Use of Torture

From the BBC:

The outgoing head of the US Department of Homeland Security has said torture may be used in certain cases in order to prevent a major loss of life.

Speaking to the BBC, Tom Ridge said the US did not condone the use of torture to extract information from terrorists.

But he said that "under an extreme set of circumstances" such as the threat of a nuclear attack, "it could happen".

Speaking for myself, I do not agree with that. Virtually every expert will tell you that the information that comes from the use of torture is unreliable. The victim will more often then not tell the interrogator what he/she wants to hear. I’m not talking about minor things, like sleep deprivation, barking dogs, naked pyramids (or the other humiliation techniques, which are unreliable, as well.) I am talking about burning, cutting, the rack, etc. Why not just use chemical means to extract the information?

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11 Responses to “Use of Torture”

  1. Except for the chemical thing, I agree entirely.

  2. Just to be clear (cause I hit a button on my laptop and cut the last sentance out), I am referring to things like truth serum.

  3. Patty-Jo says:

    I wondered about truth serum before. Wouldn’t that solve a bunch of problems. Does the stuff even work? Jeez, not only could it be used in the military, but just think of the changes that could be made in our justice system! And we could give it to our kids and find out who REALLY started it! Okay, just kidding about that last one.

  4. Jeremy says:

    All reports say sodium pentathol works like a charm. Unfortunately, it’s an unaproved method of interrogation (considered torture) so we don’t use it. The guy gets jabbed with a big needle for goodness sake!

    Actually, I believe it falls under the “drugging” category. You can’t get sodium pentathol on the streets because it’s a controlled substance. That makes it unlawful to use in interrogation. Well, you can, but that’s a different story.

    …and yes, I wish we could do it. No fuss, no muss, just the truth.

  5. I understood you, Teach . . . I just don’t agree. Besides, there is no such thing as a “truth serum”

  6. Sodium Pentathol is just a barbituate, guys. You lose inhibition, but that is all. You can still lie. Trust me, I was a psyc major, and we went all over this.

  7. I know. There are other drugs that work even better, especially when combined with lie detectors.

  8. Ogre says:

    For my view on “torture,” I present the following situation:

    Your mother is going to be killed. You have someone sitting in front of you who knows exactly how, when, and where. You have no clue. You know it is soon. If you do nothing, she will certainly die. What will you do to this person in front of you?

  9. Patty-Jo says:

    Whatever it takes. Except if it’s a little kid or something that is afraid of being killed if they tell. But if it’s some jerk that really knows and isn’t telling because he wants her to be killed, yep, I guess I could get pretty mean.

  10. Ogre, you neglected to consider the possibility that you are wrong about your assumption that that person knows anything at all.

    Torture is quite simply A) morally wrong and B) ineffective. And here I thought the last election was about “values”.

  11. Armando at Kos wrote an excellent rebuttal to this line of reasoning, Ogre and Patty-Jo:

    “To some, this might seem a reasonable position – Jack Bauer trying to stop a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. In practice, it leads to Abu Ghraib. Why do I say this? Because ‘extreme set of circumstances’ means different things to different people. Is the potential death of your comrades not an extreme set of circumstances? How many potential deaths does it take to be an extreme situation? How about a theory of ‘potential’ extreme circumstances? Sort of a corollary to the Bush Doctrine of preemptive invasions. There is no workable definition of ‘extreme situations’, and to speak of it is to invite torture.

    Mind you, this hypothetical discussion has NOTHING to do with the Bush policy of torture. There is no pretense to ‘extreme situations’ in the Bush policy. Torture is a part of the Bush policy as a matter of course. So let’s not conflate the two discussions. The Bush policy is more akin to systematic police violence for interrogation purposes. The ‘tuning up’ of suspects.”

    Dead-on right.

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