Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Friday, February 23, 2007

US Combat Losses: Illegal Prisoner Abuse Counterproductive

Prisoner abuse is an indicator to evaluate [a] the discipline of US Combatant Commanders, and [b] the ability of planners to effectively plan for and manage all combat variables.

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Auditing Indicator: Common Planning Structures

Illegal prisoner abuse is more than a gotcha. It's an independent method to evaluate the command and control functions of US government leadership.

Prisoner abuse isn't just about legal compliance. It's a measure of how effectively American leaders are or are not able to effectively mange constraints, confront reality, and effectively work within the existing parameters. Misconduct in one forum is a sign that there are other problems with combat planning, supports, and war management.

Prisoner abuse says more than US compliance with the laws. It tells us how effective or ineffective US civilians, contractors, and war fighters are in complying with requirements, doing what they should, and effectively planning for combat and non-combat activities and requirements. The same group which recklessly planned the Iraq invasion; and absurdly transferred troops fro Afghanistan to Iraq, was the same group that failed to effectively mange prisoners.

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Advertised Benefits of (Illegal) Prisoners Abuse At odds With Combat Results

Intelligence gathered from illegal prisoner abuse, if it were "justified" should be able to support superior combat results and point to net advantages the US forces would otherwise not get.

We can speculate, if this "valuable intelligence' where not captured, the outcomes. It's time to review the effectiveness of US government leadership in using information from illegal abuse. It is likely had the US committed no prisoner abuse, the combat losses would be different; The same organization that would have been in place to effectively manage prisoners would have been effectively manage combat operations.

Putting aside Geneva, if the US Congress says that abuse and the information gleaned from that abuse outweighs the net negatives, the US government cannot explain why, despite the interrogations and information from prisoners from abuse, the US was unable to translate that supposed "gathered information" into more effective plans than the insurgents to prevail in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With the setbacks in Afghanistan, and new surprises in Iraq, there's little to justify continuing to hold prisoners or gather information from them.

Even if the prisoners from Guantanamo were from AlQueda, I can hardly think of anything that they would still know that would be relevant.

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This government, despite world support and Congressional backing -- on top of the prisoner abuses, torture, and illegal surveillance -- still messed up Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tell me again: Who is arguing that torture or prisoner abuse solves anything?

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Putting aside Geneva and the legal standards prohibiting abuse, if the prisoner mistreatment could be justified in terms of "operational success" -- the US government has not made a case that torture or prisoner abuse works.

Measuring the combat progress-losses alone in Afghanistan, the US "should have" using torture gleaned sufficient advantages to more than make up for the net losses due to increased insurgent resolve.

If we suppose that the prisoner mistreatment would gain some leverage -- in that the enemy was not able to abuse US leaders -- then we should have seen the US government using that information to achieve a strategic and tactical advantage, and end the war.

The results are the opposite:

  • The abuse has emboldened the fighters

  • Despite the advertised claims that prisoner abuse would help win the war, the US has not been able to stay ahead of the fighters in Afghanistan

  • Despite "knowing" hat the insurgents in Afghanistan were "going to do" the US did not have enough troops to go after this "known" activity; but did the opposite, moved troops to the wrong location -- Iraq -- and did not have enough troops n place to resolve the "known" things that the GTMO prisoners should have told them.

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    How do we explain this?

    1. Abuse of prisoners does not yield new information that the enemy doesn’t already know; it gives us new information which may or may not be effectively used.

    2. Despite the leadership asserting it had the right and power to do something, it does not have the competence to use fully leverage the method and gleaned information.

    3. Even if the US did get information that was valuable, the enemy would expect this, and adjust accordingly.


    The DoD and DoJ suppression-classification of the prisoner abuse and interrogation sessions has less to do with protecting secrets than in hiding illegal activity. If the information gleaned form these abusive interrogations were valuable, the US should have been able to produce superior results, more effectively manage resources, and out maneuver the enemy.

    The results belie this assertion. Contrary to claims that the DOJ and DoD were protecting information, the US cannot point to any information that put the Untied States in a sustained, superior position. If there was a relative superior position on the back of information gleaned from abuse, the combat setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq suggest the information was outdated, not useful, or illusory.

