At one time I worked at a scientific journal with a group of editors, many of whom advanced scientific knowledge in ways that could save human lives, but did it by doing horrible things to animals.
None were particularly traumatized about it, but the didn't go out of their way to talk or dwell on it, either.
When there's clear evidence that doing mean things to a few animals may do wonderful things for thousands of humans, there's not much debate over whether or not to go ahead with it.
I can't imagine they went home at night happy about the process, though. The results, maybe, but not the process.
Think how much worse it must be for the FBI and other anti-terrorism investigators who were assigned, volunteered or otherwise were stuck with the teams responsible for squeezing information out of members of insurgent or terrorist groups using "enhanced" interrogation methods that would have been familiar to victims or perpetrators of the Spanish Inquisition.
The FBI is trying to fix that (the part about their methods being Inquisitionative, not the part about torturing prisoners) with a public call for research, inventions and new suggestions that will "advance the science and practice of intelligence interviewing and interrogation."
The call for new ideas for the FBI's the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group comes from the Layer8 blog of Michael Cooney at Network World (a prince of a guy I will now carefully avoid because he evidently hangs out in places information like this is shop talk rather than horror stories).
He lists a set of criteria the FBI laid out for the research, which reads like the combined bucket list of a sleazily manipulative lawyer, psychotic psychologist and stalkers whose whose favorite part of the whole harassment thing is the chance to terrify strangers.
Creepy as it is to see a few specifics on how federal investigators would like to pry open the heads of suspects with methods that may or may not be approved by war-crimes commissions, at least it shows the feds are trying to upgrade their techniques beyond hoods, humiliation and water torture.
Those are all good, solid, traditional tools of the trade, of course – bread and butter to the torturer.
In the 21 st century, though, if federal and military law enforcement won't pay attention to the occasional mention in the Constitution or U.S. laws hinting that torture is a bad thing, however, at least they're looking for techniques that are a little less obviously illegal imprisonment and torture than if they just went on pretending everything they did was legal while pretending to drown interrogation subjects over and over and over.
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.