THE TORTURE WARRANT: A RESPONSE
TO PROFESSOR STRAUSS
Professor Strauss characterizes me as “figuring most promi-
nently in [the] debate” over whether torture “would be justified to
prevent mass casualties . . . [the] ‘ticking bomb scenario.’”
says that I have “
advocated the use of torture in certain
very limited circumstances.”
In light of how much I have written
about this issue, Strauss’s use of the word “seemingly” is surprising.
But at least she does not claim, as others have, that I advocate “cir-
cumventing constitutional prohibitions on torture,”
that I have
given “thumbs up to torture,” that I have “proposed torture for cap-
tured terrorist leaders,”
that I believe “U.S. agencies should be ac-
corded the right to torture those suspected of withholding
information in a terrorist case,”
and that I “advocate . . . shoving a
sterilized needle under the fingernails of those subjects being inter-
rogated.” One reviewer has even called me “Torquemada Dersho-
witz,” a reference to the notorious torturer of the Inquisition.
one, however, reminded readers that it was the liberal Jeremy Ben-
tham who made the most powerful utilitarian case for limited tor-
ture of convicted criminals to gather information necessary to
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law
School. L.L.B. Yale Law School, 1986; A.B. Brooklyn College, 1959.
, 48 N.Y. L
AW SCH. L. REV. 203, 207 (2004).
at 207 (emphasis added).
In Defence of the Indefensible
IMES HIGHER EDUCATION SUP-
PLEMENT, Oct. 4, 2002, at 23.
The Silence of the Lambs: Torture is Not Appropriate Treatment for Ter-
ASH. TIMES, Mar. 21, 2002, at A19.
Paul William Roberts,
September 11: Islamists and Their Enemies,
September 7, 2002 at, D2 (book review).
note 5, at A19. (“Torquemada Dershowitz then defines the lib-
eral view of ‘permissible’ torture, saying that it would be limited to ‘nonlethal means,
such as sterile needles, being inserted beneath the nails to cause excruciating pain with-
out endangering life.’”).