A utilidade da tortura

Anne Applebaum, uma das melhores cronistas americanas, publica hoje no Washington Post um artigo muito interessante sobre a tortura de prisioneiros de guerra. Um dos motivos de interesse do artigo é o facto de Applebaum limitar o seu argumento a uma avaliação puramente consequencialista da tortura: a tortura é ou não útil do ponto de vista de quem a pratica?

A opinião profissional e a opinião pública parecem ser diametralmente opostas. De um lado, militares e membros de agências de informação com enorme experiência de técnicas de interrogatório convergem para a desutilidade da tortura (note-se: declaram-na contraproducente e não "apenas" inútil):
“ (…) listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 — long before Abu Ghraib — to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information." In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones. Asked whether that would be true of religiously motivated fanatics, he says that the "batting average" might be lower: "perhaps six out of ten." And if you beat up the remaining four? "They'll just tell you anything to get you to stop."

Worse, you'll have the other side effects of torture. It "endangers our soldiers on the battlefield by encouraging reciprocity." It does "damage to our country's image" and undermines our credibility in Iraq. That, in the long run, outweighs any theoretical benefit. Herrington's confidential Pentagon report, which he won't discuss but which was leaked to The Post a month ago, goes farther. In that document, he warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees in Iraq, that their activities could be "making gratuitous enemies" and that prisoner abuse "is counterproductive to the Coalition's efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry."Far from rescuing Americans, in other words, the use of "special methods" might help explain why the war is going so badly.
Do outro lado, a opinião pública parece acreditar que "com uns bons apertões os tipos contavam tudo". Não deixa de ser irónico que uma das desvantagens da tortura seja precisamente isso: a perspectiva de um "apertão" leva o prisioneiro a contar "tudo", principalmente aquilo que suspeita que o torcionário deseja ouvir, por mais distante que esteja da verdade:
“Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.

Perhaps it's reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of "toughness" we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.
Mas ler todo o artigo é muito melhor.

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