Thursday, December 01, 2005

Those who favor strong unambiguous policies against tortue and coercive techniques are often confronted with the ticking time bomb scenario.

Let me play a long with it.

Presumably those against policies say there should be no rules in a situation where we know a suspect has knowledge that could prevent the desturction of a large city. Let's stipulate that this is true, even if we do so with a long face.

But let's say that it takes a 2-part combination to disable the bomb, and we know that the suspect only knows half of it, and there is no direct plan to obtain the other half. What tactics are acceptable there? What if it's a 10-part combination? 100? 1000?

I think the situations we are likely to face are much more analogous to what I laid out here that the classic "ticking time bomb" scenario. Suspects have bits and pieces of information that are only useful when combined with other pieces of information obtained from other sources. Under pressure to gain information, a soldier, who is human, might convinve him or herself that this is a true "ticking time bomb" scenario, when it really is not.

Which is why I think we need clear guidelines. I think the men and women deserve to be freed from explicit or implicit pressure to perform acts at are intrinsically evil.
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