The “Ticking Time Bomb” rationale for torture has an easy answer.

Never seen an episode of “Blue Bloods”. Never seen it, but I like Tom Selleck quite a big (Quigley Down Under is one of my favorite movies). Anyway, the favorite rationale for torture (excuse me, I mean “enhanced interrogation”) is mentioned during discussion of a police “abuse of force” action. the “ticking time bomb”. Namely, if there was a ticking nuclear weapon and you had control of a terrorist, wouldn’t you use torture to get the kill codes, or would you read him his rights and let the city blow up. That’s an interesting half-clever scenario for a number of reasons, but we won’t go into them. Here’s my answer: I might well torture the person. Stress in a situation like that makes people do things they wouldn’t do under ordinary circumstances. But…I WOULDN’T EXPECT TO BE EXONERATED. If caught, I’d expect to be convicted. I wouldn’t care to protect a society that legalized torture. If I cared enough about the lives of the innocent, I’d be willing to be punished for my actions, WANT to be punished if they could catch me. In that way, I’m protecting not just the lives but the quality of the lives of those involved. The concept of a society where people can get away with thumbscrews and waterboarding with impunity, under cover of official sanction, terrifies me a hell of a lot more than prison. I know with zero doubt that such power would get turned against me and mine.


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