OxBlog

Friday, September 29, 2006

# Posted 6:18 PM by Patrick Porter  

TORTURE AND SEMANTICS: Admittedly I haven't followed all of the intricacies of the debate over torture lately.

But some questions for Oxblog readers, based on reading the views of one defender of certain 'harsh methods', (via Andrew Sullivan):
Waterboardingis fleeting in duration with the actual discomfort lasting seldom more than a couple of minutes. And since a man can be safely deprived of oxygen for at least twice as long, there is almost no risk of long-term harm.

The possibility of injury is further reduced by the fact that the procedure calls for no direct physical contact between the subject and his interrogators. Not even as much as pushing or chest slapping is required at any time, making waterboarding one of the safest and least confrontational among interrogation methods.

Involving the lowest risk of long-term harm and the least amount of cumulative discomfort, it is also the most humane.
Discomfort? Waterboarding, as I understand it, is designed to make the captive fear that they are drowning.

Genuine question: how is that not torture?

How someone who experienced it would not be left with lasting psychological harm is also beyond me.

And, how do we know that the person being interrogated is in fact guilty in the first place?

Also, there seems to be an Orwellian abuse of language here. The very process of 'relabelling' torture by playing with words and empty euphemisms is degrading.
(45) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Toture is that which causes permanent physical damage. Anything else is just hazing.

Our enemies are making a deliberate attempt to lower the definition of torture for the benefit of terrorists.

It is not moral to refuse to waterboard someone and let innocent people die because we are unwilling to get answers to questions using a method that causes no physical harm.
 
Could you please give us your definition of "torture?" I can't imagine anyone would consider something that gives a few minutes of discomfort with no lasting effects "torture." I believe most think torture as something along the lines of burning the flesh with a cigarette, chopping off fingers, hands, feet, etc....

Waterboarding seems quite innocuous.
 
I disagree with the above two comments. Surely torture can be psychological and not physical? What about sleep deprivation? What about white noise? What about the kinds of sexual humiliation practiced in Abu Ghraib?

These kinds of practices constitute degrading and inhumane treatment even if they do not cause permanent physical damage. Sexual abuse of children does not always cause permanent physical damage, but we don't write that off as just 'hazing'!

I don't think anyone would argue that the kinds of techniques used in Guantanamo Bay could be used for disciplinary purposes in mainstream prisons. Is it just that the GB prisoners are 'enemy non-combatants' or whatever the phrase it that means that they have no rights at all?
 
Toture is that which causes permanent physical damage. Anything else is just hazing.

Well, flesh that has been burned with a cigarette (as noted below) will heal, so I am not sure permanence is the key.

OTOH, it does seem to me that fleeting pain and fear are, well, fleeting (as is all of life, I suppose...).

On the third hand, this was interesting - from the US War College describing the attempt by French officers to understand their use of electro-shock in Algiers:

A third justification for torture was that it was a controlled application of violence used for the limited purpose of quickly gaining tactical intelligence. Toward this end some French officers subjected themselves to electric shock to ensure they understood the level of violence they were applying to prisoners. What these officers did not understand was the huge difference between pain inflicted in a limited, controlled manner without psychological stress, and pain inflicted in an adversarial environment where the prisoner is totally under the control of the captor.

Well, yes - context counts.

Reading about waterboarding, I don't find it to be that scary, and I have no illusions about myself as some sort of "tough guy" - I am quite certain that if tortured I would fold up like a cheap suitcase. In fact, let me be more emphatic - I am confident that I would fold up in a way that would add lustre to the reputation of cheap suitcases.

But waterboarding doesn't freak me out the way, just for example, Winston and his rat-cage did in "1984" - that looked scary and permanent.

On the fourth hand, if I were being tortured in some real world scenario, why would I think that waterboarding represented the end of the road? Of course, we have now told the terrorists of the world where our line is, but what if torturers have no obvious line? Waterboarding in the context of "this could go on forever, and then worse could happen" might make quite a different impression.

As to permanent psychological harm - in contrast with what, being imprisoned for years, solitary detention, basic combat training, actual combat?

And what is the long term consequence of waterboarding someone - fear of taking a shower? No more fun days at the beach?

