Thursday, April 30, 2009

Occam's Taser

All else being equal, the most simple-minded solution is the best, a.k.a. "When in doubt, hit something."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May
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Cliff May's a manic piece of work. What's staggering is how much effort the commonsense hard right is putting into defending torture as the only option for getting information from terror suspects. It's common sense. EVERYBODY KNOWS...
The world is flat and the sun moves around it.

When cars run off the road they explode ... multiple times.

Shoot a guy in the chest and he'll fly backward off his feet (probably through plate glass).

You rough up prisoners to get them to talk: 24, Casino Royale, Rambo II, Marathon Man, etc.
Jon Stewart is usually pretty good, but he let May entangle him in a twenty-minute, false-choice argument over whether to engage in "stress and duress interrogation" or nothing.
You've got a guy. You know he has plots. You know Americans are going to be killed. Do you get tough with him at all, or do you simply say, 'Nothing we can do, send him back to his cell for a nice dinner with an extra blanket,' and let people die?
May then got to argue at length over where the line is drawn between inflicting discomfort and torture, as though where that line is is the crux of the issue, because abusing prisoners is the only intelligence gathering tool in his toolbox.

And like the Bush OLC, May expends all his considerable energy trying to define - as though any reasonable, law-abiding official would - just how much abuse interrogators can inflict without violating the law, because there is no other option. Because EVERYBODY KNOWS abusing prisoners is how you get them to confess.

When threatened, conservatives are good, as May is, at putting opponents on defense by challenging them on their commitment to defending their loved ones: What would you do if it were your family member at risk?

It's a false choice, and should be called out as such.

What makes Conservatives Without Conscience ASSUME rough handling - including torture - is the best way to get good intelligence out of a captive? What made the amateurs in the White House and the Pentagon ignore their own interrogation professionals who told them otherwise in page after page of the Senate Armed Services report?

But ask them that and they'll look at you as if you're an idiot. Why? Because EVERYBODY KNOWS...

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