Thursday, December 2, 2010

Torture is useful after all!

Well this is a new one for me... Intelligence gathered from the use of torture may have helped bring WWII to a close.

Except that it was the Japanese employing the torture in this case, and the "intelligence" they gathered turned out to be absolute hogwash.

According to Wikipedia, it seems a B-29 crew was captured shortly after the massacres at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and were interrogated to see what they knew about the atomic bomb. Under extreme torture, the pilot panicked and made up some silly story about how the US had hundreds of bombs ready to go, and that Tokyo and Kyoto would be hit in a matter of days. (For extra chuckles, I am told by a source whose reliability is unknown that the pilot also made up some baloney story about the physics behind it, which must be read to be believed.)

Now, if the Japanese had known the truth (that actually Tokyo would be bombed in a few weeks, not a few days, and that a fourth bomb wouldn't be ready for another month or two) would that have changed their mind? Perhaps not. But still, this is really a beautiful demonstration of the dubious value of torture as an interrogation technique. It's doubtful the pilot was being clever... it seems he was scared shitless and in severe pain, and just said whatever came to his mind that he thought would satisfy the interrogators. Torture's great at producing information -- but whether that information is accurate or not, it's a crap shoot at best (and probably worse than a crap shoot, since there is some evidence that torture gives victims the incentive to lie).

Go torture!

1 comment:

  1. I still think Dick Cheney should be tortured....I don't care what comes out of his lying mouth.

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