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Does Torture Work?
Scott Adam's Blog


Interesting take by Scott Adams, the self-styled master of persuasion.

So does torture “work”? Well of course it does. When skillfully applied it CAN extract useful information from a prisoner. Especailly if you are able to confirm whether the information the prisoner is giving you is truthful and accurate, because of course prisoners will lie even under torture. Often they will tell you what they think you want to know just to get the torture to stop. Which is why being able to confirm the information is so important.

So say for example you wanted access to someone’s bank account so you could clean it out. Among the other information you would need would be their Personal Identification Number (PIN). The simplest way to confirm whether or not your subject is giving you their correct PIN would be to immediately try it out at an ATM or online. I don’t imagine you’d have to cut off too many fingers before the subject would give up the correct number. But really some of the LEAST injurious forms of torture are among the most persuasive, like waterboarding, sensory depravation, Chinese water torture, sleep depravation and reduced rations. All those methods of torture and more are routinely used on American military undergoing SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training. Can’t be very injurious then , eh? SERE is special training given to military personnel deemed most at risk of being captured like air crews and Special Forces personnel. Part of the training involves being held in a mock prison camp and subjected to harsh interrogation. In any event, despite all the tough talk one so often hears, most people from the West are way too squeamish and too morally restrained to be effective torturers. If you allowed your soldiers to torture prisoners most of them would end up feeling so guilty, so "morally insulted” by the experience, they would develop severe PTSD and become permanent stress casualties. Just not enough sadists and psychopaths to go around.

So like Scott Adams observes, why do the generals all say in interviews that "torture doesn’t work”? Well number one because they think the whole subject of torture is a red herring, a distraction, and don’t want to get involved in an unproductive debate about it. One that’s largely intended by the Leftist media to make the country’s military look bad. Besides which the generals don’t really want to use torture anyway for legal, moral and practical reasons. Let the spooks, the CIA, handle that stuff if it’s necessary. Number two is that armies have discovered over the years that humane methods of interrogation are frequently the most effective at extracting useful intelligence from prisoners of war.

For example, one of the most effective prisoner of war interrogation programs was carried out by the German Luftwaffe in WWII. The Luftwaffe would take downed British and American aviators to a special camp, Auswertestelle West (Evaluation Center West), where they would be engaged in casual conversation in all manner of informal settings by friendly, sympathetic interrogators who spoke unaccented English. Before long the interrogators learned everything they wanted to know about the prisoners and their operations. The British and American POWs were mostly unaware they gave anything at all away. The program was so effective the U.S. Army produced a training film especially designed to teach Air Corps personnel how to resist these psychological tricks to elicit information from them should they be shot down and captured (some 45,000 were). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ0cu1UJX44 “Resisting Enemy Interrogation” (1944). After the war this training film was the inspiration for a Hollywood war movie, “Target Unknown” (1951). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044108/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl. The British employed a similar system. They would also bug the cells and barracks of German POWs they captured and learn all sorts of useful information that way without any coercion necessary.

Most allegations of captives being tortured and /or assaulted in the war on terror is a result of the fact that the Jihadist terrorists are hard cases who often assault their guards and consequently have to be dealt with harshly by their captors in order to maintain control of them.

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/156591306416/the-persuasion-filter-looks-at-torture-does-ithttp://blog.dilbert.com/post/156591306416/the-persuasion-filter-looks-at-torture-does-it

Add Comment
Eirik BloodaxeFebruary 1, 2017 5:22 PM UTC

When one is an old guy you suddenly remember things from the past that you had not thought about for years. I recall one guy I knew at primary school who was the ultra sadist. Torture was his hobby. He would spend his weekends finding small critters and devising ways of making their death an utter agony. Eventually he worked up to larger animals. When he got a car he would go into the outback to torture the wildlife, or kill sheep by setting them alight and watching them burn. A real sick fuck, the only guy I ever was scared of, because he had no value for any life. His real goal in life was to torture and kill humans, and he became a soldier of fortune. I have not heard from him in years, so I hope some African worked him over with a machete. Point being: the psychos are out there.
Jeremy BenthamFebruary 1, 2017 1:20 PM UTC

