Friday, December 09, 2005

Is this why the Bush Administration is so keen on torture?

Today's New York Times had a front-page article revealing that one of the main pieces of evidence for an Iraq-al Qaeda link that the Bush Administration proferred during the run-up to the Iraq war came from a prisoner who the Egyptians had tortured to the point that he started fabricating what they wanted to hear. The Administration used this information even though, as early as February 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency had warned that it was unreliable.

While torture's efficacy in getting people to provide true information is disputed, no one doubts that it works extremely well at getting people to say what the torturers want them to say. The likes of Cheney might be keen on this for either or both of two reasons. The first is that they are just trying to make a case, and don't care if the statements extracted through torture are true or not. The second is that they already "know" what is true, on ideological grounds, and thus regard all actual empirical evidence as false unless it confirms their fixed preconceptions.

Not only don't I know which rationale was more important to Cheney, but I'm not convinced that he knows the difference any more.

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