CommonSpace columnist Yvonne Ridley questions whether there’s any evidence at all to suggest torture works
NEW President Donald Trump says torture works but like many of his shocking proclamations, he bases his statement without fact or foundation.
Had the pro-torture lobby any evidence that waterboarding someone is an effective method of gathering intelligence and saving lives we would, by now, have been given concrete evidence.
The truth is the so-called ticking timebomb scenario, often cited by those endorsing the use of torture, should be confined to where it was conceived … in Hollywood studios where agents like Jack Bauer from the hit TV series 24 beat the hell out of baddies to get the truth and save lives.
Torture is banned in the USA for citizens, so when Donald Trump talks about bringing it back he’s talking about carrying it out on anyone else but Americans.
The only thing ’24’ has achieved is embedding in the minds of some people who have difficulty in distinguishing fact from fantasy that it’s OK to torture when in fact it is not – it is against international law. Torture is also banned in the USA for citizens, so when Donald Trump talks about bringing it back he’s talking about carrying it out on anyone else but Americans.
It is shocking that in the 21st century we are even discussing the use of torture, or using euphemistic terms like “enhanced interrogation techniques”, but these are extraordinary times with one of the most volatile and unpredictable presidents ever, sitting in The White House. When Trump first began talking about torture on his campaign trail, I asked the question: “Does it work?”.
That now forms part of the title of my newly published book which has drawn on 15 years of research, which even involved a four-day stop over at Guantanamo Bay detention facility as well as interviewing and using statements from victims of torture as wide ranging as Republican Senator John McCain to ex-Guantanamo and Bagram detainees.
The book cuts through the moral and legal dilemmas because I wanted to find out if inflicting pain on another can produce life-saving intelligence. If torture fails to deliver its objective, its use as a military weapon becomes as pointless as a faulty machine gun and could even prove to be a liability.
It is shocking that in the 21st century we are even discussing the use of torture, or using euphemistic terms like “enhanced interrogation techniques”, but these are extraordinary times.
From World War II, Vietnam and the Algeria-France wars, as well as political memoirs and materials recovered under the Freedom of Information Act in the US and UK, and formerly classified documents from the UK National Archives, I am able to come up with a conclusion which, as you might guess, is opposite to Trump’s uninformed view.
Someone who has read the book is Alex Salmond, who gave a favourable review. “It is extremely timely to be examining the vexed subject of the use of torture as a weapon in modern warfare. Yvonne Ridley’s conclusions will be well-noted by human rights advocates internationally,” wrote the former Scottish first minister.
Perhaps it would be timely now for Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to pen a letter to Trump expressing similar views as well as producing an ethical foreign policy for Scotland which distances itself from such crude methods or associating with those who endorse or practice the use of torture.
* Torture – Does it Work? Interrogation issues and effectiveness in the Global War on Terror is published by Military Studies Press and can be bought here.
Picture courtesy of Val Kerry
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