Strong opinions, weakly held

The case against torture

The capture of the 15 British soldiers by Iran provides a tidy test case for torture apologists. The sailors have already confessed to trespassing in Iranian waters, even though I’m sure that most of them have no idea where they were in the Persian Gulf, exactly, when the Iranians picked them up. Is it fine for Iran to coerce confessions and information from these British sailors? What if Iran declares them “unlawful combatants” before they do it? And most importantly, what moral authority do we have to demand that the Iranians not mistreat those sailors given our own practices when it comes to torturing people we capture? Or must we just rely on letting them know that we have bigger guns, so they must bend to our will?


  1. Out torture is “humane” and it’s only done on people who are “known” to be guilty anyway.

    Same way someone’s god is the real one because they “know” it, and your “knowing” the same of yours doesn’t matter.

  2. yeah, I think we’re mostly just relying on that last option, up there.


  3. Here’s the Neocon excuse I’ve seen most:

    • The captured Brits were part of military, wearing uniforms
    • The detainees at Gitmo were not part of any military (“unlawful combatants”)
    • Torturing the former is wrong; torturing the latter is okay.
    • If we don’t torture, we’ll be overrun really soon.

    Strangely enough, they all ignore the overriding evidence that torture provides no credible information, and does us a disservice to include it in our interrogation policy. Sadly, too many people confuse reality with TV, where torture works (see “24”, etc al.) all the time.

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