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Truth Without Torture: Churchill and the Tin Eye

April 25, 2009

Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic tells the story of Britain’s interrogation of German spies at the height of WWII. Even with the pressure of a war raging outside their doors, the British didn’t resort to torture. Why?

[The lead interrogator, who had one tin eye,] did not eschew torture out of mercy. This was no squishy liberal: the eye was made of tin, and the rest of him out of tungsten. (Indeed, he was disappointed that only 16 spies were executed during the war.) His motives were strictly practical. “Never strike a man. It is unintelligent, for the spy will give an answer to please, an answer to escape punishment. And having given a false answer, all else depends upon the false premise.”…

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