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“It Doesn’t Work” Cont’d

Damon Linker has an interesting post about Leo Strauss and the torture debate. But what I find worth mentioning in light of yesterday’s discussion,  is that he offers an obligatory gesture toward the “it doesn’t work argument.” This strikes me as an unnecessary genuflection to a liberal argument that undermines his actual discussion. Moreover, he offers no evidence that it’s true. He does link to this post by Democratic activist Matt Yglesias in which Yglesias offers no evidence that torture doesn’t work either. Instead he basically says you don’t have to bother trying to find such evidence because he’s basically figured it out already. But he makes a hash of that. The point of these interrogations isn’t to get “false confessions” or confessions of any kind. It’s to get intelligence you can check against other intelligence. Yglesias is surely right that those interrogated say many false things, but they say true things too, which can be verified. This is a point Mukasey, Hayden and others have made many times now and yet the opponents of these interrogation methods seem determined to ignore it. Again, I have no objection to the moral argument against torture — if you honestly believe something amounts to torture. But the “it doesn’t work” line remains a cop out, no matter how confidently you bluster otherwise.

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