Wednesday assorted links


What is speculative about the ineffectiveness of torture?

Unless one believes that the witch hunts exposed actual witches, for example. Because in that case, torture did a fine job exposing those in league with the devil.

Though as it turns out, torture just might not be effective enough when it comes to having the truly guilty confess - 'Giles Corey (1621 – September 19, 1692) was accused of witchcraft along with his wife Martha Corey during the Salem Witch Trials (1692-1693). After being arrested for witchcraft, Corey refused to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. He was subjected to pressing in an effort to force him to plead — the only example of such a sanction in New England history — but instead died after two days of torture.' Obviously, the guilty who maintain their innocence under torture are simply not being tortured effectively enough, right?

And for those unaware of what 'pressing' means, having never visited the Salem Witch House, the following is not quite as evocative as the staged presentation - 'According to the law at the time, a person who refused to plead could not be tried. To avoid persons cheating justice, the legal remedy for refusing to plead was "peine forte et dure". In this process the prisoner is stripped naked, with a heavy board laid on his body. Then rocks or boulders are laid on the plank of wood. This was the process of being pressed.

'... remanded to the prison from whence he came and put into a low dark chamber, and there be laid on his back on the bare floor, naked, unless when decency forbids; that there be placed upon his body as great a weight as he could bear, and more, that he hath no sustenance, save only on the first day, three morsels of the worst bread, and the second day three draughts of standing water, that should be alternately his daily diet till he died, or, till he answered.'

As a result of his refusal to plead, on September 17, Sheriff George Corwin led Corey to a pit in the open field beside the jail and in accordance with the above process, before the Court and witnesses, stripped Giles of his clothing, laid him on the ground in the pit, and placed boards on his chest. Six men then lifted heavy stones, placing them one by one, on his stomach and chest. Giles Corey did not cry out, let alone make a plea.

After two days, Giles was asked three times to plead innocent or guilty to witchcraft. Each time he replied, "More weight." More and more rocks were piled on him, and the Sheriff from time to time would stand on the boulders staring down at Corey's bulging eyes. Robert Calef, who was a witness along with other townsfolk, later said, "In the pressing, Giles Corey's tongue was pressed out of his mouth; the Sheriff, with his cane, forced it in again."

Three mouthfuls of bread and water were fed to the old man during his many hours of pain. Finally, Giles Corey cried out "More weight!" and died.'

Whenever I see a claim along the lines of "torture doesn't work", I immediately consider the claim as akin to the generalization "operant conditioning doesn't work" and proceed accordingly. (Torture being a form of operant conditioning wherein torture is an extremely strong negative stimulus).

Further all such claims seem to boil down to a variation on an old economics joke, which I'll abbreviate as:
* First, assume a can opener.
* Second, assume the operator of the can opener is an idiot.

Negative stimulus toward what? Certainly not the truth. Rather, stimulus toward telling the torturer what he wants to hear?


You're making the assume the user of the can opener is an idiot argument.

If I said operant conditioning doesn't work because no worm was conditioned to learn calculus, you'll say you're an idiot for using the tool in that way.

Just because some people are idiots, it doesn't mean we're yet living in an Idiocracy.

you are a dog, I am beating you. why am I beating you?

There! Are! Four! Lights!

Jody, you're not really providing an argument here.

"Jody, you’re not really providing an argument here."

She's saying most of the arguments against the efficacy of torture for extracting information begin by assuming the interrogator is an idiot, and are therefore invalid. I don't think she was unclear.

The other thing to keep in mind is that because there could be no trial, Mr. Corey's property could not be confiscated by Salem officials. Thus, the act of not entering a plea guaranteed that his family would inherit his property.

So, if I understand this correctly, an innocent man is somehow tainted by proclaiming his unwillingness to declare guilt or innocence of witchcraft by a desire to have his family not be disadvantaged by his death?

