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Tuesday, 22 February 2005


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Would it not also be productive to extend this to incidents beyond terrorism? Drugs and organised crime, for instance, present a sustained attack upon civil society in this country, much more so than terrorism does at the moment. It has proved impossible to penetrate many of the advanced networks of organised crime. So, why not use harsh treatment to gather intelligence in such cases?

Oh dear, Smith has me on the hip! My immediate re-action is to repeat my opinion that all drugs should be legalised. The money raised in tax and saved from disbanding the echelons of law-(non)enforcement organisations could be spent on anti-drug propoganda and re-hab centres. The organised crime syndicates would then wither on the vine.

However, I admit that my view is unlikely to prevail. If society truly wanted to attack the drug problem it would, and should, start by attacking the consumers not the suppliers. This is equally unlikey to occur, because any political party trying that on would lose votes wholesale.

Having waffled on thus in order to give myself time to think, then yes, I do think that 'harsh treatment' as described above should be used to extract intelligence from low-level dealers in order to get at the big boys. Again, nothing obtained by these methods could be used in a court.

But how do you factor mistaken identity into the process?

And isn't "harsh treatment" inherently useless as a means of gleaning information? Aren't people prone to saying what their captors want to hear when under duress?

"But how do you factor mistaken identity into the process?"

You can't. To err is human!

To your second point: No, remember we would be looking for *information*, not *confessions* to a crime. We would want names, addresses, 'phone numbers, locations, dates and times, etc, etc. The interrogator will not be'suggesting' answers to the subject, and anything he gets can be checked upon. Indeed, mostly it will be a question of cross referencing it against information from other sources.

"You can't. To err is human!"

So I suppose "harsh treatment" is ok until it's you or yours being hosed down and starved. Or does one lie back and think of England?

Now, now, 'Chick', all I'm saying is that "shit happens!" Anyway, my definition of 'harsh treatment' will not, and I know whereof I speak, do a healthy man (or woman), lasting harm. It is just harsh, not torture, and there is a strict time limit. And the benefits, assuming one's country was under sustained terrorist attack, would be immense.

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