Posted by: Tony Carson | 10 October, 2007

The obvious answer to the torture question

This is the answer to the torture question that everyone seems to have such a hard time with. Hillary is right and so, now, is Bill:



  1. I love this answer too. If you’re Jack Bauer, then do what you have to do and accept the consequences. (and, interestingly, the fictional Bauer does just that, even when his bosses tell him not too! He shot a suspect in the knee once while his superiors SCREAMED at him to put down the gun, and were trying to break into the interrogation room to stop him… of course, the guy he shot was TOTALLY guilty, and gave up that the target of his plot was the Secretary of Defence as soon as Jack shot him, but that’s T.V. for you!).

    The point is that the U.S. (or any nation) cannot condone torture. Period. Now, will the “consequences” for someone in that (never really happens in real life) hypothetical be severe? Maybe not, if the agent turns out to be right, but to the extent we acknowledge the THEORETICAL possibility that maybe, there might be some scenario in which an agent needs to use torture to prevent a greater harm, that agent is just going to have to suck it up and be prepared to face the consequences if he’s wrong, and probably some consequences even if he’s right.

    It’s like Mission Impossible. Go out there and do what we need you to do, but if you get caught we don’t know you. We NEVER knew you. That’s the deal, and while I think we get too worked up about this (since these sorts of things mostly happen in “T.V. land”, not reality) nevertheless to the extent that there’s a hypothetical, THAT’s how it needs to be dealt with. And, in the extremely unlikely event that a government agent ever finds themselves in this hypothetical scenario everyone always bandies about, I have no doubt that this is exactly what that agent would do, and in this limited unrealistic hypothetical, an absolute, comprehensive and official government stance against torture isn’t going to stop that agent from doing what he thinks is best.

  2. God, it’s nice to agree with you Kitch. The banality in all of this is that if that Jack Bauer occasion ever in fact happened, who would know about it; governments and their agents often do things that are unethical, immoral and illegal but they don’t taint their governments because they do it covertly. But that isn’t the same as Bush saying we don’t torture then issuing directives to do exactly that.

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