karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,
karl_lembke
karl_lembke

Torture

My comment to Terry Karney, just in case there's a glitch in the system and it gets lost.

He railed against former President Clinton's acceptance of the "Ticking Bomb" scenario justifying coercive interrogation techniques. One comment to his diatribe follows:
Terry, I'm inclined to grant you a lot of credibility, as you put yourself forward as an expert in these matters. However, I also have to weigh your testimony against what other experts, self-proclaimed or otherwise, say.
For example:
Fifth (and this is the part which is hardest to get across to people, because seems; somehow, counter-intuitive) torture doesn't work.
It doesn't just seem counter-intuitive, it is counter-intuitive. Torture is used throughout the law enforcement field, and is enshrined in police procedure in any number of ways.

In my response to this comment, I asked if plea bargains would count as mental coercion. This is not smart-assery; it is a serious question.

Plea bargains offer a defendant a reduced sentence if he cops a plea to some lesser offense, against the threat of a harsher sentence if he winds up being convicted "the hard way". Such a threat would weigh heavily even on the completely innocent, as it's impossible to rule out some sort of insane result coming out of the jury room. (Indeed, this would be ture especially for the completely innocent, as they'd have the most to lose.)

I find it hard to believe anyone could define plea-bargaining as non-coercive, especially given the other things you list as coercive. Yet municipalities depend on plea bargains to function. Every defendant who pleads out to a lesser offense is a trial the State doesn't have to pay for. If no one took plea bargains offered to them, the State would be unable to afford to try them all, and most of them would walk.

In addition, here's a link to an interview with Brian Ross on the subject of "coercive interrogation". In case you don't want to pull up the video, or in case it disappears, I've transcribed it for easy reference.

Ross said a number of interesting things in the interview, including:
•   Using these techniques, the CIA "broke" 14 high-level Al Qaeda members.
•   The information was accurate and useful, leading to the capture of other Al Qaeda members, and to uncovering plots that would have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
•   This was stated by CIA sources who are opposed to the use of these techniques.

Terry, reasonable people may argue over the ethics of using these techniques, or of using any particular set of techniques. However, to state flat-out that they don't work is to fly in the face of numerous experts who disagree with you.
Tags: politics
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