This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.Critics of "harsh interrogation techniques" — they, of course, call it torture — bolster their moral arguments with the pragmatic argument that it doesn't even work. How unusual it is for the media to disillusion us about that and force the moralists to get by on moral ideals alone!
ADDED: Obsidian Wings quotes me and comes up with 4 questions, but the 4 questions have absolutely nothing to do with the point I made. Here are the questions:
(1) Is beating a detainee to death with a metal flashlight torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (2) Is beating detainees with butts of rifles torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (3) Is choking a detainee with your bare hands until he almost passes out torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"? (4) Is threatening to rape wives and murder children torture? Or merely a "harsh interrogation technique"?These questions are about the definition of "torture," but my point is that the Washington Post has said that the techniques — whatever you want to call them — were effective, and, if this is true, it means that people who oppose their use are deprived of a pragmatic argument they normally make. I'm not saying anything about the choice of which term ought to be used, but I do observe that it is the usual practice for people try to make arguments by labeling. Saying "torture" to argue against the techniques is like saying "death panels" to alarm people about the experts who, under ObamaCare, will (it seems) decide who will get which medical treatments. I don't approach these issues by asking what does the word "torture" mean, with the assumption that if it is within that definition, then we should never do it. I would look directly at the question what should we do and not do. I'm not going to weight the issue one way or the other by deciding first whether to say "torture." Let's look straight at the issue and not get abstract and linguistic.