This week Centre College was visited by Darius Rejali, one of the leading experts on torture in the world. In his public lecture, he said that torturers are not chosen for their intelligence, but for their loyalty. One consequence of this fact is that torturers often can't tell when their victims have told them the truth. Their cruelty is for nothing.
In private remarks to another group at the college, Prof. Rejali was talking about the whistleblower at the Abu Ghraib military prison scandal, as well as in some other cases of torture. The whistleblower is usually someone just like the torturers in rank, in class background, in authority at the torture site. What they differ on is their commitment to a higher standard that gives them the courage to say "this is wrong, even if my superior says it isn't." Among Americans, the whistleblower is usually an evangelical Christian.
I think all of us have the capacity of be torturers if we thought it was the only way to protect our loved ones. Scholars like Prof. Rejali can convince our heads that torture does not work to do that, and creates worse harm to society. To move our hearts and guts to say no and stop torture usually requires an additional conviction, from a more spiritual source.