    It appears the "valuable" secrets the US government supposedly gleaned through illegal abuse are vague; and did not translate into better battle management. There is the paradox of the impossibility of data being of two different qualities. We describe this as Quantum Intelligence -- where the same information is argued to have two states: High value which cannot be reviewed; but worthlessness which cannot be used. If the US has information in any files from any illegal abuse, the US government has no effectively demonstrated that the information was so valuable the court could not review the information; but that same information was so worthless that the US, despite that information, faced mounting losses which the US leadership did not adequately respond to, adjust, or mitigate.

    In theory if the US was gleaning valuable information from abusing interrogations, the US would have known the insurgents plans; and would have outmaneuvered them. The results are the opposite:

    1. Despite having a "net benefit" of inside information; the US was losing;

    2. Despite the setbacks of combat losses, the US was not able to translate battle conditions into revised interrogations that would have produced better information form the abuse.

    Overall, DOJ and DoD cannot credibly argue that there was any information that it gleaned from any interrogation that resulted in a net advantage; or permitted US troops to outmaneuver, and position forces over the long run to achieve superior results. Rather, despite this information, the US forces did not adequately plan; were surprised by the insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq; and despite sustained combat losses and setbacks, failed to adjust their methods.

    There is no basis to argue that the US has information from the interrogations; nor that this information was effectively used; or that the information was classified. The only thing we need to look at is the combat losses.

    Putting aside Geneva, if we assume that prisoner interrogation information should have crated a net advantage, the US cannot explain despite this so-called advantage, why the US continued to do the opposite:

    1. Withdraw troops

    2. No timely respond to foreseeable rebound

    3. Failure to translate the [a] prisoner reactions to [b] forecasts about how the enemy might respond.

    Things do not add up. It is most likely:

    A. Claims that the prisoners have, in 2007, if ever, valuable information are illusory;

    B. US combat losses occurred because despite the information gleaned, there was no method in place to [a] translate prisoner information into [b] effective plans

    C. Regardless he usefulness of that information or expected payoffs, the real, sustained combat losses shows the US failed to adjust their battle management and interrogation tactics to outmaneuver the enemy.

    TI is too distant from the events of Sept 2001 to logically link [a] original prisoner treatment and abuse; with [b] the supposed information gleaned; and [c] the expected benefits that should have occurred had this information been real. It's most likely that the information was not valuable; and the US failed to both properly mange the prisoners, and ineffectively planned to use the information to adjust combat; and despite the known problems with the interrogations and combat, neither ground combat nor prisoner management issues were seriously addressed until the setbacks were openly discussed.

    IN this nexus, it can hardly be argued that classification of information is warranted or prudent. Rather, the disclosure of that information appears to have been more of a catalyst to adjust oversight than in Executive Branch conduct. The issue isn't perceptions, but the number of steps removed required to realize a problem, compel a change, and inject new approaches. Despite the call for change, the combat losses continue, raising further doubts the original procedures when modified were ever credibly in supporting war fighters.

    This says nothing of the original illegal activity, and net loss in public standing for the United States, and the rage fueled in the insurgents when they learned of this prisoner abuse.

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    The same reckless planning that failed to plan for the full civilian reconstruction in Iraq similarly did not effectively plan to use the information it supposedly gathered from the prisoners.

    The value of the information gleaned form the prisoner abuse scandal has been oversold as a justification for illegal activity.

    Regardless the legality or illegality of the abuse, the information gleaned from the abuse was not used effectively; and sustained combat losses suggest the information was at best worthless and most likely illusory and fabricated. It is more likely the quality of the intelligence gleaned was so poor that the concern shifted from managing the troops and getting information, to creating some information to have "justified" the original illegal abuse. It remains to be understood what level of fabricated information, however divorced it was from reality -- crafted to crate some sort of justification for the abuse -- was subsequently used in error and further undermined US combat plans. Was illusory data -- possibly manufactured to "sell the benefits of abuse" -- used counterproductively in combat?

    Had there been credible intelligence gathering, and had the information from prisoner abuse been "worth it" the US should have [a] used the information gleaned to more effectively manage Afghanistan; and [b] develop strategies to mitigate the public’s concerns and opposition to the US presence.

    The US failed to look at the prisoners as a focus group that might be able to share with the US troops how to effectively win the hearts and minds of the Afghanis.