One (small) comfort while watching our collective descent into being a state sponsor of torture has been the notion that the evil is at least confined to the CIA and the Defense Department. But of course that’s not true; the evil extends throughout the government. And it turns out that you don’t have to actually engage in torture to slide down the slippery moral slope it creates. For example, check out this item from Steve Bergstein: A tale of two decisions (or, how the FBI gets you to confess).
This is a side to the foolishness of the Bush administration’s use of torture that doesn’t get enough attention from those who support it. It’s not just that it’s wrong. It’s stupid — because using coercive techniques simply guarantees that your victims will tell you whatever it is they think you want to hear, even if it’s not remotely close to the truth. And even if you don’t actually torture them directly, but merely threaten to give the names of their family members to the Egyptian police.
I’m with Sean Penn on this: The people engaging in this kind of thing, and writing legal opinions allowing it, and pushing others to use it, belong in fucking jail.