- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Torture involves more than the infliction of intense pain. A critical aspect is that victims are helpless and do not know if they will be killed or maimed. Therefore, the idea that you can “train” for torture is incorrect because the soldiers who undergo “torture training” know they will not die or suffer permanent injury, although it would be interesting to know if any of those who underwent waterboarding suffered brain damage after accidentally being deprived of oxygen a few seconds too long.

You could instruct potential victims to hyperventilate if threatened with waterboarding, thus getting as much oxygen as possible into their bloodstream, but you don’t need to put someone through simulated torture to teach that.

Moreover, torture has limited value in safeguarding us from future threats. Any information a captured terrorist may have regarding future attacks will be worthless once his co-conspirators know he is in custody, as they immediately will change their plans, possibly going into hiding and speeding up their timetable.

Finally, when it comes to torture, there is no free lunch. You forfeit all cooperation and information from the community. No one is going to warn soldiers of an ambush if they think the commander may say, “Well, if you know A, then you must know B, and there’s even a chance you may know C - and if we beat you enough, you’ll tell us.”

It’s difficult enough when people don’t volunteer information because they’re afraid of terrorists. If they fear us as well, you’ll never get the cooperation you need.

SUSAN ALTMAN

Washington

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