“Torture” works wonderfully well or, as I like to call it, “coercive interrogation techniques.” Not because of some weird squeamishness on my part, I had my squeam gland removed surgically at the age of 5, but because it’s important to make a clear distinction between splinters under the fingernails, chopping off of body parts, poking out eyeballs etc. and the highly sophisticated, NOT damaging methods used by interrogators who know what they’re doing.
But can this be possible? After all, we are constantly told that information extracted under "torture" is always unreliable.
And those methods work. They work wonderfully well, but don’t take my word for it.
Take Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for the ABC (not exactly a Bush-shilling propaganda network)’s word instead. He’s been in touch with CIA sources, some of who actually oppose the techniques, who’ve told him the following:
- Out of 14 top terrorists interrogated, 14 broke under interrogation.
- The information they provided was useful and helped roll up terrorist cells, averting further attacks on American civilians
- Most of them broke as a result of mild techniques, such as the “cold room” and “sleep deprivation” methods, only a few had to be subjected to “waterboarding”, where the detainee is led to believe that he’s drowning, without being in any actual danger at any point. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind 9/11, lasted almost three minutes. He was the toughest case
None of the suspects were physically damaged in any way (not that I really care), but they all broke. Without exception.
The intelligence gathered saved lives.
Now, I don't know much about US TV networks and their bias, and nor do I know how much faith I put in the words of "CIA sources", but are there situations in which "robust" interrogation techniques are valuable and acceptable?
My own feeling is that there probably are, in extremis. When this debate was raging earlier in the year, "torture" was spiked on the twin prongs of moral outrage and unreliability of information. If, however, the information extracted is reliable (and I really don't think that we would continue to use these techniques, given the potential outrage, were it always totally useless), can these techniques then be justified.
As His Imperial Majesty points out, none of these people were physically damaged—we are not talking about resorting to the methods of certain countries, such as being immersed to the armpits in boiling water, here—but of methods that, quite sensibly, leave no physical scars.
So, over to you guys...