November 30, 2005

The lengths that they will go to...

Conservative news site Newsmax has the following editorial up: "John McCain: Torture Worked on Me." Here are some of the highlights:
Sen. John McCain is leading the charge against so-called "torture" techniques allegedly used by U.S. interrogators, insisting that practices like sleep deprivation and withholding medical attention... simply don't work to persuade terrorist suspects to give accurate information.
Nearly forty years ago, however... some of the same techniques were used on him. And - as McCain has publicly admitted at least twice - the torture worked! [...]
That McCain broke under torture doesn't make him any less of an American hero. But it does prove he's wrong to claim that harsh interrogation techniques simply don't work.
I dare anyone to defend this editorial.


  1. Here goes.

    1. Torture is wrong. Torture is bad. 90% of the world agrees, and if the U.S. tortures POWs, other countries will feel that much less compunction about torturing American POWs. The U.S. has signed a million treaties, resolutions, conventions, et cetera, reaffirming their belief that torture is wrong under all circumstances, and no U.S. politician will say on the record that he/she supports torture. They will only say that what we do is not torture. The U.S. has been a leader in the international community for decades, and if it starts torturing people, cooperation with the U.S. will look more like a necessary evil than a good idea, we'll be left with no moral authority and forced to rely on our money and weapons to get anyone else to cooperate.

    2. McCain said something entirely different from the above--that an additional reason not to torture is that it doesn't work. Yet he's admitted that it has. If he wants to inject this additional reason into the debate and cite his own experience to prove it, then his own experience is in some sense fair game. He put it under the microscope, and Newsmax said "ok, let's look at your experience."

    I think that's all that can be said in defense of it. It's a sleazy hit piece, and Newsmax deserves whatever backlash it gets.

    Reading it makes me more angry at Newsmax than it makes me dubious of McCain. Starting from the headline and going throughout the entire editorial is this disrespectful and almost mocking tone toward the one politician in the country who probably deserves it the least. If one is going to make the "but you said torture worked on you" point, they should use a bit more tact. Or better yet, they could have looked elsewhere to find evidence that torture works. Or even better, they might have left the point alone, in light of the fact that even if you admit that torture works, there are still plenty of compelling reasons not to use it.

  2. i should have specified--i didn't mean a logical defense of it, i meant an ethical defense.

    but that was a very good logical defense and one I agree with.

  3. If this article proves that torture works, than that means the point of torture is to get the victims to sign things in languages they don't even understand; to get them to go along with the torturer regardless of whether what they end up saying is true or not.

    For some reason this makes me more concerned.