Dershowitz on torture
volokh at mail.law.ucla.edu
Tue Nov 6 17:14:10 PST 2001
Just in case people are interested, here are the views of one
far-from-conservative lawprof on the torture question. I continue to be
unsure about this issue, and I do not for a moment suggest that people
should be persuaded by Alan Dershowitz's views simply because he's Alan
Dershowitz -- but it did strike me as noteworthy that he would take this
view. The excerpts are from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 5, 2001:
Americans may have to consider ideas as foreign as truth serums and
torture warrants when thinking about striking a balance between liberty and
security after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.
That was the message celebrity lawyer and civil libertarian Alan M.
Dershowitz delivered to a crowd packed into a gymnasium Sunday at the
Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur. Dershowitz was the opening speaker
for the Jewish Book Fair. . . .
Dershowitz said he always supported the philosophy that it was better to
let criminals go free than to unjustly detain innocent people. But he
suggested that terrorist acts should make civil rights activists readjust
their thinking on some issues. . . .
Americans need to consider what measures should be allowed to get
information from unwilling terror suspects, he said. After law enforcement
officials have asked, begged, cajoled, threatened and bribed a
close-mouthed witness, they may need to take more drastic measures to
elicit vital information, Dershowitz said.
Americans should begin thinking about whether it would be permissible to
grant the suspect immunity from prosecution and then administer truth
Even torture may not be off the table as an information-gathering tool,
Dershowitz said. But there must be a national debate about the
circumstances in which torture is permissible and who should have the power
to decide when to use it. Dershowitz suggested that judges could issue
torture warrants in certain cases. . . .
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