Patterico's Pontifications


See-Dubya: The Chicago Way

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 10:53 am

I looked over the account of the suspected twentieth hijacker’s (wait? wasn’t that Moussaoui? Or is he now the 21st hijacker?) interrogation at Guantanamo. Someone leaked a document to Time, which ran to publish its breathless handwringing gotcha scoop. (The whole story is only available to Time subscribers; but here’s a press release; here are excerpts from the log; and here’s Brother Lileks’ incomparable japing.) I can’t compete with Lileks on this one, but let me throw a thought at you:

Time got played. If this thing wasn’t leaked by Karl Rove himself, it shoulda been.

Y’all remember that movie, the Untouchables? Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and Malone (Sean Connery), couple other guys go after the oily, brutal Al Capone, played by Robert DeNiro. And the Untouchables quickly realize that the regular methods of police work just don’t apply to this war. When they go on a raid of a liquor warehouse, Capone is tipped off and clears his booze out. And he tips off the media so when Ness opens what he thinks is a crate of liquor bottles, and he pulls out a parasol, a cameraman is there to record his mistake. A picture of Ness looking stupid is on the front page the next day.

It’s funny, when you think about it, how the press were portrayed in that film: they were staunchly anti-crime and kept hassling the cops to end this horrble crime wave–while at the same time they never missed a chance to make the cops look stupid and Capone look ten thousand feet tall and unbeatable. Though they would deny it, they were complicit in Capone’s power. They fawningly took down every single word he said at press conferences, printed his lies, and laughed at his jokes. It was easy to do that. Capone would kill you, the cops wouldn’t. It was easy for the press to swim with that current. Swim against it, prick the ego, tarnish the myth, look too deeply into the abyss, and you would sleep with the fishes.

Sound familiar?

Anyway, Ness is dejected about being set up and at some point early on in the movie, Malone, the gruff Irish beat cop, gives him one of the greatest movie speeches ever:

If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way because they’re not gonna give up the fight until one of you is dead…Do you want to know how to get Capone? You’ve got to do it the Chicago Way. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one o’ yours to the hospital, you send one o’ his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way. And that’s how you get Capone.

The first step in their Chicago-way pursuit of Capone is an interception of a liquor shipment at the Canadian border. Ness shoots a bootlegger outside a small cabin while the other Untouchables, with the help of the Canadian mounties, win a huge firefight nearby. One of the bootleggers is captured alive and brought to the cabin, where he refuses to translate the ledger that conceals Capone’s accounts. Malone grows frustrated with the interrogation and walks outside, picks up the dead bootlegger and slams him against the window of the cabin. He puts his pistol in the dead body’s mouth and yells, “I’ll give you to the count of three to tell me what I want to know!”

Of course the dead bootlegger, he say nothin’, and Malone blows the dead body’s head off, spraying the horrified captive inside with gore. He falls all over himself trying to talk. Malone comes in and says “And don’t let him clean himself until he tells you everything you want to know.”

At this point the prim captain of the Canadian Mounties puffs up and tells Malone indignantly, “I do not approve of your methods!”

Elliot Ness replies, “You’re not from Chicago.”

Now then. Check out the Time piece, where they have an actual log of what we do in Gitmo. Not what we tell the press, but the notes the US government keeps for its own use. The Nazis kept notes, you know, and it hung a bunch of them at Nuremberg. Ours exonerate us.

An interrogator sits on this guy’s head and reads him the news of the death of Al Qaeda figures. They call him worse than a dog, since dogs at least protect the innocent instead of killing them. They wake him up with pop music and they give him dancing lessons. They hang pictures of naked women on his clothes. They monitor his health and try to keep him hydrated despite his refusal to drink enough water. Blackjacks and rubber hoses? No, but they touched an inflated latex glove to his face.

This is, remember, the twentieth hijacker.

The man is being humiliated, not tortured. I’ve had worse in high school. I’ve had worse at church camp.

The tone of the memo is of professionals doing their best to get information from this guy without hurting him. They are exercising enormous restraint and care for his well-being. They even note how often he goes to the bathroom. I guaran-damn-tee you that better men who have done far less are being treated far worse right now, in Lompoc or San Quentin or Soledad prisons, right under the nose of the press and in the custody of the State of California. Bill Lockyer admitted as much in 2001.

This is the twentieth hijacker, and there are no rapes, no whips, no severed tongues, no battery cables, no kicks to the head. There are MRE Boxes with smiley faces placed on his head. And everyone’s going to realize this. Everyone sees that this is barely even a Chicago Rules interrogation.

Most people realize that the War on Terror must be fought the Chicago Way.

Most people, that is, except the press. They’re not from Chicago. After being tricked into publishing this exoneration of Guantanamo Bay, however, they are holding a parasol.

UPDATE: Here’s another comparison between the Terror War and the hunt for Capone–this time looking at the multi-agency task forces and prosecution strategy.

UPDATE II: Now I remember where I’ve heard about these tactics before.

UPDATE III: Geraghty at TKS agrees: this story is now a gift to the GOP.

16 Responses to “See-Dubya: The Chicago Way”

  1. “That’s the Chicago way. And that’s how you get Capone.”

    What I thought was interesting, at least in the way the story is portrayed in the movie, is that Ness falls for the flashyness of the violence. He does this while ignoring the guy who comes up wiht the winning idea which eventually DOES nail capone on the tax charges.

    actus (cd484e)

  2. Not exactly, Actus. That interrogation scene is all about translating Capone’s ledger. Ness listened to Oscar, the accountant, as soon as Oscar realized the ledger’s importance. I think it fits in with the whole system of attacking whatever weakness your enemy presents.

    I also think that this movie has absolutely zero to do with the real Capone investigation. i’m just talking about it because it’s a good story.

