The release of a damning congressional report on CIA torture programs during the "war against terror" from 2002 to 2008 has raised questions about this practice. Why do governments continue to use torture despite evidence that it doesn't work, or provides false confessions?
Revenge, frustration and the desire to impose authority are often more important reasons for why torture policies persist rather than the pursuit of some specific information, according to David Luban, professor of law and philosophy at Georgetown University.
"There are parts of the world where torture is very prevalent," Luban said. "It's not interrogation, it's a terror tool to scare people. If you live where police routinely torture people, it keeps people in line."
That could explain the widespread use of torture in nations where it has been used for decades.
The United States had a secret torture program run by the Central Intelligence Agency and authorized by the White House and Congress to track down agents of the al-Qaida terrorist group and hunt for 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report stated that the intelligence gained through use of "enhanced interrogation," such as waterboarding, "rectal rehydration," and putting prisoners in stressful positions such as being shackled to a wall for long periods while hanging from their arms did not lead to the capture of these targets. CIA officials disagree with the report's conclusions.
Luban said he has spoken with U.S. Army interrogators who say that their superiors believed information gained from torture was important because it justified the use of torture in the first place.
"Once the program is going, since it is at or at near the edge of the law, there is tremendous interest in getting success," Luban said. "These are getting nuggets (of information) and they think they are really important, so they elevate their importance. It becomes a self-perpetuating system. There's an incentive to keep it going."
Luban also says that after the 9-11 attacks, Pentagon officials and members of the Bush administration may have been motivated by emotion and revenge.