Or maybe, as presented decades ago during that dramatic presentation, an innocent man had no interest in participating - as noted in the wikipedia link, by the way - '...according to historian Chadwick Hansen, much of Corey's property had already been seized, and he had made a will in prison: "His death was a protest ... against the methods of the court". This echoes the perspective of a contemporary critic of the trials, Robert Calef, who claimed, "Giles Corey pleaded not Guilty to his Indictment, but would not put himself upon Tryal by the Jury (they having cleared none upon Tryal) and knowing there would be the same Witnesses against him, rather chose to undergo what Death they would put him to."

The reality remains that an innocent man was put to death, and to deny his defiance at such injustice is the sort of perspective that any supporter of torture is likely to adopt, instead of confronting the reality that the only purpose of torture is torture.

I'm not sure how an interest in protecting his property would lead to a conclusion that his torture was in any way reasonable.

The truth is, he knew that if he entered trial, he would be found guilty, whether or not he was (which, clearly, he was not). Therefore, the only way to prevent forfeiture of property was to not enter a plea. He knew his life was forfeit. He knew he would be needlessly tortured to death. He preferred to choose the method that prevented further action from the Salem government.

At no time are the actions of Salem considered any less reprehensible.

And not to get all Steve Sailer, but that was probably the Salem Witch Museum, at least 4 decades ago, where the pressing was staged quite dramatically - as is appropriate when an innocent man is killed by judicial fiat.

He wasn't being asked to plead guilty. Not guilty would have ended the torture as well. You really picked a completely irrelevant historical episode

The way torture works to produce accurate information is the following (I don't know if this is the only way, but this method has been used in may places over time): you compile a long list of questions to ask the detainee, to most of which you already know the correct answer, and which you are confident that the detainee can answer truthfully. The detainee quickly learns that giving false answers is very bad for him.

I don't have much practical experience in this area, but when I hear claims like "torture doesn't work", I interpret is as "it must be true because we so, so much want it to be true!".

Well, that depends on the subject believing that false = bad and true = not bad.

However, what if the subject believes anything = bad? If you're willing to torture me, you're going to torture me, and the truth is immaterial--you'll find the excuse to torture me regardless of my answers. After all, if you're a reasonable person, then you would be willing to leave off any torture if I provide truthful answers. And so, any application or threat of torture before proof of my lack of cooperation indicates that you are unreasonable. I then conclude that you're going to torture me not because I'm being untruthful, but because you don't like my answers.

"I don’t have much practical experience in this area, but when I hear claims like “torture doesn’t work”, I interpret is as “it must be true because we so, so much want it to be true!”."

Yes, it strikes me as pure wishful thinking.

Some people seem to hold two contradictory ideas in their minds: The CIA, NSA, etc, are (1) all-knowing, all-seeing monsters with tentacles in everything, and, (2) morons.

Some days one, somedays the other.

Sometimes, what liberals would like to be true really is true. Democracy is usually better for prosperity than dictatorship, for example. The tendency to believe that the position is more likely to be true because it's harsher is as common a cognitive bias as the opposite tendency to believe that the nicer position is more likely to be true.

Um, no. How many people wish that torture works because they like the concept of torture, compared to the number who abhor torture and wish it didn't work?

That wasn't the point. It's not that they like the concept of torture; they like their picture of themselves as hard-headed realists.

3. "[Substantive] disagreements would be more tractable, and mutual understanding would be more likely, if the implied authors of our national chronicles were a bit gentler, and if they took a cue or two from Yeats’s heaven-bound fiddler."

I believed this more when I was younger. I think transparency and multiple media sources make it much more difficult to have a written personality that strays far from the original. For example, seems likely that Krugman both "knows what he is talking about" and is "arrogant and self-absorbed."

The reason sharper words (and implied authors) are out there is because there's more demand for them from readers and media consumers. I enjoy nuanced well-considered arguments (I read MR, which sometimes fits ...), but I don't think they really lead to compromise and mutual understanding. The causation arrow goes the other way.

#2 I like this time-lapse video better, less production value but better representation, in my opinion; easier to see total number of exploded bombs per country, and the sound/visual mix of each bomb makes for a better understanding of how intense testing was in various time periods.

