Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Espaldapalabras, May 14, 2010.
I've obviously lost track of what's being discussed then. So, ok...
My last message wasn't written too well. I'll try to clarify.
I think that psychological trickery doesn't constitute torture because it only works if a guilty person is lied to or deceived.
Playing devil's advocate against myself: I think I can understand why a suspect who is later found to be innocent would feel after being accused of murder. This is normal with any kind of investigation. Sometimes suspects are investigated and found to be innocent in trial by jury. You don't go to trial unless there's convincing evidence to support an accusation.
Tricking people by telling them that evidence linking him/her to a murder has been discovered may actually end up getting a person to admit something he didn't do. If a person was drunk and doesn't remember last night, he might say he must have done it if witnesses saw him at the scene around the time it happened. But this isn't in itself torture... it's criminal investigation.
What I generally tend to believe is torture comes through use of physical force to inflict pain beyond a person's tolerance for the purpose of exchanging info for removal of pain. Discomfort, such as depriving a person use of a restroom, increasing the heat in a room, right down to the use of 'bad cop'... are where the line really gets distorted. These are where the real problems lie in the use of physical force for purpose of extracting info.
What a ridiculous article. For all the "anecdotal evidence" that article provides of torturing working, there is an equal amount of belief that torture does not work. For example, please read the op-ed written by former FBI interrogation agent Ali Soufan: New York Times - Ali Soufan
In answering the 2.5 questions posed by the OP, I wish to reverse course compared to most of the replies. I will not focus on the literal concept of torture and if it is immoral/amoral and what torture is defined as, but I will focus on what torture is meant to do and thereby what we mean to gain from it. This is a long-track argument, not stuck in the short-term and illogical ravings of "but what if they have a bomb omg!?!?" argument that was beautifully mocked earlier.
I will advance one thesis: Torture does not work. Let me explain.
Regardless whether torture is physical, psychological, verbal, emotional, or whatever else, what is torture designed to do? From what I have read, torture is designed to elicit information or evidence from a suspect or alleged enemy. This evidence or information or intelligence is then used to further the capabilities of the U.S. government in stopping, disrupting, defeating, or destroying terrorists, state supporters of terrorism, or perhaps even the concept of "terrorism" itself (I'm ignoring how patently insane that claim is).
So we have a line chart: Torture -> Information -> Increased Capabilities -> Defeat of Terrorists. I argue that this is the basis for the use of torture and questionable interrogation techniques. If we seek to defeat terrorists, then torture presumably aids us.
I will argue that it does not, for this reason: The use of torture AND the consequences of its use CREATES more enemies than it destroys. Regardless of the physical, emotional, psychological or other tolls on the alleged enemy or prisoner, the part that disturbs me about torture is how it is used to further perpetuate a "war on terrorism" that leads us to enact many dangerous and self-destructive policies. The gain in intelligence leads us to use this intelligence to seek and destroy the terrorists friends, allies, and partners. When we kill them, they die. But, when we kill them, we breed more terrorists.
General Petraeus and others in the Department of Defense have stated that our actions have serious consequences, regardless whether we kill innocents along with killing terrorists or not. The fact of the matter is: when you kill a terrorist in any way, you create a new enemy, generally from the family of the deceased "enemy". Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber most recently detained stated to investigators that he acted because he disagreed with the military policies of the United States. Major Nidal Hassan, the Army soldier who shot and killed fellow officers had a similar motive: he disagreed with the military policies of the United States. As we continue to murder and kill terrorists or innocents in faraway places, they will continue to find dissatisfied citizens of countries who wish to harm the U.S. for its action. These people will be trained and sent to kill Americans, wherever they reside.
It is not much of a coincidence that following Obama's ramp up of the Afghanistan War, extensive use of Predator Drones (he's used them about 4x more than Bush did in 1/8th the comparable time frame), use of these Drones in new countries (Yemen, Pakistan), use of Special Forces in other countries (Somalia, possibly soon Iran, Saudia Arabia and others in the secret order Petraeus signed on September 30th, 2009 which was just leaked by the NYT yesterday) more terrorists are attacking the U.S., its' citizens and interests abroad, and its allies. While this relationship is suggestive and correlates by the thesis "If you attack more people in more places, then more people from more places will attack you", it is not causative. Unfortunately, many of these issues cannot be demonstrated to have causal relationships: that is why so many argue that torture