The New York Times broke a story this week that the Gonzales Justice Department had, in 2005, approved a range of techniques (waterboarding, slapping, freezing, etc.) that had previously been deemed as torture. Though the Bush Administration still denies it, it’s evident that the US tortures people. My question is, and I haven’t seen it answered: when did torture start working? Until Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and their crew took over the philosophy of the USA was that torture was illegal per international treaties and morally repugnant. But in addition, it was the doctrine of the US military that torture didn’t work. Sometime back in the early seventies I was sent to a two week Interrogation Course at the Army’s Intelligence School at Ft. Holabird, Maryland. It was an interesting class; one of the best military classes I had taken and taught techniques that are useful today. All the techniques were based on skill in dealing with another human being. Establishing rapport was the key. Good questioning skills were crucial. Even techniques like “good cop, bad cop” and “the dossier or we-know-all” were all based on psychology and clear use of language to elicit information. It was drummed into us that torture didn’t work. So, when did we decide that torture did work? Who decided? Why did they decide that it did? Where is the proof? The evidence? If for years US military doctrine, gleaned from the experience of WWII and Korea, declared that torture was not effective to get quality information, what happened to change this doctrine? Torture will elicit a response. Imagine yourself with a compound fracture of the femur. Then imagine someone twisting that leg and asking you a question. (This actually happened to more than one downed US pilot in North Vietnam). You will try to answer the question in a way that will please them and stop the twisting. The desire to torture, it seems to me, comes not from a patriotic motive, but from some inherent meanness of spirit and, taken to extremes, makes the logical transition from cruelty to evil. No one has yet made the case that torture works which leads one to the conclusion that there is a certain type of person or group who just likes to torture other people, who doesn’t want their power inhibited in any way. Many of us would prefer not be included in their company.