‘Western democracies do not engage in torture to gather information’

In between casting aspersions on Michael Ignatieff, that’s what Peter Van Loan told the public safety committee two weeks ago: “Information that has been obtained by torture is not reliable. It should not be relied upon. There is ample understanding in the world that this is the case. That’s why western democracies do not engage in torture to gather information, because it is not reliable. It’s also because it’s a fundamental violation of human rights, but the probative value is limited as well.” 

To that effect, a little over a year ago, Maxime Bernier ordered that mention of the United States be removed from a Foreign Affairs manual that cautioned diplomats about countries that were known to have engaged in torture. “I regret the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department’s torture awareness training,” Bernier said. “It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten.”

Unfortunately, here is the latest round of Bush-era torture memos, a carefully laid out explanation of what the previous American administration said could be done to detainees under the guise of information gathering.

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