Sowell Deploys a TTBS
As a follow-on to my post the other day (On Ticking Time Bombs) I see that Thomas Sowell is joining in the fun:
If you knew that there was a hidden nuclear time bomb planted somewhere in New York City — set to go off today — and you had a captured terrorist who knew where and when, would you not do anything whatever to make him tell you where and when? Would you pause to look up the definition of "torture"? Would you even care what the definition of "torture" was, when the alternative was seeing millions of innocent people murdered?
Let me note again: this is based on pure fiction. I mean this literally because the reason we are familiar with this scenario is because we have seen it on TV and in the movies. The TTBS is created for dramatic effect so that the hero can save the day.
Could someone explain to me, for example, why terrorists groups known for suicide bombings would set a timer?
And really, Sowell does not even attempt to make an actual argument. He simply presents a choice: let NYC blow up or torture someone. This is tiresome.
He does go on to do what other defenders of torture have done: argue that the time after 9/11 was like an ongoing TTBS. While it is the case that there was a great deal of fear and anxiety at the time, the hallmark of a TTBS is a) an immediate threat, and b) the perpetrator is in custody and is known to have the intel needed to avert said immediate threat. However, after 9/11 neither of those situation existed: we knew a threat might exist, but the timeframe was indeterminate, and we had no idea whether the persons in our custody had the information that we thought we needed.
Enough, already with the TTBS “arguments.”
(Plus, the laziness inherent in basically writing the same paragraph as everyone else about nukes in NYC is getting tiring all by itself).