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?
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.”
- A declassified FBI e-mail dated May 10, 2004, regarding interrogation at Guantanamo states “[we] explained to [the Department of Defense], FBI has been successful for many years obtaining confessions via non-confrontational interviewing techniques.” (see also this)
- Brigadier General David R. Irvine, retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School, says torture doesn’t work
- A former FBI interrogator — who interrogated Al Qaeda suspects — says categorically that torture does not help collect intelligence. On the other hand he says that torture actually turns people into terrorists
- A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:
“The administration’s claims of having ‘saved thousands of Americans’ can be dismissed out of hand because credible evidence has never been offered — not even an authoritative leak of any major terrorist operation interdicted based on information gathered from these interrogations in the past seven years. … It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.
This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.”
- The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work
- A former US Air Force interrogator said that information obtained from torture is unreliable, and that torture just creates more terrorists
- The number 2 terrorism expert for the State Department says torture doesn’t work, and just creates more terrorists
- The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn’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. “
Indeed, top American World War 2 interrogators got more information without torture than those who use torture are getting today. And the head of Britian’s wartime interrogation center in London
“Violence is taboo. Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”
Indeed, a high-level Special Ops interrogator said that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place.
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.