Friday, January 18, 2008


Strategypage has a useful post on the issue of torture. The public debate on this has gone beyond reason, with the definition of torture broadened to just about include placing a stale chocolate on the prisoner's pillow.

One, torture will get a prisoner to talk. If the prisoner is someone you know has information, torture works.

Two, what doesn't work is routine torture of people swept up in a broad dragnet. In this case, since everyone will talk and most people being tortured know nothing, they will talk about anything they believe will stop the torture. This does not work.

Three, as a general rule, we should not torture. We are better than that.

Four, torture must be defined and it should not include merely harsh measures of questioning under pressure. While we must have limits to what we do, those limits should not allow our enemies to carry out their plans.

Five, as much as this is revolting, we should accept that there will be rare cases where we need to torture to save a lot of people. It is suicidal to say that even in extreme cases we won't torture to save American lives.

If these factors are part of the debate on torture, it will preserve our safety while preserving our values.

If we forget these issues, the "torture" debate is only a matter of trying to harm our war effort. That is exactly the point for many of the "anti-torture" side.