See John Oliver Explain Why the U.S. Needs to Stop Fighting Terror With Torture

It doesn’t work—which should make torture a nonstarter.
Jun 15, 2015·
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

Despite every bloody threat you saw Jack Bauer carry out on 24 to save America from terrorists, research shows—and interrogators both fictional and nonfictional will tell you—torture doesn’t work. Comedian John Oliver points out that not a single instance has been established where American security forces have successfully extracted information from terror suspects through waterboarding or other abuses.

“Torture works on 24 and in movies because it has to; it’s a dramatic device used to move the plot along,” Oliver said on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. “But ask terror experts and they’ll tell you it’s one of those movie tropes that’s got no basis in real life.”

A summary of the U.S. Senate’s torture report revealed that American forces repeatedly tortured people believed to have terror ties and information—but got no actionable information from it.

That flies in the face of the popular cinematic convention and popular American thinking. More than half of Americans—57 percent—believe aggressive interrogation tactics such as waterboarding can provide information that prevents terror attacks, according to CBS News.

So, Why Should You Care? Since 9/11, the U.S. has taken a military approach to defeating terror, spending more than $1 trillion and losing more than 5,000 American lives—and tens of thousands more Iraqi and Afghan ones—engaging in war to decimate leadership and eliminate weapons. Despite the deaths of Osama bin Laden and countless terrorists at the hands of Western military forces, as long as the defiant ideal of militant Islamicism appeals to disaffected youth, the ranks of terrorists continue to grow. With so much strife in the Middle East, terror recruitment can have bottomless reach if America doesn’t win the battle for hearts and minds—which can start by adhering to globally recognized human rights standards and avoiding the appearance of fighting terror with terror.