Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg, Ramesh Ponnuru and Andy McCarthy are having a discussion on the use of torture, specifically the 'ticking time bomb' and 'torture of the innocent' aspects...

I'll make it easy for them - torture is a weapon to be used in times of war.... and like any other weapon, it is the circumstances under which it is used that determines whether such use was right or wrong.

When it is right: when it is authorized by the command structure, when it is used to save American lives, and when it is used only to the extent necessary to achieve its objectives. Use of torture is wrong under all other scenarios (just as using an M16 or a nuclear bomb is wrong except under those circumstances).

What is irrelevant: whether the person being tortured is the person from whom information is sought or whether the torture is being performed on a third party in hopes of persuading the person possessing the information to reveal what they know (torturing a supposed 'innocent' is simply collateral damage, in the same way as are 'innocents' killed by airstrikes and artillery fire) . It doesn't matter whether it is information being sought or behavior that is being deterred (stop your bombings, or I'll torture your kids). It doesn't matter whether there is another weapon that could achieve the same result.

We use the weapons we have as best we see fit in order to save American lives. To take away from our troops a weapon that could be of use in saving American lives is criminal. We don't take away artillery because sometimes innocents get caught up in the blast. We don't take away M16s because sometimes they are used improperly.