Keep in mind that if a prison guard punches a prisoner in the mouth because he spit on him that is considered "prisoner abuse" in today's world. A couple of decades ago it would be considered just retribution, whereas now it is an offense for which a guard, civil or military, will face punishment and /or dismissal. So I stand by my statement that MOST allegations of "prisoner abuse", meaning the totality of incidents, are reactions/over-reactions to provocations by prisoners themselves. The Jihadists know where the line is drawn and how to push our buttons; they know we Americans are morally restrained and that guards can seldom get away with retaliation once the chain of command is informed. Further I can tell you from personal experience that many of the people (at least a third) in todays' military are starry-eyed idealists (including generals) who don't approve of torture, abuse or extrajudicial killings and may even advocate unnatural restraint in the face of provocation, just like civilian Liberals. They will turn in anyone they think is engaging in Torture or abuse on general principles. As happened with Abu Graib prison, one of the guards informed on the gang of abusive guards. The fact is during World War II there were more tortures and extrajudicial killings than in any conflict the USA was in in the modern era (more friendly fire incidents too, but that's another story). Especially towards the end of the War in Europe there were many instances of extrajudicial killings of Germans /Nazis. However since the Liberals back then thought any Nazis who were summarily executed richly deserved it, there was no witch hunt about it during or after the war. For that matter many of the tactics that interrogators used back in WWII would be considered “torture” today. For example, two U.S. Army Field interrogators who were interviewed by Military History magazine revealed that one the tricks they employed when interrogating new prisoners was that they had two signs conspicuously displayed on their field desk, one sign said “Florida” and the other said “Siberia”. Whenever a German POW refused to answer questions these interrogators would hang the “Siberia” sign around his neck before they dismissed him. They would explain to the prisoner that POWs who cooperated were sent to a camp in Florida, whereas POWs who refused to cooperate were handed over to the Russians. The veteran interrogators said the when they were told that every single German POW sang like a canary. Now that might seem a harmless prank and a clever subterfuge to a lot of people reading this, but I guarantee you that if you got caught using such “intimidation tactics” today it would end your military career. Such tactics are not strictly in accordance with the US Army field interrogator’s manual, so often referred to by Leftist Democrats, or The Hague and Geneva Conventions. I don’t know what the CIA does in its “black sites”, but I reflexively do not believe half of what I hear, simply because I know from experience that people like to tell “war stories” and the Leftist press lies.
BaruchKJanuary 31, 2017 4:32 PM UTC

> If you allowed your soldiers to torture prisoners most of them would end up feeling so guilty, so "morally insulted” by the experience, they would develop severe PTSD and become permanent stress casualties. Just not enough sadists and psychopaths to go around.

Plenty to go around. Many of them self-select into the interrogator field. Then you just pick the ones who are right.

>For example, one of the most effective prisoner of war interrogation programs was carried out by the German Luftwaffe in WWII. The Luftwaffe would take downed British and American aviators to a special camp, Auswertestelle West (Evaluation Center West), where they would be engaged in casual conversation in all manner of informal settings by friendly, sympathetic interrogators who spoke unaccented English.

That's great stuff when you've got a high interrogator-to-prisoner ratio and no particular rush. Americans and Brits used it on captured high value personnel when they were in no hurry, too. On the other hand, when they were in a rush, they weren't very squeamish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-546#Sinking

>Most allegations of captives being tortured and /or assaulted in the war on terror is a result of the fact that the Jihadist terrorists are hard cases who often assault their guards and consequently have to be dealt with harshly by their captors in order to maintain control of them.

Nope.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagram_torture_and_prisoner_abuse

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jan/26/nation/na-abuse26

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abed_Hamed_Mowhoush#Investigation.2C_arrests_and_trial

Most allegations are true.

Counterinsurgency always means torture and extrajudicial executions. The French were more honest about it than the Americans (and Brits and Israelis of course):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Trinquier

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Aussaresses