Originally published January 23, 2015.
Revised and republished January 20, 2016 after a web host transfer.
Do an Internet search with the words “not torture” and you will find several claims that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques do not constitute torture.
I will believe that those techniques are not torture when all the people using the phrase “not torture” give me proof in experience. I want them to prove from their own experience that those techniques are not torture. To do this, they have to experience the techniques themselves and report back to me that they did not feel tortured.
I did not read or listen to any details about the techniques because just knowing about them sickens me. However, I do know some details about the situation.
The standards for proof in experience in this situation mean that all supporters of the “not torture” enhanced interrogations must agree to be…
…taken from their own lives without notice.
…taken to a destination away from their lives.
…prevented from seeing or contacting anyone in their lives.
…softened up for interrogation sessions.
…interrogated in anyway the interrogators choose to
interrogate them for the length of time interrogators
…kept away from their lives and families for an indefinite
period of time, subject to enhanced interrogation
techniques at any time.
If supporters of the “not torture” enhanced interrogation techniques come back from these experiences and tell me they were not tortured, then I will have to believe them.
I do already have proof in experience from the other side of the situation at Abu Ghraib. Eric Fair is an Army veteran who was a contract interrogator in Iraq at Abu Ghraib in 2004. These are Eric Fair’s words about himself:
“I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured.”
These are Eric Fair’s words about the Senate’s torture report:
“I assure you there is more; much remains redacted.”
To delete or remove (private or sensitive information)
from a document in preparation for publication
Support for torture depends on whether people “are told that torture is likely to be ineffective”, of if they are told the suspect is a terrorist, or if they are told that the suspect had actually planted a bomb.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that:
Not once between late 2001 and early 2009 did the CIA’s use
of torture result in intelligence that helped to foil a terrorist
plot. All of the most useful information came from standard,
non-violent interrogation approaches. Furthermore, tortured
detainees frequently made up things in an attempt to get
their torturers to stop.
Even support for a “ticking time bomb scenario”
depends on a ‘highly idealised’ and ‘highly unrealistic’ set of
assumptions being met. Moreover, their finding that people’s
support for torture is influenced by the identity and the
culpability of the suspect shows that the practice is often
endorsed as a form of punishment, not as a way to extract
The Middle East Research and Information Project found that refusing to use torture creates more security.
…torture is ineffective in enhancing security; on the contrary,
states that do not torture (or extra-judicially execute)
prisoners experience substantially less terrorism, and their
counter-terrorism efforts are more effective.
If you want to feel secure from terrorism, then you should insist you’re your government uses effective interrogation techniques. It turns out that the most effective interrogation techniques are humane.
Disclosure was 14 times more likely to occur early in an
interrogation when a rapport-building approach was used.
Confessions were four times more likely when interrogators
struck a neutral and respectful stance. Rates of detainee
disclosure were also higher when they were interrogated in
comfortable physical settings.
If you want to inflict pain on other people, come right out and say it. Just don’t expect the person in pain to give you the information you need to feel secure. When you approve torture, you make it easier for others to harm you because you create less security for yourself.
Your choice is payback or security:
Choosing payback will bring you less security.
Choosing security will bring you less terrorism.
Basing your choice on your feelings suggests unresolved feelings that need to be addressed. Exposing yourself to more terrorism might not be the best way to satisfy the needs behind those feelings.
I’m waiting for the “not torture” volunteers to give me proof in experience.
“American Torture: The Price Paid, the Lessons Learned”
Middle East Research and Information Project
Summer 2009, Volume 39
“Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program”
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Approved December 13, 2012
Updated for Release April 3, 2014
Declassification Revisions December 3, 2014
“The Humane Interrogation Technique That Works Much Better Than Torture”
December 14, 2014
“I Can’t Be Forgiven for Abu Ghraib”
The New York Times
December 9, 2014
“Interviewing High Value Detainees: Securing Cooperation and Disclosures”
Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Natalie Martschuk, and Mandeep K. Dhami
Applied Cognitive Psychology
October 17, 2014
“People’s support for torture in “ticking time bomb scenarios” is influenced by their desire for retribution”
British Psychological Society
“Rapport-building interrogation is more effective than torture”
British Psychological Society
“The Ticking Time Bomb: When the Use of Torture Is and Is Not Endorsed”
Joseph Spino and Denise Dellarosa CumminsReview of Philosophy and Psychology
August 16, 2014
Paula M. Kramer
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