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John Yoo blogging

Jonathan Falk sends along this gem:

Judicial Torture as a Screening Device

Kong-Pin Chen / Tsung-Sheng Tsai

Judicial torture to extract information or to elicit a confession was a common practice in pre-modern societies, both in the east and the west. This paper proposes a positive theory for judicial torture. It is shown that torture reflects the magistrate’s attempt to balance type I and type II errors in the decision-making, by forcing the guilty to confess with a higher probability than the innocent, and thereby decreases the type I error at the cost of the type II error. Moreover, there is a non-monotonic relationship between the superiority of torture and the informativeness of investigation: when investigation is relatively uninformative, an improvement in technology used in the investigation actually lends an advantage to torture so that torture is even more attractive to the magistrates; however, when technological progress reaches a certain threshold, the advantage of torture is weakened, so that a judicial system based on torture becomes inferior to one based on evidence. This result can explain the historical development of the judicial system.

Sample bit:

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.52.24 PM

And, get this:

The insight that resources need to be invested in order to overcome informational barriers is a common theme in the theoretical economics literature. . . . There is surprisingly scant formal modeling of torture.

Thinking the unthinkable, indeed. This article was published by the Berkeley Electronic Journal of Theoretical Economics. And yoo know who teaches at Berkeley:

I can only assume he was one of the referees and that he vetted the paper for realism.

52 Comments

  1. Shravan says:

    This was misclassified under Economics and Political Science, I think you meant to classify it under Zombies.

  2. David says:

    Seems like the authors missed the question: if you have the option to torture, can you ever credibly commit not to torture?
    E.g., http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/baliga/htm/torture.pdf

  3. David Lentini says:

    This is just sick. I thought I’d only see something like this in Nazi German academic research. Berkeley has sunk very low.

    • The authors aren’t from Berkeley, and it looks like the journal no longer has any connection to Berkeley: http://burkeyacademy.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-death-of-berkeley-electronic-press.html

      • Andrew says:

        Raghuveer:

        The Berkeley electronic journals were actually created by a friend of mine. I even published a paper in one of them, back in the day. They had what seemed to be a good organizational model. Back around 2000 when the journals were being started, nobody was thinking about post-publication review, but in retrospect those journals could be thought of as taking a useful step in that direction.

        It’s really too bad that their original business model didn’t work out, and now they’ve just become one more crappy series of paywalled journals. I went to their website and saw this: “In 2011, bepress chose to exit the commercial subscription-based journal business in order to focus all of our energies on our open access services; this meant selling the 60+ bepress journals which we had published for the last decade.” I’m thinking that the mistake was to have 60+ journals in the first place. How can you possibly keep track of all of that. Maybe they should’ve just capped their number of journals at 10, and then it could all have worked out, I dunno.

        • Interesting; publishing really is a giant mess (as is noted often on this blog). I wonder if your friend would be interested in writing a guest blog post?

          • Andrew says:

            Raghuveer:

            I can ask, but I’m guessing this is just an unpleasant experience he’d like to put behind him.

          • Rahul says:

            Publishing as an industry is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Kinda like the brick & mortar travel agency.

            Latex etc. automated scientific typesetting. The internet took care of dissemination. Arxiv etc. provide more eyeballs than most Journals. Blogs provide better critiquing functions than peer review.

            If citation counts weren’t the currency of academic careers traditional publishing would die an even faster death.

      • David Lentini says:

        Thanks for clarifying. But Yoo is at Berkeley and that’s more than enough to make one sick.

    • Rick says:

      Like most large universities, the nature of Berkeley varies widely from department to department.

    • Rahul says:

      Why is it sick? Are their methods / assumptions outrageously wrong? (I don’t understand the technicalities)

      Or, are we saying it is plain wrong to even attempt to study torture? Or we saying that any conclusion that may seem to justify torture is axiomatically wrong?

      I still would never recommend torture but does the mere fact that someone wanted to study it make it “sick”. Now, it’s a totally different issue if we are saying “Bah, what naive / bogus methods or what crappy logic or how unreasonable assumptions”. That’d be interesting to hear.

      • David Lentini says:

        Torture is not some physical phenomenon that can be studied in some sort of detached, morally objective way. Torture refers to a generic set of actions that are intended to cause pain and fear. These are inherently immoral actions. You cannot separate the morality of torture from the actions. So, the idea that torture can be somehow reduced to an amoral econometric model is indeed indicative of a lack of humanity so profound as to be sick.

