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Before, we were told how tough it was on a person to be waterboarded.

That it was so debilitating that it was only used in extreme cases.

Now this guy is waterboarded 3 times a day for a month, basically at every meal (if you want to think about it in terms of frequency).

It seems clear that it is not rare; and that it doesn't really deliver results.

Again and again, we have been lied to about waterboarding, how often it is done, what level of use we get out of it, etc.

And, this is just 1 example - there could well be other methods of torture and many other cases of incompetence... makes you want to say "you know what? Let's just scrap the whole thing..."

If waterboarding was a piece of software it would be considered too crashy and unreliable and a replacement that worked better would be sought immediately.




If your goal is to utterly break and dehumanize a person until they're rendered psychotic, incontinent, incapable of human interaction or ever being able to take care of themselves again, this is how you accomplish it.

We handled interrogations with Nazis better. We showed them respect and they gave us valuable information.

It leads me to believe intelligence wasn't the main motivator for the continued torture of these people, but only an excuse.


"If your goal is to utterly break and dehumanize a person until they're rendered psychotic, incontinent, incapable of human interaction or ever being able to take care of themselves again, this is how you accomplish it."

Not to mention make them more pliable and potentially willing to give a false testimony just to make it end. Not that false testimonies have ever been tortured out of people by governments before.


Indeed: a technique mastered by the Soviets.

At the end of WWII in Europe, Churchill wanted to simply string up the captured leaders. The US pushed for trials -- and the Soviets agreed since they felt it legitimized their own show trial apparatus.

To paraphrase Pogo: we met the enemy and he was us.


> If waterboarding was a piece of software it would be considered too crashy and unreliable and a replacement that worked better would be sought immediately

Only there is no possible replacement so they just continue using the same horrible thing. If there is one thing people are terrible at it's understanding that not doing something is often a viable option.


They think there is a replacement though. They always keep searching for something, but the realities of torture mean they never will. In reality, inevitably, torture is kept hidden anyway, so improvised means and methods because the norm. You couldn't deny soldiers field telephone magnetos for most of the 20th century, which meant you couldn't deny them electroshock torture devices either. Same with rubber hoses, or basins of filthy water.


It's not JUST waterboarding... you just described torture in a nutshell. I suggest reading, 'Torture and Democracy', it's incredibly enlightening and has a fantastic set of sources.


But it did deliver results, confessions that were directly cited by the US Commander in Chief to justify the invasion of Iraq.

This poses a further question. Was the invasion decided apon based on the belief such intelligence was true or was this confession rather something to justify a decision ?

Winston Churchill's criticism of torture is that it was not useful because you were told what you want to hear - under torture the victim will say anything to make it stop.

Enhanced Interrogation is a euphemism. That the actions described in the article are torture is clear.


Well it didn't deliver results, because none of it was true. So how could the guy give up any information that didn't exist?


Imagine you had a scale, onto which you put a weight labeled "100kg". You know it weights 100kg because it says so right there. The scale however, only registers 85kg. You take it off, you put it back on, the scale always says the same thing. You try different scales, they say 85kg, but you keep going because it's 100kg and you're going to find a scale that's accurate! Eventually you find a scale that says what you want.

This straw man illustrates that at some point, it isn't the tool, but the process that's flawed. Even if your tool is accurate, if you don't believe it, you can't get at the truth, and if you work hard enough you can find a broken tool to tell you what you want.

So perhaps there is some truth to the idea that torture can extract true information from people, but if the whole process operates like the above straw man, it totally invalidates the use of the tool.


It's more like, you will extract information, but only in hindsight can you ever know if it was worthwhile, accurate, a trap, etc. You will also kill some people, some people won't break easily, and some will babble anything and everything. You won't know which is which in the moment, and usually you're torturing for time-sensitive information.

What you get is what happened during WWII, when the resistances knew they just had to withstand torture for 24 hours, 48 at most. It's amazing what motivated people can do when they have a goal, and that goes for the tortured as well as the torturers.


Part of the result of any interrogation is to figure out if the subject has the information you want.

So it didn't deliver at all.


Right, but the point of the article is that they were doing it to the wrong person. That doesn't mean it does not work. Causation does not imply correlation.


If it takes you more than 83 separate instances of waterboarding somebody to decide that they don't have useful information to share with you, then waterboarding is not an efficient way to get reliable information.

If waterboarding is not an efficient way to get reliable information, then I'd be very curious to hear about what definition of "work" you're using where waterboarding might satisfy, but fail in this particular instance.


For all the times it didn't work, how many times did it work for others? One person, with no information, doesn't mean anything.


"Here are eight cases cited in the report where the C.I.A. made the case that its tactics thwarted plots and led to the capture of terrorists, and how the committee's report undercut those accounts."

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/08/world/does-tor...

Full report:

http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/senate-inte...

Torture is illegal under the Eight Amendment. The Supreme Court has affirmed this multiple times.

If we're going to go against legal precedent as well as international convention, the burden of proof for torture's effectiveness is on torture advocates. The evidence provided does not stand up to scrutiny.


Your question is poorly formed because the basis of my comment was asking how you defined "work" in the context of waterboarding. You didn't provide any sort of definition, you just said "Well, maybe it worked for other people".

But if it doesn't work reliably, for whatever "work" means, then it doesn't matter if it's successful sometimes and unsuccessful other times because if you don't have a way to distinguish the success from the failure, it's impossible to measure.

That's why I asked you to clarify what you mean when you say it might "work".


well, either it means they were just gratuitously torturing him for fun, or it means they can't tell whether they were getting any useful information or if he had any to give

neither option suggests the technique is useful

it's also about as immoral as you can get


> Right, but the point of the article is that they were doing it to the wrong person. That doesn't mean it does not work. Causation does not imply correlation.

I think this case make it obvious that it's impossible to tell if the person you're torturing has the information you're looking for and is withholding it, or simply doesn't have the information. That's a textbook definition of "ineffective".


What's the alternative? I'm generally curious as to what would be considered more effective.


"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess [1].

Also: Why Torture Doesn't Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation [2]

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10...

[2] http://www.amazon.com/Why-Torture-Doesnt-Work-Interrogation/...


The alternative is to operate within the law and international convention.


From the sound of it, "do nothing" would be no less effective, and a bit cheaper.


Have you quantified the times when it has been effective though?


If you can't tell the difference between when its effective and when its ineffective, then the technique is worthless.




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