I continually encounter people who have watched the famous 24 TV show and are convinced that what they see on the show proves conclusively that a little pain will result in getting information which saves the city of Los Angeles from being blown up by an atomic bomb. Even those who are against torture will often back down if it the case presented is of a child who is buried and must be saves within two hours or death ensues. How does one argue against ripping out finger nails if that is necessary to save the child’s life?
However, this defense of torture is based on several assumptions. For example: you have in your custody the person who knows where the girl is being held, torture is the best way to obtain needed information, and that if only two hours are available, the person being tortured will tell the truth. Question: What if the person lies? If the person lies then as you run off to save the child, you used up any available time to actually save the child.
Martin Robbins interviewed FBI agents regarding this issue. One told the following about interrogating a person: “when they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time they will lie, anything to make you stop the hurting them. That means the information you’re getting is useless.” OK, believers in torture, respond to that comment.
Former president George Bush admitted to signing off on waterboarding prisoners being tortured. I realize defenders of torture will cite an example of where it worked. Of course, they never tell you of where it did not work and the ticking bomb exploded or the little girl died.