OPINION

'Zero Dark Thirty' and the role of lawyers

Torture is wrong — morally and legally. Why, then, do we continue to focus on whether it is effective or not?

, The National Law Journal

   | 2 Comments

Torture is wrong — morally and legally. Why, then, do we continue to focus on whether it is effective or not?

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What's being said

  • Brian L

    OK, so let's agree that waterboarding is torture. President Obama and AG Holder are still practicing "Extraordinary Rendition": kidnapping people off the streets to fly them off to Algeria so that country's spies can pull their fingernails out and beat confessions out of them. Where is Professor Rayner demanding war crimes trials for Mssrs. Obama and Holder. Oh, right, she "has concerns" and "does not support". Right. It's another case of BUBGUO: Bad Under Bush, Good (or at least OK) Under Obama.

  • ColorBlindJustice

    It sounds as if Ms. Rayner may be particularly squeamish, and that her definition of "torture" is colored by that squeamishness. Because many of us, in fact I’d suggest most of us, consider torture to be truly physical in nature. The breaking of bones, rape, electric shock, poisoning, starvation, dehydration, the application of sharp steel tools to eyelids, appendages, genitals and orifices where most of us would prefer not to have such tools applied. But keeping a cold-blooded jihadist murderer up past his bedtime with lights and loud speakers, pretending to drown him now and again, or otherwise obliging him to assume a few uncomfortable positions for extended periods hardly constitutes real torture. Admittedly, such enhanced interrogation methods are not an ideal to which we should reflexively and routinely default. But in proverbial ticking-bomb scenarios that have been considered elsewhere by the likes of civil liberties attorney Alan Dershowitz and Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, we’d be foolishly pacifist not to assess such methods’ effectiveness and possible use.

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