When is torture justified? Never.

Roger Cohen, in today's Washington Post, muses, "Yet I have to wonder whether what he [Cheney] is saying now is the truth -- i.e., torture works."

"works"? "works"? The ethical calculus here is completely screwed up. First of all, even if Cheney could prove the torture saved lives (a doubtful proposition), he can't know that the torture will not set a precedent that enemies may use it against our soldiers in the future, or know how many terrorists were ginned-up using accounts of torture, so the simple one-to-one math is impossible. Secondly, even if Cheney calculates that torture is worth it, part of that calculation must include jail time for the breaking of the law. If it was really worth it, and Cheney really believes that, he should be willing to do the time, or at least try to make his case to a jury rather than Bob Scheiffer. If he's not willing to go to jail, then he doesn't really think it was worth it.

Even if Cheney were principled enough to turn himself in for violations of US law and for war crimes, he'd still be wrong. Torture is never justified, even if it seems to work. I wonder if Cheney wants to start an international race to the bottom of the depths of our humanity because he knows he already has a head start.