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Napoleon knew that torture was ineffective. The US military has long known that torture was ineffective. Heck, even the Nazis knew that torture was ineffective:  they treated prisoners who actually had valuable information very differently than those they simply wanted to intimidate or terrorize.

But somehow, even when progressives know this, they seem to have a hard time succinctly articulating it. Why? It's not that hard.

Though there have been any number of previous diaries on torture, many with much thought and research (e.g. here), my goal here is more modest. Progressives have been clear in arguing that torture is unethical; despite Aliceand others I really do think we have. But my point is that we also need to clearly argue that torture is ineffective, because its perceived effectiveness is the only politically compelling argument in its favor.

The MSM narrative as currently constructed tries to put everyone in just two boxes on this issue. One position is immoral, the other opens progressives to attack.

  1. Yes, I believe in doing whatever is necessary, including torture, to get information.
  1. I don't believe in torture, and will forgo whatever information might have been gained; I am willing to take the risk that we will miss out on vital information.

But there is a third position, which seems much stronger for progressives:

  1. I don't believe torture has ever been or ever will be an effective means of interrogation. Not only is torture immoral; it is counter-productive. Using torture both strips away our humanity and gives us false and unreliable information.

I don't expect Republican apologists or candidates to articulate this third position. Clearly, a lot of journalists don't seem to get it either.

But what I don't understand is why this third position isn't clearer to us, and isn't more clearly articulated by progressives?

Repeat after me, please: Torture is both immoral and ineffective.

Originally posted to nikolaos on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 06:25 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And there's Option 4 (13+ / 0-)
    1.  Torture is not only ineffective and immoral but it also lets the enemy know that they should not surrender and should instead fight to the death and to the last man to avoid being captured by a brutal and inhuman opponent.  Torture inhibits collaboration by enemy fighters who are might otherwise about whether to hitch their fate and future to U.S. victory.
  •  Sound bites (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MsSpentyouth, jimreyn, kyril

    Like evil, evildoers cast a moral judgment and "innocent until proven guilty" gets lost with the Fox News audience. Spain and the U.K. have had terrorist attacks, but neither use the kind of framing Bush does.

    Spain and U.K. are "concerned" about further attacks, whereas Bush portrays as "the end of civilization."

    Torture is entertainment in America, i.e. 24, Saw, Hostel. Many Americans are immersed in fictional torture and if . . . to them, a big if . . . interrogations are rough, that only happens to the worst of the worst and only because Bush knows what he's doing . .  he's kept us safe, no?

    This is pure indoctrination. What will it take for people to see what's right before their eyes?

  •  Option 5 (5+ / 0-)

    Using torture make us no better then the enemies we fight, as a world leader we have to set an example.

    "There is nothing wrong with America can't be cured by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

    by SensibleDemocrat on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 06:38:46 PM PDT

    •  I agree, but I wonder... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Justanothernyer

      whether that comes across to people as simply another version of "it's immoral"? The imperative "we have to" and "no better than" seem to make it into a moral argument, though it has its pragmatic element to be sure.

      Hope follows, while love leads the way.

      by nikolaos on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 06:41:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I also wonder... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if option 6 would be compelling to our domestic political adversaries on this issue. Assuming it is effective (which they do), they can easily do the "we only do it now for a while because we're in danger" schtick, and in terms of framing we're back to square one.
      But, again, if torture is ineffective (and the MSM narrative begins to pick that fact up), then it would seem that the politics work more strongly in our favor (i.e. Dems not being beaten up for being "soft" and unwilling to do hard but effective things).

      Hope follows, while love leads the way.

      by nikolaos on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 06:45:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Torture places our own in harms way (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AggieDemocrat, kurt, marykk, kyril

    Bush has given every gov. in the world a excuse to use torture on anyone it pleases. This may be one of the worse problems it has caused. Anyone can now say that if the USA does it, there is no reason why they shouldn't. This means not only will it be used on our own soldiers but everyone else is now subject to the methods put in place by Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush.

    -8.63 -7.28 We all have to be concerned about terrorism, but you will never end terrorism by terrorizing others.~Martin Luther King III

    by OneCrankyDom on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 07:24:16 PM PDT

  •  Who Would Jesus Torture? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Or, How To Conduct a Christ-Like Waterboarding Session in Seven Easy Steps.

    Right on. Unfortunately, many of the fundies and those who vote for these asshats pull out that great old "24" bromide. But what if there's a ticking nuke in LA?!?!?!?!?

    I've always liked the, "Well, if you don't buy the fact that it's disgusting, immoral, puts us in a much worse position, makes us more vulnerable and emboldens our enemy, try this: It doesn't fucking work!"

    Your world, upside-down! Visit Sydneysided, my view of the world as a Texan, Aggie and Democrat living Down Under.

    by AggieDemocrat on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 09:32:15 PM PDT

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