A reader doubly blasphemes…

one of the sacred dogmas of the Thing that Used to be Conservatism.

He writes:

I just paged the hard copy of this article (pdf attached) for an ILL request.

This leads to the first blasphemy, namely that the authors refuse to play the bs game of saying “enhanced interrogation” instead of torture or feigning confusion by everlastingly wondering if freezing, beating, drowning and suffocating helpless prisoners is torture or not, with an abstract that states:

Torture is absolutely prohibited and constitutes one of the core crimes under international law. There is a substantial body of sociolegal literature that addresses torture’s illegality. But this article tackles the question “does torture work?” The analysis locates the practice of torture in historical and global perspective, accommodating but not constrained by post-9/11 scholarship on American torture. The titular question is treated more critically and comprehensively than a narrowly construed focus on the value and veracity of utterances produced as a result of pain and suffering. Drawing on scholarship from a variety of fields, the article addresses how torture works (i.e., why it has been used and its effects) in order to highlight the role of torture in the mutually constitutive histories of law-state-society relations. The final section uses the American case to offer conclusions about the efficacy and effects of torture.

The second blasphemy lies in the conclusion, which dares to blaspheme the wisdom and goodness of Bush/Cheney and the squad of Catholic consequentialists who tried to say that maybe “torture” (square quotes are essential) was a little bit unfortunate, but it was made necessary because it “worked”. Nope:


From the narrowly construed perspective, the lessons learned from the American case confirm timeless truisms about the consequentialist relationship between torture and truth. “Torture,” as third century AD/CE Roman jurist
Ulpian observed, “is a difficult and deceptive thing[,] for the strong will resist and the weak will say anything to end the pain.” As for truth, according to the German Jesuit Friedrich von Spee in 1631, “It is incredible what people
say under the compulsion of torture, and how many lies they will tell about themselves and about others; in the end, whatever the torturers want to be true, is true.” For a contemporary judgment about the efficacy of interrogational torture, Rejali’s (2007, p. 478) comparative global assessment is a fitting description of the American case: “[O]rganized torture yields poor information, sweeps up many innocents, degrades organizational capabilities, and destroys interrogators. Limited time during battle or emergency intensifies all these problems.”

In short, not only was it evil, it was stupid too. Congratulations, Catholic torture apologists. You’ve made Uncle Screwtape so happy to have been right when he said, “To get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return—that is what really gladdens our Father’s heart.”

To all who defended this filth: The sacrament of confession is available.

Oh, and you Obama excusers: Get in line right behind them.

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  • B.E. Ward

    Boy.. some crickets chirping on this one! Unfortunately…