On May 19th, in an event sponsored by the Center on Rights Development and co-hosted by Professor Claude d'Estree, Professor Darius Rejali spoke on "Torture and Democracy: What Now?"
Professor Rejali lectured widely on the use of torture as a method of gathering intelligence of questionable value. Mentioning the society and institutional cost of torture by saying, "torture is not costless," Rejali also mentioned how the use of torture produces many false positives in interrogations, resulting in "thousands of errors" which investigators are forced to pursue at the risk of missing valid pieces of information. Rejali specifically refuted the use of torture in the "ticking time bomb scenario" as popularized by shows like"24."
Rejali spent time discussing the gruesome details of various types of torture and the impact of torture not only on the individuals being tortured, but on those delivering the torture. Rejali emphasized repeatedly that torture has a "corrosive" effect on morale as well as on institutional cohesiveness.
Torture is a controversial topic and one which is explored in-depth in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies class, "Topics in International Law: Torture" taught by the co-host of the night's event, Claude d'Estree. But in the midst of the ongoing discussion over torture Professor Rejali was able to clearly illuminate the inhumanity of using torture in any form, as well as to discuss the threats to a democratic society involved in its use.
Darius Rejali, professor of political science at Reed College, is a nationally recognized expert on government torture and interrogation. Iranian-born, Rejali has spent his scholarly career reflecting on violence, and, specifically, reflecting on the causes, consequences, and meaning of modern torture in our world. His work spans concerns in political science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, and critical social theory.
Shane Hensinger, MA candidate in International Security
Josef Korbel School of International Studies