Exclusive: Senate probe finds little evidence of effective "torture"

Comments (19)
ChicagoFats wrote:

As I have said before: people being tortured will say whatever they think their interrogators want to hear in order to make the pain stop. The value of torture would therefore seem largely to lie in the illusion of power which the government gets from this. By extension, the people being governed are led to believe that we are taking useful steps to combat [terrorism, war of your choice, whatever]. In the end, what matters is still what works and this committee is finding that torture doesn’t really work. Next on the agenda should be the bigger question: how well does lying to the people work?

Apr 27, 2012 2:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
1964 wrote:

The mere fact that the CIA would use such “harsh interrogation techniques”, formerly known as torture, without ever assessing their effectiveness, confirms that the torture techniques used simultaneously in Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib and countless secret “black hole” prisons of the CIA and allies willing to torture persons “rendered to them, were intended to intimidate and terrorize people everywhere in the world as a means to impose US supremacy. Note that the world “rendering” is otherwise used for cattle, it means to slaughter. There is nothing so new and unknown about that system, it was widely used by the world’s most destructive fascists. The most sorry aspect is that the US still proclaims to be a democracy governed by the rule of law. Just about nobody now believes that anymore. How could anyone? In what way is torture reconcilable with democracy?

Apr 27, 2012 2:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Marla wrote:

Oh please, as the first commenter said, people being tortured will say whatever they have to, to make the torture stop. This is not a new discovery, people who employ torture know exactly what they are doing. They use torture to terrorize and intimidate the “enemy,” and to stroke their sick need to employ brutality.

Apr 27, 2012 3:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
majkmushrm wrote:

“Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” my a$$. By the definitions everybody else uses, what we did was torture. Frankly, weather or not it produced anything useful is immaterial. Torture has been widely recognized as reprehensible and morally repugnant. That’s why there are UN treaties banning torture that we have signed. People who engage in it are called war criminals. And, if they’re not American, we even prosecute them for it.

Apr 27, 2012 3:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
matthewslyman wrote:

German prisoners of war were (by some of their own accounts) treated so well in Britain during WWII that they felt ashamed, knowing that Germany did not treat their prisoners-of-war so well. When these German prisoners returned home, they became advocates for British culture. Many of them chose to stay in Britain and live here.

British opinion of Germans at the time was fairly similar to American opinion of the Taliban now: they were considered culturally incapable of the kind of liberal democracy we enjoyed in Britain. This changed because we cared enough about them to give them the benefit of the doubt as fellow human beings, and to show them a better way.

Some people appear to think that Muslim nations are genetically different, and culturally incapable of enjoying a stable democracy. It may be that some of them are steeped in an even more dangerous and more fundamentally murderous ideology than were the Germans in times past. But let’s stop for a moment and consider what kind of treatment is likely to get the best results, in the LONG term. UNLESS there is EXTREMELY good and consistent evidence in favour of torture (which apparently there is not), we had better balance the purported advantages against the clear disadvantages it brings to our cause – the cause of truth and right, the cause of humanity.

Apr 27, 2012 4:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Alistair2 wrote:

I’d like to ask this question.
Suppose you have a suspect in custody that know when and where a publicly based bomb is set to detonate. He is refusing to talk.
What should you do?

Apr 27, 2012 7:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
CristieOR wrote:

I felt despair and helplessness when I read this. However, No one said the abusive treatment had to be effective.

“Supporters of the CIA program, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, have portrayed it as a necessary, if distasteful, step that may have stopped extremist plots and saved lives.” So, it’s ok then?

A conviction yesterday by the (UN) International Criminal Court for Charles Taylor, another high ranker, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.


It isn’t over just yet…

Apr 27, 2012 8:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jmo5262 wrote:

@Alistair2 – So how would you be able to confirm this person has the information you seek? After you torture whatever it is out of them, how would you then know that it is true and not meant to stop the torture?

Lets say this individual says whatever you want to hear to make the torture stop; now you have not only wasted precious time in finding the threat but have also sent an elite team of service members on a wild goose chase?

The recent torture debate regarding whether it is effective is a pointless waste of time; there is an overwhelming amount of evidence throughout world history showing the ineffective and in many cases counter productive nature of such techniques.

Apr 27, 2012 10:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Alistair2 wrote:


Please see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/8833108/Torture-is-not-wrong-it-just-doesnt-work-says-former-interrogator.html
Do you agree with this? It’s from the link above although I added her title.

Lady Manningham-Buller (former head of British MI5) believes that life-saving information may have come from torture and from the “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as water boarding used by the CIA against senior al-Qaeda prisoners.

