The ongoing tale of law enforcement’s frustration with basic civil liberties continues in today’s Washington Post. This passage should make every American cringe:

Said one experienced FBI agent involved in the investigation: “We are known for humanitarian treatment, so basically we are stuck. . . . Usually there is some incentive, some angle to play, what you can do for them. But it could get to that spot where we could go to pressure . . . where we won’t have a choice, and we are probably getting there.”

Among the alternative strategies under discussion are using drugs or pressure tactics, such as those employed occasionally by Israeli interrogators, to extract information. Another idea is extraditing the suspects to allied countries where security services sometimes employ threats to family members or resort to torture.

Not only is torture and coercion completely barbaric, but the quality of information obtained through these means has a very high chance of being tainted. The history of law enforcement is full of cases where people confess to crimes that they did not even commit after grueling interrogation sessions that did not involve torture. Adding in violence and threats to the mix just make it more likely that the subjects of interrogation will simply tell you whatever they think you want to hear in order to get out of the hot seat.