Yesterday, I wrote a pretty lengthy piece about torture, in response to a typically asshatted column by Glenn Greenwald (or, perhaps, ghost-written by "Rick Ellensberg," "Ellison," "Thomas Ellers," or "Ryan," or some new pseudonym) on torture and its role in the War on Terror. It prompted a lot of discussion -- a lot of heat, but some light. For example, I said that US interrogators had "developed" the waterboarding technique, when I should have said "refined" -- it's actually an old method, but updated to greatly reduce the risk of physical harm.
But one of the points raised in the comments was by Wizbang Blue author Paul Hamilton, and I think it needs fully addressing:Torture is wrong. Period. And when you start parsing the definition, you're tacitly admitting that.A seemingly-unassailable moral principle. But as they say, the devil is in the details.
The problem is that "wrong" has no real meaning in a legal sense. "Right" and "wrong" don't mean a damned thing in a courtroom -- and let's face it, that's where these sorts of disputes almost always end up. They are replaced with "legal" and "illegal."
And those terms need absolute definitions. The law must be a black and white matter, a purely binary equation. It is simply unreasonable and untenable to say that "torture" is illegal without spelling out what "torture" is -- and, more importantly, what it is not.
I wrote a detailed response to this posting, so click here to see what I had to say, but the sum of it is that evil is as evil does. If we allow the enemy to determine our morality -- or lack thereof -- then we have become no better than the "evil" we are fighting.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!