Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Torture {Not}

To no one's surprise, the Intelligence Science Board, a high-voltage panel convened to advise intelligence agencies on interrogation practices, has concluded that the torture ['harsh techniques] used by the Bushites are good only for injuring people and violating international law. To my consternation but no longer my surprise, we are just now seeing the report, Educing Information, Interrogation: Science and Art, that was completed in December 2006--and for this look behind the scene we owe thanks to the reporting of Steve Shane and Mark Mazetti of the New York Times. It is reprehensible that such a panel should even exist, so wrong and repugnant is torture, but it is good that such a group after studying the history of torture and interrogation, after reviewing the available scientific literature, and after commissioning its own studies can conclude according to Shane and Mazetti and my own quick review, which I admit is hardly enough to form a final judgment, that torture--not a word they use--doesn't work and is in most regards counterproductive. Wrapped in the stilted prose of academics working for the Defnse Intelligence Agency and telling their minders and bill payers what they doubtless don't want to hear is a comprehensive critique of the Bushites' interrogation techniques, beginning with those history lessons and proceeding through a 'cost benefit analysis,' on to behavioral and biological science. The report is a compilation of papers, rather than a coherent narrative, but in aggregate it raises the only questions policy makers should be asking themselves--how do we get rid of the people who have brought us to this state and happily continue to muck around in the blood and gore of innocent people.

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