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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 23, 2009 / 29 Nissan 5769

A tortured debate over the ‘torture memos’

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | On this page a few years ago I wrote several columns arguing strongly that torture was never acceptable -- not even "as a last and desperate option" in the war against jihadist terrorism, a war I strongly support. At a time when not only conservative hawks but even some notable liberals were making the case for using torture to thwart al-Qaeda, I contended that the cruel abuse of terrorist detainees was something we could never countenance -- not just because torture is illegal, unreliable, and a threat to the innocent, but because it is one of those practices that a civilized society cannot engage in without undermining its right to call itself civilized.

Rereading those columns amid the tumult over the Justice Department "torture memos" released last week, I see little that I would change. I am still convinced, as I wrote in 2005, that interrogation techniques amounting to torture "cross the line that separates us from the enemy we are trying to defeat."

Yet the Bush-era memos strike me as much more thoughtful than most of the moral preening and tendentious grandstanding they set off. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, apoplectically declares that the memos not only authorized torture "without a shadow of a doubt," they "gave explicit instruction on how to carry it out." The New York Times pronounces them "a journey into depravity." A petition at Democrats.com urges the appointment of a special prosecutor for "torture . . . and other heinous crimes of the Bush Administration." All three demand the impeachment of US Appeals Court Judge Jay Bybee, who used to work in the Office of Legal Counsel and wrote one of the memos.

What's missing from all this sanctimony and censure is any acknowledgement of the circumstances under which the CIA interrogations took place, let alone the successes with which they have been credited. That may be a good way to score cheap political points. It doesn't add much to the public discourse.

Context matters. Actions that are indisputably beyond the pale under normal conditions -- waterboarding a prisoner, for example -- can take on a very different aspect when conditions are abnormal, as they surely were in the terrifying wake of 9/11.

We did not have a clear understanding of the enemy we were dealing with," recalled Dennis Blair, the Obama administration's director of national intelligence, in his statement accompanying the declassified memos last week. "Our every effort was focused on preventing further attacks that would kill more Americans." Knowing little about al-Qaeda's capabilities, desperately seeking to head off another slaughter, fearing the worst, the government's highest priority was to extract critical intelligence from al-Qaeda detainees.

That was the state of affairs when the CIA sought legal approval to use harsher interrogation methods. "Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing," Blair's said. But there was nothing sunny or safe about the post-9/11 emergency in which they were used. Any honest discussion of the memos authorizing them ought to say so.

Particularly when those memos indicate that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" saved lives. According to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury's memo dated May 30, 2005, "intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al-Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West" since 9/11. Senior terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at first "resisted giving any answers" when asked about future attacks, but waterboarding led him to divulge "specific, actionable intelligence." One result was the foiling of al-Qaeda's planned "Second Wave" -- a 9/11-like plot to crash a hijacked airliner into a Los Angeles skyscraper.

But what if it hadn't been foiled? Suppose the CIA had been denied permission to use brutal interrogation tactics, and al-Qaeda had consequently gone on to murder thousands of additional victims in California. What kind of conversation would we be having once it became known that the refusal to subject KSM to the waterboard had come at so steep a price? How many of those now blasting the Bush administration for allowing torture would be blasting it instead for not preventing a second bloodbath?

None of this is meant as a defense of torture, which I oppose as adamantly as ever. But even those of us who were against the Bush interrogation policy should be able to acknowledge the good faith of those who disagreed and the exigency in which they found themselves. To say nothing of the lives their decisions may have saved.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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