Sully makes a good point:
Notice also that this isn’t the ticking time bomb case that Charles [Krauthammer] has previously invoked to defend torture. There was no imminent threat to hundreds of thousands of people; we had no way of knowing for sure that Zubaydah had any knowledge of such a devastating threat; and we have no independent way of knowing whether the information he allegedly gave up under torture was factually accurate. And so in the initial cases of torture under this administration, we discover it was used simply because we had no good intelligence of future threats; and we decided to use torture for a fishing expedition. So much for the rare exception to the rule.
Right; this was pretty damned far from the justificatory apparatus that conservatives have invoked in defense of various forms of torture. Then again, it’s rather in the same vein as hawkish claims about “pre-emptive war”. If this administration understands pre-emption as the justification for the invasion of any country that might develop the capability to launch an attack at some point in the next two decades, then it’s hardly a leap to imagine that they consider the “ticking time bomb” scenario as justification for the torture of anyone who might threaten the US in the near or distant future.
And while I’m generally skeptical of “slippery slope” arguments (it seems to me political life is about drawing lines, then arguing about which way they should move), it’s hard to disagree with the following:
The defenders of torture are always saying that it can be used “judiciously” and in extremely limited circumstances, that it can be controlled within the executive branch; that it need not metastasize into a Agstress broader policy, and need not trickle down to others. But from all the facts we now know, this executive decision to rescind the Geneva Conventions began with cases that were already beneath the “ticking time bomb” scenario, and within months spread like wildfire across every theater of combat, including every major branch of the armed services, leading to scores of deaths in interrogation, almost casual if brutal torture of (often innocent) suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq, secret torture sites in Eastern Europe, God knows what in outsourced torture in the grim redoubts of Uzbek, Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian police states, and, of course, the excrescence of Abu Ghraib, which Bush had the gall to say he had nothing to do with.