83 Ind. L.J. 339 (2008)
Behind This Mortal Bone: The (In)Effectiveness of Torture

handle is hein.journals/indana83 and id is 347 raw text is: Behind This Mortal Bone: The (In)Effectiveness of
Torture
JEANNINE BELL*
No Rack can torture me
My Soul-at Liberty
Behind this mortal Bone I have to have
There knits a bolder One ....
Captivity is Consciousness,
So's Liberty.'
This Essay addresses the theoretical debate on torture in an empirical way. It urges
that as part of our evaluation of the merits of torture, we take a shrewd look at the
quality of information brutal interrogations produce. The Essay identifies widespread
belief in what the author identifies as the torture myth -the idea that torture is the
most effective interrogation practice. In reality, in addition to its oft-acknowledged
moral and legal problems, the use of torture carries with it a host of practical
problems which seriously blunt its effectiveness. This Essay demonstrates that contrary
to the myth, torture and the closely related practice, torture lite  do not always
produce the desired information and, in the cases in which it does, these practices may
not produce it in a timely fashion. In the end, the Essay concludes, any marginal
benefit the practice offers is low because traditional techniques of interrogation may
be as good, and possibly even better at producing valuable intelligence.
INTRODUCTION
Consider the following two scenarios. In the first, a U.S. counterterrorism agent
faces the impending release of a terrorist suspected of a heinous crime before the
suspect has been interrogated. In order to exempt his agency from liability for his
actions, the agent resigns from his job and then undertakes his own private
interrogation in a parked car outside his former office. He expertly breaks the suspect's
handcuffed wrists, which has the intended effect-the suspect surrenders crucial,
lifesaving information after being tortured.
* Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington. A.B, Harvard
College; 1991; J.D, 1999; Ph.D. (Political Science) 2000; University of Michigan. I would like
to thank Ben Davis, Guy Charles, Kevin Collins, Ken Dau-Schmidt, Luis Fuentes-Rohwer,
Catherine Grosso, Richard McAdams, Bill Henderson, Dawn Johnsen, David Fidler, Ajay
Mehrotra, Susan Williams, Aviva Orenstein, Christiana Ochoa, Alvin Rosenfeld, Kim Lane
Scheppele, and Elisabeth Zoller for their valuable comments. I would also like to thank the
participants of the 2005-2006 Illinois Criminal Law Colloquium, where this essay was
presented. I am grateful to Michael Hult for research assistance and to Rita Eads for editorial
assistance. Finally, I offer special thanks to ILJ editors Corey Johanningmeier, James R.
Wood, and Jeff Macey.
1. EMILY DICKINSON, COMPLETE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON 304 (1955).

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