A Telling Hypothetical

by Conor Friedersdorf

Andy McCarthy writes on the ongoing debate over Bush era interrogations:

There is a principled human-rights position on all this. You can say: "No one wants to see bad things happen to people, but I honestly believe abusive tactics are so corrosive of our society's principles that it would be better for 10,000 Americans to be killed in a terrorist attack than for us to prevent the attack by subjecting a morally culpable terrorist to non-lethal forms of coercion that cause no lasting physical or mental harm."

That would be the honest argument, but it is not going to persuade many people. Thus the continued pretense, against all evidence and logic, that the tactics don't work. 

Strange that Mr. McCarthy uses a hypothetical wherein everyone who undergoes "enhanced interrogation" is a morally culpable terrorist, where the techniques used are always non-lethal, and where no lasting physical or mental harm is done. In fact, we know that during the Bush Administration innocent people were subjected to "enhanced interrogation," multiple detainees died in custody, and others suffered lasting physical and mental harm.