KINSLEY ON TORTURE

He salami-slices Krauthammer’s case, while Rumsfeld tries one last gambit. Money quote:

There is no reason to suppose that if Krauthammer’s reasoning was accepted, the result would be Krauthammer’s rules. Once we are rid of the childish notion of an absolute ban on torture, there is no telling where adult minds may take us.

The trouble with salami-slicing is that it doesn’t stop just because you do. A judicious trade-off of competing considerations is vulnerable to salami-slicing from both directions. You can calibrate the viciousness of the torture as finely as you like to make sure that it matches the urgency of the situation. But you can’t calibrate the torture candidate strapped down before you. Once you’re in the torture business, what justification is there for banning (as Krauthammer would) the torture of official prisoners of war, no matter how many innocent lives this might cost? If you are willing to torture a “high level” terrorist in order to save innocent lives, why should you spare a low-level terrorist at the same awful cost? What about a minor accomplice?

What about the child of a terrorist? If you need to save lives, why not? You may think no one in America would go there, right? Not so fast. Here’s AEI’s John Yoo, as recorded in a recent debate with Douglass Cassel at Notre Dame:

Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty

Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

Just keep slicing the salami until you’re torturing innocent children. And we deposed Saddam for what again?

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