What's the best way to make a suspected terrorist forget all the crucial details that we need access to in order to thwart the terrorist plot we suspect him of being involved in? Why, torture him. Naturally.
According to the Associated Press, a new survey of scientific literature on stress and memory from a researcher at Ireland's Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience has found that CIA's torture techniques likely caused the agency's victims to actually forget the details that they were being tortured for—if they ever had the information in the first place—and could have also cause them to create false memories.
Prolonged stress from the CIA's harsh interrogations could have impaired the memories of terrorist suspects, diminishing their ability to recall and provide the detailed information the spy agency sought, according to a scientific paper published Monday.
The methods could even have caused the suspects to create - and believe - false memories, contends the paper, which scrutinizes the techniques used by the CIA under the Bush administration through the lens of neurobiology. It suggests the methods are actually counterproductive, no matter how much suspects might eventually say.
It's just a survey of other studies, rather than an actual experimental assessment of what waterboarding does to people's memories. But we'll take it as the perverse and sickening cap on the "debate" over whether American officials ought to have been instructed to inflict mock executions, calibrated drownings, and beatings on human beings in their custody: Torture doesn't work. And even if it works, it's wrong. And even if it works and isn't wrong, it still doesn't fucking work.