Sunday, April 26, 2009

grand prize in the ultimate strawman competition

I've seen a lot of strawmen in my time, but this one wins the pie. From Michael Scheuer, chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999

In surprisingly good English, the captive quietly answers: 'Yes, all thanks to God, I do know when the mujaheddin will, with God's permission, detonate a nuclear weapon in the United States, and I also know how many and in which cities." Startled, the CIA interrogators quickly demand more detail. Smiling his trademark shy smile, the captive says nothing. Reporting the interrogation's results to the White House, the CIA director can only shrug when the president asks: "What can we do to make Osama bin Laden talk?"

You know, the guys who created the show '24' really have a lot to answer for, foremost being the old ticking A-bomb with no time! scenario. And you know what happens if you don't play the Jack Bauer way.

So if the above worst-case scenario ever comes to pass, Americans will have at least two things from which to take solace, even after the loss of major cities and tens of thousands of countrymen. First, they will know that their president believes that those losses are a small price to pay for stopping interrogations and making foreign peoples like us more. And second, they will see Osama bin Laden's shy smile turn into a calm and beautiful God-is-Great grin.

It's like these guys are going to freak out if we say they can't torture somebody. I'm sick enough of this hackneyed plot line that I don't even want to discuss it anymore. So in the spirit of compromise, if these citizens will just give it a rest, I'm willing to throw my support behind a major piece of policy - the You Can Torture bin-Laden Rule. That's right, if you catch Osama and think he knows where that A-bomb is, go ahead and torture the shit out of him. As a matter of fact, if you capture the guy and don't think he knows anything, you can torture him anyway, anything just to make you shut up.

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