Also, interesting to note how testing was almost exclusively done in colonized/peripheral territories; the US tested in south-western indigenous territories and pacific island colonies, the USSR tested in Siberia and Central Asian territories, France tested in its African colonies, China tested in its western peripheries, and so on.

"the US tested in south-western indigenous territories" The US tested on indian reservations? Are you sure? I don't know about more than the first one, but this one, as Wikipedia says was on US soil.
"The White Sands Proving Ground, where the test was conducted, was in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, on the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range. The only structures originally in the vicinity were the McDonald Ranch House and its ancillary buildings, which scientists used as a laboratory for testing bomb components."

Or maybe I am misunderstanding what you are trying to say.

Re. 6: Is the data exposed by the Ashley Madison hack admissible as evidence in a trial? What if some guy divorces his wife because he's read the messages she sent to other men? Can he acknowledge this leak as a reason for his divorce filing, and will it affect the settlement? I honestly don't know enough about the law, but I always assumed that when one spouse hires a private investigator, the information this investigator reveals is admissible in court, even if he witnessed interactions where a presumption of privacy would have been reasonable.

No US state currently requires a reason for divorce or takes into account adultery when determining property division or alimony. It can impact child custody, but usually won't without something more than simple adultery.

It can have an impact if there's a prenup.

True, plus you can agree to binding arbitration in front of a bet din or something. But by and large the idea adultery is a non-issue in contemporary family law.

> I honestly don’t know enough about the law, but I always assumed that when one spouse hires a private investigator, the information this investigator reveals is admissible in court, even if he witnessed interactions where a presumption of privacy would have been reasonable.

They are not. *However*, the fruits of the poisonous tree doctrine only concerns law enforcement. That is, you can gain confirmation of infidelity through illegal means (which you cannot file as evidence in court), and then use the knowledge gained to engineer a situation where evidence that is admissible in court is created. Handing the spouse compromising photographs and hearing how it was just this once is good enough.

Also, the AM hack data is not admissible evidence just because it was collected illegally, but also because it's effectively hearsay. Since you cannot cross-examine the hackers on whether the entire data dump originated from AM databases, you cannot assume that it did. However, if you find your spouse's name and credit card number in the dump, and then find the matching charges on their statement, you can use those.

Yes, or as I would put it: the customer lists are business records, and thereby not hearsay, but you lack a witness to sponsor these records as either the hackers are unavailable or unidentifiable, or Ashley Madison won't testify or certify the document because of confidentiality agreements with its customers. But you've suggested a work-around by locating a different set of business records, which wouldn't have the same problems.

This is also how a hypothetical torture scenario would work. The original information from Ashley Madison is not sufficiently reliable and the context of its disclosure may give doubts about whether the list is what it purports to be or that it could not have been manipulated by the hackers. But it may help lead to reliable information.

> Yes, or as I would put it: the customer lists are business records, and thereby not hearsay

A minor nitpick: All business records are hearsay. The hearsay exceptions, including the business records exception, do not make statements not hearsay, they make certain statements that are hearsay valid to present in courts. This distinction has some rare real consequences.

Re: hearsay, but you can prove that the entire dump originated from the AM databases because it was signed with AM's public key that they've used for previous communication.

Though you may already know how this works, I'm going to give a brief overview on this for the benefit of others. Let's say you have some data, and AM has a number called a "private key". AM can use their private key to generate another number specific to that data called a "signature". The data, signature, and private key are inexorably linked. For any given data and private key, it will have only one valid signature. It's impossible to guess the private key that produced the signature or the signature for some data without the private key because both number are absolutely humongous (think around the order of a million billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billions!)

There's another number called the "public key" that is determined by the private key and is available to the public. It verifies that a given signature for some data was indeed generated by the linked private key. That means that if someone alters the data (no matter how slight) that AM released, then the signature ceases to be valid and we know that someone is altering the data. We also know that AM vouches for the accuracy of this data because otherwise they wouldn't have signed it.

