George W's recent discussion on the legality and effectiveness of nature of the intelligence gained from water-boarding got me thinking int. It is always assumed elligence gained from torture is used to stop some imminent attack, the ticking time bomb scenario. But if we are to gain intelligence that way is that the best use of it?
I may have heard something in the background but I have always taken an interest in WW2 intelligence, especially Ultra, the breaking of German radio codes. One of the hardest decisions of the war was whether or not to alert the emergency services in Coventry that they were being target for a blitz. In the end Churchill didn't and lives were lost but the secret of Ultra was protected and others were saved and battles and the eventually war were won. Would it have been different if the emergency services had been alerted and the Germans realised their codes had been cracked? More than likely, but we'll never know.
That was a tough decision for the wider good so what about water-boarding and the war on terror, would any of our current politicians have moral the strength to make a similar decision? Finding out about imminent terror plots is important but of greater importance must be the need to find and capture the top leaders in AQ? That may mean letting an attack happen so that intelligence sources can be protected and used in the wider war.
And if our politicians do make that decision, what of the general population? In WW2 there was a feeling that we were in it together and there was a wider sacrifice to be made. Any politician making that sort of decision now must have in the back of their mind our litigious culture and desire to blame anyone, but especially the Government, every time there is a tragedy.
For the avoidance of doubt I am against torture and water-boarding is torture. Bush may have been legally right but that doesn't make it morally right. How many new recruits have been signed up my AQ in the past week or so and mitigated any so called good from the intelligence learned at the time?