B-B-B-Baby, Yoo Just Ain’t Seen Mutt and Jeff

Friday, January 30th, 2009

John Yoo writes in the Wall Street Journal that under Obama’s no torture policy…:

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America.

Except that the Army Field Manual does have a section describing a “Mutt and Jeff” routine. Media Matters reports that in 2006 Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence Lt. Gen. John Kimmons described the routine as . . . another name for “good cop-bad cop.”

I think I see what happened, here, and we should probably cut Yoo some slack. He probably just mistakenly wrote “good-cop bad-cop” when he actually meant to write, “good cop, crush-your-10-year-old-son’s-testicles-cop.”

It’s a pretty common mistake.

Also, the headline to this post might be the best one I’ve ever written. Or at least a close second to this one. This one’s a distant third.

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20 Responses to “B-B-B-Baby, Yoo Just Ain’t Seen Mutt and Jeff”

  1. #1 |  Todd | 

    I know I will get s**t for this but I am all for torturing a good portion of these monsters who want to kill all of us.
    Sometimes one has to sink to his enemies level to destroy him.

  2. #2 |  Josh | 

    I’ll let others beat up your argument and just say I prefer George Washington’s belief that by doing what you suggest would “bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”

  3. #3 |  Mike T | 

    I know I will get s**t for this but I am all for torturing a good portion of these monsters who want to kill all of us.
    Sometimes one has to sink to his enemies level to destroy him.

    Even Nietzsche once said “when hunting a monster one must take care to not become a monster.”

    On the other hand, most of Bush’s left-wing critics were self-serving hypocrites on the detainee issue. Anyone who fights out of uniform is an illegal combatant and has no rights under the Geneva Conventions. In fact, those same agreements allow the US military to summarily execute anyone they capture who fires on them while not wearing the uniform of a standing government.

    The same rule applies to the intelligence agencies of every major country, even the CIA. None of their special operations people work under the official colors of a nation state, therefore they are illegal combatants when captured and have no international rights.

  4. #4 |  Mike T | 

    Simply put, Guantanamo Bay and possibly even the secret CIA-run prisons were legal under the Geneva Conventions. If the military were to line up most of the detainees tomorrow and gun them down, that too would be legal because the signers of the GC had no intention of giving license to every two-bit militiaman to wage private war on legitimate governments.

  5. #5 |  chance | 

    “In fact, those same agreements allow the US military to summarily execute anyone they capture who fires on them while not wearing the uniform of a standing government.”

    I’m sorry, that simply isn’t true. Battlefield executions are allowed under neither the Geneva convention nor the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In fact the convention explicitedly prohibits “d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

  6. #6 |  chance | 

    Sorry, for the two part comment, but before anyone starts saying that as unlawful combatants the convention doesn’t apply, I turn your attention to article five of the 4th convention, and pay special attention to the part I italicized:

    Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

    Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.

    In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.

  7. #7 |  z | 

    Also, the headline to this post might be the best one I’ve ever written.

    While that may be true I don’t think you’ll be making any Fark top ten list or getting a job at the onion anytime soon.

  8. #8 |  Danimal | 

    I was a 97E (interrogator) when I was in the Army, and I did indeed learn the “mutt and jeff” approach. Alas, they never taught me the “testicular crush” approach — I had to learn that from my ex-wife.

    Radley, if you have any questions about interrogation school, please feel free to contact me.

  9. #9 |  dsmallwood | 

    ok, three points …
    1 – Radley. funny as shit. great headline.
    2 – #1 Todd i hear that you are ok with torturing the “right” people. please remember that you won’t be deciding who that is. and to the innocent people that the CIA and
    3 – and how come we can keep the Taliban prisoners as enemy-combatants? we invaded thier country, they were the uniforms that they see fit and they fight us on thier soil with the tactics they see fit. i don’t like those *****’s either, but just because their army isn’t as cool as ours doesn’t give us the right to call them ‘irregulars’ and therefore not subject to the protocals of the Geneva Convention. (Al Queda [sic] is another story)

  10. #10 |  Chris M | 

    Radley,

    Personally, I’m parcell to the headline “First phase of Obama’s fairness doctrine complete” in reference to Ann Coulter’s mouth being wired shut.

