Sunday, May 15, 2011

The fantasy behind the claim that torture is effective and moral

The notion that torture is an effective interrogation method is based on the TV show 24, in which super-soldier Bauer would almost always get his hands on some vile character who could directly or indirectly provide important information about a WMD about to go off, and immediately begin to put the fear of death into them, or do things which to most people would be unimaginable, but which turned out to be effective. (One of my favorite lines was "I'm going to need a hacksaw.") There is no resemblance between this fantasy and "enhanced interrogation." "Enhanced interrogation" is cruel and degrading treatment that does not rise to the level of torture, or at least torture that leaves physical scars, of people who typically couldn't possibly provide useful information. It does not put the fear of death into its victims and force them to blurt out their secrets - it fills them with hatred for their captors and destroys their souls. Furthermore, an examination of the actual, insane interrogations associated with "enhanced interrogation" indicates that they are not intended to obtain useful information, but to induce "learned helplessness" and to generate false confessions and false allegations against others. It might utterly destroy the victim's soul, but at least he'll look good (pretty much the purpose of modern "culture"), and it might open the perpetrator's soul to Satanic possession. So, it's not just evil, but about as evil as possible. The fact that it has continued for so long despite these problems indicates that these problems are its actual purposes.

In reality, as many have pointed out, there is rarely, if ever, a situation in which torture of the sort that Bauer dished out would help any more than traditional, legal interrogation methods. Yet this fantasy has become a sort of subliminal justification for "enhanced interrogation." So, since there are rarely or never any instances in which it would be useful, because of its numerous (supposedly) undesirable effects (including the fact that it creates enemies faster than we can kill or capture them), and because it is evil, torture (or even "Cheney's Cheney" David Addington's "legally not quite torture") has no place in a civilized society dedicated to doing good, as America ostensibly is. Simply living up to to the American ideal, or trying to do so, would be sufficient to gain the cooperation of the vast majority of mankind, and that's precisely why Satan's British Empire had to subvert it and turn it into its opposite.