Why don’t we use torture?

In the comments to this typically sharp post by Chris, fellow-Sharpener Phil and I have been debating torture. Among other things: what it is about torture that makes it inappropriate. Phil (rightly) questions its reliability in generating decent evidence:

[There’s] a big slice of evidence obtained under torture — probably 65 or 70% — that’s just not trustworthy. Then you’ve got people who are held under suspicion of crime, and are interrogated, but are also tortured to the point of crushing them. They’ll say anything to make it stop, so we can forget about what they say as well. That’s probably another 25% of torture evidence ruled out *as evidence*, without even needing to think about ethics.

That leaves the category of genuine attempts to extract information by torture. Some of the victims won’t know anything, but will say whatever you want to make it stop: bad information. Some of them won’t know anything that you don’t already know, but will come under pressure to make up something different to make it stop: bad information.

Put all that together, and how often is the victim being tortured for information he is able to give up — one in a hundred? How much torture evidence is actually going to be good — 1%? Even if we assume that evidence obtained by torture is ethically OK, it’s a ludicrously bad bet *as evidence*.

In other words, torture just isn’t rational or efficient. It’s a ludicrously bad bet as evidence. Phil’s is a far more eloquent version of an argument I made here, quoting former FBI agent Dan Coleman:

“Have any of these guys ever tried to talk to someone who’s been deprived of his clothes?” he asked. “He’s going to be ashamed, and humiliated, and cold. He’ll tell you anything you want to hear to get his clothes back. There’s no value in it.” … Due process made detainees more compliant, not less, Coleman said. … He added, “Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that.”

All very true, but it’s a line I now regret taking. For a start, it’s redundant. Using Phil’s plausible estimate of torture’s effectiveness (1%), let’s set up a game. Say we could torture 100 suspects, with the prospect of finding one terrorist and saving 50 rail passengers. Should we? Most people, applying Phil’s 1% rule, would reject that.

Say, though, that we credibly feared a nuclear terrorist attack. It’s possible, maybe even likely if we stretch the time-horizon far enough. Should we then torture those 100 suspects, if it could save a million others? Of course, most of the evidence would be shit, but there’s a chance (64% using Phil’s maths) of averting gargantuan mass murder. Should we proceed? The answer for all except crude utilitarians ought still to be no. Not because of the low effectiveness rate of torture — but because torture fundamentally breaches human rights, including but not exclusively the presumption of innocence. The effectiveness of torture — be it 1%, 0.1% or 10% — is irrelevant. To demonstrate this, keep increasing the number of potential terrorist victims. You’ll eventually reach a number where the crude calculus of effectiveness starts to look attractive. But ask yourself if you’re still happy to see 99 or 199 or 999 people needlessly tortured.

So, we can’t properly critique torture with an appeal to efficacy — we need ethics. Ethics have to be the primary argument. But that’s not all: objecting to torture on the grounds of efficacy isn’t just redundant, it’s dangerous. What if a more effective means of torture could be found? Say it raised the effectiveness rate to 25%. Is torture now more acceptable? You’d probably only need to break three innocent lives to find your terrorist. Ethics still say no — but Phil’s effectiveness argument… I’m not sure.

Further, say you personally know a suspect is guilty. Maybe you witnessed something. You also know his exploitable phobia, which raises the effectiveness of torture to 50%. Torture away? If all you have to worry about is effectiveness, you’re on to a winner. But ethical objections to torture still stand, no matter how effective it is.

This is why our primary objection to torture can’t be practical. Employing practical objections opens the door to the logic of the Gonzales memo. It collapses too easily into accepting torturing the self-confessed and the guilty. Even though it’s true that torture doesn’t work, and the occasional Lord does need reminding of that, it’s not an argument we should be satisfied with.

  1. Perhaps we could have a compromise: it’s only acceptable to torture those people who think torture is OK, e.g. Bliar, Blunkett, Dumbya, etc.

  2. The problem with setting up thought experiments like that is that they simply do not reflect any situation that has ever existed or could be expected to exist. They ARE useful in working out philosophical principles; e.g. do you believe it to be justified to kill one innocent to save two lives? But they are BUGGER ALL use in working out a course of action, in making a policy decision. The first reason for this is philosophical; you never KNOW what someone else knows, unless you know it yourself. The second is one resulting from an examination of the real world; there has NEVER been a ‘ticking-bomb’ scenario with a ‘known’ terrorist in custody where the security services ‘know’ he knows the information. And in all likelihood, there never will be.