        How do feel about the human experiments done by the Nazis and Japanese during the Second World War? How do you feel about the Tuskegee experiments and eugenics programs in this country? Are they legitimate subjects of study so long as they avoid your “naive / bogus methods or what crappy logic or how unreasonable assumptions”?

        • Rahul says:

          Actual people were harmed, nay killed by the Nazi experiments. Or Tuskegee. Isn’t that a HUGE difference?

          • David Lentini says:

            But that all was justified by theoretical “scientific” and “moral” arguments to justify the heinous experiments beforehand. The experiments were justified by arguments like these that dehumanized people, thereby creating a moral exception. I hope you’ll consider reading Steven J. Gould’s book The Mismeasure of Man and Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak, both of which describe the misuse of science to justify evil.

            • Rahul says:

              Oh, absolutely science gets misused to justify evil. But the solution lies in refuting such arguments by other arguments. Not to just dismiss papers as “sick”.

              One could present an argument why the models by Chen and Tsai are wrong. Or even argue that their narrow model is right but *yet* torture is abhorrent on other more important grounds.

              But to just dismiss something as “sick” or to declare an issue as axiomatically abhorrent to evem discussion seems unscientific to me.

              • David Lentini says:

                I disagree. Actions have moral aspects that can’t be modeled by science or judged by some sort of “scientific” standard. In a sense, science is simply inadequate to “examine” or argue about subjects like torture precisely because it lacks any capacity for moral evaluation.

                Both the Nazis and Soviets created just the sort of amoral (really anti-moral) society you seem to be defending. And they were the cruelest and most bloody cultures in history. Are those really places you’d want to live?

                You really aren’t even arguing for science as much as a belief in scientism. Not understanding where real science ends and reality begins is a very dangerous utopianism.

              • Rahul says:

                @David:

                That’s not at all what I am saying. Of course, we need morality.

                It’s perfectly fine to say “On pragmatic grounds torture may be justified but we still will not do it because it is morally wrong” Now that’s a perfectly good argument. It’s my own position on torture too (in most circumstances) .

                What’s wrong is to call someone “sick”, merely for daring to even study torture.

  4. Delum says:

    The concept & mechanism of Judicial-Torture fits neatly into the “Legal-Positivism” framework of jurisprudence– which dominates the modern day U.S. Government.

    Positive-Law is simply pragmatic man-made law by ruler(s), as opposed to law based upon historical/societal norms, morality, natural law, international law, etc.

    Positive law consists of those imperial commands imposed by a sovereign (or its agents)
    The “sovereign” is defined as an independent person(s) who receives habitual obedience from the bulk of the population.

  5. Shea Levy says:

    I haven’t read the paper, so maybe this is clearer there, but it’s not obvious to me that a formal model of the effects of torture that shows some positive aspects is inherently ridiculous. Does the paper advocate torture, or something? Or, can you explain more clearly why this is so silly?

    • I have no idea but just mentioning Yoo ruins my day and the inane assumptions embedded in that abstract/paper fragment are not helping.

    • Phil says:

      Yeah, I don’t get it either. Torture has been around for a long time and is unlikely to stop anytime soon. If nothing else, on purely pragmatic grounds it seems like a good thing to study mathematically (as opposed to experimentally).

      On a tangentially related note, I always feel uneasy when people say things like “We shouldn’t torture. For one thing, torture doesn’t work because the subject will tell you anything to get you to stop, whether it’s true or not.” It seems to me that it’s risky to base one’s objections on the grounds that torture doesn’t work, because, hey, what if we find a way to do it that does work, that would be OK, right? And also, OK, I’m sure torture doesn’t _always_ work but surely it works sometimes, and maybe that’s all we need? Etc. If you have moral objections to torture then you should argue on moral grounds, not pragmatic ones.

      Anyway, to get back on topic, I don’t see what’s wrong with this sort of modeling of torture, any more than I think there’s something wrong with looking at, say, “mutually assured destruction” using game theory.

      • Rick says:

        People are going to argue that torture _works_ and that if your only objection is on moral grounds, then you’re guilty of being “squeamish”. Also, it’s a sign of “strength” to be “willing to torture”.

        The problem with these arguments needs to be addressed, and part of the counter-argument is that their advocates are just full of it. Torture is reliable at producing confessions, but there is no guarantee to the veracity of any information thus yielded. Indeed, there are many examples of people saying things under torture that are later proven to be simply false.

