We Have Ways of Making You Bolster Our Erroneous Preconceptions


Now here’s a good reason to torture someone. As explained by Jonathan Landay one important use of torture to the Bush administration was to force detainees to cough up “evidence” of the Iraq/al-Qaeda ties that Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, etc. already “knew” existed:

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

There’s much more in the article. And note that when people say that “torture doesn’t work” as an intelligence-gathering method, the point isn’t that it never produces an accurate piece of information. The point is that its application doesn’t systematically enhance the quality of your intelligence. In this case, for example, not only does torture appear to have vastly eroded key elements of America’s strategy of self-presentation in the world, it contributed to our undertaking a massive policy blunder that led to much more loss of innocent life than occurred on 9/11.