Expert: Torture would fail in a real ‘ticking time-bomb’ situation

By David Edwards

Published: May 14, 2009
Updated 3 days ago

Even though testimony from actual interrogators like Ali Soufan has made it clear that torture does not work and is more likely to be counter-productive, defenders of torture like Sen. Lindsey Graham continue resorting to the well-worn ‘ticking time-bomb’ scenario.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke about the use of torture with Malcolm Nance, formerly chief of training at the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program on which the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques were based.

Nance began by describing as “ridiculous” the argument that techniques derived from the SERE program can’t be considered torture because we use them on our own people.

Nance explained that “the SERE program was started in the 1950’s exactly because these techniques were being used against American servicemen. … We are allowing a service member the opportunity to practice in a controlled environment for a few moments how to behave and how to react … to make sure that the techniques that are being applied to them don’t work.”

“There’s a whole class of people I call now ‘torture apologists,’” he told Maddow, “and their full-time job is to go out and find spurious arguments in order to justify exactly why they violated US legal code.”

In addition to making clear his belief that the SERE-derived techniques are torture, Nance also stated that he would never advise using those techniques in an actual ticking time-bomb situation because “all the prisoner has to do is not answer the question — or better yet, the prisoner will lie.”

“Anything that they do to foil you is well within their plan, and they take great pride in that,” Nance concluded. “We’ve created al Qaeda SERE school for them.”

This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast May 13, 2009.

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