This essay is intended to be an invitation for public dialog rather than a hermetically sealed exposition.
In an earlier essay I contended that in the "real world", rule-sets must sometimes be relaxed. All models and rule-sets are simplifications of reality. They would lose all utility if they captured and accounted for every hair of every dog. These simplifications will break down when presented with extreme cases. Consider a tiled floor. One can follow the pattern on an individual tile until one comes to the edge. One must hop over the grout-line before the pattern (the correlation between our internal model and observed events) snaps back into focus.
Those who oppose extreme interrogation techniques contend that the means never justifies the end.
At this point....
At this point many bloggers would burn 200 words repainting the context of the times and then toss out the rhetorical question, "But what would you change?"
I am going to take a short detour and then ask a non-rhetorical question.
Law Enforcement Officers: Please cut me a little bit of slack.
There was a time when police would visit a house for domestic disturbance. The woman would show signs of physical trauma. The kids would be cowering. The man would be teetering on the brink of being out of control.
The police would interview the woman. She would refuse to press charges. She might even deny that he had assaulted her.
If this was a house they had visited before, and if the man had not listened to the cop's "Come to Jesus" talk, the cops would take him downtown for interrogation. While walking down the steps the man might trip and fall down.
It is a little documented fact that there are anomalies in the gravitational field around men who beat their wives, girlfriends and children. This anomaly makes it possible for the same bully to fall down the same flight of steps multiple times.
The cops judged the man to be a bully and dealt street justice. The laws on the books at that time meant that a crime, assault, would not be addressed. Bullies are cowards. The cops dealt with the perpetrator. After that, Billy-bob thought twice before bipping Susy, Toad and Cooter around the trailer when he drank too much.
And then the laws were rewritten so the cops and medical first responders could file charges.
There were many advantages. For one thing, a crime had been committed. For another, the cops and first responders had responded at high speed thus increasing the risk to themselves and everybody else on the road. Finally, "domestic disturbance" is dreadfully imprecise term...the cops are stressed because they have no idea what they are walking into.
Our criminal justice system has its faults but it also has some strengths. Getting hauled in front of a judge might be the only way that most people will get mental health counseling and access to a doctor who will prescribe appropriate drugs for mental illness.
Another strength of the criminal justice system is that a street cop who feels comfortable "coaching" Billy-bob in the trailer park might be intimidated by Stetson who lives in a $700,000 house. Stetson is more likely to get "coaching" via the official, criminal justice system.
The non-rhetorical question
Given the urgency of the times, our lack of solid intelligence and our need to protect ourselves, what would you change about the interrogation rule-set. I am fishing around for some empowerment or small change (like allowing cops and first responders to file charges) that will obviate the need for extreme interrogation techniques.