Thursday, November 08, 2007

Litmus Tests and Historic Firsts

At the House Judiciary Committee hearings today, an Air Force Reserve colonel was asked about the "ticking time bomb" scenario:

Now, the ticking-bomb case -- depending on where you sit on the torture question -- is either the hardest test of someone's sense of balance between human rights and national security or a rhetorical trap designed to box opponents of torture into saying that it's better for Sheboygan to be nuked than someone be waterboarded. But the question was handled by U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel Steve Kleinman, a longtime military interrogator and intelligence officer. He said that even in the ticking bomb case, torture would be the wrong call. "'I'd say it'd be unneccesary to conduct our affairs outside the boundaries," Kleinman replied. His experience "proves the legal and moral concerns to be almost immaterial, because what we'd need to do to be operationally effective" wouldn't involve torture.

Which makes sense, considering that U.S.'s SERE instructors teach their students that torture just "Produces Unreliable Information."

So while Franks should get an A for effort, Kleinman's testimony suggests that anyone who'd waterboard in a ticking-bomb case is wasting time that could be used to stop Sheboygan's imminent destruction. When's that going to be considered a threat to national security?

If you want to know what abortion and torture have in common, read this op-ed by Rosa Brooks in the Los Angeles Times. And no, it's actually not an anti-choice piece; Brooks' thesis is that torture has become the new litmus test for judicial nominees, in the same way that abortion once was. It's a very interesting read.

If the winter holidays are near, can FBI warnings about terrorist attacks on shopping malls be far behind? You laugh (and so did I), but Joe Gandelman makes a good point about the dangers of crying wolf.

Via Lawyers, Guns and Money, Jill at Feministe finds out that it's not so awful to be a serial killer or a wife-beater -- as long as you're pro-life.

Smile! Pres. Bush got his first veto override today.

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