Researchers say torture techniques used by the Bush administration damage memory and do not get to the truth.
Torture may induce people to speak but research indicates that the torture itself has severe effects on their long-term memory, making it much more likely they will just say something rather than the truth – because they no longer really remember the truth.
The supposed basis for torture is predicated on the fact that the person being tortured will tell what they remember when the torture stops. According to the researchers there is no data to really suggest that is true. In fact, there is a lot of data indicating that stress makes it much more difficult to access long-term memory.
Stress induces actual physical changes in the brain. So-called harsh interrogation techniques, because of the severe stress they produce, may actually make it harder to gain truthful responses.Not because the person being tortured does not want to be forthcoming but because they really are no longer able to the difference between the truth and whatever it is that the torturer wants to hear.
Simply speaking lowers the stress for both the tortured and the torturer, It does not really matter what is said. Like whether it is true.
So torture is not only morally wrong, it actually destroys the ability of the tortured to provide the information needed. Not only will the victim say anything to get the torture to stop, they can actually suffer brain damage that impairs the ability to find out what really happened.
And it appears that this is true, even for things that we have decided are not really torture such as:
- Walling – captive is placed with heels touching the wall and is pulled away and pushed back into it with force
- Wall standing – captive stands four to five feet from wall with fingertips supporting all the body weight to induce muscle fatigue
- Cramped confinement – captive place in small box in darkness for up to two hours, in a larger box for up to 18 hours
- Sleep deprivation – captive is deprived of sleep for up to 11 days
- Stress positions – captive sits on floor with legs straight out in front and arms raised above head or is made to kneel on the floor while leaning back at a 45 degree angle