Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wittes Reviews Meyer
Mike Rappaport

Jane Meyer's book on the coercive interrogation techniques and other extraordinary means used to deal with the terrorists, On the Dark Side, has received a great deal of praise from the left side of the legal academy, such as at Balkinization.  Having seen her interviewed on C Span, I was tempted to read the book, but she just came across as so sanctimonious and one sided that I just didn't think I could bear it.  This was also how her hatchet job some years ago on Clarence Thomas came across.   

Now, Benjamin Wittes, certainly no right winger, reviews the book and reaches the same conclusion in a review, aptly named, One Side Only.  Wittes concludes:

I learned a lot from Mayer’s reporting, and much of it is probably correct. For its impressive detail, its narrative depth, and its disturbing accounts of what is taking place in the invisible recesses of America’s confrontation with the enemy, The Dark Side is a genuine contribution. What it isn’t, however, is either fair or remotely rigorous in its snap assessments of the costs and benefits of both the path America took and the paths it did not take.

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Mike Rappaport


"coercive interrogation techniques and other extraordinary means"

Why do you use this euphemism?

I think that *torture* has its place - though a very limited one. But I'm not afraid to call torture, well, *torture*.

Why are you afraid of standing up for what you believe in, by using clear language?

Posted by: MikeD | Nov 29, 2008 1:10:58 PM

I am not afraid of using clear language. I simply don't know whether some (or all) of these techniques are torture, legally or morally. Plus, there is a distinction between mild torture and strong torture that needs to be made. I have in the past talked about torture directly and am happy to do so, but I prefer to do so in a clear way, rather than as an aside to a post about a book review.

Posted by: Mike Rappaport | Nov 29, 2008 3:11:43 PM