In conversation with Marc Thiessen, who is struggling mightily to wash the torture taint from his hands as if the stench of being a Bushie wasn’t eau de douchebag enough, Andy McCarthy lays out more of the ends justify the means argument:
I suppose we could parse that until the end of time, but it’s beside the point. The pertinent question is whether the interrogations gave us valuable information about al Qaeda that we wouldn’t have gotten, in a timely manner, without it. Information about a specific imminent terrorist attack would have been nice too. In my mind, we should never resort to enhanced measures unless we believe in good faith that attacks are being planned and possibly imminent. But obtaining intelligence about a specific imminent attack would not have been necessary to validate the use of the enhanced measures. (I’m talking about the enhanced measures as we now understand them; I’m not saying it would have been worth actually torturing people as long as we were getting some helpful information about al Qaeda.)
Whether the enhanced measures are validly used, moreover, has to be determined by the threat situation before the enhanced measures are employed. Sure, it’s crucial to study the quality of the information the tactics yielded in making the policy decision of whether they should ever be used. Once you decide to have them in your arsenal, however, the determination of whether they were properly employed on any one occasion has to hinge on the situation that existed before you decided to use them, not on whether they were effective on that occasion. Otherwise, you would be incentivizing interrogators to get rougher than necessary, since the propriety of the harsh tactics will be judged by what they get out of the guy rather than whether the situation called for harsh tactics.
Did you get all that? He’s against torture except not.
…and that “Information about a specific imminent terrorist attack would have been nice too” is a lovely touch. It’s like a grace note for sociopaths.