Thursday, February 14, 2008

We Need A Better Argument

Senator Jay Rockefeller uses a common but weak argument to defend his voting against waterboarding and other "harsh interrogation methods" (just what does that mean?). He says it'll boomerang: "Retaliation is the way of the world. What we do to others, they will do to us—but worse."

Well, we supposedly didn't torture people in the past and that sure didn't stop our enemies from torturing us. On the other side, countries that don't support torture won't change their stance based on what we do.

Overall, I doubt this bill would have any effect on how our soldiers are treated, but even if it did, note that this is a strategic argument--that we shouldn't do it because it doesn't "work." If that's the main reason, let's look into it (as the Senate hasn't, it would seem) and measure the pluses and minuses. Do we get better and more information with these techniques? Do we deter our enemy better with these techniques? Does just the threat of these techniques get more from detainees? And so on.

Once again, the argument against torture (no matter how you define it), should be based on principle--it should be stopped even if it means more Americans die or get tortured. Otherwise, this is just a debate about the numbers.

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