Coercive interrogation works

The Belmont Club:

Hotair has a video of ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross describing what his CIA contacts told him about coercive interrogation. Not surprisingly, it turns out that the technique was able to extract useful information. One of the most pernicious fallacies peddled in the debate over coercive interrogation -- or torture -- as you would have it, is that duress is absolutely useless is providing any kind of intelligence. According to this point of view, coercive interrogation is just pointless cruelty. And those who advocate it are simply looking for excuses to engage in fruitless sadism.

But the real moral dilemma arises from the fact that coercion can produce intelligence information. If it were useless, as some commentators claim, there would be no dilemma. It is precisely because innocent lives can occasionally be saved by recourse to coercion that this problem is the devil's own. Therefore the correct approach must be to acknowledge the fact that we will have to pay in blood and treasure for not using certain techniques. And if we are prepared to accept that payment then we may willingly forgo these techniques. However, if we are unwilling to pay the price of those risks, we cannot honestly promise the public safety without lying to them. It is the therefore the task of policymakers to inform the public what the tradeoffs are and get them to accept those risks.

One of the dishonest aspects of the debate over this issue is that opponents call the interrogation techniques torture. But, if the techniques described are torure, what do they call basic military training, where recruits are put under stress and remolded as soldiers. Other orgainizations have their own rights of passage that some might describe as torture. The main difference is that the latter examples are voluntary. I would maintain that someone who has joined a terrorist organization has "volunteer" for that interrogation if caught.

I think that Wretcherd has nailed the key problems for opponents--how many innocent lives are they willing to sacrifice for this "principle" on questioning those who have knowledge of the ticking bomb? One of the arguments in the 9-11 hearings was whether we had done enough to prevent the attacks. Curiously, no one has asked the Jersey Girls to comment on the consequencies of not putting the terrorist under a stressful interrogation.


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