Beyond Brutality, Beyond Mediocrity

An experienced interrogator who helped the U.S. government investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib wants to form a professional organization for interrogators from around the world that would lobby for appropriate oversight, high standards and a code of conduct. Torin Nelson has worked in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although he thinks legal reforms that came about after the Abu Ghraib scandal are an important first step, he thinks that forming such an organization would make interrogation not only more humane, but more effective: “So we’ve gotten beyond brutality – the next step is getting beyond mediocrity.” Retired Brigadier General David Irvine, who has taught prisoner interrogation for the U.S. Army Reserve, agrees. As the U.S. military seems to be learning that brutality can’t win a battle against an insurgency, the same is true of brutality in interrogation.

“I think there has been a real sea change in the way virtually every entity that is involved in intelligence gathering, and particularly interrogation, comes to the table now,” said Irvine. “I really believe that all of the attention that was focused on Abu Ghraib and on torture has made everybody very, very cautious.”

General Irvine has worked extensively with a group of retired military leaders who have spoken out against torture. If you haven’t lately, check out HRF’s blueprint on how to end torture.


Published on October 21, 2008


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