A Sincere Debate

By Patrick Appel
Ross has a good idea:

One would hardly expect Dick Cheney to endorse his own prosecution. But I think there's a reasonable case that given what I take to be his own premises about the torture debate - that the acts of interrogative violence the administration employed were justified by the stakes involved and the intelligence they produced - the outgoing Vice President should support an investigative commission charged with assessing the consequences of the Bush Administration's detainee policy.

Time and again, Cheney has insisted that any gains the U.S. has made in its efforts against Al Qaeda have depended on information from "high-value" detainees like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad or Abu Zubaydah that could only be extracted through extreme measures. But so far, the evidence marshaled to support his contention has been distinctly limited - and most of the insider-ish testimony on the subject, usually filtered through the work of the administration's critics, has tended to support the argument that torture is both morally wrong and largely ineffective. This is a high-stakes debate, to put it mildly. And if Cheney (or any of the many conservatives who share his perspective) believes what says he believes - if he thinks the future security of the United States depends on a willingness to take a consequentialist approach to, say, the waterboarding of leading terrorists - then he ought to be willing to advance a public and detailed case, before an independent commission, that the consequences were and are worth the moral costs.