I know how it works, but it doesn't matter. The relevant exception in the rule against hearsay:

> (6) Records of a Regularly Conducted Activity. A record of an act, event, condition, opinion, or diagnosis if:
> (A) the record was made at or near the time by — or from information transmitted by — someone with knowledge;
> (B) the record was kept in the course of a regularly conducted activity of a business, organization, occupation, or calling, whether or not for profit;
> (C) making the record was a regular practice of that activity;
> (D) all these conditions are shown by the testimony of the custodian or another qualified witness, or by a certification that complies with Rule 902(11) or (12) or with a statute permitting certification; and
> (E) the opponent does not show that the source of information or the method or circumstances of preparation indicate a lack of trustworthiness.

Math does not count as a testimony of the custodian. I respectfully move this Court
to preclude the Plaintiff from referring to hearsay evidence.

It's like Citizen's United -- criminals are free to make unlimited "evidential contributions" to law enforcement, so long as they don't actively coordinate efforts.

#4: Not that I support the use of torture or anything, but I find myself skeptical of proclamations that it doesn't work, mostly because I strongly suspect that if I had any sort of secret and somebody wanted to make me tell it, the minute the jumper cables came into view, I'd spill the beans completely. They wouldn't even have to hook them up to the car battery, much less my junk. I'd crack like an eggshell. Maybe the jihadist mind simply works differently, but zealotry can only take you so far; humans have hard limits.

That said, when you look at the kind of torture described in the article: face-slapping, nudity, and "forced to stand for a long period of time," I guess I could see that not working, as is alleged; relatively mild pain or discomfort might merely stiffen someone's resolve and reinforce their unwillingness to cooperate, and the time involved with stuff like stress positions gives them time to rehearse convincing lies...whereas if you just headed straight for the jumper cables, maybe you get a different effect. Again, not that I necessarily support that approach.

Also, regarding what does work, the article talks about building rapport, which makes sense and seems entirely credible, but it doesn't address the obvious implication: the age-old good cop/bad cop routine is probably pretty effective. The bad cop...ahem...gets you talking, then the good cop comes does the rapport-building and "cognitive interview."

I don't think the question is whether torture would likely work in a case where we know, Hollywood-style, that the intended target knows something vitally important that we must extract. The issue is when you don't have the info that your torturer thinks you might have. In that case, as mentioned, you'll probably say or confess to anything to get them to stop. Since that is in reality the far more likely scenario, it's easy to see why torture would be largely ineffectual.

That's a fair point.

I suspect that the problem is often how the torturers are to judge the truth of what they have been told. It's not clear to me how even torturers know the effectiveness of torture in general.

It seems to me to be possible that wishful thinking exists on both sides of the argument.

But how common is that scenario? (Where, say, a jihadist really doesn't know have the answer to a specific question, like where Bin Laden is/was.) There are many things a good interrogator can glean from a jihadist, one would think.

The problem with the linked article is that it addresses "torture" of the Hollywood myth, and not how the CIA actually used the techniques. The recent Democratic Senate report made the same mistakes. For example, it uses this common trope "It’s true that torture can make people talk. But they will often say anything to make the suffering stop".

The CIA aren't fools, and that's not how they used waterboarding. Apparently, when they waterboarded those three suspects, they only asked questions they already knew the answer to. If the suspect lied, or didn't answer, they would go under. If they told the truth, they didn't. The point was to simply to get the suspect to start talking and to establish a sense of omnipotence. Once the suspect was answering questions without resistance, the CIA would shift to standard interrogation techniques, which basically involves keeping them talking, and repeating the same stories over and over ad nausium. Slowly details will slip out, or contradictions will indicate lies. You also search for details that can be independently verified. Hence the Senate report lie that all the info about bin Ladin came from "standard interrogations", a statement which ignores the role of harsh interrogation in initiating the whole process.

I'm not exactly pro-torture, but these anti-torture articles would be a whole lot more effective if they understood the arguments of their opponents. The second half of the article "okay, what works?" is a pretty good summation, but the first half references TV shows way too much.

