Contra Murdock

One simple assertion by National Review's Deroy Murdock in viewing waterboarding as a source of pride for the United States is that several specific plots to kill Americans were foiled as a result of it. But we have no firm evidence of this, except the words of those who authorized the torture. We cannot know for sure, of course, because so much is classified. And the nuances of what was learned through good intelligence gathering and decent interrogation, what was discovered through torture and what specifically was prevented as a result require the closest of examination before we can say anything categorically. We do know that many of the plots revealed by KSM under torture turned out to be baseless - and wasted precious resources. And we know that in the cases cited by the president, the evidence is extremely murky. Greg Djerejian examines a few of the president's outlandish claims.

It remains the case that even if you buy the self-serving argument of the president, none of these cases represent the ticking time-bomb scenario so beloved of Alan Dershowitz. None. And that is precisely the point of this canard: not to accept, as everyone does, that in the one-in-a-million case of an imminent nuclear attack, a president may decide to do what he needs to do before subjecting himself to legal punishment or pardon; but to find a way to make torture a routine part of American government and national security. This is what Bush and Cheney have done and want to continue doing. And that is the basis of the argument we need to have.