News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Treat your friends to torture today: it works.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is a strong advocate of torture.  He advocates it because he says it works.  

So do gas ovens.  Firearms.  Nuclear bombs.  Police states.  Lung cancer.  You name it.  It all works.  Sort of.

The big question is, just what work does it accomplish?  

Torture provides people of a sadistic nature with some pleasure.  I doubt if when it comes to torture, there are many sado-masochists out there, aside from those who engage in it for kinked-up sex.   Most people who advocate torture want to inflict it.  They don't stand in line to receive it. And that leads to some observations on how torture actually works.  

As someone who has been involved in making and eliciting communication,  I know something about the effects or torture and coercion.  I was assigned to take some special training in the subject while in the Army.  In gathering intelligence, a crucial aspect is establishing the truth, accuracy, and reliability of information that is gathered.  Bad information can lead to disasters.  That's why our opponents and enemies spend so much time disseminating misinformation and disinformation.  Anything but the the truth.  They hope we'll fall for some false information and expend our resources and energy on pursuing it.  

 There is a much-proven fact about information elicited by torture and other forms of coercion.  It is often false.    It is false because when people are experiencing pain and panic or acute discomfort, as with sleep deprivation, they get to the point where they will say anything to end their misery.  They will tell their interrogators what they think they want to hear, and they will not hesitate to make to make it up.  When interrogators obtain what they think is a significant piece of information, they must set into a motion an extensive process of checking out and testing the information for fact and accuracy.  Pursuing false information is expensive and can consume all the resources the investigating agency has.  Acting on false information can destroy a nation.  Intelligence gatherers have to be extremely wary about being duped into disaster.

People under torture and coercion will confess to crimes they did not commit.  When the State of Illinois released 18 men from death row because of wrongful convictions that were proven wrong, many of those convictions were based upon false confessions.  The psychology behind why people will confess to something they did not do or make up false information is complex and convoluted, but it reduces down to the fact that they want the misery they are in to end, even if it will take their own death to end it.  Good, competent interrogators know and understand this.  People who inflict torture because they enjoy their power to torment someone else do not understand this.  Their psychological motives are not focused on getting information but on gratifying their desire to exercise power they realize when they can hold someone else in torment.  

People who advocate torture and want to practice have some personal issues involving their own state of mental health.   They have pathologies that disqualify them from any claim to credibility or good purpose.

In the final analysis,  the information that torture reveals is mostly about the kind of people who wish to inflict it.  

No comments:

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States