America’s Tortured Conscience


“…Is there a moral analogue to cognitive dissonance? Moral dissonance? The shocking percentage of Americans willing to endorse the CIA’s vile interrogation techniques is an index of the portion of the population who suspect but are unable to admit to themselves, who cannot stand the moral dissonance of admitting, that they are complicit in something monstrous.”

The Dish

by Will Wilkinson

WaPo Torture

The Washington Postreports:

A majority of Americans believe that the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, even as about half the public says the treatment amounted to torture, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

By an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31  percent, those interviewed support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence.

In general, 58  percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”

What to make of this? My guess is that a fair number of those who think torture can be justified are thinking of ticking nuclear time bomb scenarios, and that a lot of those same people believe the CIA when it says that that is precisely the sort of situation they were dealing with. As Rosa Brooks…

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2 thoughts on “America’s Tortured Conscience

  1. This is an appalling indication of how governments can manipulate the way people think to further their own ends. The idea that I need a calloused and brutal protector to keep the hordes of evil people away is repugnant to me.

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