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Our Interrogation Techniques Did Not Turn Everyone Against The U.s.

"Enhanced interrogation techniques" is, I suppose, how lawyerly apologists for anything and everything by way of getting information from terrorists comfort themselves. These methods should more aptly be called "degraded interrogation techniques." But this should not end the debate. It is what should open it, legally, medically, psychologically, philosophically, morally. 

Forgive the cliche that used to drive Michael Kinsley bonkers. But on this "there are no easy answers." Which is why justifications for one degraded method won't necessarily lead to justifications for another degraded method. Or the renunciations of one won't necessarily compel you to renunciations of others. No one will ever be fully consoled on all, whatever you call them.

There is now common among the wisdom salesmen in the press the most inventive of reasons as to why one should be against all of it: nudity, walling, waterboarding, physical stress, sexual provocation, sleep deprivation, standing, crouching et al. And this is that, as knowledge of these investigative punishments spreads, enlistments in the terrorist internationale will increase or have increased. Philip Stephens subsumes all this in a Financial Times column titled, "America's abuse of the law handed victory to terrorists."

It is all so simple.

Abu Ghraib, the secret CIA prisons, the rendition of prisoners to places of torture elsewhere and, of course, Guantanamo did more than shatter America's moral authority. They served as a recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda.

Stephens likes this corny recruiting metaphor.  So he uses it again five paragraphs later.

The evidence that the US was willing to abandon its own civilized standards wrote the recruitment poster for al-Qaeda.

And what about the recruiting posters for the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and the vast Islamic network of other barbarians?

This is a not-all-that-clever sleight-of-hand. America's enemies, the enemies of the West bore no antagonism to the United States and its allies until they showed their indifference to their own values. This is nonsense...and ahistorical besides.