Tortured logic, indeed.

Steve Chapman illustrates the current problem with the state of debate about torture.

That’s right: When tortured detainees provide truthful information, they prove torture works, and when they lie, they prove it works. … If treatment like this were inflicted on captured American soldiers, no American would dispute that it was torture. … If waterboarding is OK, why not crushing testicles? Why not pulling out fingernails? Why not the most agonizing methods an evil mind could devise? The advocates of waterboarding are much more eager to declare what is allowed than what is forbidden—if anything.

One issue is that we have the case of someone complaining about tortured logic and then illustrating the point. There are three primary issues raised here. For each quotation separated by ellipses above:

1) Why the term ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ is not a euphemism. Torture often brings to mind a demented effort to obtain a confession and that meme is often seen underlying the anti-torture arguments. In regards to the U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, it is an interrogation where the desired result is information, not confession. Information is a collection of small pieces that have to fit together with a much larger picture. It fills in gaps between known points and reinforces and enhances other things that are known.

2) The fact is that actual torture has often been inflicted on American soldiers. The inability to discriminate between U.S. policy in regard to military prisoners and that of U.S. enemies is a phenomena that calls into deep question the ability to see reality.

3) U.S. enhanced interrogation is distinguished from actual torture by the manner of training its own troops. The U.S. does not engage in interrogation techniques that it will not apply to its own troops in training exercises. The implications of this distinction seem to go right past those who cannot define torture.

In law, the prosecution of a crime is based on means, motivation, and method. The allegation about U.S. torture is an attempt to attack its motivation by distortions of the methods and the actual crime. It is thus exposed as just another dishonest bash America effort.

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