The Right Coast

June 15, 2004
Posner's review of Dershowitz's book
By Tom Smith

This on balance, rather positive review by Dick Posner of Dershowitz's book about terrorism is well worth reading. (via Brian Leiter, but it's not clear Brian realized the review, after a harsh beginning, was fairly positive, or at least not negative.)

Note that Posner says that no one who did not believe torture should be used, if the stakes were high enough, should be in a position of responsibility. Also, Dershowitz mentions two real life cases where torture was used to good effect. Once in the Philippines to extract information about a plot to blow up eleven airliners and assassinate the Pope, and once in New York to get information about a kidnapping victim. (I was challenged by another blogger to produce real life examples. If these examples are real, here they are.)

BTW I'm all in favor of saying negative things about Alan Dershowitz. I once saw Dershowitz in person at the taping of a debate between him and Michael McConnell (now of the 10th Circuit, then at Chicago) about the Bork nomination. I think the debate was never broadcast because Dershowitz kept positioning himself in between the camera and whoever was speaking. (He also told the most egregious lies about Bork, but lots of people did that.) It was the most astonishing display of anti-social behavior I have ever seen, outside of a barroom confrontation. I am not a psychiatrist, but Dershowitz's obnoxiousness it so extreme, it looks to me like some kind of personality disorder. While I think torture is justified in some circumstances, I think it would be cruel to say, lock a person up in a room with Dershowitz, where he would talk about himself until the suspect killed himself by beating his head against the floor. But other, more humane forms of torture could be devised than making someone listen to Dershowitz for extended periods.