Effectiveness of Torture for Interrogation

Defusing the Ticking bomb scenario

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Torture has been used throughout history to force individuals to divulge vital information. It’s effectiveness is highly controversial, and some who oppose its use argue that it is violent, horrific, and useless.

On the subject, Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent and an expert on al-Qaeda operation says the following ‘Time and time again, people with actual experience with interrogating terror suspects and actual experience and knowledge about the effectiveness of torture techniques have come out to explain that they are ineffective and that their use threatens national security more than it helps.’ Whilst Prof. Dershowitz, a person morally opposed to torture, says that he believes law enforcement officials will employ torture in ‘ticking bomb’ cases, an article by Dr. Marvin Zalman says that ‘the problem is that the ‘ticking bomb’ scenario is a myth.’

Journalist Annette Sisco argues that ‘the [torture] techniques… are specifically designed to make captives pliable and dependent. They are designed to get prisoners to say whatever you want them to say.’ After the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan during World War II, the Japanese military tortured a recently captured bomber pilot named Marcus McDilda in order to discover how many bombs the allies had and what the future targets were. McDilda, who knew nothing, ‘confessed’ under torture that the U.S. had 100 atomic bombs and that Tokyo and Kyoto were the next targets. McDilda’s false confession may have swayed the Japanese leaders’ decision to surrender. The book ‘Physicians at War: the Dual-Loyalties Challenge’ by Fritz Allhoff explains that ‘to test the effectiveness of torture researchers would have to ignore the consent of the research subjects.’

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