"... if I were genuinely convinced that the threat was real, that the perpetrator was guilty, and that the method was the only one that would work, then I might well resort to torture.
And then - regardless of whether I was correct in my assumptions - I should go to prison."
A purely hypothetical scenario, but of course. In our real world, the son-in-law of a president who is uncle to the reigning prime minister will never get to see the four walls of a Changi lock-up. Maybe in North Korea, where a blood relative was reported to be fed to the dogs, literally. No prizes for guessing which country boasts about First World Governance.
But there's one important point not to be missed. Men (or women) under torture will confess to anything. Tragically, as the CIA-Inspector General admitted, false information gained from the torture of Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, that al-Qaeda was working with Saddam Hussein, contributed to the war in Iraq. And consequent loss of many young lives.
Professor Jerome A Cohen, who visited Singapore on behalf of Asia Watch, the American human rights organisation, was quoted in the New York Times:
"Given the ISD techniques, any statements from anyone detained used to substantiate the government's charges would be suspect. You can make your witnesses to order if you give them four or five days. They figure with soft people, the intellectuals, it's quicker."
Francis Seow held out as long as he could ("To Catch A Tartar, A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew's Prison", Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 94-060647), but after crafting the self-incriminating statement to script as ordained, had this to add:
"Given the above circumstances, what, then, is the probative value of such a testament, albeit purportedly sanctified by an oath? None. It offends the fundamental canons of the law of every civilised country against the receipt in evidence of statements by any one, let alone detainees, made or given under any inducement, threat, or promise having reference to the charge against him."