I’m no expert on interrogation. From what I’ve read, most of these experts find torture to be a modality with minimal utility, but I’m sure there are those who want to keep it around. My personal opinion is that it is horridly immoral, and rather difficult to justify. The “ticking bomb” scenario is vanishingly rare, and I’m sure out in the field, certain things are done from time to time without government approval. It is important to separate what the government overlooks, and what the government explicitly endorses. Still, these are issues for someone else.
What bothers me is all this talk of what is or isn’t torture. People will say, “well I tried the waterboarding thing, and it wasn’t so bad,” or, “I pulled all-nighters in college, and it sucked but it wasn’t torture.”
Commentators have been splitting hairs about the nature of torture—what level of discomfort constitutes torture, and how important long-term outcomes like PTSD are in defining torture. One of the arguments put forth in the Bush Torture Memos was that we have studied many of these techniques quite well in the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program. The soldiers who pass through this program have not been found to suffer long-term ill-effects.
My answer: so the fuck what? I call false analogy.
Pulling all-nighters and going through harsh army training are qualitatively different then being involuntarily imprisoned and subjected to the same physical experiences. Can anyone reading this spot the problem with this?
That’s right. When you are captured and tortured YOU CAN’T GET UP AND LEAVE. This is a big fucking difference.
Let’s apply this test: if your son was captured in Afghanistan and subjected to the same techniques, would you consider it torture?