Strong opinions, weakly held

Do soldiers learn to torture from TV?

One former US soldier says that in the absence of clear guidelines from their superiors, military interrogators looked to TV and movies for ideas on how to get information from prisoners.

For my money, Greg Beato’s piece on TV and movies contributing to police violence is the best there is on this general subject. I quote:

According to the activist group October 22nd, “the number and rate of people killed by law enforcement agents have jumped alarmingly in this new political climate of increased ‘homeland security’ and repressive laws.” The group publishes a book called Stolen Lives and is now working on a third edition of it. In the 2nd edition of the book, it documented “over 2000 cases of people killed by law enforcement agents in the 1990s.” (In contrast, it appears that around 60 to 80 law enforcement officers were deliberately killed in 2002, with a total of 135 duty deaths for the year.)

Go back a hundred years, and there were undoubtedly rogue cops pissing on Indians and raping 12-year-olds then too. But those cops are dead now, so who cares? The relevant issue: why are there so many violent and out-of-control cops today?

I blame Dirty Harry Callahan.

1 Comment

  1. a recent New Yorker piece on the makers of “24” included a snippet in which heads of military training programs asked the producers to change their writing, as it was making it harder and harder for them to teach proper interrogation technique (let alone to convey that torture doesn’t provide reliable information). just let one of the suspects lie under duress, etc. nope.


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