Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

The subject of torture has been in the news alot recently. I guess for most of us it’s not a subject that we give much thought to. The question of whether the  US has been carrying out Extratordinary Rendition, the practise of sending  suspects to foreign countries to be tortured, and the US use of ‘Waterboarding’ has been forefront (if you don’t have a clear concept of what is involved I recommend reading this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterboarding

Many people are horrified that any modern Western democracy would resort to such tactics to ellicit information, firstly on the grounds of humantiarian reasons, but also because it is blatantly hypocritical – the US is a signatory on the United Nations Convention against Torture. Rendition of course is the way to get around that, and there have been rumours for years that the practise was being carried out, and of course denied for years.  Former CIA agent Robert Baer has been quoted as saying  

 If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt.

Now it would seem those rumours were founded on truth.

Perhaps, some would argue, the end justifies the means..Let’s take a look at that more closely.  We have to first of all ask

‘How useful is torture as a means to produce viable information in the interest of national security ?’. 

From what I have been reading, there does not seem to be any evidence that use of torture is as effective in producing viable information as governments would have us believe. Intuitively this makes sense – if you are being slowly drowned, are in extreme pain, and are desperate for your situation to cease, what are you going to say? You may be the sort of person who becomes more resistant to complying under coercion, or may be you are the opposite, and will say whatever you need to to put and end to your agonizing situation. In either case (and apparantely there has been research which shows the former does happen) the information is not going to be reliable is it?

There is also the consideration of the actual physical and psychological effects of torture on the mind. If you have suffered damage in either respect it is possible that your ability to recall information will be impared. So again – how useful or accurate will be any ‘information’ you ‘give up’.

Methods of torture have been devised, known as ‘Clean’ methods which leave no visible physicals signs of torture, but it doesn’t mean they are any more/less effective.

So is the use of torture ever really ‘justified’ if it can not be shown that it really does produce useful information ? Apparantely there have been a few statistical studies on this, but with little evidence that this is the case.`

But I am no expert on the matter. If you are, or have some knowledge to add to gaining more clarity on the matter please leave a comment. 


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