Argument: Enhanced interrogations are ineffective and unreliable

Issue Report: Enhanced interrogation techniques


According to the New York Times: “Experts advising the Bush administration on new interrogation rules warn that harsh techniques used since 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.”[1]

The Washington Post described a report by the Intelligence Science Board: “There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community’s use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism, and experts believe some painful and coercive approaches could hinder the ability to get good information, according to a new report from an intelligence advisory group.”[2]

Randy Borum, a psychologist at the University of South Florida and consultant for the Defense Department, said about a 2007 Intelligence Science Board report he contributed to on interrogation methods: “There’s an [false] assumption that often passes for common sense that the more pain imposed on someone, the more likely they are to comply”.[3]

Col. Steven M. Kleinman, who has served as the Pentagon’s senior intelligence officer for special survival training: “The scientific community has never established that coercive interrogation methods are an effective means of obtaining reliable intelligence information.”[4]

“Top Interrogators Declare Torture Ineffective in Intelligence Gathering”. Human Rights First. June 24th, 2008 – “Fifteen former interrogators and intelligence officials with more than 350 years collective field experience have declared that torture is an “unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive” way to gather intelligence, in a statement of principles released today.

[…]The principles are based on the interrogators and intelligence officials experiences of what works and what does not in the field. Interrogation techniques that do not resort to torture yield more complete and accurate intelligence, they say. The principles call for the creation of a well-defined single standard of conduct in interrogation and detention practices across all U.S. agencies. At stake is the loss of critical intelligence and time, as well as the United States’ reputation abroad and its credibility in demanding the humane treatment of captured Americans.”