I strongly suspect that the US military waterboards aspiring aviators as part of SERE training (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape).

I have a hard time taking waterboarding seriously as "torture".

FWIW, here is more on the French problm with torture in Algeria:

By one estimate, 40 percent of the adult male Muslim population of Algiers (approximately 55,000 individuals) were put through the French interrogation system and either tortured or threatened with torture between 1956 and 1957. This action likely irrevocably alienated the entire 600,000 Muslim population of the city from the French cause.

My impression is that we are talking about coercive interogations for the very small number of CIA-held high vale prisoners.

Tom Maguire
 
How someone who experienced it would not be left with lasting psychological harm is also beyond me.

This is a fair point, but how someone who experiences prison and involuntary confinement for years would not be left with lasting psychological harm is beyond me as well. I don't mean that in an entirely glib way-- as a philosophical debating point, incarceration, taking away years of someone's life along with fundamental human rights like free movement and free association is a nasty, nasty punishment. I can easily imagine many people preferring a swift but not deadly corporal punishment like caning or the stocks to incarceration. Yet we prohibit it. Exactly why? Is it fear of losing our own humanity? I suspect so, because it's not purely about what the accused would prefer.
 
How about posing the question in a way that doesn't beg it?

You're talking about something that's used as a training method in standard SERE courses? How can that be torture?

Another one of the "horrors" was making subjects listen to loud hard-rock music, and being exposed to physically attractive female interrogators making suggestive motions.

Is that torture? Or a lap dance?

A third example that's been mentioned recently is making subjects remain standing for hours. Is that torture? Or were they trying to get Stones tickets?

It's a little hard to tell in some of these discussions if it's intellectual dishonesty, extreme ivory-tower naivete, or just drama-queen hyperbole.
 
From the Oxford American Dictionary:

torture |?tôr ch ?r| noun

the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.

great physical or mental suffering or anxiety : the torture I've gone through because of loving you so.

a cause of such suffering or anxiety : dances were absolute torture because I was so small. verb [ trans. ] inflict severe pain on : most of the victims had been brutally tortured.

cause great mental suffering or anxiety to : he was tortured by grief.

From the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of which the United States is a signatory.

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
 
I think that torture has its place.

Mark Foley, a Republican Congressman from Florida, just resigned. He had sent sexual emails to male Congressional pages. He was also the chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. He is a sexual predator and he has been protected by others in the Republican Party.

Since there is little time between now and the election, 39 days, I think that it is appropriate to torture him to find out which other Republican Congressmen knew of his activities. Evidently Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La. and Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y. both knew. They need to be tortured as well. The last thing we should do is re-elect pedophiles and pedophile enablers.

I'm certain that John Barleycorn, Capitalist Infidel and Seneca the Younger agree.
 
Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Speaker Hastert also need to be tortured.
 
Where is our society heading if the merits of torture can be batted around with such flippant gravity?

Is water boarding torture? When questions like that have no difinitive answer doesn't that speak volumes about the merits/benifits of doing it?

Once these policies are being enacted by one body of government how long will it take before they are diffused to others?

Remember when China was thought to be one of the most barbarous countries due to their human rights record? Don't these policies then bring us down to their level?

How do these policies effect our identity elsewhere? More to the point, how do these changes in ideology effect our ability to bring other nations/people to our side? What happened to "hearts and minds"?

Secret prisons, secret trials, torture, what is the end result? And is that result a place that you are pround to live in?

If people can answer these questions and be happy with the answer then fine, if not then shouldn't we be demanding a broadening of the issues?

One last thing before my high horse kicks me off. Do we really think that policies of brutality will bring us peace? When did we forget that "garbage in = garbage out"?

Excuse me I'll stop being a pussy now, let's just beat the shit out of them until we get the answers we need.
 
It seems that all of the House Republicans need to be tortured.
 
Toture is that which causes permanent physical damage. Anything else is just hazing.

That's not a legal definition, but an opinion and thus has no merit.

Why don't John Barleycorn, Seneca the Younger and Capitalist Infidel all agree to be waterboarded on a regular basis for a couple of months and perhaps they can report back to us?
 
Colin, you wrote "Do we really think that policies of brutality will bring us peace?"

