Former Bush speechwriter Mark Thiessen explains that these people, they are not like you and me.

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

So you see, we have to waterboard them. They want us to do it. The only language the Negro the Muslim understands is force. You see, where other human beings might just tell us anything under being tortured, the exotic Muslim requires torture for disclosure. Our legal obligations are nullified by the biological imperatives of "those people." First we had "torture works." Then we had "they deserve it." Now we have "they need us to do it." 

Zubayda, of course, gave up all the useful intelligence he ever would before he was tortured. Which sort of puts a crimp in this whole theory. 

The torture apologist thrives on secrets, on playing on your fear of the unknown. You don't know that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) 183 times actually didn't prevent "a hole in the ground in Los Angeles." So Thiessen explains today that the redacted parts of the memos -- you know, the ones that were edited to protect the identity of CIA interrogators -- actually contain all the information that proves torture worked, which is why they were redacted.

The justifications for torture provided in the memos themselves are not a good faith evaluation of the torture program's effectiveness, since the writers of the memos are self-evidently trying to justify the use of torture. In other words, the memo writers have a reason to overplay the program's effectiveness, because they are conscious that what they are doing is illegal. There's only one way to know what happened, and that's through the release  of the rest of the torture works memos. So let's do it.

But let's take a step back a moment. The Right has focused the torture debate on KSM because they are banking on the idea that KSM is so terrible that no one could possibly sympathize with him. As long as the torture debate is centered around whether or not we should torture one particular, terribly evil person, the right remains the sentimental favorite. But let's take a moment to consider what Thiessen and others are arguing in the long term: that we must torture and that for our own security, we must keep it secret. We currently live in a country where the president can detain anyone indefinitely without trial on suspicion of terrorism. Torture apologists want to add to that authority the ability to torture people that they detain without trial, without anyone actually knowing about it.

In order to try someone you've tortured, you'd have to make coerced confessions admissible in court. But of course, the reason we don't do that is because there's no way to know if a coerced confession is real, or if it's the result of being waterboarded or stuffed in a small box. So anyone you've tortured, you have to keep locked up forever, because if you release them, you risk that these methods -- which torture apologists explain must remain secret -- will get out.

You see where this is going. There's absolutely no way to reconcile the use of torture with a functioning, democratic society.

-- A. Serwer

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