Zero Dark Thirty - does torture work?

#1
I have just finished watching a PBS Frontline documentary on the CIAs use of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" on local free-to-air television. It is called "Secrets, Politics and Torture". Essentially the documentary was about the US Senate's investigation into the CIA and its interrogation techniques. Only the executive summary of the final report has ever been publicly seen (all 400 + pages) as the full report is classified and with the last change in Senate majority has been recalled. What is known of the report is that it says the techniques used by the CIA did not work.

The documentary opened with the torture scenes from the film, Zero Dark Thirty. It goes on to claim that the film was based on the CIAs version of events and how they obtained the information. My memory of the film, and I have watched it twice now, is that it is equivocal as to whether the torture scenes are effective but rather the breakthrough(s) was due to diligent intelligence work of the Jessica Chastain character sifting through mountains of intelligence material.

I am interested to know what other viewers of the film think. It certainly showed a man being tortured but was that torture effective in obtaining information.
 
#2
Torture works for the torturers.

Anyone will tell you anything you want to hear given enough application of pain over a long enough period.
 
#3
I haven't seen the film but I am assured by a mate of mine who was a Them bloke that it works immediately post capture. After that it had doubtful value.

But when you don't have any other means, and time is short ......

The prob is that the CIA prolly try this routinely on many prisoners and it may only be effective on those who have real information and who are susceptible to physical extraction. They are prolly in the minority.
 
#4
There are cases where torture has worked but the political cost of using such techniques has undermined the gains made using information obtained through torture. The Battle of Algiers (1956-57) is an example of this.

As @MrShanklysboots intimated, one major problem is that of knowing when someone doesn't know anything. You can break someone's will but it will not necessarily mean that that 'someone' has anything to tell you. During Stalin's 'Terror' people under torture implicated friends and neighbours just so they could tell the interrogator something.
 
D

Deleted 20555

Guest
#5
Well the americans tortured people for about 15 years - how did they end up doing with their adventures in far off lands?
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#9
Absolutely, and in my case that would be name, rank, number, home town, location and strength of my unit, the HQ. And the CO's wife's tennis coach's name.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
#11
Downed RAF aircrew Peters and Nichol may have a view on whether torture by their Iraqi hosts proved successful.

It would be interesting to know just how long the 'number, rank and name' sketch lasted.
 
#12
Torture works for the torturers.

Anyone will tell you anything you want to hear given enough application of pain over a long enough period.
No, torture only reveals what the torturer wants to hear. They twigged that in the middle ages.
There is a difference between torturing for a confession and torturing for information. Torture does work for the latter that's why people do it.




And because its fun.
 
#14
Gary Powers wrote in his book that during his briefing for the U2 spy plane missions, he asked what the E&E plan was in the event of being shot down over the USSR.

Answer - There is no extraction plan.

He asked what the R to I advice was.

Answer - If you fail to swallow the cyanide pill provided, then just tell them everything from the off. They'll get it out of you anyway.

As it turned out, the Soviets treated him very well. Long de briefing sessions, with plenty of rest and food, in reasonable conditions, with regular cultural visits into Moscow.
 
#15
Torturing the individual with the suspected information is not very efficient or effective. Whereas torturing the individual's close family in their presence is far quicker and more likely to provide accurate information.
 
#16
I saw a documentary on this - the eavesdropping on generals and officers.
(One interesting point of off duty Luftwaffe doing their bit for the holocaust.)
Seemed to work better than any waterboarding - of course this doesn't yield a specific answer to a question but reveals plenty of other very useful intel. Point being there are more intelligent ways to garner information than near death brutality.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-20698098
 
#17
I saw a documentary on this - the eavesdropping on generals and officers.
(One interesting point of off duty Luftwaffe doing their bit for the holocaust.)
Seemed to work better than any waterboarding - of course this doesn't yield a specific answer to a question but reveals plenty of other very useful intel. Point being there are more intelligent ways to garner information than near death brutality.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-20698098
From your link

"They were gleaning information about the psyche of the Nazi military from the idle gossip flowing between the prisoners"

So not really the type of information torturers would be after.
 
#18
It rather depends on your definition of torture Castlereagh was IMHO very successful on occasion and also IMHO not torture. The courts however disagreed, certainly with the latter.
 
#19
From your link

"They were gleaning information about the psyche of the Nazi military from the idle gossip flowing between the prisoners"

So not really the type of information torturers would be after.
Exactly - hence my point about SPECIFIC information not being gleaned
 
#20
I always told myself that in event of capture and robust interrogation, I would say to my captors, "Don't pull off my fingernails, or pop out my eyes - else I wont be able to draw you a diagram of my unit's position?"
 

Latest Threads

Top