Troops at Odds With Ethics Standards - washingtonpost.com: "More than one-third of U.S. soldiers in Iraq surveyed by the Army said they believe torture should be allowed if it helps gather important information about insurgents [emphasis added], the Pentagon disclosed yesterday. Four in 10 said they approve of such illegal abuse if it would save the life of a fellow soldier."
Well that my friend is the mother of all "ifs."
I could use the Inquisition as an example, or maybe the Salem Witch Trials, but what the hell... let's use something more current. In February of 2003 then Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the United Nations that Al Qaida had gone to Iraq to learn about chemical and biological weapons. [reference] This statement was based on the "confession" of a man known as al-Libi who, having failed to talk to his US interrogation team, had been rendered to Egypt. The Egyptians play hardball and there is very good reason to believe al-Libi was tortured. [reference] The problem with the confession, and it makes the case for duress, is that al-Libi later recanted. [reference]
Put yourself in the shoes of someone being tortured. What's your focus going to be? Stopping the pain, right? Your primary focus is going to be figuring out what the evil son of a bitch with the jumper cables wants to hear and telling him exactly that. And if the evil son of a bitch wants you to confess to a crime that occurred a decade before you were born, you'll do it.
Torture as a path to the truth? Torture as a means of extracting valuable intelligence? You've got to be kidding me.