Sebastian Holsclaw at ObWi responds to Pattterico’s torture hypothetical (that many of you brought up in the comments) here and here. The most important part, of course, is precisely what I have stated over and over until I am blue in the face:
Let me say that again. Bush’s administration has tortured men who were factually innocent.
Not men who got off on technicalities. Factually Innocent.
Your hypothetical demands that the government be CERTAIN of the following things:
This man is who we think he is.
This man knows what we think he knows.
No non-torture technique will work.
Patterico, you work with the government. You know for a fact that it gets things wrong all the time. Even when we go through the huge and complicated process of a trial, it gets things wrong. And we aren’t talking anything like a trial here. In reality, we are talking about torturing *suspects*. That is not a power to be given to the government.
Your hypothetical doesn’t speak to the question of what the policy of our government ought to be, because no important part of the hypothetical actually has anything to do with the empirical reality of governmental torture. You pride yourself at not being distracted by stated intentions which have bad consequences in areas like rent control, housing policy, and education policy. Don’t let Bush wave the national security flag and make you forget everything you know about how the government actually operates.
Following Patterico’s lead, I have my own hypothetical:
If a right wing blogger is about to write another stupid post attempting to justify the use of torture, would it be ok for me to run over and kick them in the junk, rendering them unable to blog?