'Apparently, when they waterboarded those three suspects, they only asked questions they already knew the answer to.'

Which certainly explains waterboarding someone 183 times, right?

Unless one accepts that the only purpose of torture is torture.

'Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times while being interrogated by the CIA.

Pakistani intelligence agents say Mohammed was carrying a letter from bin Laden at the time of his arrest, but there is no evidence he knew bin Laden's whereabouts. By this point, any information Mohammed had would have been years out of date.

After being subjected to repeated waterboarding, Mohammed claimed participation in thirty-one terrorist plots.[176] On 15 June 2009, in response to a lawsuit by the ACLU, the government was forced to disclose a previously classified portion of a CIA memo written in 2006. It recounted Mohammed's telling the CIA that he "made up stories" to stop from being tortured. Legal experts cast serious doubt as to the validity of Mohammed's "confessions" as being false claims, and human rights activists raised serious concerns over the "sham process" of justice and use of torture.

During a radio interview on 24 October 2006, with Scott Hennen of radio station WDAY, Vice President Dick Cheney agreed with the use of waterboarding. The administration later denied that Cheney had confirmed the use of waterboarding, saying that U.S. officials do not talk publicly about interrogation techniques because they are classified. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow claimed that Cheney was not referring to waterboarding, despite repeated questions refused to specify what else Cheney was referring to by a "dunk in the water", and refused to confirm that this meant waterboarding.

On 13 September 2007, ABC News reported that a former intelligence officer stated that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded in the presence of a female CIA supervisor.

On 2 June 2010, while speaking to the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, former President Bush publicly confirmed his knowledge and approval of waterboarding Mohammed, saying "Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed...I'd do it again to save lives."'

You need to define "times". Starting with my earlier explanation, I view that as basically, they asked him 183 questions. Each dunk was only 15-60 seconds or so. From what I understand, KSM's water-boarding involved only about three or so sessions spread out over as many days.

What we got from folks like KSM is not bin Laden's exact itinerary and GPS coordinates, but relationships between people and roles within the organization, as well as mapping from nome de guerres to real names. From this, we were able to piece together the rest of the picture. You are familiar with the courier story, right?

Standard interrogation methods all involve a lot of "made up stories", but that is simply part of the process.

Like I say, it helps if you understand the process.

',,,but the first half references TV shows way too much.'

As compared to government officials and a Supreme Court justice? 'Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security under the George W. Bush administration, declared that 24 "reflects real life", John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who produced the torture memos cited Bauer in support while Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia went further, "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?".[10] One of the shows' creators stated:

Most terrorism experts will tell you that the ‘ticking time bomb’ situation never occurs in real life, or very rarely. But on our show it happens every week.'

Torturers and those who support torture are more than willing to use fiction to support their barbaric actions, as noted above.

"As compared to government officials and a Supreme Court justice?"


Darth Vader used torture to good effect in The Empire Strikes Back.

Uh-oh! Look at me citing fiction in support of the use of torture!! How devious.

The CIA aren't fools?

The CIA are fools. They grabbed hundreds of Afghans on bad intel (tips from their rival Afghans that they were Taliban or Al-Queda) and then tortured.
Sometimes then sent to Gitmo, sometimes let go a few days later with an apology.
I understand the arguments of the opponents, but also know to take it with a grain of salt.

I'm unclear on whether the CIA are fools.

Yeah, this "torture don't work" meme is so much nonsense by people who want to live in a dream world. Torture don't work if you have no way of verifying the information you are being told. Nothing else does either. But if all I want is the address when your boss lives I can tell pretty quick if you told me the truth or not. If you are well trained, you might be able to delay/misdirect me long enough that your boss can get away. But even knowing where he was at one time can help me in the long run.

You know you have an officer telling his master what they want to hear when they tell people that torture don't work. If it is true, they should update there training because as it is they teach their own people that you will spill the beans eventually and your only hope is to delay as much as possible. For that matter, every underground moment assumes that capture members are going to spill it all. And they don't assume that because torture don't work.

