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Former White House advisor says torture may be necessary

Reuters | December 13 2005

Comment: Individual cases that have never happened and are never likely to happen like the classic 'a nuke is about to go off, would you torture?' are being used to morally justify sweeping worldwide torture programs that ensnare only the innocent and bewildered.

For a start, torture is not successful, it doesn't get credible information, only misleading information. Do you think for a second that somebody who is willing to slaughter millions of people as part of a nuke attack is going to give credible information ensuring that his plot is stopped? If anything, this would obliterate real leads and the attack would have MORE chance of going ahead.

What's next? Should we torture children in order to make terrorist suspects talk? Such scenarios have already been played out in drama shows like 24.

Blackwill and his ilk are helping make America the most hated country on earth and it is by design. The more terrorists they can recruit will lead far more of the public to support the vaccuous amoral abyss of torture.


A former top adviser to President George W. Bush on Iraq policy said on Monday there are instances when torture may be appropriate.

Commenting on an issue that has roiled Washington and affected the U.S. image abroad, Robert Blackwill, who was deputy national security adviser during Bush's first term, said:

"Of course torture should not be widespread and of course there should be extraordinarily stringent top-down requirements in this respect. But never? ... I wouldn't say never," he told the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

Blackwill, answering questions from the audience, said that when he taught a class for executives at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, the case which caused the most "confusion" involved a fictional detainee whose organization was threatening to detonate a nuclear weapon in New York City.

"You have reason to believe he knows where it is. Do you torture him? ... It does seem to me that circumstances matter here and ...I'm not an absolutist in this regard," he said.

Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced questions in Europe over the U.S. treatment of detainees and reports that the CIA has run secret prisons in Eastern Europe for its war on terror.

Blackwill, formerly Bush's special envoy to Iraq and then ambassador to India, called Iran the greatest external threat to Iraq, which is fighting an insurgency and struggling to establish a democratic system.

"Iraq thinks Iran is the major strategic threat to Iraq," not suicide bombers or insurgents, he added.

Blackwill, who resigned from the administration to join a consulting firm in November 2004, is still well-regarded among many in the administration for his analytical insight, including on both Iraq and India.

When he resigned, the National Security Council issued a statement saying Bush and then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice Rice held him in "the highest regard."

The U.S. Congress and the White House have been arguing over a defense bill amendment that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of detainees. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Sunday predicted the two sides would reach agreement.

The amendment, pushed by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, passed the Senate with a 90-9 majority, but the White House fiercely opposed it.

Vice President Dick Cheney led an unsuccessful bid to exempt the CIA from the torture ban, saying it would hinder the war on terrorism.

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