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Science Suggests Torture Probably Didn't Prevent Any Attacks

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Kevin Gosztola       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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A recently published scientific paper suggests that "harsh interrogations" (torture) most likely "impaired the memories of suspects, diminishing their ability to recall and provide the detailed information" the CIA wanted.

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According to the AP, the scientific paper claims torture could have even caused "suspects to create --and believe--false memories."

Professor Shane O'Mara at Ireland's Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, argues that:

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"Solid scientific evidence on how repeated and extreme stress and pain affect memory and executive functions (such as planning or forming intentions) suggests these techniques are unlikely to do anything other than the opposite of that intended by coercive or enhanced interrogation."

O'Mara also writes "the assumption is that the (methods) are without effect on memory, or indeed facilitate the retrieval of information from memory." But, he goes on to say science suggests the opposite because "chronic stress and trauma" damages the hippocampus and, especially for long-term prisoners, the CIA's methods would have produced this result.

O'Mara suggests, "prolonged sleep deprivation, being chained in one position, exploitation of prisoners' phobias, and waterboarding" would "release stress hormones." If this happened repeatedly and for a prolonged period of time, brain function would be "compromised" and tissue loss would occur.

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O'Mara adds:

""this could lead to brain lobe disorders, making the prisoners vulnerable to confabulation -- in this case, the pathological production of false memories based on suggestions from an interrogator. Those false memories mix with true information in the interrogation, making it difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is fabricated."

O'Mara suggests these techniques are flawed because they are based on "folk psychology."

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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