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November 25, 2005
Ye Olde Blogaround

A tiny handful of the stories around the world o'blog today.

I'm amused by how many bloggers picked up the story of Brown's plan to counsel other unqualified disaster relief types.

Over at Cliopatria, Ralph Luker is talking about the Constitution and the Joseph Padilla case, with a link to an interesting analysis that, unfortunately, spends a lot of time discussing the actual case against Padilla. In my mind, Padilla's guilt or innocence is, has to be irrelevant in this case. What needs to be addressed is the Bush Administration's blithe refusal to acknowledge that they are subject to Constitutional constraints.

And Chris Bray has a very interesting question about the potential for attempted genocide in Iraq. Don't miss the comments and the links there.

Avedon Carol is right, as she answers Kevin Drum's frustration about how to you explain that torture is wrong. You can't "reason" someone into understanding that. They either get it or they don't. (And if they don't, they're dangerous.) The fact that so many people in our society lack the intuitive understanding of this fundamental moral principle highlights that we're an increasingly sick society.

Cathy From Canada has a creepy entry discussing Chris Matthews' delight in discussing torture. He's interviewing FBI interrogator Joe Navarro, ostensibly about his new book. Navarro, of course, is trying to make the point that torture doesn't work and that rational people don't even want to use it. After a time in which Chris desperately tries to get Navarro to give him the juice on some actual torture techniques (Cathy is right, it's obvious that Matthews didn't even open the book), this telling exchange:

MATTHEWS: If it doesn't work, why does the mob use it? Don't they use it to find out who ratted who out? They used to do it in the movies. NAVARRO: They use it because they are psychopaths, Chris.

Some people seriously need to get their dosages checked. And some men need to spend a lot less time watching and worshipping The Godfather.

Over at Ahistoricality, there's a regrettable tendency to encourage me to rant, but the same post includes a link to the delightful Interview With A Yeti.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:12 AM


"How come we can't fly? It works in the movies!" Geez, do these people realize how stupid they sound?

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at November 25, 2005 05:04 PM

Even my four-year-old understands the distinction between Mary Poppins and Julie Andrews (to take one example).

Part of the problem is that physical abuse and other forms of torture do work some of the time: in intelligence situations, though, the stakes for misinformation and bias confirmation (telling the interrogator what they want to hear) are so high that the error rate should be considered unacceptable.

And, as the earlier case posted by Ralph Luker should make clear to the "ticking bomb" folks (yes, that's a double-edged comment), interrogation with torture is no shortcut or time-saver.

Aside from the fact that it makes a mockery of our criminal justice system, our principles, any number of international agreements we've signed, even championed, our condemnations of penal institutions elsewhere.... it doesn't work.

I'm sorry, but if none of these arguments works, then "psychopath" may be the next necessary level of argumentation....

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at November 25, 2005 10:53 PM