We’ve Known for 1,700 Years that Torture Produces False Confessions
By Washington's Blog
Global Research, December 19, 2014
Theme: Crimes against Humanity
Mark Costanzo (Claremont McKenna professor of psychology) and Ellen Gerrity (Duke University professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) note in a study published in the journal Social Issues and Policy Review:
As early as the third century A.D., the great Roman Jurist Ulpian noted that information obtained through torture was not to be trusted because some people are “so susceptible to pain that they will tell any lie rather than suffer it” (Peters, 1996). This warning about the unreliability of information extracted through the use of torture has echoed across the centuries.
Lawrence Davidson – history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania – points out today:
In 1764 Cesare Beccaria [an Italian criminologist, jurist, philosopher, and politician who had a profound effect on America’s Founding Fathers] published his groundbreaking work, On Crimes and Punishments. Beccaria had examined all the evidence available at that time and concluded that individuals under torture will tell their interrogators anything they want to hear, true or not, just to get the pain to stop.
The successful and ruthless general Napolean Bonaparte wrote in 1798:
The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know.
This ancient wisdom has been verified by the top American interrogation experts over the last 100 years.
By Adam Goldman and Peyton Craighill December 16
A majority of Americans think that the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, even as about half of the public says the treatment amounted to torture, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
By a margin of almost 2 to 1 — 59 percent to 31 percent — those interviewed said that they support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying that they produced valuable intelligence.
In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”
The new poll comes on the heels of the scathing Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which President Obama ended in 2009. The report last week concluded that severe interrogation techniques — including waterboarding detainees, placing them in stress positions and keeping them inside confinement boxes — were not an effective means of acquiring intelligence.
The report also found that more than two dozen detainees were wrongly held, that the program was poorly managed and that the CIA misled top U.S. officials about the effectiveness of the program.