Friday, November 09, 2007

Why "torture" doesn't work...except when it does

At the moment, I’m not discussing the morality of “torture.” Rather, I’m examining the oft-stated claim that torture doesn’t work.

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John McCain: Torture Worked on Me

Sen. John McCain is leading the charge against so-called "torture" techniques allegedly used by U.S. interrogators, insisting that practices like sleep deprivation and withholding medical attention are not only brutal - they simply don't work to persuade terrorist suspects to give accurate information.

Nearly forty years ago, however - when McCain was held captive in a North Vietnamese prison camp - some of the same techniques were used on him. And - as McCain has publicly admitted at least twice - the torture worked!

In his 1999 autobiography, "Faith of My Fathers," McCain describes how he was severely injured when his plane was shot down over Hanoi - and how his North Vietnamese interrogators used his injuries to extract information.

"Demands for military information were accompanied by threats to terminate my medical treatment if I did not cooperate," he wrote.

"I thought they were bluffing and refused to provide any information beyond my name, rank and serial number, and date of birth. They knocked me around a little to force my cooperation."

The punishment finally worked, McCain said. "Eventually, I gave them my ship's name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant."

http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/11/29/100012.shtml

Is U.S. Surrendering Technique That Extracted Vital Intel From 9/11 Mastermind?

Is the U.S. government giving up the interrogation technique that extracted vital intelligence from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

On Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor" on September 20, Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, reported that a tough interrogation technique called "waterboarding" had been used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break Mohammed, inducing him to surrender "very valuable" information.

Speaking of 14 "high-value" al Qaeda targets subjected to harsh interrogation practices by the CIA, Fox News's Bill O'Reilly asked Ross, "Now, the waterboarding broke all these guys?"

"Not in every case," said Ross. "Some broke before [it] even got to that point."

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed held out the longest, according to Ross. "About two and a half minutes [of waterboarding], according to our sources," he told O'Reilly.

In some cases, said Ross, "the material that has been given [by the terrorists subjected to harsh tactics] has not been accurate, has been essentially to stop the torture."

But Mohammed did provide accurate information. "In the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," said Ross, "the information was very valuable, particularly names and addresses of people who were involved with al Qaeda in this country and in Europe. And in one particular plot, which would involve an airline attack on the tallest building in Los Angeles, known as the Liberty Tower."

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3827/is_200610/ai_n17193213

4 comments:

  1. Ray, Toronto, Ontario, Canada11/10/2007 1:37 PM

    That torture sometimes works is hardly an arguement in favor of it.
    Christians aren't generally supposed to operate under an ends justifies the means philosophy.
    Those who say it never works over reach themselves and hamper rational discussion of the issues involved.
    However, I wish to say two things.
    Most civilized countries abandoned torture because of the unreliable quality of the intelligence generally resulting from it. People
    Tortured will often start saying whatever the questioner wants to hear ( such as confessing to participating in a conspiracy that does not exist). False intelligence and false confessions dog the process.
    In totalitarian regimes torture is often not used for intelligence, but for it's effectiveness in keeping the populace in line.
    You also must realise that by engaging in torture you are ensuring that coalition forces will be tortured if captured by a future enemy.
    In addition, having given law enforcement back the right to torture people for info( provided it's terror related)what makes you so sure it will stay within it's current narrow confines?
    A number of those who generally oppose the use of torture are those who used to conduct interrogations for the Army and CIA. Most of it's supporters are admin officals that have never conducted actual intelligence field work including interrogations.
    The overly simplistic, knee-jerk support of torture by those on the right is as disturbing to me as are the knee-jerk complaints of the left.
    Spare me the ticking bomb senario arguement. We both know that the arguement isn't about that.That arguement is like when abortion rights people use cases of rape or incest to argue for abortion.

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  2. You're raising a series of stock objections, all of which I've dealt with at one time or another.

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  3. The other postings on torture on your site are better reasoned than this one.
    Also that an objection is stock does not necessarily negate it's validity.
    In addition, you seem to have ignored the potential danger of the precedents you are setting.
    This is not a conventional war with a conventionally defined end point. Things like torure, once adopted, will be with us for a long time to come.
    There are no guarantees that Bush's successors will be as restrained in it's use.
    I really hope that your right. Otherwise you are forging the chains that will oneday bind us all.

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  4. Anonymous said:

    "The other postings on torture on your site are better reasoned than this one."

    In what respect?

    "Also that an objection is stock does not necessarily negate it's validity."

    True, but I've dealt with the stock objections at one time or another.

    "In addition, you seem to have ignored the potential danger of the precedents you are setting."

    I doubt we're setting any precedent here. Nations have always employed coercive techniques to obtain operational intelligence from the enemy.

    It's just that we live in a time and place where that receives a lot of public scrutiny. But there's nothing new about it. Governments don't like to reveal their clandestine operations. But they've always had them.

    "There are no guarantees that Bush's successors will be as restrained in it's use."

    True, but that's the responsibility of the electorate, for better or worse.

    "Otherwise you are forging the chains that will oneday bind us all."

    That's a tad Orwellian. The general public outnumbers the bureaucrats by many orders of magnitude. If push came to shove, we could wrest power from the powers that be.

    ReplyDelete