The Senate Torture Report is out (largely thanks to Obama who banned torture on his second day in office). People are deservedly appalled. But there was always precisely one defence of torture – it saved lives. Does the report show it does? In a word, no. There was not one single case of a terrorist plot foiled by torture.
The 20 findings of the Senate Torture Report include the following:
#1: The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
#2: The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
#8: The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.
It’s very clear. Torture does not work. It makes things worse and everyone less safe. We’ve known this for decades. We knew it in World War 2. So did the Nazis. Torture does nothing but instil fear and hatred. It encourages the victim to pretend they know things they don’t to end the torture. It encourages them to lie to screw over the bastards torturing them.
So why do people advocate torture? Three reasons. Firstly, they are ignorant – this can be fixed. Second they want to appear to be the bad guys or get their rocks off on torture. (This is very different from SSC or even RACK BDSM – consent matters). Third because they want to appear to be Hard Men Making Hard Choices and are so caught up in their cosplaying that they can’t be bothered to (or are too scared to) worry about whether they are simply making things worse for everyone by being villains.
There is no moral case for torture. There is no practical case for torture. And with luck it will be another generation before a group mixed of the ignorant and the scum decide to try again – but to ensure this is the case we need to press this lesson home and make sure it is learned. Right now even Fox News are divided. It’s time to make sure everyone knows that torture doesn’t work therefore there is no possible defence for it.
People with a strong stomach are invited to read the full report. (Warning: People can be very creative about ways to hurt each other – skim if you have a weak stomach). The only things it says we didn’t already know are the extent of the torture because the CIA was lying so much. And it’s proof that despite the CIA’s lies it didn’t work.