My sense is not that water boarding is ineffective, but that it is inhumane—cruel and unusual punishment. We are appalled to hear stories of how citizens of our country are being treated in other countries, but then we do the same thing, and it makes us just as bad as those we censure in other places. Of course, as also mentioned, like all torture, information obtained can be unreliable.
Mankind has discovered over thousands of years how to break the body and the spirit for religious and/or political reasons. There is a point—when excessive force is used—that some other kind of practice, one that is more humane, needs to be found. Water boarding is inappropriate. And its effectiveness is not in question—just its use.
The main argument against torture is that a person being tortured will say anything. You have no way of knowing if it is true or not. People will make things up to stop the pain. This can waste valuable time, as you chase down false lead after false lead.
Is it ineffective? Many would agree that torture and/or threat of torture does get the tongues wagging. The issue is whether or not the information provided is accurate or simply made up in the face of imminent danger to one's immediate person. No one likes pain, although many are trained to suffer through it without speaking or giving away pertinent information.
John McCain spoke out again last week on this subject, making his assessment of waterboarding very clear: It is torture, it is ineffective since the "intelligence" it produces cannot be considered reliable, and it is absolutely counter to the kind of people we are--or at least have always been. He spoke on the floor of the Senate, and since he is the only U.S. Senator to have withstood torture, for years, surely his judgment carries more weight than that of others, in the Senate or elsewhere in the government.
I tend to side with the FBI, the national law enforcement organization that has developed interrogation methods over long periods of time, discovering that non-violent, non-threatening methods tend to yield more information and more accurate information.
When waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" (we're not the first government to smooth something horrible with less offensive sounding language) were being regularly practiced at Guantanamo, the FBI withdrew their agents from the program in protest.
Simulated drowning puts stress on the nervous system, the brain and the heart and lungs. Incidentally, a cattle prod does something very similar. Do enough of either to me, and I suspect I would tell you my own mother is al-Qaeda.
As the posters in #2 and #4 have said, waterboarding is a hot button issue with passionate people on both sides weighing in.
Those who believe it IS effective say that since the fear of drowning is a strong one,
(See article: http://easyfreetips.com/drowning/read_this_article_if_you_have_a_fear_of_drowning.html)
that people will give up valuable intellligence information in order not to be dunked again and face the risk of death by water. Supporters also believe that this "advanced interrogation technique" may be the only way to save innocent American lives by giving the CIA information that leads to the heads of terrorist organizations so they can be taken out before they kill more of our citizens. Even Obama's CIA chief, Leon Panetta has admitted publically that waterboarding contributed to information that lead the military to Osamba Bin Laden. (See article at link below):
Those who believe it is NOT effective think that to get out of facing another dunking, victims will give up false information so it will stop. Anti-waterboarding people also believe the technique is inhumane and takes the US down to the level of the terrorists they are trying to catch. (See link below:)
I think the problem with waterboarding and any other such form of torture is precisely that it is so terrible that the temptation is that you will not gain accurate information from people who are waterboarded. Classic examples of this to my mind come from Stalin's Russia, when people would be made to confess whatever crimes simply to bring an end to the torture. If you want to completely break people as humans, then waterboarding could be considered to be effective. If you want a method to gain accurate information, you need to think of other methods.
First, I would point out that not everyone agrees that waterboarding is ineffective. There are many who believe that the answers gained from such interrogation techniques are useful.
Those who disagree argue that people who are put under such duress (that could be called torture) are likely to say whatever they think their interrogators want to hear. To people who believe this, waterboarding is ineffective because it is not likely to elicit truthful answers. Instead, it is likely to cause the person being questioned to come up with whatever sorts of stories they think will end the waterboarding.
There is no scientific evidence one way or the other so there is no way to know which side is correct.