    Despite the seemingly rational nature of thought experiments like these, outside of a clarification of values they have no utility, and when they are deployed in the pursuit of policy ends they should be treated like the ravings of a madman. ‘What if aliens….?’ It is only a pity that the people doing the raving are professors of law and the like.

    All that aside, just as I have argued against the Labour Party deploying economic arguments against discrimination rather than human rights, I agree that the first argument deployed in torture debates should always be the ethical.

  3. That should be; “deploying economic arguments rather than human rights arguments against discrimination”.

    The Labour Party, for shame, is doing very well at deploying a whole range of arguments against human rights.

  4. Jarndyce said:

    Er, they’re not meant to reflect real situations, merely approximations, much like Phil’s guess that torture is 1% effective. Let’s face it, neither you nor I know how accurate that is. I think it’s possible that intelligence services could identify 100 or so people they’d like to torture if they could catch — and maybe they would actually avert a terrorist incident if that happened. Maybe they already have (tortured and averted both, that is). I suspect there are real people walking around that we know that they know something that might save lives. Whatever happened to Naeem Noor Khan, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

    So, all that aside, I’m not sure what you’re saying. That philosophy and ethics shouldn’t inform policy? Obviously not. That the effectiveness or not of torture is relevant to whether we should use it? I’m guessing ‘no’ to that, too. Or that you agree but want to appear contrarian?

    outside of a clarification of values they have no utility

    … Just like outside all the goals he scored, Michael Owen had no utility to Liverpool. It strikes me that in the context of Gonzales, Charlie Clarke, Lord Carlile, that some moronically basic restatement of values is exactly what we do need before taking even one tiny step on the road to developing policy. The real madmen are the ones who embark on policies without giving values a second thought, or even a third.

  5. outside of a clarification of values they have no utility
    … Just like outside all the goals he scored, Michael Owen had no utility to Liverpool.”

    No, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that, even if when confronted with a thought experiment on torture we come to the conclusion that in that case we would use torture (as no doubt large numbers of our current governments would conclude), these thought experiments, while being deceptively similar on the surface to a discussion of the actual world, are nothing of the sort. Therefore rhetorical devices such as these should play no part in the debate over whether we do use torture.

    The torture thought experiments utilise a set of conditions and assumed knowledges that has not been found in history and likely never will be found outside of fiction. The people who use these experiments may as well resort to quoting situations from B-movies. But they do not, as they cling to the mere suface appearence of reality that these carefully constructed, but ultimately duplicitious, thought experiments possess.

  6. Jarndyce said:


    1. Set me up a thought experiment under which we could reasonably conclude that the use of torture would be a good idea. I’m disqualifying in advance anything that starts with “your daughter…” and the like. And you have to work within the approximation that torture is mostly ineffective — i.e. within the parameters of realism.

    2. Seeing as you like thought experiments so much, here’s another: Do you think that if every politician, before he put his name to a White Paper, sat down and did a stupid thought experiment, stretching the conclusions of his policies to the absurd, probing around the fundamental values a little, as a result we’d end up with:
    (a) worse policy, or
    (b) better policy.

    3. If you re-read the original piece, you’ll find I’m kind of disqualifying torture thought experiments based on efficacy anyway:

    The effectiveness of torture — be it 1%, 0.1% or 10% — is irrelevant. To demonstrate this, keep increasing the number of potential terrorist victims. You’ll eventually reach a number where the crude calculus of effectiveness starts to look attractive. But ask yourself if you’re still happy to see 99 or 199 or 999 people needlessly tortured.

    So, in conclusion, I’m still not sure what you’re disagreeing about.

  7. Matt Daws said:

    I’m with Andrew here: to meaningfully talk about “how many lives could torture save from a nuclear attack” you *have to* come up with some (hypothetical) situtation whereby we’d have someone in custody, know there was a ticking bomb, and somehow that person has knowledge which could stop the bomb. I just don’t think that’s actually a reasonable possibility! So you really should be discussing the use of torture which, at best, might occasionally lead you to an organisation which is perhaps planning to use a nuclear bomb. But then you have to compare that with the possibility of finding this organisation by convential intelligence work, because we’d have the time to do this. Suddenly torture looks even less useful, and even more morally dubious, than your hypothetical situation suggests.

  8. Jarndyce said:

    How could torture be even more morally dubious than I suggest? I suggest it’s completely unacceptable, whatever the numbers. More: I’m suggesting that crunching the numbers is dangerous, because at some point it will give you a result that says “yes, torture him”.

