It’s been long ruled that torture doesn’t work. John Oliver discussed it on Last Week Tonight, and put forth some very basic evidence to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of torture, and its shoddy results. “Torture is one of those things that is advertised as something that works, but doesn’t,” Oliver says. In 2014, the CIA released a report that revealed to the world that in the wake of 9/11 and for years after, America used torture to try to get some answers. President Obama condemned the practices but defended the U.S.’s retroactive transparency in the report, saying, “One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is when we make mistakes, we admit them.”
Under the pressure of torture, a person can and will say anything to get the pain to stop. That’s why it doesn’t work (never mind the ethics, that’s a whole other bowl of controversy). The general consensus is that waterboarding, stress positioning, rectal feeding (you read that right) and other truly horrific torture measures only serve to create false confessions, confusion, investigative dead ends, scandal, and a new rock bottom for humanity.
Juliette Kayyem, Homeland security expert and former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, is of the same opinion. Aggression, and aggressive policy isn’t the way to go. Tough talk gets the nation nowhere, and only serves to mask what the real policies are. She believes behaving logically is typically the best way to go, and notes that a president (ahem, or a specific presidential candidate) can’t lose his or her head and fire off about ‘toughness’ every time there is an act of terrorism. Toughness isn’t what keeps the country safe.
Kayyem insists that not using torture doesn’t mean that as a country, America would be weak – and she condemns the mythology of terror as a result of ‘weakness’ as dangerous. Without torture, America is just as strong, and more likely to have accurate answers from detainees. After all these years, who knew that good cop/bad cop still works the best? Kayyem explains it’s more beneficial and yields greater intelligence to sit with the detainees in a calm discussion, rather than try to force answers.