        Another argument against torture is that it coarsens the people practicing it, allowing them to dehumanize their victims to the point where violence becomes not a necessary tool, but rather an enjoyable act. I’m pretty sure there is good historical evidence supporting this thesis. (By which I mean I’ve read about this but don’t remember where.) One need only look at Abu Ghraib to see how this affected Americans in the recent past.

        • Phil says:

          Suppose I found a reliable way to determine whether the information extracted by torture was true or not. This isn’t all that far-fetched: different parts of the brain are involved in fabrication than in truth-telling, so torturing someone while giving them a PET scan could be informative. If this works, or some other similar system works, then would torture be OK? (Or, what if I acknowledge that there’s no _guarantee_ of the veracity of the information I get, but if it’s right 10% of the time that’s good enough for me.) If your objection to torture is purely pragmatic then the answer is “yes, if you can find a way to obtain accurate information often enough to be worthwhile to you, then torture is fine.” If your objection is moral then the answer is “no, torture is not acceptable even if it works ‘often enough.'”

          At the moment, you can have moral objections but still use a pragmatic argument. But that route seems risky to me because you might have to switch to a moral argument at pretty much any time.

      • Chris G says:

        Modeling torture is wrong on moral grounds. It’s aiding and abetting barbarism.

        A significant difference between MAD and torture is the underlying power dynamic. With MAD there is a balance of power between peers. With torture you have one party with total dominance over the other using that power mismatch to extort concessions.

        • Andrew McDowell says:

          Modelling X is not the same as supporting X, whether X is capitalism, communism, AIDS, or torture. We have a responsibility to be aware of the consequences of our actions, whether those actions are to spend money on education, to defend ourselves, or to torture somebody, and that includes modelling the consequences of those actions. Why should I trust advice not to torture from somebody who states openly that they refuse to consider all aspects of the problem?

          My personal position is that I find torture repellent, so it is very convenient that it can be attacked as inefficient. If it was proved efficient I would have to consider my position in the light of moral arguments such as consequentialism and the principle of double effect. If torture was only marginally efficient I could argue that not torturing has other benefits to our self respect, to our reputation, and to the treatment of our citizens when they fall under the control of others. If it was efficient we might have to concede that it should be used in some limited circumstances, and the fact that we could be persuaded by evidence, if it existed, demonstrates that in advising against torture we are making a reasoned judgement which can be communicated to others, and not just showing a whim of steel.

          • Moreno Klaus says:

            Given the context, Bush Admnistration 2002- onwards, i think Chris G is right. I mean, this was not just a theoretical exercise, this guy was basically trying to find something to justify the use of torture, at the service of the Bush Admnistration.

          • Chris G says:

            > Modelling X is not the same as supporting X, whether X is capitalism, communism, AIDS, or torture.

            I don’t accept the grouping. Capitalism and communism are – for lack of a better term at the moment – decentralized phenomena. AIDS is a disease. Modeling capitalism, communism, or AIDS does not involve let alone require capturing the specific intent of one individual towards another. In contrast, torture is something one person does to another. We can reject torture on moral grounds alone and we can answer the question of whether it is or isn’t a good idea for one person to knowingly give another AIDS without a social scientific investigation.

            > We have a responsibility to be aware of the consequences of our actions, whether those actions are to spend money on education, to defend ourselves, or to torture somebody, and that includes modelling the consequences of those actions. Why should I trust advice not to torture from somebody who states openly that they refuse to consider all aspects of the problem?

            I disagree. The first question to ask is “Is [Activity X] sociopathic or otherwise immoral?” If it is immoral then you’re done. No need to investigate further. In fact, pursuing an investigation under the auspices of good social science is a dubious undertaking.

            > If it was efficient we might have to concede that it should be used in some limited circumstances…

            No. We absolutely would not.

            > … and the fact that we could be persuaded by evidence, if it existed, demonstrates that in advising against torture we are making a reasoned judgement which can be communicated to others, and not just showing a whim of steel.

            Social science serves a useful purpose and can provide societal benefit but I reject any suggestion that it trumps all other “unscientific” considerations.

            • Rahul says:

              @Chris G:

              > If it was efficient we might have to concede that it should be used in some limited circumstances…
              >>No. We absolutely would not.

              What about the cliched hypotheticals where a terrorist holds a bomb that will blow up 100,000 school kids? If you were president and the choice was torture of the variety that wouldn’t cause long term physical harm would you still say “No”? What about 1 Million kids?

