Given the presence on the Q & A panel last night of ex-CIA interrogator turned whistleblowing author (The Interrogator: A CIA Agent's True Story), Glenn Carle, the subject of torture was inevitable. Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian's foreign editor, and an unabashed apologist for all things USraeli (who had earlier in the discussion loudly declared that worked for Murdoch), was decidedly shifty. Torture was out, he said, but that old euphemism for same, 'enhanced interrogation techniques', now that was a different matter:
GS: "I don't think that it's about black and white. I don't think you're obliged to give the Taliban that you captured on the battlefield a slice of apple pie, a cup of tea and a warm environment. I think you're allowed to be pretty robust in your questioning, and the moral dilemma comes about when you think this person has information which may well save innocent lives if he gives it to us. Now..."
Tony Jones (interrupting): Can I ask you what is the limitation you put on this because you know that American Republican officials at very senior levels talk about enhanced interrogation techniques and there's a whole set of things you can and can't do to people?
GS: "Well, I think there have got to be rules and the CIA as I understand it ask for proper legal guidance all the time and find it very difficult to get legal guidelines. There have got to be rules..."
Tony Jones (interrupting): But they ended up doing a lot of waterboarding for example, so just to test you here, do you think waterboarding is legitimate?
GS: "Well, I would say this. Although I have the greatest respect for our fellow panelist there are other authors with similar knowledge who are of the view that enhanced interrogation techniques did provide life-saving information. Now it seems to me..."
Tony Jones (interrupting): Just to get back to my question. Do you condone waterboarding?
GS: "If the technique doesn't leave any lasting physical or psychological damage then I think you have to examine whether in an extreme case it might be allowed but I wouldn't allow a blanket policy saying yes you can waterboard. But I wouldn't absolutely rule out things which are pretty stressful in the interrogation department."
Tony Jones (addressing Glenn Carle): You're the expert on the subject. Do the ends justify the means?
GC: "No they don't. We just heard really the world as described by Rupert Murdoch and the Republican Party in the US, not a word of which makes sense as related to the truth and the law and our heritage and effective interrogation... There are four people who've written and spoken out about quote enhanced interrogation techniques since they occurred after 9/11. Two army officers who were interrogators, an FBI officer who was an interrogator, and a CIA officer - myself. None of us knew each other. All of us say almost verbatim the same things, which is that it doesn't work, it's illegal, it's immoral and it's unnecessary. The only people who've spoken out in favour of quote enhanced interrogation techniques - the only ones - are one of two categories. Either the individuals who made the policies and are trying to defend them for their legacy and for legal defence reasons, or the shills for the policies themselves. They're the only ones..."
So let me get this straight, as they say, here we have an ex-CIA man, who has seen and heard it all (and for whom, incidentally, Sheridan has professed nothing but the greatest respect), not only dismissing him as a mere mouthpiece for Murdoch and the Bushies, but nailing him as a shill for the waterboarders. Television doesn't get more real than that.