||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Monday, December 19, 2005
When to use torture
I had been avoiding the great torture debate, except to mention at its outset that I'm against prisoner abuse and that I was really upset when I heard that we weren't preventing our troops from abusing prisoners.
Since then, I've gathered two points: torture works well at brainwashing and torture cannot gather intelligence. I've also decided not to bother with Talmudic distinctions between torture and "coercive interrogation techniques". I'll just use "torture" as a shorthand for all of the stuff we'd like to do to people we don't like, and say that I'm for it if it works. If that makes you like me a little less, then I can live with that.
We could - and should - use torture to over-rule the mental patterns of convicted terrorists. Such creatures are not just criminals, but war criminals, and have already earned the death penalty. If the torture were focused by a professional (think, Clockwork Orange), then I'd have no problem subjecting the terrorist to it. The aim would be to convert him into a person who did not anymore believe that God was urging bloodshed against unbelievers. If it's impossible to do this while keeping him Muslim, as I suspect it is, then he should be converted into a Jew.
Against non-terrorists, or strongly-suspected terrorists who have not been convicted - don't torture them. Don't even look at them crosseyed. Put them in a cozy-ish jail, treat them well, and give them staff psychologists to help them talk. If they are good people, their consciences will prompt them to tell what they know. If they are bad people - well, much as I'd like to raise the likes of Paul Cella up on a cross for a few hours, simple civility demands that we let them go if they've been exonerated for the crime of which they've been accused. They'll screw up eventually.
It wasn't Sullivan's anti-torture postings that shifted me to the anti-Sully camp; his support for Kerry, his support for gay marriage as equal to straight marriage, and his attacks on the present Pope did all that. And it's not McCain's anti-torture statements that make me anti-McCain; it was McCain-Feingold and, uh, McCain-Feingold. But all the above did made it hard to support Sully and McCain when they were, at base, right; and I think that's where Glenn Reynolds is coming from.
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