    And I have set up a real person. Two, in fact: Naeem Noor Khan and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Even more relevant if we’d caught them two years earlier than we did. How about Ramzi Yousef, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Zarqawi? Or their known associates? How is that not a reasonable possibility?

  9. Matt Daws said:

    Jarndyce, I think I would argue that torture is actually never useful, some one can play a numbers game: it’s not possible for there to be a situation where *only* torture could save many lives.

    For example, al-Zarqawi is just a leader: who’s to say someone else wouldn’t replace him if we captured him? What would torturing him achieve? If we’d captured him at all, we’d probably have substantial evidence on his associates etc. Similarly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who’s only a leader: it’s unclear how much he could have told us, why he would *only* tell us this under torture etc.

    What if we’d got hold of one of the 9/11 plotters? Well, again, *why* have we got them, but have no idea about their associates, their plans etc. and be in position where torture is the only way to extract this information?

  10. Jarndyce said:

    I would argue that torture is actually never useful

    Well, I can see that’s a consistent position, but it’s a pretty strong statement to make. That torture is never useful? I doubt that’s true. It also wouldn’t take much to shoot it down — and then you’re left playing Andrew’s favourite hypothetical numbers games again. For me, far better to argue that torture is wrong, never mind its effectiveness. There’s no realistic evidence that could overturn that.

    Out of interest, what would you say to someone who argued, armed with evidence, that torture was effective in getting hold of specific information (say, the names of cell members when you capture the point-man) in x% of cases?

  11. dearieme said:

    Your views on this, please. You capture someone and require that he tell you something of urgent interest. If he doesn’t, you’ll wipe out his family. If he tells you something that proves untrue, ditto. If he tells you useful truth, he and his family go free. You suspect that something like that might work: remember the poor sods sent to drive carbombs by the IRA on the promise of the murder of their family if they didn’t?

  12. Jarndyce said:

    That’s been used in Colombia, too, to get peasants to drive truckloads of bombs around on near-suicide missions. I suspect it’s very effective in some cases.

  13. Andrew said:

    Jarndyce: If you’re going to say that torture is always wrong, for ethical reasons, then I think you have to start defining boundaries, because although the word torture conjures up images of strapping electrodes to people’s genitals, or forcing bamboo shoots behind their fingernails, and suchlike, there are plenty of ‘interrogation techniques’ that are psychological in nature, but could be construed to be a form of torture.

    For example, would you consider threatening the lives of a detainee’s family to be torture, even if you had no intention of carrying out that threat? What about sleep deprivation, playing loud music, or other sensory deprivation or enhancement, and so on – all types of mental barrage that can get a prisoner to break down without any physical assault? What about using the threat of torture itself, without intending to go through with it – just old fashioned good-cop, bad-cop intimidation?

  14. Phil E said:

    The trouble with this discussion is that there are two or three separate discussions going on at once. There’s “is torture justifiable in the abstract?” and “is torture effective in the abstract?”. Then there’s the argument I was trying to make at S&M, which was actually against the thought-experiment approach. Jarndyce takes a (wholly hypothetical) figure of 1% from my argument, but his 1% isn’t the same as mine.

    I’ll explain. Lord Carlile’s recent statement effectively says “torture is effective sometimes but it’s always unethical; we’ll therefore allow evidence extracted by torture only when it’s really important“. But that’s actually letting the torturers off far too lightly – and it doesn’t matter if you change ‘sometimes’ to ‘rarely’ or ‘1% of the time’. The point about torture – and the point which always gets missed when the thought-experiments start up – is that it’s already happening. It’s not in the government’s power – or Lord Carlile’s – to choose whether or not torture is invented. The choice is whether or not to endorse the actual torture which is being carried out, more or less, right now (in Uzbekistan, in Morocco, in Saudi Arabia). Most – almost all – of the people being tortured in the world are being tortured as an end in itself; most – almost all – of the ‘information’ produced by actually existing torturers is dross, as Craig Murray put it. To say “we will admit evidence based on torture” is to admit, precisely, the 99% of torture-extracted evidence which we have no reason to believe is anything but garbage. (And which is admitted as evidence currently – this really isn’t an abstract discussion.)

