Monday, August 30, 2010

Excellent Article About Torture

I was skimming through various articles and I came across one at Strategy Page called, "Trying To Silence The Stridently Righteous." It echoes some points I've been making for years -- and seen few others covering -- so naturally I liked it. Here are some excerpts.
"Opposition to torture" has become something of a religious issue, and a vague one at that.
It certainly has, complete with beliefs that run counter to reality. A fanatical minority, "the stridently righteous," believe that their moral absolutist stand against torture is the only correct way of thinking.
there is no agreement on what, exactly, torture is.
This cannot be repeated too often. What constitutes torture in many cases is a matter of opinion, dependent on the exact circumstances. Many torture opponents refuse to recognize that torture is not easily defined, and like to pretend that their opinions about certain techniques constitutes fact.
To many anti-torture advocates, what goes on in police interrogation rooms worldwide, every day, can be considered torture.
A point I've made many times.
Critics like to point out that, under torture, the victim will tell you what you want to hear, to get the pain to stop. But a competent interrogator will be able to double check some information provided by the subject under torture, and adjust the questioning as needed. At least that's how it's worked for thousands of years. But now all that is depicted as misguided nonsense that really didn't work at all.
Information doesn't stop being valid if it's extracted through torture. There are plenty of types of information that can be checked out, confirmed, falsified or evaluated in the light of other evidence. The idea that torture -- alone of all interrogation techniques -- always produces false or unreliable information is completely illogical, aside from being factually untrue. Yet it is repeated as a mantra by anti-torture types.
Advocates for the abolition of torture believe that torture doesn't work. Obviously, it does work. Just check out the history of espionage during World War II, or any other major conflict. Torture was accepted, if not much talked about. Information was regularly extracted from unwilling captives, and damage often done to the subject as a result.
You don't even need to go back that far. There are plenty of examples of criminals using torture to extract accurate information from their victims. I could keep commenting on excerpts, but read the whole article. There are good arguments against torture. I wrote a post awhile back listing ten I thought should be taken into consideration. But pretending that it can't work isn't one of them.

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