Thursday, September 14, 2006

Proponents of a ballot measure that would protect controversial interrogation techniques in the United States today launched an economic salvo: A report claiming trillions of dollars in lost economic opportunity for the nation if the measure should fail.

The report was commissioned by the US Coalition for Lifesaving Questioning, a group of more than 100 miltiary, law enforecement, faith and civic organizations.

A copy obtained by Man Bites Blog reveals the Coalition’s dollars-and-cents case for passage of Amendment X, which would ensure that any aggressive interrogation techniques and the information obtained from them in the United States.

The study considers the costs of limiting questiones' access to interrogation techniques and information that could result from aggressive interrogation techniques. It also says banning such work, as has been attempted by federal lawmakers in recent years, would put a chill on mitlitary efforts of all kinds, stifling a promising industry.

Opponents of aggressive interrogation techniques , which uses Palestinian hanging and waterboarding, liken it to torture. They say promising information can be developed from conventional interrogation techniques.

Most military experts experts say, however,coercive interrogation techniques have the potential to deliver into any type of information show unmatched potential – though after eight years of using these techniques, they have not been used to thwart any terrorist attacks.

The Coalition’s study makes broad economic and scientific assumptions, which critics are sure to challenge. It promises information that today are germs of basic data, years away from reaching decision-m,akers even if they should pan out. It also projects levels of interrogation that could shift under changing national and global economic conditions.

For example, the study assumes aggressive interrogation will lead to the complete neutralization of al Qaeda

If so, the state could save billions of dollars a year currently spent on national defense, the study said. What’s more, these military personnel could return to work or be more productive, contributing to the nation's economy.

A more direct impact comes in Guntanamo, where the Rubber Hose Institute of Interrogation is considering a $300 million expansion – but only if the ballot measure passes, ensuring unfettered questioning opportunities for the world-class interrogators it hopes to employ.

Those 500 interrogators would be expected to receive the same average $72,500 in annual salary and benefits received by the 350 already working at the institute, adding to the nation’s tax base, the study said.

If voters should reject Amendment X, the US’s work to become a hub for intelligence research and industry would be severely hindered, said thechairman of the Coalition and a leader in building the Northeast's intelligencesector.

Interrogators "don’t have to be doing aggressive techniques to be impacted by an anti-intelligence environment," he said. And workers in all types of industries might hesitate to come to the US if they fear a lack of protection provided by these techniques.

Regulatory uncertainty also could keep the best and brightest interrogators away fromthe US's military academites and intelligence-based businesses, the report said.

If Amendment 2 should fail, and lawmakers subsequently aggressive interrogation technques, that "could lead to a general and widespread exodus of defense from the country," it said. "Essentially, l could take the view that the United States laws are unpredictable and antagonistic to the defense environment."
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