Blogs > Cliopatria > On Torture

Nov 22, 2005 1:02 am

On Torture

Jason Vest,"CIA Veterans Condemn Torture," National Journal, 19 November, profiles the disgust of old CIA hands with torture and its unproductive results. Much of the skepticism draws on the story told in Merle L. Pribbenow,"The Man in the Snow White Cell," Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 48, #1, 2004, a remarkable account of torture's failure to elicit useful information from a North Vietnamese spy. Thanks to Rick Perlstein for the tip.

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Jonathan Dresner - 11/22/2005

Pribbenow's article is detailed and interesting in itself, but the interrogation theory which informs it is too deeply implicit for an amateur like myself to get a lot of useful (in the sense of evaluating policy: I'm not planning on interrogating anyone! I just give them pop quizzes....) information.

It is clear that the physical and most of the mental/emotional torture inflicted had little useful result.

And it's a fascinating "slice of life" of the Vietnam war: anyone teaching the conflict should consider this as a reading for students, I think.