26 March 2009

La Tortura

I'm a big fan of 24. I've touched on the moral dilemmas exposed by a show like that. Torture is a difficult issue. This is an article from 2003 by Marc Bowden (referenced in a recent post by Michael Yon) on methods of interrogation. This is a helpful definition:

Torture is repulsive. It is deliberate cruelty, a crude and ancient tool of political oppression. It is commonly used to terrorize people, or to wring confessions out of suspected criminals who may or may not be guilty. It is the classic shortcut for a lazy or incompetent investigator. Horrifying examples of torturers’ handiwork are catalogued and publicized annually by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations that battle such abuses worldwide. One cannot help sympathizing with the innocent, powerless victims showcased in their literature. But professional terrorists pose a harder question. They are lockboxes containing potentially life-saving information. Sheikh Mohammed has his own political and religious reasons for plotting mass murder, and there are those who would applaud his principled defiance in captivity. But we pay for his silence in blood.
I don't think that the effectiveness of torture gets much play in the media. I've heard several times that torture can often produce incomplete or incorrect information. That whole Bowden piece is fascinating.

Michael Yon, and many military officers, share a disdain for torture. Yon allows that there is one time when torture may be acceptable, but by and large it is not an appropriate or moral.

I find these arguments persuasive. We have to take a moral high ground, and disavowing torture is, to me, clearly deserving of that high ground.

No comments: