Homeland Security

Torture: The Ticking-Bomb Fallacy

Most defenders of the use of torture use the ticking-bomb argument to rationalize its employment. It is a false premise.

First, as far as we know, there has not been any truly ticking-bomb situation since Sept. 11, 2001, so why rationalize all the torturing that’s gone on to date, or a continuation of the practice with that rationale? Because it might disclose a ticking bomb? In one case, waterboarding went on over a hundred times over a prolonged (many months) period. The ticking bomb would have exploded if it were truly ticking. The idea of the ticking bomb is that we know it is about to go off, and seriously hurt people — not that it might be the case; let’s see.
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The Cheney Dare

This article appears originally in The Washington Times of Monday, May 18.



I have written many times in this space that I oppose any criminal prosecution of prior-administration officials on torture or other issues relating to the Iraq War and the war on terrorism, especially those CIA interrogators who relied in good faith on the instructions of policymakers and the legal opinions issued by Justice Department senior officials.

I have agreed with President Obama on the need to look forward, not backward.
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Pelosi Can't Tell the Truth

Armstrong Williams says Speaker Pelosi wasn't lied to by the CIA or the Bush administration on the use of waterboarding as an interrogation tactic, but rather she is lying about what she knew.

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You Can’t Blame Pelosi for Torture

In a classic “change the subject” ploy, Republicans are trying to blame the whole torture scandal on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But I think people are smart enough to recognize this for what it is: a giant, deliberate, cynical distraction.

True, Pelosi was once the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. And, as such, she was one of four congressional leaders briefed by the CIA on the interrogation of prisoners.
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How About a National Student Council on the Origins of War and Torture?

The question today should not be whether torture “doesn’t work,” as several major essayists have said this past week, or whether it does, as Charles Krauthammer claims today in The Washington Post. There is never an ethical or moral basis for that discussion. It’s like asking under what situations would rape most effectively advance the opportunity for gaining good progeny. The question should now be: What have we become?
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Torture, Part V

A witness at a Senate hearing on “enhanced interrogation” yesterday made a remark worth pondering. He was an FBI interrogator for our government in the post-Sept. 11 terrorist investigations. He left, opposing torture. Asked why our government continued torture when it did not work, he replied, “It is easier to hit someone than to outsmart them.”

These “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a classic euphemism, were amateurish, the now-retired witness told the Senate Committee; they were “Hollywood-style interrogation methods.” From a bad movie, he should have added. Worse, they are “ineffective and unreliable,” he testified. And the Justice Department legal memos that authorized the practices were “an ethical train wreck,” Georgetown law Professor David Luben added.
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Nancy Pelosi and Waterboarding: You Make the Call

An extraordinary news conference in the Capitol today, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and what she did or did not know about waterboarding.

Immediately below I have included her comments on the matter. For the sake of continuity I have excised a question on healthcare. If you need some immediate context, you can click here and read my Tuesday column on the matter. Really interested in seeing the comments on this one.
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Attributes Versus Issues

Issues come and go, so it is the attributes of a politician that ultimately win or lose campaigns.

That is what makes Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) troubles with torture so compelling.

Republicans are charging the Speaker with two deadly political vices: dishonesty and hypocrisy.

They charge that she has been dishonest in what she knew and when she knew it when it comes to enhanced interrogation techniques. She first said she knew nothing, then she said she knew something, and then she said she knew everything but didn’t think they would really do it.
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On Torture: Jane Harman Should Be Applauded, The Speaker Should Have Objected, Republicans Should Be Ashamed

Every president since George Washington opposed torture until George Bush. Every commander, in every branch of military service, through every year of American history, as far as I know, has opposed torture. Every leader of every religious denomination of every faith has opposed torture, except the spiritual advisers to terrorists and dictators.

First: a standing ovation for Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who should make all Americans proud of the clear, unequivocal and aggressive written objections she lodged when briefed about torture. What she did was exactly right. The way she did it was exemplary and a model for how senior members of Congress should conduct effective oversight.
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Cheney and Torture

We live in a dangerous world. Our enemies, and even some of our so-called friends, will stop at nothing to inflict even minor damage to our people, property and sense of security. When it comes to the psychological warfare we wage every day with terrorists, they continue to post gains.

Now more than ever, the American intelligence community needs every tool at its disposal. That’s why former Vice President Dick Cheney is right to come out and vigorously defend the techniques used to prevent another 9/11 attack.
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