Friday, April 11, 2008


It seems, ladies and gentlemen, that we've been giving Megan too much credit.
via the truly, truly awesome Glenn Greenwald, we have this, from 2003.

Torture: Yea or Nay?

Mark Kleiman has emailed asking me what I think about torture, and I suppose I should weigh in, although I doubt my contribution will be very useful. . .

To some extent, I believe in the hidden law. Which is to say, the choice that some citizens make, under some circumstances, to break the law as it is written. . . . I view torture in somewhat the same way. To see what I mean, I want you to imagine that there's a terrorist group that is threatening, not some faceless person somewhere, but your kid. . . .Now, are you going to give him back to the Feds to be sent to Gitmo in the hopes that a couple years down the road, he might tell you something -- if they haven't already gassed your child, that is? Or are you going to whip out the toolbox and get to work? . . .

And I think that our operatives are probably so tempted when they face down the evil men who seek out soft civilian targets to sow terror. I cannot entirely fault them for it. I'm not sure they should always be punished. But neither do I want to see the apparatus of the legal system turned to codifying, regulating, and normalizing torture, as Alan Dershowitz has suggested with his terror warrants. If terrorists must be tortured -- and I am unwilling to state that there is no circumstance ever under which I could condone it -- then it should happen in dark rooms, at risk to the lives and careers of the men who carry it out, so that the hidden law will only trump the written law when times are truly desperate enough to call for such desperate measures.
I am genuinely speechless. Jebus, Megan.
Memo to self and co-bloggers: Never, ever take Megan's word that she has always had the respectable position on a topic. Never. Ever.


NutellaonToast said...

In my role as her defendant (this week only) you might note that people were pretty freaked that soon after 9/11. I was in NJ at the time and immediately after I was actually thinking about joining the army. Granted, it took me less than two years to find my bearings again, but not everyone is as awesome as me.

If she were to denounce that post and provide that as her reasoning, or something else that I could respect, I'd give her a pass.

I remember using similar logic myself about invading Afghanistan against the only person I knew at the time who was against the idea, though not for torture of course.

brad said...

I was in Manhattan that day. I still lived way uptown, so I was nowhere near the scene, but I'm well aware. But, to begin with, we're talking about a piece from almost 2 years later. I suspended my loathing of GW for about 6 months, till I heard the word Iraq in public, but I didn't suspend my reason.
Torture is wrong, and it doesn't produce reliable enough results to be justified even in the most extreme fictional cases its supporters can think of. Torture is about power, and cruelty. There is no corner dark enough for torture be permissible in it.
I had friends who, like Dennis Miller, lost their fucking minds thanks to the sheer fear of 9/11 and became vicious in ways that still frighten me. Just because why it happened to them is comprehensible doesn't make it ok.
There's no defense for torture. Period.

Margalis said...

Despite her protestations, Megan is opposed to torture in the same way that Dershowitz is. Both argue that they are personally opposed to torture while also arguing that torture is ok with them.

Megan's argument makes little sense. (As always)

"I'm not sure they should always be punished"

"at risk to the lives and careers of the men who carry it out"

If they shouldn't be punished then what exactly is the risk?

Regardless of her contortions to explain this away, it clearly contradicts her claim that she has always been 100% against even considering torture.

And she makes the fundamental error that all torture apologists make: she takes as a given that only the bad guys are tortured, even though we know for a fact that is incorrect. I covered that in blog a couple of times:

What people like Megan fail to realize is that when you torture people before determining guilt you are inviting the torture of innocent people. That is the logical outcome.

rickm said...

Comparing Dershowitz to Megan is a complement to Dershowitz. That man is scum. He will invent any fact, apologize for any crime, wipe away any dead, as long as it serves his interests. He has an army of poorly paid graduate students right his work. He has no integrity, and has probably done more to ensure that bloodshed will continue in the Middle East than any other American civilian. [1]

[1] Finkelstein, Norman. Beyond Chutzpah

Clever Pseudonym said...

If it weren't for the repugnant argument and the awful writing, this would actually be funny, considering Megan's "I am sooo deeply offended that you would say I endorse torture" attitude towards Greenwald. What a hypocrite.