Sophistry 101

A reader writes:

Reading the Bybee torture memo released yesterday was my second nearly personal brush with this type of argumentation.

In 2004, I learned that the draft Report on Interrogation Methods by the Pentagon Working Group, the granddaddy of torture memos leaked in 2004, cited an appellate decision from a case I tried in federal court in the 1990's as part of the justification for why certain acts of brutality did not fit the definition of torture under federal law.

Sure enough, there on page 16 of the memo released yesterday was the reference to South Atlantic v. Riese, again for the proposition that “if a defendant acts with the good faith belief that his actions will not cause such suffering, he has not acted with specific intent.”

The chilling thing is that the case wasn't about torture, it was a business dispute over construction of an apartment complex in Nashville, TN.

The sophistry is stunning.