They've long insisted that a "ticking time bomb" exception would set us on a slippery slope. The reaction to bin Laden's death proves their point
Torture apologists claiming that the death of Osama bin Laden justifies America's use of "enhanced interrogation tactics" aren't just wrong on the merits -- the arguments they're offering are proof that carving out even narrow exceptions for torture puts us on a morally corrosive slippery slope.
Think about it: back in 2003, 2004, and 2005, the mainstream argument for torture among its advocates was "the ticking time bomb scenario." Alan Dershowitz endorsed it. Charles Krauthammer did too. It played a recurring role in countless episodes of the hit television show 24. And it proved so core to the public case for "enhanced interrogation" that torture opponents like Michael Kinsley and Dahlia Lithwick focused their efforts on pushing back against the most talked about "exception" in the nation.
The return of the torture debate is striking because its apologists no longer feel the need to advocate for a narrow exception to prevent an American city from being nuked or a busload of children from dying. In the jubilation over getting bin Laden, they're instead employing this frightening standard: torture of multiple detainees is justified if it might produce a single useful nugget that, combined with lots of other intelligence, helps lead us to the secret location of the highest value terrorist leader many years later. It's suddenly the new baseline in our renewed national argument.