Quite possibly. I have no fear of Japan, do you? Yet there was a time, within living memory, where the Japanese were mortal enemies. A nation whose men were willing to fly their planes into our people just for the glory of killing us.

And how did we get from then to now? By using the most devastating weapon yet conceived. Twice. On primarily civilian cities. That had been "saved" for this purpose. So as to make a good demonstration.

Our "policy of brutality", as it were, has produced 60 years of peace and created one of our two strongest allies.

And I'm sure you know this.

While I wish we lived in a world where violence never solved anything, the truth is that in this world violence has solved lots of things. It's the success of the "hearts and minds" strategy that's been a lot less conclusive. Seriously, I'm completely ignorant of any war that was one won by targeting hearts and minds. I am aware of a few that have been (or are being) lost with that strategy, though.

To be certain, none of this means that waterboarding is a good policy. But it's certainly not unprecedent cruelty to anyone with even a casual familiarity with American history. And yet the republic has survived, her virtue intact.

All the hyperbole and hysteria makes it impossible to have a reasoned debate about the appropriate place to draw the line. And to be clear, there does need to be a line and waterboarding may be beyond it.

BTW, as the father of two boys, given a bit more evidence I'd be perfectly happy to see Mark Foley tortured.
 
To be certain, none of this means that waterboarding is a good policy. But it's certainly not unprecedent cruelty to anyone with even a casual familiarity with American history. And yet the republic has survived, her virtue intact.

Sure, if it's good enough for the Khmer Rouge . . . .
 
Randy:

So it's your assertion that the most apropriate analogy to the US the Khmer Rouge?

Thank you for demonstrating the "hyperbole and hysteria" I referred to above.
 
So it's your assertion that the most apropriate analogy to the US the Khmer Rouge?

No, I'm not.

The Khmer Rouge did perform waterboarding and those of you who are comfortable with waterboarding should consider that fact.

If you're still comfortable with that, then ask yourself this: if it's unacceptable for the Khmer Rouge to have performed waterboarding, why is it acceptable for the US to do that?

If you can answer that, then consider yourself sliding down a slippery slope.

No hysteria here, just plenty of moral clarity and moral consistency.
 
Make that, if you can asnwer that in the affirmative.
 
The Khmer Rouge did wear pants and those of you who are comfortable with wearing pants should consider that fact.

Sometimes context is relevant. No?
 
Anonymous,

If you can't distinguish between wearing pants and torturing people, perhaps you should spend less time posing for photos.
 
"Another one of the 'horrors' was making subjects listen to loud hard-rock music, and being exposed to physically attractive female interrogators making suggestive motions.

Is that torture?"

Depends on the music.

Audioslave? Definitely.
 
Anonymous : 5:53 PM

A very thoughtful response.
Cheers
 
We are on two steep and slippery slopes, and the jihadis are pushing us hard. Down one slope I can see ever more ready resort to coercion of prisoners. Down the other slope I see governments edging away from a commitment to do whatever it takes to protect their citizens, leaving potential targets of Muslim militancy on their own as the state covers its rear rather than accepting the challenge to deliver actual protection to those who delegate their right to violence to it.

Because of the Bojinka II transatlantic aircraft plot of 2006, I accept that coercive interrogations have become inevitable and necessary.

If you don't do this, you are more or less saying the state does not accept a final responsibility to its citizens, and they either need to make a separate peace or build new security arrangements.

That is not acceptable. But it is near.

Trust in the authorities is justifiably reduced now. The real basis of the (limited) security that exists on planes now is not an air marshal program but the brutal consequences of convincing a mob of nervous passengers that you are a threat. In other words, mob violence, vigilante force, is already our front line of defence in reality.

I think throwing a greater weight of necessity onto violent citizen "self help" or else just letting citizens die in hundreds and thousands as jihad plots succeed is a terrible idea.

So wringing information out of unlawful combatants it is.

That doesn't mean I want us to authorise any nasty method anyone might devise to wring information out of prisoners.

The need to accept that we have come as far as we have come on the nasty treatment of illegal combatants and the strong desire not to slide any further in that direction motivates me to define waterboarding as not torture. In other words "torture" is what we have not come to yet, and what please God we will never come to, such as the infliction of injuries.

