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Does Torture Work?$
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John W. Schiemann

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190262365

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190262365.001.0001

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Dangerous Torment

Dangerous Torment

Chapter:
(p.17) 2 Dangerous Torment
Source:
Does Torture Work?
Author(s):

John W. Schiemann

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190262365.003.0002

Are “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) torture? Bush administration officials as well as some philosophers and legal scholars argue they are not. Other legal scholars, human rights groups, and President Obama have referred to at least some of the techniques as torture. Chapter 2 enters this debate, opening once again in media res with historical accounts of waterboarding before narrating a typical case of CIA rendition and torture. Having established that EITs constitute torture, the chapter then asks what is known about its effectiveness in eliciting otherwise unobtainable information. Challenging our intuition that torture must work, the chapter reviews how this question might be answered empirically. Experimental data is a non-starter for ethical reasons, so the only empirical avenue left open is observational data from the real world. Empirical and epistemological problems, however, mean that the systematic data required to answer the question empirically will never exist.

Keywords:   enhanced interrogation techniques, interrogational torture, waterboarding

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