If we act like angels, and another, even more massive attack occurs in the United States, then the public might cry for blood, as it did to an extent in the immediate days and weeks after 9/11, when torture was occasionally spoken of in different terms than it is now. Remember that some Bush Administration policies were drawn up in the context of one public mood, and carried out in the context of another. Were that to happen, detainees’ rights might decline by, say, 50 percent. But if we push the envelope only 15 percent along that dangerous path, then we might avoid the 50 percent trap, and save many of our own lives.
But even 15 percent makes me queasy. To avoid the question, though, is itself irresponsible.