    As for the slightly less urgent question of whether we would re-invent torture if it had been abolished – which seems to be the implicit starting-point of a lot of these discussions – I think Talk Politics nailed it:

    Justice in the UK, as in every civilised society, is founded on a clear set of basic principles; the accused is innocent until proven guilty; has a right to a fair trial and to legal counsel and, importantly, the test of guilt or innocence is founded on the principle that the prosecution must demostrate the guilt of the accused ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’.

    The veracity of evidence extracted under torture is, by its very definition, subject to all too reasonable doubts – how can one even contemplate relying on such evidence when one knows, or suspects, that it was given in circumstances where the individual under interrogation was given only two choices; tell the inquisitor what they want to hear or face excruciating pain.

    You may extract information through torture, but you can’t extract testimony admissible in court: legally, the person being tortured has effectively ceased to be a person. This is one of the reasons why international treaties outlaw torture (and cruel and unusual treatment, cf Andrew’s comment from earlier today): not just because it’s ethically vile, but because it’s not compatible with international law. Not the least horror of Guantanamo Bay is that the people interned there cannot now be tried – their pre-trial treatment has been so prejudicial that any possible case would be thrown out. So they’re stuck there now until… well, until the War on Terror is won, I guess.

  15. Dearime, that isn’t evidence that torture works to extract information, merely that people can be coerced into action.

    Where it falls down with regard to information is this; we do not know what our captives know (if we did we would know what we needed, so the torture would be being conducted to obtain confession), so we cannot know if we can recieve, or have received, the information that we were trying to extract.

    Incidentally, ‘thought experiments’ are not my favourite. I take on board your objection to the calculus involved. But regardless, they are highly persuasive, it seems, given the number of times that they are offered in justification. Where they should be dealt with is in their utter uselessness in describing events in the world and therefore in prescribing a course of action.

  16. You are kidnapped by a mad hypothetical situation fetishist…

  17. Jarndyce said:

    Sorry, Phil, I just don’t see that the fact that torture is already happening makes a difference to my argument. Even if it wasn’t happening, it’s wrongness has absolutely nothing to do with whether it works or not. The fact that it is happening mostly has nothing to do with getting hold of evidence or not, as you’ve said previously. But whether that evidence is good (unlikely) or crap (very likely) is irrelevant.

    Carlile’s statement was stupid, because he’s suggesting undermining centuries of legal precedent for something repugnant. Why does it matter whether torture produces shit evidence or some of the good stuff?

    So, while that Talk Politics piece was great, it missed the point. He’s objecting to torture because the veracity of evidence extracted under torture is, by its very definition, subject to all too reasonable doubts. Again, that’s irrelevant — and as I argued a very dangerous line of argument to pursue. The Gonzales memo, for one, takes that reasoning and turns it upside down. It asks the question: what would we think about torture if we could extract some decent info from it? You can’t just answer that question with “torture doesn’t work” arguments — he obviously thinks it can be made to work, at least to get informal if inadmissible evidence, or he wouldn’t have suggested it. It doesn’t, like Andrew B suggests, require you to know what your suspect knows. Just to suspect they know something, which to me seems perfectly plausible, in fact commonplace. Which is why these seemingly useless thought experiments work: because they describe hypotheticals that bear a morally significant similarity to real life, if not to anything that’s actually happened.

  18. Jarndyce said:

    T’other Andrew: I owe you an answer. You’re clearly not referring to stuff that’s obviously torture, even to sadists. I agree there’s a hazy line when it comes to some interrogation techniques. But I’d say asking some of these questions might help: is this a form of questioning I could accept being used on a loved one, given the nature of the crime? is it’s primary (only) function to degrade? is permanent psychological or physical likely to result?

  19. Jarndyce said:

    I’d add, to clarify: yes, extreme sleep deprivation and sensory overload do qualify as torture. As does being held without any prospect of being able to answer (unknown or unknowable) charges against you.

  20. neil said:

    So to sum up (in my mind at least). Torture is wrong, morally, and in that the tortured will admit to anything, true or false. I would, before the pliers and electrodes were even talked about, let alone used.
    However, as for the “it could save lives” variant. If, despite, the implausability, one really did have a suspect and a nuclear weapon hidden in a lock-up garage in West London. Would the use of drugs, sodium pentawhatever or whatever – surely more useful than physical violence – be acceptable in getting the information out of people?

    As for Andrew’s point of should evidence obtained under “stress” be admissable the answer is surely no. The answer to why don’t we use torture can only be answered positively in the most abstract “what if” scenario. That’s just my opinion and on pretty definite forms of torture. As for the use of psychological torture – is not the standard prisoner’s dilemma a form of psychological torture? I’m not so sure…..

