So, the Anne Garrels' story involving torture seems to have gotten a lot of attention at NPR; today they devoted their entire letters section to it. For those who did not hear it, let me synopsize:
Steve Inskeep "elicited" this chilling statement from Garrels:
"The three Detainees had clearly been tortured, Er, There was blood all over their clothes, they were in such bad shape they couldn't walk, they had to be dragged on to the chairs, and one of them was just sobbing"
Then Inskeep quotes an astute listener:
"Let me get this straight, Anne Garrels is reporting information obtained from a torture victim, speaking in the presence of his torturers, as if it is credible; has NPR sunk that low?"
But before Garrels can respond to that pithy question, Inskeep throws out the red herring that "a lot of listeners" had a "A more specific Question...were you there for the torture?" Garrels, of course, responded in the negative. In an aside, Inskeep says "...this is how reporting has to be done in this most dangerous situation."
Another veracious comment from a listener is read:
"Torture victims will say anything their torturers tell them to, especially when they're still being held by their captors."
What bothered me about this whole exchange, and was already mentioned in Mytwords' post (down the page) and Porter Melmoth's comments (Open Thread, just below) was that Garrels (with Inskeep's shrewd enabling) spent too much time insisting that she did not witness the torture, did not know she was going to see torture victims, and generally proclaiming her opposition to torture, instead of answering the pertinent charge, that she had reported information she knew to be obtained from torture as if it had any credence.
When she finally did get around to it, Her explanation was, as PM said, lame."The details that were given seemed to gel with other things I had heard from people who had not been tortured", and "They described posing as Sunnis, going into a Shi'ite neighborhood, raping a Shi'ite girl. That incident did occur, we were able to confirm that, that was not made up."
Inskeep then fawns " So, you were working almost like a police officer..."(I'll pass on this).
As I understand it, Torture has historically been most often used to get information about "crimes" the interrogators already know about and so, detailed information about the crime is easily taught to the suspect through "interrogation", so he can then convincingly confess to it.
So the fact that actual crimes were confessed to in detail by the victims in no way increases the legitimacy of the information, or excuses Garrels for parroting it... but it's hard for a parrot to do anything else.