              All I’m saying that an “Absolute NO” sounds too strong. I think we are not being realistic if we believe that we could successfully run such a policy and credibly stick to it in stressful situations.

              • Chris G says:

                > What about the cliched hypotheticals where a terrorist holds a bomb that will blow up 100,000 school kids?

                Yeah, the “What about torture conducted in good faith?” line of argument. (Or, more charitably, what about torture in self-defense?) I say keep all torture illegal. If a law enforcement officer decides to torture a suspect to obtain critical information and he guesses right then I figure he’ll be acquitted at trial or pardoned by the powers that be. If he guesses wrong then he spends the rest of their natural life in prison. Bottom line: Making provisions for acceptable torture is a terrible idea.

              • Rahul says:

                @Chris G

                Yes, but that’s just shirking responsibility: You want the lone cop to risk an ad hoc decision to torture, but are not willing to study the problem in advance just because you find it abhorrent.

                So, to enjoy the fruits of torture is OK (i.e. schoolkids in peril saved); but having a considered policy on when torture may be justified is not OK?

                It’s just burying our heads in the sand. We know that in extreme circumstances we will condone torture. But just not having any discussion of that makes it better?

            • Chris G says:

              @Rahul:

              > You want the lone cop to risk an ad hoc decision to torture…

              I don’t want them to do it but I recognize it as a possibility.

              > … but are not willing to study the problem in advance just because you find it abhorrent.

              Correct.

              > So, to enjoy the fruits of torture is OK (i.e. schoolkids in peril saved); but having a considered policy on when torture may be justified is not OK?

              Correct. Well, it’s not “okay” but ends justifying the means/exception proving the rule might pass muster.

              > It’s just burying our heads in the sand. We know that in extreme circumstances we will condone torture. But just not having any discussion of that makes it better?

              Correct. Again, you might be to get away with arguing that the ends justify the means but you don’t legislate to accommodate those kind of exceptions.

              • Rahul says:

                @Chris

                It’s a huge jump from “modeling” to “legislating”, isn’t it? No, I’m not at all saying we need a law on the books: “It’s ok to torture if, x, y, z”. That’s what judicial & prosecutorial discretion is for. You could even devolve the function to the executive.

                The point is, all of these options are going to work hugely better if we have the framework to guide them in making the extremely difficult decision.

                And hence, allowing academic discussion and analysis of torture make sense. If we stifle that discussion by labeling it “sick”, I’m not sure how that helps.

              • Andrew says:

                Chris, Rahul:

                To jump in here for a second . . . I don’t think that it’s “sick” to study torture or even to consider situations where it might be considered acceptable. Indeed, as a social scientist, given that many Americans approve of torture, I think this is a perfectly reasonable topic to study.

                But there seemed to me to be something creepy about the paper in question, in that it doesn’t just study torture, it “normalizes” it. Phrases such as “a non-monotonic relationship between the superiority of torture and the informativeness of investigation” and the associated mathematics . . . it just feels like they’re implying that torture is just one more policy choice. And I find it creepy. But that’s just my view on it. It’s not that I think people shouldn’t be allowed to publish such a paper, I just don’t like how it’s framed, also as a quantitative social scientist I find the particular arguments unconvincing and I feel they add nothing to our understanding of the problem.

                Just by comparison, consider research that’s assessed the historical effectiveness of assassinations. For example, the killing of Yitzhak Rabin is a famous case where the assassination seems to have advanced the assassin’s policy goals. This is horrible but it’s worth studying, even if such research could in some way encourage people to commit terrorism. Similarly there is research on how crime can pay, for example companies can illegally pollute or fire union organizers, secure in the understanding that their expected cost and probability of being caught and prosecuted is lower than their expected benefit from the illegal actions. All this sort of research can be valuable in that it helps us understand our political process, flaws and all.

                Similarly, it makes sense to me to consider how policymakers might want to torture people, how it can get them what they want so that they’re willing to pay the moral cost. But if you’re going to be a hard-headed realist and model torture, you should really be a hard-headed realist and recognize torturers’ actual goals, which include looking tough, getting confessions without regard to their truth, etc. One thing that seems offensive about the paper by Chen and Tsai is that seems to accept without question the idea that the magistrate has pure goals, simply to “balance type I and type II errors in the decision-making.” The historical evidence seems to suggest that people who are willing to torture are not just doing it to balance errors; indeed often it seems to go the other way, that once someone is in custody they want to say he’s guilty, whether he is or not.