To define words in that way is unattractive. But the consequences of saying baldly that we have to torture and we do and will torture because that is the best option that the jihadis have left us with are worse.
 
Orwellian abuse of language

Sir, this is an abuse of Orwell. Perhaps you meant simply 'abuse of language' or Newspeak-like abuse of language, or just the allusion Newspeak. Orwell served no abuse to The English Language. In fact, Politics and The English Language railed against such cliches as the genus of weak thinking.

Maybe you meant 'OxBlogian flogging of cliches.'
 
"Discomfort? Waterboarding, as I understand it, is designed to make the captive fear that they are drowning.

Genuine question: how is that not torture?"

The next time you are in the shower take a clean wash cloth and hang it over your nose and mouth. Adjust the head of the shower so it soaks the cloth. It will be hard to breath. Imagine if you had your arms tied by your side and you were upside-down. That's close to waterboarding. This has as much to do with Cambodia as everyone else, and it has been in common use for a long time. People with dramatic photo's usually don't have a serious point.

If you had the sheik from the Finsbury mosque, the sewer of jihad, wouldn't you want to know everything he knew, lies and all? If it prevented another Beslan wouldn't it be worth it to make his life miserable for a few minutes (even days, :0)?

I understand, and agree, with the commentators who oppose interrogation because of the "slippery slope", but we are talking about 14-15 jihadists.
 
You're only talking about 14-15 jihadists, and I'm only talking about 14-15 pro-pederasty Republican Congressmen. We may have to torture a few more Republicans, the pederasty enablers, but it won't leave any lasting effects on their bodies.

In fact, since it is clear that Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is involved in the pederasty coverup, if we start with him, we may not have to torture innocent Republican Congressmen who didn't hide Foley's man on boy sexual predation while he was chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus for more than a year.

I don't think that 'Mike' is in favor of man on boy sex--I'm guessing here--but until he says it and agrees that the Republicans involved in the Congressional pederasty coverup need to be outed and expelled from the House, we just won't know.
 
meh. I'll bite.

"and I'm only talking about 14-15 pro-pederasty Republican Congressmen."

List all 14 stupid.
 
I told you that my name is 'Mike' specifically so that you can tell your friends that Mike is stupid.

It is a bit early in the scandal but I could only come up with 7. Patience.

1. Foley
2. Speaker Hastert
3. Rodney Alexander
4. Page Chairman Shimkus
5. NRCC chair Tom Reynolds
6. Majority Leader John Boehner
7. Majority Whip Roy Blunt

Still this clearly shows the need for more torture.

I'm glad to see that according to the WashPo "The House clerk's office "has taken possession of Congressman Foley's office, and Capitol police officers have been posted in front of his office around-the-clock" to preserve Foley's records and correspondence, said Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean.
 
anonymous 12:09am,

Its actually acceptable to describe rhetorical manipulation or other aspects of sinister politics as 'Orwellian.'

It doesn't mean that Orwell himself was abusing language.

If its a cliche, it became a cliche to use the term 'Orwellian' because it is a powerful novel that warns, amongst other things, against insidious word-games to justify the abuse of power.

Great to see aggressive comments from someone who shields him/herself behind anonymity. Congratulations on your valour.
 
It's not acceptable.

And Orwell wasn't a novel, but rather an author.

And Orwell was a pen name. Mine's anonymous.

Congratulations on your abuse of language.
 
You may have noticed that other people on this thread are discussing the issue of torture and definitions.

Do you actually have anything substantive to offer other than grammatical corrections?

We are waiting...
 
In response to some of the comments above:

I am a military veteran and I have been waterboarded several times. That is why I recommend it as an interrogation technique. It is very unpleasant and yet does no real harm to the subject. And yes, I sang like a canary.

The idea of subjecting sexual predators to waterboarding is an interesting one. Perhaps someone should do a study to see if it is an effective deterrent. If it is, then I would recommend it.
 
The purpose of torturing Republican Congressmen in the predator-gate scandal is not meant as a deterrent. It is meant as an investigatory tool.

Since the pro-torture folks here think that torture works, that it is effective in quickly extracting information, then here is a chance for a practical test. Is it possible to waterboard the truth out of the likes of Dennis Hastert?
 
