Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Medium Lobster has been disquieted of late at by the latest round of Iraq torture scandal news. There has been much uproar - among that irritating minority which have not been studiously scrutinizing the week's top story, the beatification of Ronald Reagan, at least - regarding the powers of the president and the incompatibility of torture with a liberal democracy. In the midst of all this, the Medium Lobster would like to offer those with cooler heads some perspective as to the merits of harsh interrogation.

Imagine there is some weapon of mass destruction planted by terrorists in the heart of a city, ready to go off - a "ticking bomb," if you will. Would it be wrong to torture a terrorist to find the location of such a device and save the millions of lives at risk? Hardly. Now, what if instead of torturing a terrorist, interrogators had to torture a confederate of that terrorist - some associate who would know where the terrorist was so they could locate that ticking bomb? Is that dirtying of our hands such a high price to ask in the goal to protect millions? I think not. Now, what if instead of a terrorist's comrade, interrogators have a terrorist's relative or neighbor? Is it still justified to go as far to save innocent lives? I should hope so! And what if that terrorist has a lot of relatives and neighbors - hundreds, even? Would it be wrong to grant blanket authority to torture hundreds of prisoners knowing full well that any of them could have the crucial information required to save a city? Certainly not! And what if the threat we're faced with is not a bomb at all but an even more pernicious threat - a rogue nation with the potential capability to someday construct that bomb? Would it not be America's right - no, her duty - to invade that country, occupy it, and set up a system of torture-like interrogations to rid that country of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction once and for all? Absolutely!

Indeed, the most unsettling question being raised by these latest news items is not the issue of torture itself, but the question of whether America will be strong enough to use that torture to defeat the enemies of life and liberty. The Medium Lobster can only hope that this great nation will retain its nerve.
posted by the Medium Lobster at 12:59 PM




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