Since taking office, Mr. Obama has reversed many of the policies championed by Mr. Cheney in his eight years of serving under President George W. Bush. Mr. Obama has announced plans to close the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within the year, suspended military trials for terrorism suspects and prohibited the interrogation practice known as waterboarding.
But on Sunday, Mr. Cheney said those very policies had produced intelligence — still classified — that helped uncover specific plots.
But there are severe problems with getting truth from torture. Even if it worked, we should arguably reject its use, but if it doesn’t work, it is pointless barbarism.
One problem with using torture to get intelligence is that one has to be able to tell whether what is said is what is believed. In order words, torture may produce lies or truth, and what is said is useless unless we know it is not a lie. Sorting lies from truth is an additional task that has to follow the torture. But it is one at which human beings not at all good.