[Side note: People, particularly Presidential candidates, need to stop getting their policy from Hollywood. Just how often will the "ticking time bomb" scenario actually take place? It's not 24, it's the real world, and just how many of the people we have tortured have been in that scenario? Exactly zero.]
Rosa Brooks makes the following point, in response to that idiot Tancredo brushing off theoretical objections to torture (i.e. it doesn't get information, and hurts American standing):
Western civilization isn't about speaking English, or flags, or football or borders. If Western ivilization is about anything at all, it's about the arduous, centuries-long struggle to nurture an idea of human dignity that's not dependent on nationality or power. As Petraeus put it, there are some "values and standards that make us who we are."
Tancredo's right about one thing though. If we embrace the use of torture, we won't need to worry that extremist Islamic terrorists might destroy Western civilization. We'll have killed it off ourselves.
Now, forgive this little corner from saying "we told you so," but we have consistently taken the position that by rushing to embrace restrictions on our freedom, and agreeing that yes, torture is good and habeas is bad and giving people rights is bad--that all this is a far greater threat to western values than anything any terrorist could do. Bombing a building isn't going to destroy the rule of law--far from it--but saying that we don't have to follow the law certainly will.
And now, whenever we complain about the illegal actions of a foreign government, we should remember Samuel Johnson's comment re the American Revolution, "How is it that we always hear the loudest yelps for liberty amongst the drivers of negroes?"