The CIA Doesn't Need Waterboarding

Greg Sargent yesterday highlighted a story that deserves more attention. Speaking at Fordham University, Michael Sulick, Director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, said that the prohibition on waterboarding hasn't affected the agency's ability to gather intelligence, saying, "I don’t think we’ve suffered at all from an intelligence standpoint."

Can we finally put to rest the lie that torturing is necessary to collecting intelligence? Waterboarding—long considered a form of torture—is clearly illegal. Although we used it on hundreds of prisoners anyway, as I've written before, there is no evidence it has given us useful intelligence. Those who said it had typically cited John Kiriakou, a former CIA operative who told ABC that it worked wonders on Abu Zubaydah. But Kiriakou has since admitted that he wasn't at any of the interrogations and had no firsthand knowledge of whether waterboarding worked. Meanwhile, legal interrogations have—in spite of what Liz Cheney says—been very effective. Sulick, who is in charge of human intelligence gathering at the CIA, acknowledges a need to balance concerns about the way we treat prisoners with concerns about our safety. But he now nevertheless confirms that not being able to waterboard hasn't hampered our ability to gather intelligence "at all."

Unraveling the mystery behind dogs' floppy ears

Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
  • Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
  • Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less