USA: The Strategic Costs of Torture: How “Enhanced Interrogation” Hurt America

"Despite their disagreements, all these perspectives share one key assumption: that whether the torture was good or bad depends on whether or not it “worked”—that is, whether it produced lifesaving results. Leaving aside the very real human and legal consequences of torture, a truly comprehensive assessment would also explore the policy’s broader implications, including how it shaped the trajectory of the so-called war on terror, altered the relationship between the United States and its allies, and affected Washington’s pursuit of other key goals, such as the promotion of democracy and human rights abroad. To assess the overall effect of torture on U.S. national security, one should consider not only its supposed tactical benefits but also its strategic impact.

Our team of researchers at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School has begun the first such review, and we’ve found that Washington’s use of torture greatly damaged national security. It incited extremism in the Middle East, hindered cooperation with U.S. allies, exposed American officials to legal repercussions, undermined U.S. diplomacy, and offered a convenient justification for other governments to commit human rights abuses. The takeaway is clear: reinstating torture would be a costly mistake."

See: The Strategic Costs of Torture: How “Enhanced Interrogation” Hurt America (Foreign Affairs, link)

And see: Observatory on "rendition": The use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners


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