              • Rahul says:

                @Andrew

                Thanks. For a start, now we are actually addressing *why* the paper in question is flawed. That’s great.

              • Shea Levy says:

                Andrew: Thanks! That basically completely addresses my confusion.

              • Chris G says:

                Andrew and Rahul:

                Apologies in advance that I’m not going to respond with the depth that the issue merits. That stated, some brief responses:

                > Indeed, as a social scientist, given that many Americans approve of torture, I think this is a perfectly reasonable topic to study.

                That many Americans approve of torture does not justify making it the subject of social scientific study. Civilized human beings don’t torture. There is no need to study its effectiveness. No constructive purpose will be served by studying it. (If it’s ineffective that reinforces that you don’t do it. If it is effective then you still don’t do it.) It would be far more beneficial to study those who believe that torture is acceptable.

                > But there seemed to me to be something creepy about the paper in question, in that it doesn’t just study torture, it “normalizes” it.

                Yes. The wrapper is scientific but the language hints at underlying malevolence. It’s the sort of language one uses as part of a rhetorically creative justification/rationalization for doing something awful.

                > It’s not that I think people shouldn’t be allowed to publish such a paper, I just don’t like how it’s framed, also as a quantitative social scientist I find the particular arguments unconvincing and I feel they add nothing to our understanding of the problem.

                Fair enough. To me, given the subject matter, whether their arguments are convincing or not is beside the point.

                > Just by comparison, consider research that’s assessed the historical effectiveness of assassinations. For example, the killing of Yitzhak Rabin is a famous case where the assassination seems to have advanced the assassin’s policy goals. This is horrible but it’s worth studying, even if such research could in some way encourage people to commit terrorism.

                I’m not sold that’s worth studying. What do you learn that makes the study a net benefit? (Not a rhetorical question. Thinking out loud for a moment…) Assassination is murder and anti-democratic. We don’t need social scientific studies to tell us those things. It could be instructive to see how damaging assassination is to democracies or what the long term social consequences are. That might suggest how important it is to prevent it. The torture paper doesn’t go in that direction though. It’s talking about utility. No doubt there’s utility in assassination – anecdotally, more utility than there is to torture – but in a civilized society that’s beside the point. You don’t murder people. Studying the consequences of murder on victims families and the community may impress upon us how bad murder is but there’s no need for formal investigation and documentation to make the case. Resources are finite. If you’re going to go to the trouble of a formal investigation of something then put your resources towards a problem where the answer to the question is indeterminate.

                A thought: To what extent has research on the historical effectiveness of assassinations played a role in extra-judicial killings by drone in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and vicinity? It’s different from the above in that the assassinations are not of political leaders in democracies – it’s maybe not even right to call them assassinations – but I’d be curious to know if social science informs policy there. FWIW, back during the Gulf War the Iraqi military was extremely hierarchical. Nothing happened unless the officer in charge ordered it to be done. By identifying and killing the officer in charge of a battalion, the US could pretty much get the battalion to lay down their arms immediately. It was a case where “assassination” probably saved a lot of lives.

                > Similarly there is research on how crime can pay, for example companies can illegally pollute or fire union organizers, secure in the understanding that their expected cost and probability of being caught and prosecuted is lower than their expected benefit from the illegal actions. All this sort of research can be valuable in that it helps us understand our political process, flaws and all.

                Here I’m on board. The studies help us root out malfeasance. That’s a strong positive. Weigh the negatives against the positives but I’m inclined to think the positives win out by a large margin. That stated, I’m not seeing intent to root out malfeasance from Chen and Tsai.

                > Similarly, it makes sense to me to consider how policymakers might want to torture people, how it can get them what they want so that they’re willing to pay the moral cost.

                If we have policymakers willing to pay the moral cost of torture then we have a serious problem. We don’t need to consider how they might want to torture people. We need to act to remove them from positions of authority.

                > But if you’re going to be a hard-headed realist and model torture, you should really be a hard-headed realist and recognize torturers’ actual goals, which include looking tough, getting confessions without regard to their truth, etc.

                Again, why should anyone engage in that? What good could possibly come of it? It is beneficial to understand the origins of sociopathic behavior for the purpose of preventing it – eliminating as much of the root cause as possible and identifying potential interventions. Does recognizing the torturers’ actual goals help with that?

