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.
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