But even faced with a “ticking bomb” scenario, she thinks it is morally wrong. Speaking last month, she said MI5 did not resort to the practice as Britain faced the imminent threat of invasion from the Nazis in the Second World War and she believes: “If not then, why now?”

Apr 27, 2012 11:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jmo5262 wrote:

The only effective forms of torture are Republican talking points

Apr 27, 2012 11:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
CountryHam wrote:

Heard that 60 minutes (CBS TV) this weekend will focus on this topic.

Apr 27, 2012 12:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jmo5262 wrote:

@Alistair – I understand where you are coming from but in order for the US to implement an “Enhanced Interrogation” program there needs to be measurable and significant evidence that is works.

even in the article the people being interviewed are speaking in generalities such as : “Lady Manningham-Buller believes that life-saving information may have come from torture”

– she BELIEVES that the info MAY have come from torture. Im sorry but that just is not enough to overturn the centuries of evidence suggesting torture is ineffective.

Sure there could be cases where someone is tortured and they provide valuable evidence but even in that case you do not know the legitimacy of the evidence until you have dedicated forces to it. If it turns out to be BS, you have wasted valuable time

The question is not if there have been a few cases where info was extracted, it is whether an institutional program of torture when aggregated causes more harm than good.

Again, based on centuries of evidence, institutionalized torture does more harm than good

Apr 27, 2012 12:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DoctorGrumpus wrote:

There are two issues here:

1) The evidence that rather overwhelmingly demonstrates that while torture does produce intelligence, it does not produce /reliable/ intelligence, for the reasons cited above.

2) This “Enhanced Interrogation” (and the quotation marks should ALWAYS be used, since it is a euphemism) has been conducted on /suspected/ terrorists. And so, I ask Alstair, if it was your child who, for whatever reason (mistaken identity, perhaps?) was apprehended and “enhancedly interrogated” to the degree of extracting a confession (and I cannot see how, psychologically, most of us would not confess), was it still justifiable? Your family member is now scarred for life, but oh well, it was necessary.

And is the scenario I describe above far-fetched? It has certainly happened infinitely more times than the ticking timebomb scenario (which is zero).

That doesn’t mean that one doesn’t interrogate: But the scientific literature and the practical results clearly show that using standard humane approaches produce the best results.

Torture is a crime, both domestically and internationally. The practice is intellectually bankrupt and morally reprehensible, and any society that calls itself civilized needs to recognize that.
It really is that straightforward.

Apr 27, 2012 3:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
stambo2001 wrote:

It’s hardly like torture was just invented a couple years ago. We’ve known for centuries that torture is pretty much useless for extracting information. Only the dumbest morons believe otherwise and support the idea at all. If torture had been even remotely successful it never would have STOPPED being used in the first place. Centuries ago.

The torture was however incredibly effective at lowering the status of the usa around the globe and increasing the threat to american citizens abroad. Only the most savage, barbaric, and uncivilized animals kidnap, torture, and kill citizens extra-judicially in ‘black ops’.

Apr 27, 2012 5:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Blackorpheus wrote:

Predictable. Cowardly whitewash by the cowardly US senate.

Apr 27, 2012 7:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
smintheus wrote:

It’s irrelevant whether or not torture and abuse of prisoners ever led to any useful information. It is illegal under federal law, the Constitution, and our international conventions. If the government wants to obtain the “right” to abuse prisoners, then it needs to change the law to permit prisoner abuse and renounce our international conventions.

Apr 28, 2012 11:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
CVA63 wrote:

Before the 9/11 attacks, CIA officers had virtually no significant experience with prisoner interrogation, that was simply not part of their job. FBI agents, on the other hand, had decades of experience, interrogation of suspects and the elicitation of confessions was a major part of their work. So which agency did the Bush administration put in charge of the interrogation of 9/11 suspects? You guessed it, the CIA. And, who did the CIA put in charge? Jose Rodriguez, a CIA officer with absolutely no experience in the Muslim world.

Apr 29, 2012 9:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
averanen wrote:

During the cold war the western powers took pride in supporting the established human rights and tried to set the tone for the rest of the world. Anything less than respecting basic human rights belonged to the totalitarian systems or to those opposing democracy and human rights.

Apr 29, 2012 10:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
LesLegato wrote:

Here’s an idea. Why don’t the Senators who think water-boarding doesn’t work TRY IT?

Lets see what they say when they are asked “is your primary allegiance to America or to getting reelected?”

May 03, 2012 1:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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