An Interrogator On Why Torture Doesn’t Work

On May 21, our Amnesty International group co-sponsored a talk by Matthew Alexander, author of A Chair, A Brain, and A Heart: An Interrogators Mission to  Return America to the Rule of Law.


Matthew Alexander was a senior military interrogator in Iraq and led the interrogation team that gathered the intelligence that led to the successful airstrike against Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

During his talk, Alexander spoke about how rapport building techniques work, and the importance of cultural awareness. He spoke about how torture, in addition to being generally ineffective and immoral, as the torture and abuse by Americans was a major recruitment factor for those who came to Iraq from other countries to fight.

Ironically, the theory that torture works cited even by some of our elected officials seems to come from fictional characters like Jack Bauer on 24, rather than talking to real interrogators. As Alexander noted, “If you’re going to quote Jack Bauer, why not quote Superman?”

Watch the video of the talk, courtesy of Mike McCormick of KEXP and Talking Stick TV:


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