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.