A discussion list I sometimes participate in had a comment from a retired English military officer, who thinks holding the prisoners at Guantanamo is our national disgrace.
The discussion veered into torture, and whether waterboarding is torture or not, and whether it was justified. I mentioned waterboarding had been used on a handful of subjects for a combined total of six-and-a-half minutes, which allegedly produced lifesaving information.
His reply was, “Some limited means may be justified in some circumstances – but never include torture. Principles are not selective.”
A friend at the RiteOn blog posted parts of my reply and urged me to post it here.
A nuke on a timer or remote detonator is hidden in a city. We have one of the conspirators in custody. (Timeline: 5-10 years I’d say.) How many millions are to die to protect your delicate sensibilities?
A child is kidnapped and in the hands of people who would willingly rape, torture, murder her. We have one of the confederates in custody. (Remember the two little Belgian girls who starved to death in a pedophile’s hidden dungeon while he was in prison on another charge? What if the authorities had known while they had him?)
During the post-Munich Olympics Mossad operation to assassinate Black Septembrists, an apparently innocent bystander was gunned down in Lillehammer, Norway in front of his pregnant wife. (Later reports indicate he may not have been clean, but no matter.)
A Mossad agent was arrested and confined in a small cell. As a child he’d been hidden from the Nazis by nuns in a small closet for prolonged periods and as a result was intensely claustrophobic. He cracked and blew the operation. (But I wonder how someone with such a conspicuous weakness got into the Mossad…)
Was this torture?
I’ll add this: if your answer that torture, or “enhanced interrogation” is never, ever justified, even in the above circumstances, please forward this message to all of your immediate family:
“Dear Family, I love you very much, but I thought you should know that I’d rather see you dead, from nuclear incineration or slow torture, than give a moments discomfort to a terrorist or pedophile psychopath and violate my principles.”
And might I request you CC me? I’d like to lurk on the discussion.