Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Britons and Information Obtained by Torture

The polling organization YouGov has released the results of a UK survey which asked the following question:
Do you think there are ever circumstances where it is justified for the British security services to use information that other countries may have obtained through torture?
46% agreed that yes, there might be circumstances justifying the use of such information. 19% were unsure. And just over a third, 34%, said there were no circumstances that would justify its use.

From these results I conclude that 34% of Britons A) have no imagination, B) are complete and utter morons, or C) both. Regardless of what you think about the use of torture, consider the following hypothetical.

An Al Qaeda terrorist falls into the hands of Afghan security forces who torture him. During his torture-filled interrogation he gives up a large amount of information which may or may not be accurate. He states that Al Qaeda is planning an attack in Britain, and provides the names and approximate locations of two associates who he claims are already in the U.K. The Afghans pass this information to the U.S., which then informs the British. Would these 34% really oppose any investigation by British security forces? After all, they'd be acting on information obtained through torture. I guess they should just turn a blind eye and hope for the best.


  1. They may also be self-deluded. This allows them to think of themselves as morally superior. If it were up to them, few (I think) would choose to ignore the intelligence in your scenario.

  2. The point isn't to "turn a blind eye and hope for the best." The point is to not torture people.

  3. "The point isn't to "turn a blind eye and hope for the best." The point is to not torture people. "

    Completely irrelevant to the situation in question. The torture already occurred.