                > One thing that seems offensive about the paper by Chen and Tsai is that seems to accept without question the idea that the magistrate has pure goals, simply to “balance type I and type II errors in the decision-making.” The historical evidence seems to suggest that people who are willing to torture are not just doing it to balance errors; indeed often it seems to go the other way, that once someone is in custody they want to say he’s guilty, whether he is or not.

                Agreed.

  6. Wonks Anonymous says:

    I know David Friedman has written about the logic of torture in ancient Roman law. So it’s not that unprecedented.

  7. Paul Alper says:

    Torture may not be as American as Apple Pie but here is a link to MICHIKO KAKUTANI’s NYT April 4, 2016 review of Eric Fair’s book, “Consequence,” about Abu Graib:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/books/review-eric-fairs-consequence-a-memoir-by-a-former-abu-ghraib-interrogator.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=mini-moth&region=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below

    “Consequence,” writes Kakutani “is at once an agonized confession of his [Fair’s] own complicity as an interrogator at Abu Ghraib and an indictment of the system that enabled and tried to justify torture.”

    “We tortured people the right way,” he [Fair] writes, “following the right procedures, and used the approved techniques.

    If you are interested in becoming nauseous, read about the “Palestinian Chair.” Note that April 5th was Colin Powell’s 79th birthday.

  8. Paul Alper says:

    Andrew used the phrase, “Thinking the unthinkable”; this may not resonate to the younger participants of this blog who are not familiar with the casually sanguine Herman Kahn, the author of “Thinking About the Unthinkable”(1962). Consequently, we have from

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Kahn

    “Kahn rested his [unthinkable] theory upon two premises, one obvious, one highly controversial. First, nuclear war was obviously feasible, since the United States and the Soviet Union currently had massive nuclear arsenals aimed at each other. Second, like any other war, it was winnable.”

    “Due to his willingness to articulate the most brutal possibilities, Kahn came to be disliked by some, although he was known as amiable in private, especially around children.”

    I have no idea how amiable John Yoo is when it comes to children.

  9. Paul Alper says:

    Sarah Palin in 2014:

    “Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

    From the Huffington Post back in 2009 when Keith Olbermann was on MSNBC, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/24/olbermann-on-mancow-water_n_207161.html

    “MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has pledged that if Sean Hannity submits to waterboarding, he would donate significant funds to a charity of the Fox News host’s choice. Hannity, who himself suggested the torture-for-a-cause, has yet to respond. Now he’s off the hook. Last week, conservative disc jockey Erich ‘Mancow’ Muller underwent waterboarding with no incentive other than his belief that the procedure wasn’t torture. (He [Muller] came out convinced that it ‘absolutely’ was.)”

    Olbermann has moved on to activities unknown. Hannity, however, remains on radio and TV. He maintains the euphemism, “enhanced interrogation” but still refuses to undergo personal waterboarding as evidenced by his 2013 response, http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/01/31/1518741/sean-hannity-waterboard/:

    “I’m not getting into your five-year-old issue.”

  10. gdanning says:

    Aren’t we jumping to conclusions here? According to an earlier version of the paper (available here http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1410598) “The model serves two purposes. First, it explains why under a certain environment a system based on torture might become a prevailing judicial system. . . . The second purpose of our theoretical model is to apply the theory to explain the historical development of the judicial system. Since the advantage of torture is weakened when the information revealed during investigation improves, a system based solely on evidence will overtake torture as a better system when technological progress reached a certain threshold.”

    Why that merits a comparison to John Yoo, etc, etc, is not immediately apparent. And, as the authors note, historically, “, torture was explicitly applied not only to the suspect, but also to the witness, and even to the plaintiff.” Not quite what was happening at Abu Ghraib

  11. jrc says:

    Perhaps it wasn’t Yoo who refereed it: Psychologist Whose Lawyers Say He Didn’t Design CIA Torture Program Wrote A Book Bragging That He Did

    “Though Mitchell had no formal experience as an interrogator before working with the CIA, his interest in the process dates back years.

    When Air Force Reserve Col. Steven Kleinman, a veteran military interrogator who is now retired, first met Mitchell …Mitchell drew a diagram of what psychologists call the learned helplessness cycle and said, “This is the only way to get people to talk,” Kleinman recalled to HuffPost.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cia-torture-program-psychologist-book_us_57226af8e4b0f309baf04616

    This is just in case you need to add any more people to your F*** Yoo list.

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