THE PRAGMATIC CASE AGAINST TORTURE….I’ve long been leery of staking too much on the “pragmatic” case against torture ? namely that it doesn’t work ? because it implies that if it did work then I’d be OK with it. Matt Yglesias makes a good argument in its defense:
Some people don’t like to bring up “pragmatic” worries about torture because they think this obscures the “real” reason torture is wrong ? it’s depraved. That seems a little wrongheaded to me. A big part of the reason we know torture to be a depraved practice is precisely that it’s not useful ? only depraved people become professional torturers and only depraved leaders order its systematic use as a policy tool. If torture were a vital and useful investigative tool, you’d be able to point to big piles of non-depraved torturers, but you really can’t.
I’m still a little leery of this argument, because I’m afraid that eventually it will lead to dueling talking heads on Hardball arguing about whether torture works or not. I’m not sure I could take that. But still, Matt makes a good point.