Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Thanks to the September 11, 2001, atrocities, some Americans began to accept a practice previously considered barbaric; thanks to John Yoo and the Bush administration, that practice became something American military and “intelligence” organizations did. Torture.

The moral aspects of the issue convince me that good people do not use torture. But, apart from concerns of justice and principle, there’s a big hurdle: unreliability. Torturers rarely retrieve good information.

Under torture, victims will say almost anything; even the innocent fabricate confessions to stop the pain.

Economist David D. Friedman recently discussed one “ingenious, if imperfect, solution to the problem in what is apparently the oldest surviving Germanic law code,” that of the Visigoths: The judge compels the accuser to describe the crime in detail and in writing, and makes sure this information is not told to the person about to be tortured. If, under torture, the victim confesses with the appropriate detail, then he’s considered guilty. But if he confesses without the appropriate detail, then the accuser is himself tortured.

What’s good for the goose. . . .

On Sunday, viewers of CBS’s 60 Minutes took a gander at Jose Rodriguez, the CIA official who says he’s proud of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” he oversaw, and not ashamed of his destruction of the 92 tapes of those interrogations. It was a bizarre interview, at the very least not “enhanced.”

Amy Davidson, writing for The New Yorker’s online site, argues, “There is much evidence to suggest that Rodriguez and others are simply lying when they claim that the torture produced reliable intelligence.”

I’m no expert, but I’d bet a solidus she’s right.

The solidus, in case you were wondering, was a coin used by the Visigoths.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. JFB says:

    Principles, with exceptions, are a definitional oxymoron. No intended end can justify these means.

  2. tim_lebsack says:

    from The Gulag Archipelago, Part 1 Chapter 9, The Law Becomes A Man –
    “…the interrogation lasted for just one session, which consisted solely of voluntary testimony and an evaluation of his activity…. To have forced false and pitiful testimony out of [him] by torture would only have wrecked the authenticity of the picture.”

    Even in 1924 the murdering Soviet Communists realized that torture was counter-productive.

  3. 2WarAbnVet says:

    I wonder why they’ve already admitted that “enhanced interrogation” led us to Osama?

  4. Jay says:

    I guess that you would prefer that we give terrorists–who hide behind women and children; kill ccivilians; etc. be given steak dinners and rooms at The Waldorf Astoria.

    I think if torturing 1,000 of these slime SAVES BUT ONE AMERICAN LIFE, IT IS WORTH IT.

    The hell with the crap– we become no better then they.

    Consider (I know that you don’t want to) such “brave ” people as the slime who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square; or those who wanted to set off bombs in Queens, NY near one of the airports ( admittedly, a few years ago) or those in Miami- whose defense (?) they were joking.

    They are animals, and if it takes torture to get the truth, so be it.

  5. Jay: Did you actually read the article? Since torture does not produce reliable intelligence, how does torturing people you consider “slime” protect any “American lives?”

    Taking the low road, as you propose, provides justification for atrocities in the minds of our opponents. It leads to more, not fewer, murders of American citizens.

    What offends me, is now I’m in more jeopardy because of actions you support.

  6. Drik says:

    Reliable results are like global warming. If it is not really there then one might tend to question the motivation of those that claim that it is.

  7. Excellent commentary. By suggesting an ancient fail safe ,perhaps tongue in cheek but nevertheless a strong deterrent, the motivation is destroyed and the excuse of torture is revealed.

  8. Jay says:

    Consider that the POSSIBILITY (I think PROBABILITY) that to end the torture, the slime would TELL the truth. Also, when enhanced interrogation was used, the same questions were asked to more then one person(?) -seperately- and answers compared. If discrepencies, then further checking, but if prisoners of the same status gave the same answersa, it would (at least, in my view) be somewhat reliable.

  9. Jay says:

    Consider that you think Ron Paul is the greatest- and yet in the AMERICAN HERITAGE FOUNDATION debate, when Mr. Gingrich was asked what he would do if he (as President) found out that an Al Queida (or similiar) group was planning a 911 type attack on a major city-he repleid take them out. Mr. Romney agreed. Ron Paul (as per the WSJ Opinion/on line) felt that this would be murder, as THEY DID NOT (YET) CARRY OUT THE ATTACK. (Emphasis mine)

  10. JohnnyK says:

    I too watched 60 Minutes and was aphaled at what Rodriguez had to say. I know that if I was about to go under torture, I’d tell them whatever I thought that they wanted to hear.

    This country should be above all of that.

  11. Ray Kirk says:

    Almost all people who have not had interrogation training, will break under stress. It works, I consider my source of information regarding whether to believe it works or not. If they say they got the info to get Bin Laden by water boarding, I say it works.
    Maybe a few would change their minds when their loved ones and family were in jepardy and a little inhanced interrogation may save them.
    As far as I know, they were no lasting physical harm did to any of the water boarding targets. So, is that physical torture or mental.

  12. Ken Paul says:

    A common misconception. One the person being questioned knows you are not going to kill him because a dead man cannot give information. Second, he also knows that you are not asking him to verify something and that what ever he tells will be verified so lying is useless. Third it is not torture, haveing experienced waterboarding, I know that it is just a little inconvience, Yes all military interrigators go thru training of being a pow (escape and evasion) and are subjected to waterboarding as well as phone electric shock. But the way they made him drink ensure and listen to the Barney song might have broken me.

  13. Ron says:

    Remember, these ‘enemy combatants’ were captured on the battlefield trying to kill American soldiers. Their religion tells them to ‘kill the infidels'(us),and if they had the chance, they would slit our throats in a heartbeat. So all you bleeding heart liberals who think we shouldn’t torture them (and you know who you are)can go screw yourselves. We didn’t start this war, but we should kill every f**king one of them until they leave us alone!

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