Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Too Important for the Comments

I feel the need to write a full post about MrP’s earlier post. A blog that MrP brought to our attention says that because McCain himself broke under torture, it proves that torture works – and therefore McCain is wrong to say torture doesn’t yield good intelligence. I don’t feel right leaving my opinion on this hidden in the comments section.

McCain doesn't say that torture never gives valuable information - which is why he is in favor of it being used in extreme situations (by knowingly breaking the law and accepting that responsibility) like an impending attack.

But he does argue that on the whole, it doesn't provide useful intelligence. He openly admits that prisoners break - but breaking doesn't always mean telling the truth, it can also mean telling the interrogators exactly what they want to hear. For example, if your interrogators believe you were seeking nuclear weapons, they might torture you until you admit to it. And people will admit to it even if it is false, because they will do anything to stop the torture. Another good example comes from McCain’s own experience: when asked to give the names of his flight squadron, he gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line instead.

Yes, torture will eventually lead to information. Sometimes that information is true and useful, and other times it isn’t. The problem is that it is next to impossible to know when a prisoner is telling you what you want to hear, or when they are giving you accurate information. And the information isn’t useful if you can’t verify its accuracy.