Friday, February 6, 2009


There has been a lot of discussion about torturing bad folks recently, and I think most of the discussion demonstrates just how clueless our administration was and how the new one isn't that much better clued in.

Fanatical Muslims participating in a Jihad want to die for their cause. They don't pretend to want to die for it. They actually want to die in the effort to achieve their goals. If they die this way, they believe they go to a special circle of heaven and their life's purpose will be fulfilled and their family will be proud for generations. The American equivalent of the position they think they will obtain is somewhere between Martin Luther King Jr and Jesus.

The people who truly believe this would be very unlikely to be responsive to any kind of torture. Temporary material discomfort is nothing compared to the prize of suffering and dying for their cause.

So, step one in the debate should have been "is it effective." Step two would be "is it justifiable." Instead, everyone has skipped straight to step two, maybe because they can't imagine what it would be like to be motivated by religion in such a fundamental way, so they just assume that nobody could possibly actually feel the way fanatical terrorists do.

Dedicated materialists (like Madoff or any of the jackasses that knowingly created the financial bubble) on the other hand.... torture would be very effective on them. The debate about using torture on them could reasonably get to step two.

Considering the amount and danger of the information these people are still withholding, I think "special investigative powers" of one variety or another could be justifiable.

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