Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Evil: the new Good

In two different places, I find myself arguing against torture, which is quite depressing really. I guess it shows the drift in our culture away from freedom, and how effective the never-ending 'war on terror' has been in anaesthetising the moral synapses of our society.

As to be expected, the usual canard is the race against time to find a bomb or a suffocating hostage, which I imagine accounts for somewhere around 0% (give or take) of torture. The rest is to punish and terrorise the victims and those that know them.

I hear; 'you can't be absolutist about it'. I disagree and point out that if it's acceptable to torture a suspect, because the necessity to extract information trumps any other consideration, then it must also be acceptable to torture his wife or children in front of him. This may give some pause for thought. After all, we're the 'good guys', right?

Besides such qualms, it is, I thought, well established that the evidence extracted under torture is generally worthless. As Jesse Ventura said (and he had been waterboarded as part of his Navy SEALs training and declared it definitely to be torture) "give me Dick Cheney, a waterboard and one hour, and I'll get him to confess to the Sharon Tate murders".


James Higham said...

The point is that they just like doing the torture. The pretext comes later.

Leg-iron said...

The Witchfinders extracted signed confessions that said their prisoners had flown on brooms, sailed in sieves and changed themselves into animals, and much more bizarre claims too.

Torture someone enough and they will confess to having sex with Satan's pet gecko. Just to make it stop.

No confession obtained under torture is worth a damn. As James said, the only ones who benefit are the sadists who enjoy torturing people.

So, no torturer should be allowed to apply any technique that has not been exhaustively tested on him/her first. Get them to confess to dancing naked with the pixies and charging sparrows a farthing a time to watch, and then see how confident they are in their extracted confessions.

Torture doesn't work. The subject will simply admit to anything.

Trooper Thompson said...

I agree to both points. I imagine a lot of these 'terror plots' that they've foiled come from confessions extracted under torture, and never actually existed in the first place.