The Slippery Slope of Justifying Torture
Conor Friedersdorf explains well how the argument that justifying torture under even limited circumstances would morally corrupt and result in justifying torture under almost any conceivable circumstance has been proven correct in the debate over torture’s role in the death of Osama Bin Laden.
The return of the torture debate is striking because its apologists no longer feel the need to advocate for a narrow exception to prevent an American city from being nuked or a busload of children from dying. In the jubilation over getting bin Laden, they’re instead employing this frightening standard: torture of multiple detainees is justified if it might produce a single useful nugget that, combined with lots of other intelligence, helps lead us to the secret location of the highest value terrorist leader many years later. It’s suddenly the new baseline in our renewed national argument.
That’s torture creep.
As I tried to allude to in my post this morning, torture will always appear to “work” regardless of whether it in fact “works.” We will attribute any success to it, and any failure to not enough of it. And thus we will soon find that we are justifying it in all manner of situations.