Note: I really hesitate to post this, as some will read it to mean that I’m condoning “torture”. If you’re one who reads it that way, you’re wrong. I won’t argue with you, but you’re wrong. You can smile to yourself if you’d like, confident that you’re right about me. I’ll ignore you, confident that you aren’t. We’ll both be happy. But only one of us will be correct.
Both in yesterday’s post about the WW2 interrogators who are critical of today’s practitioners of the art and in most other places discussing this topic, we see a lot of “I was an interrogator and I can tell you that torture doesn’t work“-type comments. That’s basically what the WW2 vets are saying, too.
Let’s assume for a bit that many of the allegations of widespread “torture” and “abuse” are true.
So what about the guys who are current interrogators? They’re presumably educated and skilled in their field of expertise, in most cases as knowledgeable as previous interrogators were. Are they intentionally using methods that they know don’t work? Are they ordered to use those methods even though they know they won’t work and they tell their superiors that they won’t work?
Or, perhaps, do they maybe think they might work?
Remember, no one discussing this openly knows anything about what’s really going on. We don’t know which methods are being used how much in what ways on who. We don’t know how much of what sort of information is being extracted by whom from whom. We don’t know what the interrogators are up against where or what they need by when.
So…if this ‘torture’ scenario is anywhere near as common as critics like to claim, might it not indicate that the interrogators truly think it’s an effective method? Sure, others will say it isn’t, but what qualifications do they have that the current guys don’t? Argue on moral grounds all you want, but don’t criticisms from former interrogators amount to a difference of professional opinion?
Couldn’t it also mean that the ‘ticking time bomb’-type scenario is happening in some cases? Many blow this off and make jokes about ’24’, but there are kidnapped people all the time and hints of massive attacks against civilians can’t be too uncommon. Sometimes the interrogators probably really are up against the wall, the clock ticking and all hope resting on a vital piece of information possibly known to a particular prisoner.
Another thing that has crossed my mind in the past is that former successful interrogators who used “torture” successfully aren’t all that likely to stand up and say “Hey, there, everyone. I’m a proud former torturer and I can attest to the reliability of my brutal methods.”
I certainly don’t mean to imply that “torture” is right or good or effective. I just mean that I haven’t seen any convincing arguments from former interrogators.
I’m confident that some will read this all and say “Murdoc, I was an effective interrogator back in XXXX. I know for a fact that ‘torture’ doesn’t work.” I’m also confident that others will read this all and believe that they know, for a fact, very differently.
This post isn’t about whether “torture” is right or not. It also isn’t whether “torture” is legal or not. It’s about whether claims from apparent experts in the field can be used to determine whether or not today’s alleged methods are effective or not.
What think you?