comment somewhere "So there are worse things than not getting into Harvard," which is where the girl was going to school.

Here, Econo-Girl says, "So there are worse things than not being a corporate titan." Like being remembered and hated for being a thief.