Oh! Terrible! Horrible! and what’s that again?

Extraordinary redaction provides a rundown on the status of the tortured torture debate and how dishonest it is. Two of the issues highlighted are the ‘torture doesn’t produce results’ myth and the waterboarding is torture question.

The productivity issue is muddied by the fact that torture is often used to produce confessions – Iran’s recent use of a US reporter is a case in point. The US doesn’t seek confessions. Its interrogation efforts are a part of a larger intelligence gathering exercise. This is an effort of picking up many puzzle pieces from many sources and fitting them together to learn about where other pieces may be found and what is going on and who is doing what. The political gaming going on is that of releasing only the process and not its result.

The other issue is about waterboarding. The NYT reported that some prisoners had been subject to this technique hundreds of times. The point seemed to be how awful – but think about it: if you can do something to someone many times it is obvious that it is not harmful and it is rather strange that the subject would not learn this fact. The simplest model for this is that waterboarding is not an inherently harmful technique but that it does reach into primal reactions that fundamental to its effectiveness.

One other outcome of this discussion is seen in some commentary that defines torture as anything that evokes information from a person that they’d rather not let be known. This also has implications that need to be perused to determine whether it is a useful definition.

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