2. A note on torture
This is a note to my "The audacity of nope" of August 11, 2011. It's unchanged, except for a link to my father's testimony on concentration-camps, which he survived, unlike his father, that also has the virtue of including The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I have meanwhile seen and read rather a lot of discussions about torture as a means to obtain information, but nearly all of it was rhetorical, phony or false.
The point that tends to be missed most, intentionally or not, is not about whether torture works, and also not about imaginary situations in which some kind of physical force may, conceivably, seem justified to many (here you have certain knowledge of a flying plane full of lovely toddlers; there you have a Hannibal Lecter in chains who is certainly known to have hidden a bomb in the plane a.s.o.) - the point is that if you institutionalize torture and concentration camps you have bidden goodbye to civilization, to civilized law, to human decency, and to publicly responsible and accountable military and bureaucrats, and indeed you then have definitely taken leave of a state, governors, state bureaucrats, police and military personnel fit to be trusted or to be considered your legal equals: A person who can lock you up without trial and with waterboarding is not your equal, not in law, not in morals, and not humanly speaking.
If you allow torture to be institutionalized, you have taken leave of civilized society and of civilized laws and institutions, and you have taken leave of state servants you possibly could trust or legally oppose without undue personal risk, and you will have allowed bureaucrats and politicians to become your absolute superiors in force and power, who can do anything they please with anyone within their power. You will have lost your freedom and your defence in law or morality, and you will have turned into a slave of the state, its politicians and their bureaucrats, police and military men. (See e.g. Montefiore's "Stalin - The Court of the Red Czar", for how this works out in practice, in the name of the highest moral ideals, also: Do never be so naive, stupid or ignorant as to believe that those out to enslave or abuse you will honestly own up to their degeneracy. The worst atrocities have been committed for the purportedly best of moral, political or religious reasons, by self-appointed saviours out for power or profit.)