Dave Noon has already addressed the tired and misguided literary cliche -- "Call him Ishmael" -- that forms the lede of Richard Cohen's new column on why torture opponents need to address the unanswered question of how to deal with the imaginary terrorist named Ishamel who lives in his brain. But the name is the least of it:
No one can possibly believe that America is now safer because of the
new restrictions on enhanced interrogation and the subsequent
appointment of a special prosecutor. The captured terrorist of my
fertile imagination, assuming he had access to an Internet cafe, knows
about the special prosecutor. He knows his interrogator is under
scrutiny. What person under those circumstances is going to spill his
Ah yes, the interrogator must build rapport with the captured
terrorist. That might work, but it would take time. It could take a lot
of time. Building rapport is clearly the preferred method, but the
terrorist is going to know all about it. He will bide his time. How
much time do we have?
As long as we're playing this game, I'm going to imagine my own terrorist -- call him Queequeg -- who knows the clock is running and he only has to stand up to interrogation for a short time, thus rendering torture ineffective. As fun as this is, perhaps constructing hypothetical scenarios isn't the best way to design interrogation policy.
There's also this:
I am torn between my desire for absolute security and my abhorrence of torture.
Absolute security? That's the trade-off? Well things certainly are straightforward in Richard Cohen's imaginary war on terror. Why do I get the feeling that if Cohen would see the logic in nuking Imaginationland?