The Plank

Daily Affirmation 5/1


Just one today, but it's really good. Charles Krauthammer has a Washington Post column today in defense of torture. No, that's not my daily affirmation. My daily affirmation is for Dan Froomkin's devastating point-by-point takedown, also in the Post, but only online. A sample:

Krauthamer: "The second exception to the no-torture rule is the
extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of
high-value information likely to save lives. This case lacks the
black-and-white clarity of the ticking time bomb scenario. We know less
about the length of the fuse or the nature of the next attack. But we
do know the danger is great."

This of course is a blatant post-facto attempt at rationalizing the
(inevitable) misdiagnosis of the ticking time bomb scenario. Now all of
a sudden the standards are lower. Krauthammer is advocating fishing
expeditions -- with a waterboard.

"Under those circumstances, you do what you have to do."

Krauthammer's core argument then is that the ends justify the means.
He quotes two former CIA officials, both deeply invested in covering
their asses, who unsurprisingly insist that torture worked. But none of
the claims they or others in the complicit chain of command have made
held up under even modest public scrutiny.

And he mocks the idea put forth by President Obama on Wednesday -- and supported by people who actually have experience in interrogation,
rather than in watching TV and fantasizing about being Jack Bauer --
that traditional interrogation techniques are extremely effective.

I suppose that by praising somebody else for writing a takedown, I'm stretching the spirit of the feature here, which is all about trying to be nice. But still -- good point(s), Dan Froomkin!

--Jonathan Chait

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