11 Jan 2005 Peter Roff: Torture and Gonzales
Peter Roff of UPI has a standout opinion column out tonight on torture and Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales. It begins:
“Your college-age junior comes to you with plans to spend mid-winter break in Florida rather than come home. Against your better judgment but recognizing that all children eventually grow up and leave the nest, you assent and, grudgingly, even help out with some spending money.
With a kiss on the forehead, you see them off at the airport, but not before extracting a promise of a phone call as soon as the plane lands in south Florida. Traffic being what it is, the drive back from the airport take several hours. Drained, you can do little more than flop down in front of the television — just in time to see a breaking news bulletin explaining that your child’s plane was blown out of the sky over the Gulf of Mexico by what witnesses said looked to be a surface-to-air missile fired from a ship.
There are no survivors.
The subsequent investigation reveals terror-war detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, planned the attack. Had effective methods of interrogation been available to U.S. personnel, it could have been uncovered and prevented.
Now, do complaints that Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales might have placed the safety and security of U.S. citizens over the interests of captured detainees still bother you? Or are you grateful that he did?”
Read the whole thing here.
Addendum:: A e-mail I received about this post today reads:
Came across Amy Ridenour’s endorsement of Peter Roff’s argument that torture ought to be accepted based on a hypothetical attack conducted by Gitmo
prisoners, who in the fantasy would have given up their plan if they’d been tortured some more.
The fictional character could just has easily been killed by a drunk driver, and following the logic of this piece, Americans should reinstate prohibition.
Conservatives would hardly accept this kind of reasoning regarding gun control, yet it makes perfect sense to them as a justification for torture.
It’s incredibly lazy thinking.
Reply: If you knew someone was about to get drunk, get in a car and kill someone, would you stop him? I would. Maybe Mr./Ms. Burgoyne would not? (Actually, he/she probably would.)
The gun control analogy is too far afield to apply. Furthermore, Mr. /Ms. Burgoyne ignores everything Peter Roff wrote about the word “torture” being “defined up.”
But thanks for writing anyway.