There is a huge distinction between torture used to obtain intelligence and torture used to obtain a confession. Torture used to obtain a confession "works" in the sense that it's very effective in extracting a confession, but is not effective in determining whether someone is actually guilty. To the extent that a person has information, torture is very effective in extracting it.

The people who claim that torture "doesn't work" almost always gloss over that distinction. That's not to say that torture used to extract intelligence is morally justified. Unfortunately, we can't avoid the moral question by claiming it's ineffective.

Claiming "torture doesn't work" let's us avoid the very unpleasant conversation about "when should we do it?" And the universe isn't that nice. We're going to have to have that hard conversation, not avoid it.

Prices carry information. Without a price, you are lacking certain information. You might as well be in the Soviet Union. During WW2, Soviet soldiers used watches as currency while invading other countries. They would take goods regardless of age or inherent value. See 'A Woman in Berlin.' Unless one knows the cost of each item, pricing is difficult. We are all barbarians then.

#3...Years ago, I casually knew a Bay Area sports columnist whose persona in print was much more certain of his opinions than when I talked with him, and he was a also a bit surly in print compared to his everyday manner. I brought this perception up with a mutual friend who told me that our sportswriter friend was paid to be contentious.

#6 reminds me of the disclosure of the Stasi files during German reunification.

#2. I did not see that that the 2153 number was divided into atmospheric and underground tests. Were the data concealed, are they hiding in plain sight, or were the data not offered?

3 is an interesting idea, although a problem with the implied author idea comes up when the credibility of the applied author is entirely based on the actual author.

Often the two aren't the same people. See Krugman. Sunstein states that non-author Krugman is a 'nobel prize winning national treasure', which is probably true, although a bit fawning for my taste. Problem: implied-author Krugman is often a mindless ideologue who hides behind actual Krugman when people challenge him. Implied author Krugman seldom cops to writing merely his own modestly informed opinion. His views are always backed-up by the man behind the curtain, whether or not its relevant or even true.

"Pay what you want" is stupid. I want to pay the minimum possible amount that enables the store to make enough profit that it can stay in business and keep producing the product. The only way I can know this amount myself is by watching a market where stores compete on price and seeing what they come up with.

Furthermore, even if I somehow get to know this number (probably by copying a price from another store which did set its prices through competition), it's subject to free riding; once everyone knows the number, they can decide to deliberately pay less, forcing me to pay more if I want to keep the store in business.

"“Pay what you want” is stupid."

It was specifically for only one month. And the last month, I believe. So it was more a going out of business, but we'd like to get some free advertisement for our new location sale. I imagine the Owner got far more value in the free press than the loss in revenue.

" I want to pay the minimum possible amount that enables the store to make enough profit that it can stay in business" - but what if it's a nonprofit, and donations from non-members may not even be a significant source of funds?

There seems to be a persistent belief (although I don't know how much research supports it) that for something like a concert at a church, a request for free-will donations is likely to bring in more money than either a suggested donation amount or actual ticket sales.

#4; Torture has only ever worked once for the US. In 1945, the Japanese shot down a bomber pilot, right around the time of Hiroshima. They tortured him about the number of bombs the US had ready to go. He eventually told them over 100.
He had no idea, and the right answer was "one in a couple of weeks, then one every three months" - but the Japanese believed the torture response and factored it in to their decision to surrender.

Otherwise, here is how torture worked in practice: An Afghan warlord who speaks some English talks to US Special Forces. He tells them that the elders in the village next door are friends of the Taliban and Al-Queda. He doesn't say that they both compete in the same opium market, or that the elder showed him up a few years ago in a past power struggle. The village is raided and the elder seized. He is then asked about the Taliban and attacks on coalition troops. The elder claims he doesn't know. But he would say that, right? So he is tortured. Under torture, he says he is Taliban to make it stop.
He's then sent to Gitmo. Where the CIA officer has a field report noting that the warlord accused him of being taliban and attacking American troops, and that he had previously admitted to being a Talibn. in the interrogation, the elder denies being Taliban. But the CIA officer has a dossier that says otherwise! He must be lying! Time to torture him. And so on.
The problem of torture is that it leads to a flood of information, and only some of it is every true. It produces more false leads than good intel.
There has still never been a 'ticking bomb' stopped by torture.

