A reader writes:
On Friedersdorf's premise: "Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, a case where a detainee who was water-boarded gave up information that he would’ve otherwise withheld."
It strikes me that most of scenarios like this fail because in fact no real life case will be like that. A better one. Let's say we have a terrorist detainee and we want to know the names of his accomplices. In such a circumstance we won't know, surely, how many accomplices he has. So once the waterboarding starts, we won't know to stop after we learn five names or ten. The whole logic of the exercise is to extract all the names: so we won't stop until we believe that he's got no more to give. But by definition some of the names will be innocent men whose names are offered to stop the torture and others will be minor figures who know nothing.
And this, it seems to me, is the internal flaw of the pro-torture argument. It's easy to conjure up fantasy-situations that define when torture should begin. It's impossible to define how it should end and what should be done with the information that it produces.