Are coercive questioning techniques ever effective ?

This question needs to be examined in the context of who is being questioned and what those questions are. So in that light ...

What type of questions are we asking the Gitmo detainees and is it logical that coercion can work in any of these cases ?

1) Are we asking them to admit to a crime (i.e. Did you set that bomb ?) ?

2) Are we asking them for information on their terrorist cell and or contacts ?

3) Are we asking them their favorite color ?

In question number 1 I believe that under enough stress most people will admit to anything to relieve that stress. Of course even a willing confession to murder in the US court system is usually backed up by actual forensic evidence or the confessor revealing information that only the killer could know. We don't ask the chaps in Gitmo if they are terrorists, we already know they are.

Question number 3 of course would require very little stress to get an answer from almost anyone. It may not be the right answer but we would have almost no way of verifying that so coercive techniques in that sort of case would be a waste of time.

Question number 2 of course is exactly the sort of question we are asking the Gitmo guys. Most answers we obtain can often be crossed checked and verified. Thus most false answers would be exposed. Just imagine you are being held captive and are asked for your ATM Pin code. You could lie and if your captor lets you go without verifying it then even a coerced answer would of course be suspect. But if your captor didn't let you go and went out and tried your pin only to find out you had given false information I would venture to guess that there will be a certain level of stress that would cause you to reveal your real pin number eventually.

While a simplistic analysis I think it should be fairly obvious that depending of the data being sought coercive techniques can and do elicit valuable (to the questioner) information. (see waterborading and Sheik Kalihd)

So is waterboarding torture ? Who cares, it works.

For those gentle souls out there that claim we lose the "moral high" ground if we use waterboarding I would point out that every single one of the beheading victims of Islamic terrorists would have gladly been waterboarded instead of being decapitated. They are not the same thing and your "moral high ground" measuring system has some faulty moral equivalence built into it.

The Ghost ...