  21. Unity said:

    Jarndyce: Missed the point did I? :-P

    Seriously, I take your point about the Gonzalez memo and that my comments in that passage are rather more open to interpretation than I intended in writing them.

    The one thing I didn’t really do there is finish fully the train of thought that led to that passage in the sense that what I intended to convey was both a practical objection to torture – the unreliability of evidence – and a principled objection which I consider far more important which is simple that the practice of torture undermines the basic principles of justice on expects in a civilised society.

    Principles like the presumption of innocence become nonsense when one is permitted to use torture to attempt to establish guilt.

    Ethically and logically one would only make use of torture if one we proceeding from a presumption of guilt – one simple doesn’t torture someone in order to establish their innocence.

    Likewise proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ also becomes an absurdity in such circumstances if one is permitted to ignore the clear and obvious doubts which must arise in regards to evidence obtained under torture.

    From my standpoint, these are two of the most compelling arguments as to why torture is unethical and all the more powerful as neither is predicated on moral opprobrium regarding the use of violence itself.

  22. Jarndyce said:

    Unity: basically, I agree, though you’ve put it better than I could. (And note, I also said your piece was great — giveth with one hand, and all that… ;-) ). I’m just very wary of any arguments against torture that pick apart its effectiveness. They leave the door ajar. It’s such a gross violation of human rights that every other objection is window dressing anyway.

    I also disagree with you about when it’s acceptable to use unsolicited information that may have been extracted by torture elsewhere. But that’s for another time…

  23. Unity said:

    If you’re referring to my bit of devil’s advocacy with Lord Justice Neuberger’s example of when evidence, in his opinion, may be admissible then those arguments were made solely to demonstrate the flaw in his argument, specifically that the distinction he makes between statements obtained under torture and evidence obtained as a result of torture is no as clear cut as he appears to assume.

    My actual position on this as a legal rather than ethcial concept is explained in comments to Katherine and Tony which is such evidence forms part of chain such that an illegal act at any stage should invalidate all evidence which proceeds directly or indirectly from that act – pretty much the same position as adopted in the US regarding illegal searches and the 4th amendment.

    I’m in full agreement with you that the ethical dimensions of torture override all other considerations – as you rightly say all else is window dressing – but ethics alone will not win the argument in a court of law, sad to say, hence my efforts to frame arguments which consider the way in which the government, MI5 and others will put their case across.

    In strict legal terms, my basic contention is that the use of torture is irredeemably prejudicial to the suspect and to justice at evey level – an argument which, sad to say, carries far more weight in law than ethics or principles.

  24. Jarndyce said:

    ethics alone will not win the argument in a court of law

    I’m not buying this. For two reasons:

    1. None of the international conventions and treaties that cover torture object to it on grounds that it tends to be ineffective. All cite gross violation of human rights.

    2. Even you, when you claim to be making a legalistic or efficacy-based arguments, are in fact making an ethical one. You think that the involvement of torture in the chain of evidence gathering invalidates the whole chain, even if it leads to fingerprints on a barrel of chemicals. Well, by then torture has proven itself useful. You still want to invalidate it. Why? Ethics. So, you care not a jot for torture’s effectiveness in genertating decent evidence some of the time, which is a position I agree with.

    It wasn’t what I was originally referring to, btw, but some other time…

  25. Phil E said:

    Sorry, Phil, I just don’t see that the fact that torture is already happening makes a difference to my argument.

    It doesn’t make any difference if the ethical bar on torture is absolute. However, you suggest yourself that you might not be averse to using “unsolicited information that may have been extracted by torture”. My point is that this is an impossible line to tread: as I said above, to say “we will admit evidence based on torture” is to admit, precisely, the 99% of torture-extracted evidence which we have no reason to believe is anything but garbage.

    Ultimately I think the ethical and consequentialist arguments are complementary. There’s always a way round either one of them: if you take the ethical high ground, they can counter with we’re living in the real world, you’ve got to get your hands dirty…; if you say that torture evidence is 99% garbage, they can say but what if it was the 1%? what if you actually knew it was the 1%? Each one is a backstop to the other. (And, fundamentally, they’re two sides of the same argument – torture is ethically wrong because it debases the victim, and because it debases the victim it can’t produce good evidence.)