I'm impressed with the touching concern for the long term psychological well being of terrorists. Presumably the idea is that after a year or two of incarceration, someone who has blown up a few hundred people worshipping in a mosque or shopping at the bazaar would be ready for rehab and perhaps sent to a community college to learn a trade. Suddenly, in the middle of finals, their waterboarding experience would come flooding back to them (sic) interfering with their ability to optimize test performance. This could lead to low self esteem and a lack of self actualization to say nothing of weight gain and bouts of insomnia.

It is truly gratifying to see such forward thinking concern for our enemies, and doubtless will serve to encourage those in al Qaeda to join us in the celebration of our self-congratulatory enlightenment.
 
damav,

that's one way of looking at it. Here's another:

certain human rights are inalienable, particularly for those who are in our custody.

secondly, the civility of a society can be judged by how it treats its enemies.

thirdly, I don't want the state I live in to be equipped with torture chambers and the ability to carry out torture and bypass due process. its called a healthy suspicion towards state power, the most predatory force in history.
 
Patrick, I think you really need to give us your definition of torture for this to be a fruitful discussion.

Here's my definition from a while back.
 
From the compact Oxford dictionary:

"the infliction of severe pain as a punishment or a forcible means of persuasion."

that includes making someone fear they are drowning and that their death is imminent.
 
The Oxford American goes a little further:

the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.

DaMav

I'm happy to join Patrick et alia in the celebration of our self-congratulatory [E]nlightenment. I'm sorry that I can't join you in your return to the Middle Ages.
 
In response to Mr. Porter:

1) "Certain human rights are inalienable particularly for those in our custody"

The right of innocent civilians not to be murdered by terrorists outweighs the right of a terrorist to conceal information concerning plots to murder those innocent civilians.

2) The civility of a society can be judged by how it treats its enemies.

I wish that were true. I know of no society that has been penalized for torturing POWs since WWII. See Vietnam, IRAN, Cuba, North Korea, China, the Former Soviet Union. I see no one rushing to convict any of these nations military leaders of war crimes. On the contrary, these societies are held up as socialist paragons of virtue by the left wing. Only the U.S. is held to this standard. For our enemies, everone looks the other way.

3) "I don't want the state I live in to be equipped with torture chambers and the ability to carry out torture and bypass due process. It is called a healthy suspicion of state power..."

In general I agree. For civilian criminals guilty of violating the law, the criminal justice system works fine. For terrorist groups answerable to no government carrying out hostile attacks against innocent civilians, the criminal justice system will not suffice. I make an exception for terrorists who are in key leadership positions who, based on other intelligence sources, are likely to have knowledge, that if acted upon would prevent the attack.

You would apparently prefer to have hundreds of innocent civilians die rather than waterboard a terrorist who would suffer no physical harm from it. Your morality seems very strange to me.
 
"that includes making someone fear they are drowning and that their death is imminent"

You are right. The difference between waterboarding in S.E.R.E. and Gitmo is that one person knows he will only have to "sign zee papers" and the other doesn't know what will happen. I disagree with almost every arguement against harsh interogation for high level al-queda prisoners, but I concede the point to Oxblog. (sorry for trolling)

As long as everyone is willing to accept the worst the slippery slope is worth skipping. I don't think that they, gitmo crowd, should have been taken prisoner to begin with but they will all die soon. (One of them supposedly weighs 410 pounds) Enjoy heart disease durka's:)
 
All I see here is a bunch of blowhards who are willing to piss away the humanitarian principles of our society for a little bit of added security. BTW Torture is not the application of pain, it is the application of fear - its not really not that difficult to understand
 
"You would apparently prefer to have hundreds of innocent civilians die rather than waterboard a terrorist who would suffer no physical harm from it. Your morality seems very strange to me."

In some respects this is a false dichotomy. As Andrew Sullivan argues,

"Will a ban on all "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" render interrogations useless? By no means. There are many techniques for gaining intelligence from detainees other than using their bodies against their souls. You can start with the 17 that appear in the Army Field Manual, tested by decades of armed conflict only to be discarded by this administration with barely the blink of an eye. Isolation, psychological disorientation, intense questioning, and any number of other creative techniques are possible.

