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In the Aftermath of the September 11th attacks, the fear of apocalyptic terrorism has caused many Americans and academics worldwide to reexamine previously held beliefs on the morality and suitability of torture as a means of ensuring public safety. While much of the ensuing debate has focused on deontological versus teleological ethics (Kant vs. Bentham), torture can only properly be understood as an empirical system - a means of gathering information. By applying an analytical narrative framework to comparative case studies, I argue that torture must depend on certain conditions that are inherently difficult to satisfy - and that the attempts by various authorities to make use of torture have instead led them inexorably towards a deceptive cycle where bad information corrupts the system. The implication is that torture can paradoxically do more harm to the torturing state even than to the enemy it hopes to combat. The cases under examination include the Salem witch trials in 17th Century New England, the Algerian Revolution both from the standpoint of the French counterinsurgency and the FLN, and the United States during the War on Terror.