A modest proposal toward full on legalized torture

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Testicle Stretch with the Possibility of a Crushed FaceThe scenario given is the unlikely but altogether familiar: you have captured a terrorist who knows the location of a nuclear weapon which will be detonated in a US metropolis 24 hours hence.

Normal investigations are closed to you. There are no more leads. Nothing can be done except bear down on this one man who you have evidence and a good faith belief can furnish the information necessary to save a million lives and avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in property loss.

Should torture in a case like this be legal?

I answer: Yes!

If we’re sure—like 100% certain sure—and it will save other lives, frankly even saving one life would be okay if the man being tortured shares responsibility for the impending loss of life, it’s completely moral, ethical, and it should be legal. It’s simple self-defense.

However, the real problem is, has been, and forever will be, torture ends up being used against innocent individuals who have no information to offer, have committed no crime, and don’t deserve so much as a talking to, let alone water boarding.

Therefore the crux, the modest proposal toward legalizing torture, being:

If it comes to light later—whether it’s a day or 10 years—that the tortured man was innocent or that the threat could have been nullified without torture, everyone involved in the torturing, from the executives who cleared it, to the thugs who beat him with phonebooks and told him he was dead if he didn’t display some alacrity in squealing, all receive 25 years in a federal penitentiary without the possibility of parole. Or if the tortured individual dies as a result of the treatment, all responsible parties are given the death penalty without appeal.

Oh, and the tortured man or his surviving family would receive the proceeds of one year of the USA’s gross domestic product or 1 trillion dollars, whichever is less, as compensation. Gotta make it hurt for everyone so they take an interest.

That ought to keep torture where it belongs: in history books and pointless Socratic jibber-jabber. We’ll call it the Wiesenthal Law. We’ll also take a moment to remind any jet-setting CIA personnel busy burying evidence this week that the Freedom of Information Act will probably run out before you do.

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