Lots of people are discussing torture on their weblogs in light of the capture of Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and the possible capture of Osama Bin Laden. I wrote a long post about torture this morning, thought I’d hit the “publish” button, and found out differently later. Suffice it to say that I oppose torture unequivocally. In the end, ceding to government the right to torture people is ceding them the right to do basically anything. Every government that has ever tortured people did so because they needed to protect the people from danger. The problem is that when people are taken to secret locations, tortured in unmentioned ways, and then the information they provide is kept confidential, government is held to no standard of accountability. And, to put it bluntly, when you condone torture you turn people into torturers, not just the people whose job it is to inflict pain on others, but everyone above them who approves the use of violence against helpless people. That doesn’t have a salutary effect on society, due to cognitive dissonance if nothing else.