Thursday, August 17, 2006

why the anti-torture law was stupid

There was a big debate not long ago about the legislation eventually passed by the Congress of the US banning the use of torture against anyone by any government employee. It further banned handing our bad guys over to people who have no such qualms. There are/were really two reasons why this legislation was a bad idea. Many people only heard about one of them. I will present the other first and the common one heard on the floor of Congress second.

Reason 1: While it is, and has been for a long time, the explicit policy of the US government not to use torture in interrogation many of the bad guys either
  • don't know that
  • don't believe that
  • believe that the "boots on the ground" ignore the policy and aren't punished
This can be quite useful for an interrogator.

Is the direct or implied threat of torture really torture? It certainly isn't if the bad guy is utterly convinced that the threat isn't real.

Different rational people argue about the usefulness of this tactic or its morality. I think it is impossible today to rationally argue about the second reason this was a bad idea.

Reason 2: There are cases where most sane people believe torture is justified. This is generally referred to as the "ticking bomb" scenario. The left, and I include John McCain in this group, scoffed this argument off as a "theoretical" scenario that they were quite certain had rarely if ever happened in all of human history.

Well, that "very rare if ever" scenario came up last week. From this Guardian article (HT: Powerline):
Reports from Pakistan suggest that much of the intelligence that led to the raids came from that country and that some of it may have been obtained in ways entirely unacceptable here. In particular Rashid Rauf, a British citizen said to be a prime source of information leading to last week's arrests, has been held without access to full consular or legal assistance. Disturbing reports in Pakistani papers that he had "broken" under interrogation have been echoed by local human rights bodies. The Guardian has quoted one, Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who has no doubt about the meaning of broken. "I don't deduce, I know - torture," she said. "There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all."
So, we all now know that there wasn't one ticking bomb but several of them. The claim is that the Pakistani government had a guy they knew, or at least strongly believed, had information that would lead to those bombs and they tortured him to get that information. And it worked! We live in a world where there are bad people intending to do great harm to us.

There will be a next "ticking bomb". What happens if the next time the guy with the information is caught by a New York beat cop instead of a Pakistani soldier? The left in this country refused to put an exemption in our wonderful new law to allow that scumbag to be tortured to get the information that, in this case, would lead to the saving of thousands of innocent lives. So the cop and his superiors have two choices. They can obey the law and let thousands die or they can torture the guy, save lives, then lock themselves in the jail cell next to him.

The same liberals who told us all that this "ticking bomb" scenario would never happen also assured us that if it did the torturer would never be put in jail. If I am not mistaken these are also the same folks that tell us that judges must inform jurors, incorrectly, that they must accept the judges instructions on the law and if the defendant broke the law as it is explained by the judge they must find him guilty. While I truly believe that the US system of justice is at least one of the best in the world, would you want to trust that some liberal DA wouldn't file charges against you and some liberal judge wouldn't allow that DA to stack a jury of Human Rights Commission members against you?

How about a jury stacked with antique media journalists? You don't think the journalists would convict a cop who saved thousands of lives? Read this last part of the same article:
But none of this stops governments acquiescing in torture to acquire information, rather than secure convictions, as British as well as American practice has shown. It has been outsourced to less squeamish countries and denied through redefinition: but it is still torture and still illegal. The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan has provided disturbing evidence of the uneasy boundary between benefiting from torture and encouraging it; so did the Council of Europe's report on rendition in June. The defence, to the extent that anything other than evasion has been offered, is no better than the one provided by Colonel Mathieu in Algiers: it works. But does it? Torture and other illegality can offer authorities a short-term seduction, perhaps even temporary successes. Information provided by torture may have helped foil the alleged airliners plot. But evidence provided uder torture is often unreliable, sometimes disastrously so - and its use always pollutes the broader credentials of torturers and their allies. This battle must be won within the law. Anything else is not just a form of defeat but will in the end fuel the flames of the terror it aims to overcome.
In the liberal mind because torture is generally bad it is always bad. There can be no exemptions or we wind up going down that "slippery slope" that our cops will begin to stretch the interpretation of the "ticking bomb" scenario to the point that they are torturing the neighborhood subway tagger.

I, for one, am glad they caught the bastard in Pakistan instead of New York or London. While I believe that the Pakistanis use torture as a general rule and not an exception, and I find that appauling, these 20+ guys were not deserving of the dignity of humanity and I applaud the use of torture to stop them.

It is a war folks.

War is ugly.

If you don't fight to win you lose.


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