In a nutshell, the preferred method of extracting valuable information is gaining the confidence of prisoner and/or trick information out of them without them realizing it. If it's the ticking time bomb, psychological compulsion.
The first list is from an invaluable piece that has live links sourcing every single quote. Full list of quotes/citations at link.
The second article is from a fascinating interview with WWII interrogators.
Third from piece written by reporter exploring subject.
Fourth, more recent
Let's put aside questions of morality, humanity, and legality . . . Let's just focus on one question: does torture work?
In fact, the professional FBI, CIA and army interrogators all say no.
They say that people will say anything to stop the pain . . . specifically, they'll say what they think the torturer wants to hear. Moreover, they say that the way to actually get useful information about of prisoners -- including information helpful to stopping future terrorist attacks -- is to build trust and rapport with them, or to outsmart them in ongoing conversations.
See for yourself:
* Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 says:
"Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."
* A declassified FBI e-mail dated May 10, 2004, regarding interrogation at Guantanamo states " explained to , FBI has been successful for many years obtaining confessions via non-confrontational interviewing techniques." (see also this)
* Brigadier General David R. Irvine, retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School, says torture doesn't work
* A former FBI interrogator -- who interrogated Al Qaeda suspects -- says categorically that torture does not help collect intelligence. On the other hand he says that torture actually turns people into terrorists
* A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:
“The administration’s claims of having ‘saved thousands of Americans’ can be dismissed out of hand because credible evidence has never been offered — not even an authoritative leak of any major terrorist operation interdicted based on information gathered from these interrogations in the past seven years. … It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.
This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.”
* The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn't work.
Still don't believe it? These people also say torture doesn't produce usable intelligence:
* Former high-level CIA official Bob Baer said "And torture -- I just don't think it really works ... you don't get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you."
* Rear Admiral (ret.) John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General for the Navy, said "Another objection is that torture doesn't work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners."
* Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, said "I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear."
* Dan Coleman, one of the FBI agents assigned to the 9/11 suspects held at Guantanamo said "Brutalization doesn't work. We know that. "
Michael Tew said...
Well it depends on what you mean by "work". If your intention is to create a false narrative of imaginary international terrorists in order to confuse and terrify the ignorant masses then torture is a pretty good tool.
WWII interrogators went on record for WPost saying they got better info treating prisoners well:
Now, a group of leading World War II interrogators have broken their silence and confirmed that torture is not needed. As quoted in the Washington Post:
"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.
Hess was one of the most important people to interrogate, and the U.S. government sent a mild-manner physicist to play chess with him to get information.
"During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone," said George Frenkel, 87, of Kensington. "We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."
Indeed, successful interrogation is a battle of wits and treating the detainee with humanity is one of the cardinal principals in successful interrogation. Torture actually interferes with that process.
The Torture Myth
By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, January 12, 2005; Page A21
But does torture work? The question has been asked many times since Sept. 11, 2001.
Meet, for example, retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was "not nice," he says. "But we did not physically abuse them." Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet -- as he remembers saying to the "desperate and honorable officers" who wanted him to move faster -- "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."
Or listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information." In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones. Asked whether that would be true of religiously motivated fanatics, he says that the "batting average" might be lower: "perhaps six out of ten." And if you beat up the remaining four? "They'll just tell you anything to get you to stop."
Worse, you'll have the other side effects of torture. It "endangers our soldiers on the battlefield by encouraging reciprocity." It does "damage to our country's image" and undermines our credibility in Iraq. That, in the long run, outweighs any theoretical benefit. Herrington's confidential Pentagon report, which he won't discuss but which was leaked to The Post a month ago, goes farther. In that document, he warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees in Iraq, that their activities could be "making gratuitous enemies" and that prisoner abuse "is counterproductive to the Coalition's efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry." Far from rescuing Americans, in other words, the use of "special methods" might help explain why the war is going so badly.
An up-to-date illustration of the colonel's point appeared in recently released FBI documents from the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These show, among other things, that some military intelligence officers wanted to use harsher interrogation methods than the FBI did. As a result, complained one inspector, "every time the FBI established a rapport with a detainee, the military would step in and the detainee would stop being cooperative." So much for the utility of torture.
Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.
Perhaps it's reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of "toughness" we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.
In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use
By SCOTT SHANE and MARK MAZZETTI
Published: April 21, 2009
Overwhelmed with reports of potential threats and anguished that the agency had failed to stop the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet and his top aides did not probe deeply into the prescription Dr. Mitchell so confidently presented: using the SERE tactics on Qaeda prisoners.
A little research on the origin of those methods would have given reason for doubt. Government studies in the 1950s found that Chinese Communist interrogators had produced false confessions from captured American pilots not with some kind of sinister “brainwashing” but with crude tactics: shackling the Americans to force them to stand for hours, keeping them in cold cells, disrupting their sleep and limiting access to food and hygiene.
“The Communists do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture,’ ” one 1956 study concluded. “But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.”
Worse, the study found that under such abusive treatment, a prisoner became “malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate.”
In late 2001, about a half-dozen SERE trainers, according to a report released Tuesday night by the Senate Armed Services Committee, began raising stark warning about plans by both the military and the C.I.A. to use the SERE methods in interrogations.
In December 2001, Lt. Col. Daniel J. Baumgartner of the Air Force, who oversaw SERE training, cautioned in one memo that physical pressure was “less reliable” than other interrogation methods, could backfire by increasing a prisoner’s resistance and would have an “intolerable public and political backlash when discovered.” But his memo went to the Defense Department, not the C.I.A.
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