Some of the most productive may well be those in which interrogators are so versed in Islamic theology and Islamist subcultures that they win the confidence of prisoners and pry information out of them--something the United States, with its dearth of Arabic speakers, is unfortunately ill-equipped to do."

Granted, torture itself might also have utility in getting desirable intelligence (although it probably also yields lots of false or unhelpful data too).

But a policy of torture with its contempt for civil society might risk eroding the perceived legitimacy of America's cause, and make it less likely that vital intelligence would be offered by other people who otherwise might be friendly.

On your point about the innocent,
a policy of state torture would threaten everybody, including the innocent. Once you empower a state with this kind of weapon, it can potentially be expanded and abused.

Other regimes have deemed dissidents 'terrorists' and tortured them without due process, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa. I don't think any country is immune from the abuse of power once the constraints have been removed.

Finally, it worries me that some defenders of torture reduce the issue to one of protecting the physical safety of the innocent. But there are other liberal values that we are supposed to be defending in GWOT as well: liberty, the rights of the individual, our claim to stand for civilisation and enlightenment. I'm afraid that when we make claims like this, occasionally we have to live up to them.

If this morality seems 'strange', you are entitled to think that, but your moral view of this seems a little unreflective.
 
Patrick:

I don't think your morality seems strange. In fact, I think it's perfectly reasonable and its a good thing that you're concerned.

But when a person who 1) willfully violates the laws of war 2) has been captured under rules of engagement that would have allowed them to have been killed rather than taken prisoner and 3) there is a good faith belief that the prisoner holds information that could save the lives of others, then I have no qualms with subjecting them to the equivalent distress that our soldiers undergo in training and that the interrogator himself has personally undergone. It fails to "shock my conscience", to use one of the terms of the art surrounding torture.

More to the point, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Now for a legit POW, it's clear. No interogation is permissable beyond name, rank and serial number. But where's the line for a jihadist? Do we want the same line as with a legit POW? I don't think so. There should be some consequence to endangering civilians either by targeting them or by failing to remain distinct from them. And our soldiers take risks in capturing them alive; false surrenders are hardly unheard of.

So what's the appropriate place to stop? I see a compelling moral argument for drawing the line at the same place we do with our own soldiers. It's practically the golden rule; we're doing unto others as we've done unto ourself.

And yes, I understand the difference between someone at SERE school and a captured jihadi. I don't care. Any scenario that lets the mental state of the subject define the limits as opposed to the technique itself runs into absurdities where being interrogated by a female or being wrapped in an Israeli flag can (conditionally) be torture. That's nonsense. A prisoner can not be allowed to define the limits of their interrogation.

Do we need to be careful not to slide down the slippery slope? Absolutely. I'd want to see a strict approval process for interrogations going beyond the Army Field Manual, along with periodic reviews to verify that it is not being abused and is producing results. But just because a power may be abused doesn't mean it can't ever be used. The government performs wiretaps, searches everybody getting on a plane, audits taxpayers, performs random DWI checkpoints, and a thousand other things daily that threaten our liberty. Vigiliance remains absolutely necessary. That's the cost of freedom.
 
Toture is that which causes permanent physical damage. Anything else is just hazing.

I presume then that the commenter would have no problem with rape as a standard interr
 
Toture is that which causes permanent physical damage. Anything else is just hazing.

I presume then that the commenter would have no problem with rape as a standard interrogation technique.
 
Torture works. Or harsh interrogation techniques work. The Bojinka investigation showed us that, and the fourteen newest residents of Gitmo showed us that, and the Gestapo managed to roll up resistance cells by torturing captives.
The insistence that it doesn't work is either willful ignorance, or an attempt by the DOD to take the moral load off the front-line guys.
Besides, immediate tactical intel is rarely accessible by torture, since the facts are changing, sometimes for the very reason that the enemy knows you've got one of his guys.
The bigger picture from bigger fish is where torture or harsh techniques could be useful.

So, given that it works, foregoing it imposes a cost.

It would be refreshing to hear opponents of harsh techniques explain that they think we need to absorb the cost--probably in dead Americans--and what the cost would be.
 
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