But ... you see the dilemma. What happens if on September 7th of 2001, we had gotten one of the hijackers and based on information associated with that arrest, believed that within four days, there's going to be a devastating attack on the United States...
And what if Superman had worked for the Nazis? God, I love this game.
Here's what I don't get: this sort of shit would be laughed out of a Freshman-year logic class, but at the highest reaches of the US government it goes unchallenged. Show your work, Mr. Hadley...how have we "gotten" one of the hijackers? Speeding While Arab? Alleged throat-slashing gesture aimed at hysterical suburban airline passenger? That's enough to bring out the brass knuckles and the crank telephone, just to see if we can come up with anything interesting?
Or the alternative: we get wind of nefarious activities. What do we need torture for? Any information gained from torture is suspect, and you've already got some sort of lead, presumably even enough for the pre-9/11 Bush administration to take some action. You're either in possession of some solid evidence, or you're advocating wanton torture, which I think even a die-hard sports fan like yourself, Mr. Hadley, will admit has a few drawbacks.
All right, for the sake of argument, let's do the Full Cheney. You've "gotten" your suspect, and you know he's planted a mythical suitcase bomb which will take out a major American city in 24 hours. He won't talk. The clock is ticking. So fucking torture him already if that's going to save the world. Just shut up about it. Law or no law, who's going to complain?
This has nothing whatsoever to do with sanctioning torture as an instrument of the US government or its third-party S&M chums. Licensed torture isn't going to be employed only in your Doomsday scenario. It's going to be employed routinely, to extract mundane information or to break up an otherwise boring day. War is hell. Motherfucking awful things happen in a war which no sane person would wish on anybody. In the wholly unlikely event of someone in the field being faced with this Hollywood plotline of yours, he'd do what had to be done. He'd do it just to save the lives of a few of his comrades. But the least that a civilized world demands, if it's not too late for that, is that he'd be praying to God he was right.
Surely there's someone sitting in Mr. Hadley's audience with a laptop. Surely there's someone who can google up a pic of Lynndie Englund and say, "Here, sir, is this the world we need to save?"