[Water-boarding] is torture... It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.
Jesse Ventura is not exactly known for his intellectual firepower, and I didn't comment on his assertion at the time. It seemed pointless. But I noticed that his statement has been picked up and repeated in various venues online, as if it had any meaning in the torture debate. It doesn't.
Everyone concedes that torture is pretty effective at forcing confessions. Jesse Ventura is simply stating the obvious. If you waterboard someone with the intent of getting a certain answer, you are probably going to get it. Many torture opponents seem to think this somehow "proves" torture is ineffective. What it proves is that they haven't taken a few seconds to examine the logic behind their argument. Information is information. The quality of the information you get from an interrogation depends on the interrogator, the interrogatee, and the overall situation. If you ask the wrong questions, ask the right questions in the wrong way, or otherwise screw up, you probably aren't going to get very good information. But the reverse is also true. And once you have obtained information it has to be evaluated. Most torture opponents seem to assume that information gained through torture has to be accepted uncritically. Obviously it doesn't. It can be checked out, and in some cases definitively verified or falsified.
Torture is just an interrogation method. Yes, you can use it to get false confessions. But if you use it to extract information, that information can be evaluated in exactly the same ways as information obtained through other means. Since this is apparently so incredibly difficult for torture opponents to understand, here is a simple example.
Prisoner X belongs to a terrorist organization involved in stealing a weapon system. He's a low-level operative. The only useful thing he knows is the name and location of his immediate superior. When interrogated, if he is asked for things he doesn't know about, such as the terror group's plans, the location of the weapon system, etc., interrogators will get nothing or lies. If he's tortured and talks they will definitely get lies. But what if someone asks him for the name and location of his contact in the organization? That he knows. If he gives up that information it does not matter whether it was extracted by torture or by other methods. In either case, the named individual and location can be investigated by normal police work to determine whether or not the prisoner told the truth.