Speculation Makes Torture Even More Ineffective

August 24, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

From the IG report on the CIA’s use of torture, page 83:

According to a number of those interviewed for this Review, the Agency’s intelligence on Al-Qa’ida was limited prior to the initiation of the CTC Interrogation Program. The Agency lacked adequate linguists or subject matter experts and had very little hard knowledge of what particular Al-Qa’ida leaders–who later became detainees–knw. This lack of knowledge led analysts to speculate about what a detainee “should know,” vice information the analyst could objectively demonstrate the detainee did know.

You are at a disadvantage with your enemy detainee if you

1. lack his language skills
2. lack his subject matter
3. lack knowledge of the detainee himself

The detainee in question will tell you what he thinks you want to hear. The worst part? You will never know if you fully extracted all you wanted out of the detainee, and as such, you will continue torturing him until you finally feel satisfied he has nothing else of value for you. This, however, could go on for a long time, because each time you press more, the detainee will tell you even wilder tales hoping the next tale will finally get you to stop torturing him. Of course, with each new tale, since you don’t actually know what else the detainee is holding back, with each new tale he tells, you press even further. Finally, of course, the detainee’s psyche collapses into learned helplessness and is now completely useless, for information and as a human being. You’ve destroyed him. Since you came into this without actually knowing what the detainee knows, all you’ve ended up doing is destroying the mind of another human being.

Congratulations torturer.

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