Dershowitz sings torture's praises

Jacob Levich jlevich at
Tue Sep 10 18:44:05 MDT 2002

Note that the eminent jurist recommends sterilizing the needles before
thrusting them under the prisoner's fingernails. A delicate sensibility.


Strategic Thinking
A year after Sept. 11, students of U.S. policy still disagree about what
went wrong and how to fix it.

By James Bamford
Sunday, September 8, 2002; Page Washington Post Book World BW03


As the United States fights its holy war against the Muslim hordes, new
ways must be found to deal with nonbelievers and criminal suspects back
home. If celebrity lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz could have his way, those
methods would include such Draconian tactics as "torture warrants,"
collective punishment and national ID cards. "I am willing to think the
unthinkable and move beyond any kind of conventional wisdom," he admits in
Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge
(Yale Univ., $24.95). Dershowitz, who has long championed the cause of
Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, spends much of this convoluted book arguing
that Ariel Sharon's hard-line approach to the Palestinians has not been
hard enough. The sometime civil libertarian also chastises those who seek
to understand the "root causes" of the Middle East violence, arguing that
it merely plays into the hands of the terrorists. On one of his many visits
to Israel, Dershowitz analyzed the Israeli government's program of
collective punishment against the Palestinians -- demolishing the homes of
innocent relatives of those involved in suicide bombing. It is a practice
outlawed under international law. Nevertheless, Dershowitz decided to
recommend a more effective policy -- leveling the buildings in entire
villages. "The next time the terrorists attack," he said, "the village's
residents would be given twenty-four hours to leave, and then Israeli
troops would bulldoze the houses."

Dershowitz also came up with the idea of torture while on a visit to
Israel. He discovered that the Israeli government regularly used the
technique, also long outlawed under international statutes, against
Palestinians in custody and thought it might be useful in the United
States. After all, he argues, law enforcement does it anyway, so why not
legalize it and allow judges to issue "torture warrants"? "I think there
would be less torture with a warrant requirement than without one," he
argues. Thus if a person still refuses to talk, or tell where a bomb is
hidden, after the "torture warrant" has been issued, says Dershowitz, "he
would be subjected to judicially monitored physical measures designed to
cause excruciating pain without leaving any lasting damage." One form of
torture recommended by Dershowitz -- "the sterilized needle being shoved
under the fingernails" -- is chillingly Nazi-like.

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