Apologists for torture say that it was a “necessarily evil” to stop future terror attacks.
However, the top interrogation experts all say torture that doesn’t work:
- The military agency which actually provided advice on harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects warned the Pentagon in 2002 that those techniques would produce “unreliable information.”
- Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 says:
“Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”
- A declassified FBI e-mail dated May 10, 2004, regarding interrogation at Guantanamo states “[we] explained to [the Department of Defense], FBI has been successful for many years obtaining confessions via non-confrontational interviewing techniques.” (see also this)
- Brigadier General David R. Irvine, retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School, says torture doesn’t work
- The CIA’s own Inspector General wrote that waterboarding was not “efficacious” in producing information
- A former FBI interrogator — who interrogated Al Qaeda suspects — says categorically that torture does not help collect intelligence. On the other hand he says that torture actually turns people into terrorists
- A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:
“The administration’s claims of having ‘saved thousands of Americans’ can be dismissed out of hand because credible evidence has never been offered — not even an authoritative leak of any major terrorist operation interdicted based on information gathered from these interrogations in the past seven years. … It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.
This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.”
- The FBI interrogators who actually interviewed some of the 9/11 suspects say torture didn’t work
- A former US Air Force interrogator said that information obtained from torture is unreliable, and that torture just creates more terrorists
- The number 2 terrorism expert for the State Department says torture doesn’t work, and just creates more terrorists
- A former high-level CIA officer states:
Many governments that have routinely tortured to obtain information have abandoned the practice when they discovered that other approaches actually worked better for extracting information. Israel prohibited torturing Palestinian terrorist suspects in 1999. Even the German Gestapo stopped torturing French resistance captives when it determined that treating prisoners well actually produced more and better intelligence.
- The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn’t work.
- A former CIA station chief in Pakistan who served at the agency for three decades doubts that torture saved any lives
Still don’t believe it? These people also say torture doesn’t produce usable intelligence:
- Former high-level CIA official Bob Baer said “And torture — I just don’t think it really works … you don’t get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you.”
- Rear Admiral (ret.) John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General for the Navy, said “Another objection is that torture doesn’t work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners.”
- Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, said “I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear.”
- Dan Coleman, one of the FBI agents assigned to the 9/11 suspects held at Guantanamo said “Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that. “
In fact, one of the top interrogators in Iraq got information from a high-level Al Qaeda suspect not through torture, but by giving him cookies.
And top American World War 2 interrogators got more information using chess or Ping-Pong instead of torture than those who use torture are getting today.
“Violence is taboo. Not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.”
Indeed, one of the top military interrogators said that torture does not work, that it has resulted in hundreds or thousands of deaths of U.S. soldiers, and that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place (in fact, the experts agree that torture reduces national security).
And – according to the experts – torture is unnecessary even to prevent “ticking time bombs” from exploding (see this, this and this). Indeed, a top expert says that torture would fail in a real ‘ticking time-bomb’ situation
The Bush administration claimed that the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed helped foil a planned 2002 attack on Los Angeles — forgetting that he wasn’t captured until 2003.
(see this confirmation from the BBC: “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed … was captured in Pakistan in 2003”).
Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself said:
During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told the interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the U.S.
And “the CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any ‘specific imminent attacks,’ according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.”
And when long-time FBI director Mueller was asked whether any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through “enhanced techniques”, he responded “I don’t believe that has been the case.”
And see this.