Politico's torture-friendly framing

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Politico's Josh Gerstein and Mike Allen, on the torture debate:

Obama as a candidate embraced the view that torture is both wrong and ineffective. But now that he has full access to the same top-secret documents cited by Cheney, the question cuts more sharply: Does he agree or disagree with Blair that coercive tactics produce valuable intelligence?

That's an awfully skewed portrayal of "the question" about torture.

First, it suggests that the central question is not "is it right?" but rather "does it work?" That is debatable, to say the least.

But even if you stipulate that the efficacy of torture is worth considering, Politico skews that question as well, setting it up as a question of whether torture can "produce valuable intelligence." A better version might be "does it produce valuable intelligence that could not have been otherwise gained, and can that intelligence be readily distinguished from false leads?"

A bicycle will get you from New York to San Francisco, but if you have to be there tomorrow, it isn't a particularly good choice.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Interrogation
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