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Bruce Anderson says we should torture children

Is this a (bad) joke?

Bruce "The Brute" Anderson in today's "liberal" Independent:

Before 9/11, in front of some serious lawyers, I once argued that if there were a ticking bomb, the government would not only have a right to use torture. It would have a duty to use torture. Up sprang Sydney Kentridge, one of the great liberals of our age and a fearless defender of unpopular causes, from Nelson Mandela in the old South Africa to fox-hunting in modern Britain. I prepared to receive incoming fire.

It came, in the form of a devilish intellectual challenge. "Let's take your hypothesis a bit further. We have captured a terrorist, but he is a hardened character. We cannot be certain that he will crack in time. We have also captured his wife and children."

After much agonising, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one answer to Sydney's question. Torture the wife and children. It is a disgusting idea. It is almost a tragedy that we even have to discuss it, let alone think of acting upon it. But there is nothing to be gained from refusing to face facts, in the way that the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuburger, did last week.

Who needs Rod Liddle, eh?