Another Innocent

I saw this lovely article on Slashdot. The upshot is that the ACLU is upset because the U.S. is using, or may be using, a new type of technology that gives a real time picture of the brain as a lie detector on prisoners in the War on Terror. I suppose it works this way; the interrogator asks questions, shows pictures or just talks to the subject while an analysis team looks for clues about the subjects truthfulness in the changes inside his brain.

The ACLU is worried that this technology is untested and the reactions of the brain are poorly understood at best and may result in people being accused of crimes they did not commit because of errors or misinterpretations of the data. Well, you know me. I think that, as a general rule of thumb, we are safe doing everything the ACLU is opposed to, and this is no exception.

We are at war. Untested, cutting edge technologies are always rolled out in wartime in an attempt to get an edge over the enemy. Radar at the start of WWII was extremely crude, but it gave the British the edge they needed to win the battle of Britian. Airplanes were little more than wooden kites at the start of WWI but they were deployed as the waring nations sought every advantage possible. Why would the War on Terrorism be any different.

The individuals subject to these kinds of interrogations are combatants. This is a part of a legitimate effort to gain intelligence in the prosecution of the war, what does the ACLU prefer, torture? This is not a law enforcement operation. I would have problems if law enforcement agencies in the U.S. were using this technology on U.S. citizens or if people were having to pass these sorts of tests to get or keep a job.

But that’s not what’s happening. My favorite quote from the article: “What we don’t want is to open our newspapers and find that another innocent person has been thrown into Guantánamo because interrogators have jumped to conclusions based on a technology no one understands very well. ” No problem. Since there are no innocents in Guantánamo now, we don’t have to worry about another going there. Please.

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