Top Interrogation Experts Agree: Torture Doesn't Work → Washingtons Blog
Top Interrogation Experts Agree: Torture Doesn't Work - Washingtons Blog

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Top Interrogation Experts Agree: Torture Doesn't Work

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:

  • 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 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
  • 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.
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. "
Many other professional interrogators say the same thing (see this, this, and this).

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.

And the head of Britain's wartime interrogation center in London said:
“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


  1. It doesn't make any difference if it works or not it is a war crime. You don't need to know any more.

  2. I'm sorry, but this is not credible. Torture works. I'm not sure what McCain said about it in his book, but I read Admiral Stockdale's book, and the gist of it is that everyone breaks sooner or later and gives information.

    The question remains, how many American lives would you be willing to sacrifice for the moral high ground of no torture? 10,000? 100,000? Maybe when another attack happens, people will begin to think more seriously about that equation.

  3. McCain said he gave them bullshit. Every integrator I have ever heard says torture gets you anything you want to here all of it bullshit. Other legal tactics work.

    The bottom line as a military man I have to go with no torture regardless of the cost.

  4. If I remember correctly, eventually even Sen. McCain gave in and succumbed to his torturous captors by issuing a 'sworn statement' which he had to apologize for later to his fellow POW's. *See the movie about his life.* So, yes, torture DOES work eventually for some.

    I believe the torture Sen. McCain endured was not equal to what I have read about the description of 'Waterboarding" ... one is not the same as the other in intensity and harm.

    Bottom line: Until we know what information was derived from this form of 'encouraging TRUTH' from these POW's, then I hardly think anyone can stand in judgement of those who ordered or enforced this method of conversation with known murderers.

    According to typical interrogation procedures in our own jails and police stations around the country our own law enforcement officers are causing harm to people who are only ACCUSED of possibly breaking the law... much less planning and carrying out a murderous plot to kill thousands of innocent American's on 9-11.

    More often than not people don't look down the road and consider the ramifications of making new laws and/or changing the rules. Slamming down Uncle Sam's foot on humane 'torture' might come back to bite us in the butt. Or should we consider adopting their methods for POW treatment... beheading?

    Waterboarding may be torture to some NOW, but it was reviewed and debated between our lawmakers before it was used in Gitmo... including holding it to the Geneva Convention terms of 'torture.'

    Giving the enemy the upper hand of knowing what to prepare for in case of capture is an injustice to the women and men who are putting themselves on the line as members of our military. THEY are the one's who have earned the right to make the decision to 'torture' or not... Not those of us who are still living in the comfort of our homes, heads on pillows at night, able to shower whenever we want, and enjoy running water at a whim.
    Let the one's who go face to face with the enemy on a daily basis make the call on the definition of 'torture'... or ask the men who survived the Bataan Death March, North Korean prisons, or Viet Nam's 'Hanoi Hilton' if WaterBoarding is 'inhumane.'

    I believe this national conversation about trivial treatment of our POW's is just diversionary politics at it's best. Is anyone paying close attention as Obama's regime is taking control of our banking system this past week?

    Poor POW's... but we're in even deeper do-doo if our inept Government is in full control of the banks!!! We'll ALL be hosed if we lose our freedoms. :-(

  5. I guess International treaties and National laws mean nothing when it comes to saving your sweaty little asses. Torture is a war crime and deserves to be punished as such. They didn't get shit by torture and all interrogators say that. Us sitting here debating who got the worse torture is pure horseshit. McCain was tortured and made a statement that none of us who haven't been tortured can say we wouldn't have done. It just so much easier to just say we don't torture and live up to our word and signature.

    It is the sorriest time of my life to acknowledge that the Untied States of American does torture and that a round table attended by the highest officials of our country sat around and discussed what they would do to each detainee and how often. Maybe your proud of that but I reserve the right not to be and I did my time to earn that right , did you??

  6. Torture works when the perps want a confession that supports their goals. 911 was an inside job. The perps needed patsies and through torture they got some. Now, as our country and our economy is being destroyed our attention will shift away from torture to survival. The issue of torture will become irrelevant as we become destitute. To stay ahead of this game we'll have to run very fast. Good luck!

  7. Awesome article! I have gradually become fan of your article and would like to suggest putting some new updates to make it more effective.

  8. Thanks for compiling this info, it's very helpful and informative.

  9. I think that torture works.......once pain gets to a certain threshhold, people will spill the truth!

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  10. I think torture works, but maybe we should restrain from this type of activity in order to show the world we are a compassionate people


  11. Torture works, but not in a vacuum. It works when used in conjunction with other methods and techniques, so that the obtained intel can be verified and validated. As to it's morality? If torturing one enemy saves one soldier or marine, "let loose the hounds of war.". Nothing makes war a civilized endeavor, so why pretend that one aspect of it is any less acceptable than another. Fight it, end it as quickly as possible; if torture helps towRd that end, then go for it!


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