Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Torture Does NOT Work

Matthew Yglesias explains.
Which is all just to say that there are two closely related reasons we find the idea of torture depraved. On the one hand, the deliberate infliction of cruelty is simply a depraved act. On the other hand, though, it's simply the sort of thing that only depraved people do -- as an actual investigative technique, it sucks. It's a way of encouraging people to tell interrogators whatever it is the interrogators already happen to believe.

This is why you don't see torture associated with low-crime jurisdictions. You see it associated with brutal dictatorships seeking to cow the population into submission. You see it associated with purges, witch hunts, and inquisitions. Wherever phony confessions are required as an instrument of policy, you'll find your torture chambers.


If you relax your standards enough and look hard enough, in other words, you'll be able to find information to justify just about any conclusion you like. The trouble is that the conclusions you like aren't going to be the conclusions that are accurate.

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