    See Dubya (094dd2)

  3. Answer the question. Answer the question!

    Saddam Hussein appeared in an Iraqi court today. JUDGE: Profession? Former president of the Republic of Iraq? HUSSEIN: No, present. Current. It’s the will of the people. The judge doesn’t buy this line: JUDGE: The head of the Baath Party that is di…

    Mark in Mexico (59ce3a)

  4. … but there ARE gulags in Cuba. Read this …

    Dave (cee87d)

  5. Yes, but.

    We simply cannot dismiss world opinion even if most of it is, in our view, incorrect.

    If we can point out the singular failure of the Bush Administration, it’s public diplomacy. Bush himself is too passive and I think the rest of the Administration reflects this.

    We’re getting our asses kicked by the left internationally vis-a-vis world opinion.


    SteveMG (6be569)

  6. “If we can point out the singular failure of the Bush Administration, it’s public diplomacy. ”

    I would say its the much more basic fact of taking over a country without having a clue what they would do with it. And this from the guys who spent the last 10 years pining for this invasion.

    actus (3be069)

  7. […] Blog comes through with some polls that generally support my general contention in “The Chicago Way“, below: America wants an aggressive, unconventional war on […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » See-Dubya: Chicago-Style Polling (0c6a63)

  8. On Dec. 2, Rumsfeld approved 16 of 19 stronger coercive methods. Now the interrogators could use stress strategies like…“mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing”.

    Kind or reminds me of Monty Python’s “Spanish Inquisition” bit. Next they’ll be making them sit in the comfy chair.

    Gerald A (bdfba2)

  9. Hey SMG,

    Yes we can, and should, dismiss world opinion; particularly when it is wrong. BTW, define world opinion.

    Charles D. Quarles (593219)

  10. Charles:
    “Yes we can, and should, dismiss world opinion; particularly when it is wrong. BTW, define world opinion. ”

    Sorry, that’s too cavalier. We need to TAKE world opinion on. Fight back, argue back, promote our policies. We simply can’t allow the lies about American to go unchallenged.

    When the Soviets and their allies were disseminating falsehoods about the US during the Cold War, Ronald Reagan didn’t just dismiss it as Soviet propaganda. He fought back. We need to go on the offensive diplomatically and not be so passive.

    Re world opinion: Fair point. I’m using that in the broad sense of a number of opinion polls showing that in many countries our policies are judged unfairly.

    Again, the fact that they’re wrong doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t get in the ring and fight back.


    SteveMG (a708dc)

  11. Even if we hope/have confidence that truth will prevail, it will prevail only if proclaimed.

    Years ago I spoke with a man who told me about an experience he had in the Korean
    War. A North Korean soldier had approached him from behind with a bayonet, but he became aware of movement/sound just in time to fend off the initial attack, holding the attacker’s hand and blade away from his neck.
    He said it was very strange, that as they struggled he realized (somewhat like an epiphany), “This person really wants to kill me”. He decided that only one was going to walk away, and he planned to be the one.

    Too many people, especially in positions of influencing others, haven’t come to this understanding. Hopefully they will in time, as my acquaintance did.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  12. That’s a great story, Philly. Though somewhat incomplete…

    See Dubya (afdbd2)

  13. The story is as complete as he told it to me. I basically assumed that it came down to the sports cliche’, “Who wanted the win more? Who out-hustled and outscrapped who?” In other words, in the midst of the tussle he found a way to reverse the advantage and make the attacker the victim. I did not ask for details of the fight, I’m not sure he would have been able to tell me.

    He had a few others (which I will not tell now just for the sake of doing so). Typically he told them when he had a bit of alcohol on his breath. Some may say that the alcohol would raise doubt as to the validity of a story, I considered that it took a bit of alcohol to allow him to talk about something he otherwise would not have wanted/been able to.

    I had a friend in my youth who one day found his father’s medals from the Korean War and brought them to his attention. Instead of hearing some stories of how his father had acted heroically in battle, his father was quite angry for the topic being brought up. Having lived through battle by staying up all night chucking hand grenades down hill at the expense of severe frostbite (and frayed nerves) was not a story he wished to tell.

    No vote from here to submerge to the level of inhumanity that some have, but I think this is a big point. Some people think that war is a terrible thing and want to avoid it “like any sane person”. The problem is they do not realize that it is often not a sane person who starts a war. Others think (or know) that war is a terrible thing, but realize that it may be a necessity, and the question is more of when, where, and how- not out of love of fighting, but rather wanting to fight when the cost will not be as great.

    I think it would do many a lot of good to realize that soldiers go to war not because they want to kill people, but they want to see fewer people killed, just as a policeman fires a revolver not typically “just to kill a bad guy”, but to save an innocent. [Obviously I am speaking from the assumption that a war effort is “just”, such as fighting Nazi Germany. I have nothing to say to those who think a mistake was made by not having better diplomacy with Hitler and Imperial Japan. Why does the soldier fight for Hitler? Perhaps out of evil intent, perhaps because of a misunderstanding of realities, perhaps out of fear of the alternative.]

    Last week I spoke to someone who thinks Gulf War I was a mistake, that the authoritarian government in Kuwait is/was no better than Saddam. I do not know what to say to that point of view. I think many would assume that had we not acted then, “Iraq” would include all of the Arabian Peninsula long ago. I do not see how that is a feasible option anymore than letting Hitler keep all of Europe east of the English Channel.

    MD in Philly (b3202e)

  14. A sane person doesn’t start a war and then not finish it, that’s for damn sure. In the terror war we seem quite willing to take a bayonet in the back, turn around and drop a couple of our assailants, then drop our gun and walk off.

    See Dubya (053ad5)

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  16. […] always thought that speech applied very well to the war on terror. I would expect Obama to disagree with me there–but it’s interesting that he does seem […]

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