Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hypothetical questions

What would you do if Tim Russert asked you some incredibly stupid questions? (Purely as a hypothetical, of course.)

Hypothetical questions make sense when the scenarios posed are realistic. In the Democratic debate tonight Russert posed the following:

Imagine the following scenario. We get lucky. We get the number three guy in Al Qaida. We know there's a big bomb going off in America in three days and we know this guy knows where it is.

How do we "know" beyond all doubt that the person is a terrorist? How do we "know" a bomb is about to go off? How do we "know" that they know -- and that they will tell us accurately?

We "knew" that Khalid El-Masri was a terrorist -- until it turned out he had the bad fortune to possess a suspicious-sounding name. (For which he was kidnapped, tortured, then finally released without charge or apology) We "knew" that Jose Padilla was a dirty bomber and we tortured him to find out the nefarious details of his plot -- only to discover that he was not a dirty bomber at all.

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. -- Dick Cheney August 26, 2002

We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more. -- Colin Powell February 5, 2003

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. -- George Bush March 18, 2003

There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them. --Gen. Tommy Franks March 22, 2003

We know where they [WMDs] are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad. --Donald Rumsfeld March 30, 2003

That's a lot of "we know" and "no doubt" claims that turned out to be totally false.

If I know that torturing a suspected terrorist will reveal the details of an imminent bomb threat then instead of torturing I'll just use my Lasso of Truth to find out the details then race to the scene in my Invisible Jet.

The rest of you should consider the fact that if you can be wrong about who is a terrorist or where bombs are can be wrong about who is a terrorist or where bombs are. The premise of the question is invalid; our government has proven that what it claims to "know" is only marginally related to actual truth.

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