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Forget Morality, Humanity or Legality: Torture DOESN’T WORK

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George Washington’s Blog
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A recent poll showed that 44% of Americans support torture on “terrorist suspects”.

Why so many?

A key architect of America’s torture program, Doug Feith, testified under oath to Congress today that torture is necessary because – otherwise – we couldn’t get any information out of the “bad guys”. Several Congress people agreed.

Why do any Congress people support this argument?

Because many people mistakenly assume that torture works, and is thus a necessary evil.

Let’s put aside questions of morality, humanity, and legality . . . Let’s just focus on one question: does torture work?

(Article continues below)

In fact, the professional FBI, CIA and army interrogators all say no.

They say that people will say anything to stop the pain . . . specifically, they’ll say what they think the torturer wants to hear. Moreover, they say that the way to actually get useful information about of prisoners — including information helpful to stopping future terrorist attacks — is to build trust and rapport with them, or to outsmart them in ongoing conversations.

See for yourself:

  • Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 says:

    “Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”

  • The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work

Still don’t believe it? These people also say torture doesn’t produce usable intelligence:

  • Former high-level CIA official Bob Baer said “And torture — I just don’t think it really works … you don’t get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you.”
  • Rear Admiral (ret.) John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General for the Navy, said “Another objection is that torture doesn’t work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners.”
  • Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, said “I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”
  • Dan Coleman, one of the FBI agents assigned to the 9/11 suspects held at Guantanamo said “Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that. “

Many other professional interrogators say the same thing (see this, this, and this).

Torture is certainly immoral, inhumane, and an illegal war crime. However, until people realize that it doesn’t work, it will not stop, and those responsible will not be held accountable.

This article was posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 3:56 am





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