Torture saves lives

August 8, 2007

The New Yorker has an excellent story on the CIA’s use of torture and secret prisons to force confessions from captives. Since I’m completely opposed to the use of torture, I’ll argue the other side: in the big picture, torture is more humane than the alternatives. Consider: the CIA had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) in a secret prison in Afghanistan. He’s clearly a bad guy with direct knowledge of ongoing terrorist operations. Should he be tortured? If the CIA does not get info from him, there are two alternatives: (1) terrorists kill innocent people, or (2) US forces attack villages that might be harboring terrorists and kill some of them, plus lots of Afghan bystanders. Innocent people are killed in both scenarios. Instead, extracting info from KSM might allow the CIA to capture other terrorists before they attack with minimal collateral damage. Even if the CIA butchers KSM, one less terrorist is much better than lots of innocent deaths. Torture saves lives in the long run.

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