I’ve been asked to write about this subject for some time, and by happenstance, I came to write this today…
Nell Lancaster had a very good posting at her blog the other day, Torture: It’s not about “intelligence gathering”:
One of the most persistent and discouraging themes that crops up in discussions of torture is the question of whether it “works” or not. The people engaging this question make a fatally wrong assumption: that the goal of torturers is the same as that of legitimate interrogators — to get reliable information useful for active, circumscribed military operations or police investigations.
But torture does something else altogether, and is designed to do so: it extracts false confessions. These confessions, along with the agony of the torture itself, serve the goals of limitless, lawless “war”: to humiliate and break opponents, to divide them from supporters, to terrify those not actively in opposition into staying inactive, and, most importantly, to justify the operations of the dirty war within which torture takes place: commando raids, assassinations, spying, kidnapping, secret and/or indefinite (and unreviewable) detention, and further torture.
I think Nell makes some very good points, and they are especially applicable to the use of U.S. torture during the period we have lived and still living through, beginning with the large-scale revival of the U.S. torture program after 9/11.