I actually have been thinking about a similar concept as "implied author" recently

"Whether or not you agree with him, the New York Times’s David Brooks has a wonderful implied author -- humble, open, appealingly tentative."
haha thanks for the laugh. David Brooks's "implied author" is anal retentive and obsequious so it is funny that Sunstein finds him wonderful.

Ashley Madison If it cost twenty dollars to reliably search for a name in the dump I would gladly pay to search half a dozen names. My motives would be entirely dishonourable for half of them (the women) and malicious for the other half (the men)

That's a division (of motives) that I can live with! 50% dishonourable and 50% malicious.

The women are women I like and want to screw (dishonorable). The men are men I don't like and want to screw over (malicious). :-)

I remember that 50 megaton blast. It made the cover of Time magazine, with a photo of Khrushchev in front of this huge mushroom cloud, looking very unpleasant and ready to take his shoe off an bang it on a table in public. What nobody will say is just exactly what megatonnage most of our nukes ready to go are.

On the matter of torture, while there have been quite a few reasonable remarks, the number of people coming on like they know that "torture works" is pretty disturbing, atlhough if 59% of the US public thinks so, I guess no one shoiuld be surprised by this extrusion of self-declared experts. I bet that very few either have been, or have close relatives or friends, who have actually been tortured or have engaged in torture. I have, and I have also had a long private conversation with John McCain about this. While about the most hawkish member of Congress, he totally opposes the US engaging in torture at all, although I guess we can ignore his view since we know he is a loser who let himself get captured by the enemy.

Oh, and final tidbit, during WW II, none of the really big torturers, Germany, USSR, or Japan, ever used it to obtain information. They all knew better. It was for intimidating and humiliating prisoners and breaking their spirits in general, although some here absurdly think that against all evidence that is some prelude to getting actually useful information out of them. Such fools...

John McCain is against torture, but he admits that it works.

He admits that it will get the tortured person to say whatever that person thinks will get them to stop being tortured. He does not agree that it is useful for obtaining serious intelligence information. Everybody agrees with the former, obvious to the point of boring.

If you're talking about torturing a confession out of someone, it's absolutely true that they'll tell you whatever you want to hear and they'll ultimately confess to crimes they haven't committed. And if they genuinely don't have any intelligence to give, they'll eventually make something up. But if a person does have information that they're trying to conceal, torture is effective in extracting that information. John McCain admits that he broke under torture. Most people do. It would certainly be morally convenient if torture didn't work, but sadly that's not the case.

And to be very clear, since it looks like you do not get it, FXKLM, he admits that he "broke under torture" but he continues to maintain that torture is not useful for getting information, his position all along and continuing to be maintained. This is not a contradictory view, although apparently you think so.

If you want to push this stuff, have you been tortured? How about any of your close relatives or friends? Or maybe you have done some torturing and you saw people provide useful information?

Yeah, he "broke under torture," but aside from one person claiming otherwise, he claims and most support him that the extra information he provided beyond name, rank, and serial number was of no importance. He was also tortured more severely than most.

If you want to drag up some link where this or that person claims that he provided them will all kinds of useful information, go ahead, but I believe his claim that he did not. He "broke," but so did lots of those people described in the link Tyler put up about all these people who were tortured by our folks. Yeah, they broke, and then handed out all kinds of silly stories and in fact were not even able to think or remember straight. Go read it, if you have not.

Actually, to be really blunt, as far as I am concerned, every single one of you praising torture here should be taken out for a nice round of waterboarding before you are sent home to your rooms without supper. Really.

By that reasoning, anyone who simply says enemies should be locked up should be locked up.

#6 AM users demographics

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