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Just Torturing Yourself? Interrogator Calls Brutality Ineffective

Matthew Alexander, if that's his real name (it's not), says that the qualities that make a good terrorist interrogator are the same things that make a good American, and those qualities don't include a knack for physical torture. He should know, because he served as a US military interrogator in Iraq, and wrote a book all about how to break a terrorist.

Last night on the Daily Show, Alexander explained that it's counterproductive to torture terrorists even in ticking time-bomb scenarios. Alexander says psychology, not brutality, more effectively extracts crucial information.

He also learned that a sense of humor aids interrogation, because it helps build a relationship of trust with the suspect. Hey! Maybe we should send Jon Stewart over to Guantanamo Bay to joke (not choke) some information out of detainees! Check out the interview, and tell me what you think about his thoughts torture.

Join The Conversation
stephley stephley 8 years
Not ducking, you didn't prove your thesis. You named a threat and claimed it works but offered nothing but 'I've never heard of anyone..' as confirmation. I've explored property with signs like that at least once in my life - I was NOT deterred by the threat.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
That's a good way to duck around that statement. ;)
stephley stephley 8 years
Can you tell us how many trespassers those signs stop? We would need some kind of quantitative evidence to support your claim.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Ok, here's another. How about the "Trespassers will be shot on sight" signs? Those are threats. I've not ever heard of someone getting shot trying to prove or disprove those warnings/threats. The bottom line is this: Threats work.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
Wait are threatening nuclear global war. I thought preventing other countries from having nuclear power was to prevent the "bad" guys from starting war, not to bully other countries or was my suspicion right the whole time? :ponder: UnDave you cannot compare the threat of global nuclear warfare to torture. The scale is too small. If I threaten to shock you, but you remain silent and I don't shock you it doesn't work. It is one thing to risk getting shocked and another to risk having a nuclear bomb dropped on your empire, especially in the face of civic and religious loyalty. BTW we've already followed through on that once or did you miss Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
stephley stephley 8 years
"So the threat of a global nuclear war is a bunch of hooey, because we've not ever gone through on that threat?" It's a bunch of hooey because if we went through with a threat to launch a global nuclear war in order to get a confession or information we'd be killing ourselves - even a stupid terrorist could figure that out. Hey Hypno!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
The bottom line for me is that torture is unacceptable and unreliable and as for Mr. Alexander's tactics well if they work and he has had success than it should be made standard, no questions asked. Kind of a no brainer to me. Successfully navigating the human psyche is an art form of nuance and set principles and those who can do it successfully unlike the apes which insist on resorting to physical torture should be the ones directing interrogation programs.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Jessie "UnDave you can't keep a threat going that you never follow through on. It just doesn't work. The prisoner or detainee will realize your full of it." So the threat of a global nuclear war is a bunch of hooey, because we've not ever gone through on that threat?
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
Yeah, I don't know what he's talking about either.
stephley stephley 8 years
Huh?
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
So the threat of global nuclear war is full of it, because we've never gone through with that?
geebers geebers 8 years
I agree with this man - torture is really not effective if it means we will get false information. The better way is to gain trust.
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
Jillness, I read the same piece and I think it was excellent. Treating people like people is really the way to go.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
UnDave you can't keep a threat going that you never follow through on. It just doesn't work. The prisoner or detainee will realize your full of it.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"It costs lives, because not only is it documented to not work, it puts a stigma on the US that terrorists use against us in their training." Terrorists lie to the people they are training. The brainwashing begins when they are young. Those brainwashing techniques are well documented as well. So, saying we torture doesn't necessarily mean it's true. Also, the information gathered isn't always false. Of course, I'm not necessarily talking about torture, and more about interrogation techniques. I think there is a vast difference, and I think one interrogation technique is the threat of torture, even if only implied.
janneth janneth 8 years
laurelm, won't it be interesting to see what techniques are used in the Obama admin?
laurelm laurelm 8 years
It costs lives, because not only is it documented to not work, it puts a stigma on the US that terrorists use against us in their training. Torture may illicit information, but it is typically false, irrelevant, because people will say anything to stop being tortured. Other interrogation techniques work and obtain useful information...
janneth janneth 8 years
I hope this man makes alot of money on his book.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
The thing is, the threat of torture is enough to work. That guy talked because he was afraid of being hurt. I'm curious to his reasoning behind the comment "torture and abuse cost American lives."
Jillness Jillness 8 years
http://teamsugar.com/group/1950914/blog/2558857 This same serviceman wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post called, "I'm Still Tortured By What I Saw in Iraq". These parts stood out to me: These parts really stuck out to me: "A few of them never abandoned the jihadist cause but still gave up critical information. One actually told me, "I thought you would torture me, and when you didn't, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That's why I decided to cooperate." "Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there's the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives." "How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans"
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