  26. Jarndyce said:

    Point taken — though I doubt you or I would be terribly convinced by the “counter-argument in the style of NuLabour” to my ethical objections to torture: we’re living in the real world. In fact, I doubt anyone with half a brain would be. Mind you, depressingly, most people don’t seem to find it odd that the rules of the game have changed after an event we were told was a virtual certainty.

    On the ethical position on using information whose provenance is uncertain (but which may have been extracted through torture), I agree that it’s likely to be a long shot. Your 1%. I’m not sure that means we shouldn’t use it, though. I don’t see any ethical obligation there whatsoever, except perhaps on the agencies whose job it is to keep us safe to follow up all credible leads. On a purely practical basis, anyway, it’s impossible to be purist on this.

    I agree, though, that such information can never be evidence.

  27. Phil E said:

    On the ethical position on using information whose provenance is uncertain (but which may have been extracted through torture), I agree that it’s likely to be a long shot. Your 1%. I’m not sure that means we shouldn’t use it, though.

    Eh? This is exactly where I came in – if you switch off the ethical absolutism where our own government isn’t directly involved, what you end up with isn’t “well, it may have been obtained under duress, but we can’t be sure either way, and it’s interesting information in any case”. Or rather, that’s precisely what you end up hearing from Dame Eliza and her chums, but what actually happens is that the floodgates open. Allowing information which may have been extracted under torture means that you allow information which definitely has been – almost all of which will be garbage. (It’s a great mystery to me why the British and American intelligence services want to keep the garbage coming, but it seems that they do – cf the Craig Murray saga.)

  28. Jarndyce said:

    But from the position of the British government, it’s only possible to be ethically absolute about information which you generate. By definition, you have imperfect knowledge about every single other piece of information that comes your way. So, what’s the solution? To only ever use information you generate yourself? Obviously not possible. The ethical solution to me is never to solicit information via torture, never to get involved (even renting out airstrips) in rendering suspects to third countries, never to purposely look the other way (cf. Uzbekistan), and so on. But at the same time, not to wring your hands over every tip that comes your way. There’s a completely different standard required of information used in an investigation and that admitted to a court of law. For the latter, provenance obviously has to be beyond reasonable doubt.

    But for the informal stuff, if you don’t know the information’s provenance, judge it on its merits. Something from Uzbekistan, say: treat it with suspicion, but don’t discount absolutely if it seems plausible and points to something potentially serious for public safety. A nugget from Germany: treat it more seriously. And so on. I don’t see any obligation to reject intelligence information whose origins you know nothing definite about: that would mean rejecting almost all intelligence.

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  30. Shuggy said:

    The problem with objecting to torture on utilitarian grounds is, as with corporal punishment and the death penalty, there’s always the danger that empricical evidence will prove you wrong. Much easier if you reject utititarianism altogether because it leads you down some dark roads. Human rights unequivocally have nothing to do with utility, despite JS Mill’s convoluted arguments trying to prove otherwise.

  31. GeniusNZ said:

    > it’s only acceptable to torture those people who think torture is OK

    I think we could accept that – I doubt many people worth torturing think torturing is not OK (when done by them for some purpose). Proving it might be a little difficult though I expect when faced with the device they would lie.

  32. GeniusNZ said:

    any opposition to utilitarianism by definition leads you down an even darker road still. If you find the lightest path is dark it just means the whole world is dark.

    I think it is pretty poor utilitarianism if you run around trying to use it to prove some pre concieved belief that you have – if you do that it implies you are not a utilitarian at all you are instead a “fill in the thing you are trying to prove”.

  33. Thomas Jackson said:

    Obviously the author has little knowledge of intelligence nor torture. The Gestapo was able to use torture so effectively that the entire Ducth resistance was penetrated and turned rendering it useless. The British using different methods but methods that today would be classified by torture by the ACLU also turned all German agents in the UK into double agents contributing significantly toward the Allied victory.

    What reasonable individual would employ torture if it ddn’t yield significant results? During the Korean War American POWs were effectively turned and yielded considerable data to the communists. Do I advocate torture? No unless it can yield data that can save lives.

    But I do have a question to those who would abolish its use. Are you prepared to accept responsibility for the lives that will be lost if an enemy realizes he cannot be threatened by Americans regardless of his actions. Are you willing to sacrifice tens of thousands to earn the undying gratitude of the Paris bistro set?

    No one who has served and is responsible for the lives of men in the field could propose such a reckless and unwise policy. McCain is a sameless media hog who is brought us campaign finance reform abridging the first amendment and now seeks to place terorists on the same level as jaywalkers. Pathetic.