Moral and legal aspects aside, conventional wisdom is that torture simply isn’t practical: that someone who is being tortured will say anything to make the torture stop, and that information gleaned through torture is therefore not reliable.
Some former military and intelligence officers say, however, that physically aggressive interrogation techniques that some human rights groups consider torture can be effective in the short term. When asked for specifics, the technique they cite is “waterboarding,” in which water is poured over a subject’s face to create the sensation of drowning.
Consider Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 39-year-old former al-Qaida operative who was the Sept. 11 mastermind and bearer of many al-Qaida secrets.
If anyone had a motive for remaining silent it was the man known to terrorism investigators as “KSM.” But not long after his capture in Pakistan, in March 2003, KSM began to talk.
He ultimately had so much to say that more than 100 footnoted references to the CIA’s interrogations of KSM are contained in the final report of the commission that investigated Sept. 11.
Not that everything KSM said was believable. But much of his information checked out in separate questioning of other captures al-Qaida figures.
What made KSM decide to talk? The answer may be waterboarding, to which KSM was subjected on at least one occasion, according to various accounts.
Read the whole thing.
Unfortunately for us, techniques like “waterboarding” may well now be off-limits thanks to Senator John McCain’s feel good legislation that banned “inhumane” treatment of war prisoners. Of course, to most of us having water poured in your face isn’t exactly “inhumane,” but when you’re a Democrat (like Dick “Gitmo Is A Gulag” Durbing) the thereshold for what is and is not “inhumane” is pretty low.