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November 29, 2005

Andrew Sullivan, Shrieking Hysteric

Here, enjoy:

MALKIN AWARD NOMINEE: "That McCain broke under torture doesn't make him any less of an American hero. But it does prove he's wrong to claim that harsh interrogation techniques simply don't work." - from an article titled, "John McCain: Torture Worked on Me," on the right-wing website, Newsmax. Just when you think the pro-torture right cannot sink any lower, they do.

What, precisely, is objectionable about that, Saint Andrew of the Sacred "Heart-Ache"? One of the lies the torture hysterics have been peddling for years is that torture never works. No one ever gives up any valuable information; everyone will say whatever you want them too when you break out the tongue-forceps.

It's untrue and it always has been. I link, once again, an article from the Atlantic Monthly by Mark Bowden of Black Hawk Down fame, in which he interviews a professional torturer. The man's opinion? Of course it works. It always has worked and it always will. It's a question of when, not if.

A human being, no matter how heroic or fanatical, can only take so much misery and pain and dispair before breaking.

So Newsmax offers the genuine martial and moral hero (at least he was such some time ago) of John McCain as yet another strong, committed, patriotic man ultimately broken down by torture. Andrew Sullivan finds this, of course, objectionable.

It reminds me of a correction a judge issued to a lawyer. Evidence may be excluded from court if it is unduly predjudicial, that is, while it has some relevance, its propensity to turn the jury against one party for irrelevant reasons ("He's just a bad guy, all around") makes it prudent to exclude it. In a case, a lawyer objected to evidence, citing the fact that it was "prejudicial."

"Of course it's prejudicial," the judge explained. "If it weren't predjudicial, the other side wouldn't be offering it at all. The question is whether it's unduly prejudicial."

"This really hurts the bullshit case I'm trying to make" is not considered a legitimate objection to evidence.

But that Andrew Sullivan for ya. The Shrill Shill writes in the most overblown and emotional and ad hominem of terms, but when relevant evidence that damages his claims is offered, he cries foul. It's just not civil, he whines.

The fact that McCain broke under torture is no knock against him, and Newsmax didn't mean it as such. (Little hint: they state clearly that the fact "[t]hat McCain broke under torture doesn't make him any less of an American hero." Kind of a tip-off, eh?)

Almost everyone breaks, eventually. A soldier can consider himself to have survived torture with honor if he is merely successful in delaying giving up operational intelligence until the point at which it becomes stale, or mixing in enough lies with the truth to render his "intelligence" all but useless.

We can debate the immorality of torture, but we can hardly be so childish and pretend that it's also ineffectual, or revert to complete pre-schooler neener-neener mode when evidence of its effectuality is offered.

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posted by Ace at 02:56 PM

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