Dershowitz calls for 'accountable' waterboarding, says torture 'works sometimes'
Law professor Alan Dershowitz has become notorious since 2001 for his advocacy of legalizing torture and his insistence that it is fully constitutional as long as it is not used to compel self-incrimination. He has also been arguing since 2004 for a pre-emptive attack on Iran
"I think the people in the United States want to see the Democrats be just as strong but smarter than the Republicans in fighting terrorism, fighting in Iran, fighting Iraq, fighting all the enemies of America," Dershowitz said Thursday on MSNBC.
"If Democrats do that in order to win, they might be going against what they believe in," responded MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski. "Perhaps what we really need to be doing is rebuilding our moral standing."
"I agree," said Dershowitz. "I think we should take a stand on waterboarding. We should say, never should it be permitted as a routine matter."
He then cited the hypothetical "ticking bomb" situation, arguing that any leader would order torture under those circumstances, so "we're just kidding ourselves by putting the issue underneath the table and coming up with extreme statements that we know we would never follow in practice."
"If you torture, then what separates you from -- the Nazis, or somebody else?" asked Brzezinski.
"Every government faced with a ticking bomb would, in fact, torture, and we would do it in order to get information to save lives," Dershowitz answered. "The essence of a democracy, if you're going to do something, you have to admit you're doing it and you have to have control over it and you have to have restrictions on when it can be done. ... If it's going to be done in a democracy, then you have to make everybody accountable for it."
"It's been found that torture doesn't cough up good information at all times," Brzezinski pointed out.
"That's just dead wrong," Dershowitz stammered. "It works sometimes."
Dershowitz concluded by insisting again that most world leaders would use torture to prevent another 9/11 but would do it "under the table and hide it. That is the worst response for a democracy. The best response is, if you're going to do something that's god-awful, like torture, at least acknowledge it."
The following video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast on November 15, 2007.