    Plus the fact that half of the commenters were offended by it made it that much more great. Keep up the good work!

  11. #11 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @ Todd

    If you think you have to sink to an enemy’s level to destroy him, perhaps you should question why you have so many, many, many, many, many, many, many enemies.

    For god’s sake stop watching “24″ and wake up.

    Yoo is talking about CRUSHING A 10 YEAR OLD KID’S TESTICLES in order to get some nugget of info from the dad.

    Todd’s humanity test: FAIL

    A lot of talk about “legal”. Why does everyone seem to equate “legal” with “a fine and dandy thing to do”?

  12. #12 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @smallwood

    State’s have a STRONG motivation for establishing rules of war. It keeps heads of state safe. Or the simple answer to “how come?”, is “because our guns are bigger.”

    Remember, under King Bush, all captured Revolutionary War soldiers would be executed on the battlefield or tortured. It’s a bit of irony the whole circle thingy.

  13. #13 |  Mark Z. | 

    If you think you have to sink to an enemy’s level to destroy him, perhaps you should save some time and destroy yourself. The impact on the rest of the world is the same, and you’re less likely to miss. Because if you fail to destroy your enemy, future generations are stuck with both of you, and God help them. (See Israel and Hamas.)

  14. #14 |  SJE | 

    Hey, to those who want to beat terrorists to a bloody pulp: I understand where that comes from. I also understand that you don’t like the various laws against this: vengeance is a natural reaction. Therefore, you are probably not going to be convinced by legal or ethical arguments against torture.

    Have you considered the boring, practical, ethics-free reasons why torture is a bad idea?
    1. Torture doesn’t work as a means to get reliable information.
    2. Torture does serve as a great recruiting tool for your opponents
    3. The torturers often report serious effects on their own lives.
    4. Even if you don’t care what other nations think about the USA, a nation’s moral standing among other nations and peoples is a very potent weapon, that you forfeit when you torture.

    Centuries of warfare have shown that guerrilla campaigns are extremely difficult to defeat when the guerilla’s are supported by the local population, and especially when they recieve additional outside help. Any effective counterinsurgency requires winning the support of the local population. See, e.g. Iraq.

    GITMO and AbuGhreib do little to advance U.S. interests, and a lot to advance those of our enemies.

  15. #15 |  Tybalt | 

    Mike T, you are entirely wrong in law re: the Geneva Convention. Article III of the Convention provides an extensive set of protections for all combatants who are hors de combat through being detained.

    It is true that under the Geneva Conventions (though not under customary international law) non-uniformed combatants can be summarily executed on the battlefield. Once you take them prisoner, though, there are an extensive set of protections (not as fulsome as those for enemy state/uniform POWs, but quite clearly prohibiting torture or other forms of mistreatment).

    I’m curious: were you misinformed, or lying?

  16. #16 |  Tybalt | 

    And in the above, for “combatants” you can read “persons”. Their status does not matter.

  17. #17 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    “I know I will get s**t for this but I am all for torturing a good portion of these monsters who want to kill all of us.
    Sometimes one has to sink to his enemies level to destroy him.”

    The lure of the dark side is strong.

  18. #18 |  Jon H | 

    “Anyone who fights out of uniform is an illegal combatant and has no rights under the Geneva Conventions.”

    What if they didn’t fight? What if they never fought at all, and were turned in falsely for the reward money, or due to a grudge?

    How do you distinguish between an innocent, ignorant person and a terrorist who’s just really hard to crack?

  19. #19 |  Rick Pikul | 

    It is important to note that “uniformed” does not mean “wearing the uniform of a formal army” but “wearing a clearly identifying device which distinguishes you as a combatant.” People can, and have, used things like armbands to meet the requirement.

    What’s more, there are even exceptions to the uniform rule, generally due to being unexpectedly forced into combat, either tactically, (if you’re in the shower when the enemy shows up, it’s OK to just grab your weapon), or strategically, (a specific exemption is given for ad hoc militias during an invasion).

  20. #20 |  Morganella Fairchildia | 

    re Mike T

    Maybe you missed the memo. Basically, nobody at Guantanamo was captured on the battlefield fighting out of uniform. There are people pulled out of their homes at night, often based on hearsay evidence from personal enemies.

    Great Zeus, man, you are out of control.

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