The incompleteness of Reuel Marc Gerecht:
Gerecht, responding to criticism from Andrew Sullivan about his support for torture, writes
... if you had been confronted on 7 September 2001 with a captured Khalid Shaykh Muhammad or Abu Zubaydah and you knew that a major, mass-casualty terrorist strike was about to go down in the United States, and you had plenipotentiary authority for the nation's security, you would not have used any physically coercive techniques against the gentleman?
Of course, as Kevin Drum notes
... we've tortured a steady and sizeable stream of people who were either decidedly small fish or else just completely innocent.
That's because they are suspects
. But Gerecht takes it beyond that baseline situation with his special knowledge that:
... you knew that a major, mass-casualty terrorist strike was about to go down
How convenient that he stops there. Notice that he didn't write:
You knew that a major, mass-casualty terrorist strike was about to go down involving hijacking commercial airlines.
You knew that a major, mass-casualty terrorist strike was about to go down involving hijacking commercial airlines and piloting them into buildings.
Because those scenarios diminish the "need" for torture (which doesn't work anyway) and are actually more likely to be encountered. If the intel is so vague that all it is that an unspecified
major strike is about to go down by unspecified
people, then everybody
shold be tortured. Russians, Taliban dudes, Al Qaeda recruits, men on the Cairo street, the Green Bay Packers, Democrats, et al.
Right now, as you are reading this post, there are some people thinking about striking the United States. They're dreamers and misfits and losers, but hey, that's just about all you need for Gerecht to approve a full-scale torture program. For Gerecht, the less you know, the more he supports torture, as long as there is the minimalist requirement that something is being planned
, which is always the case.
Quite worthwhile piece of writing, lots of thanks for the article.