Sep 21, 2009 | 14
The ethics of enhanced interrogation techniques, detailed in a series of White House memos earlier this year, have come under growing fire in Washington and around the world. And the effectiveness of these practices—including sleep deprivation and waterboarding—have drawn increasing scrutiny in the scientific community.
A new review paper, published online today in Trends in Cognitive Science, investigates whether such intense approaches, labeled as torture by some, might be counterproductive to obtaining accurate information from suspects.
The use of coercive interrogation "is based on the assumption that subjects will be motivated to reveal veridical information to end interrogation, and that extreme stress, shock and anxiety do not impact memory," Shane O'Mara, a professor at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin and the paper's lead author, said in a prepared statement. "However, this model of the impact of extreme stress on memory and the brain is utterly unsupported by scientific evidence."
May 1, 2009 | 3
Last week, The New York Times reported that CIA interrogators subjected 9/11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah to a total of 266 episodes of waterboarding between 2002 and 2003. More recently news broke that top Bush administration officials, including Condoleezza Rice and John Ashcroft, had condoned the practice as early as 2002.
The Obama Administration considers waterboarding – in which a person is strapped on a board with a rag or cloth covering his or her face and doused with water -- a form of torture. So does the United Nations' former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, according to news reports.
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