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TORTURE WARRANTS AND DEMOCRATIC STATES: Dirty Hands in an Age of Terror

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, policy makers and others have debated the question of whether or not the United States should torture in an effort to prevent terrorist attacks. In a series of controversial essays, the legal theorist Alan Dershowitz argues that, if a democratic society is going to torture, it should at least be done under the cover of law. To that end, he recommends establishing a legal mechanism by which a judge could issue torture warrants—much as they do now for search warrants. In this essay, I examine Dershowitz's proposal in light of Michael Walzer's classic essay on dirty hands. Just as Walzer uses political theater as a lens for viewing the issue of political assassination, I similarly draw upon a dramatic response to Dershowitz's proposal to think through the issue of torture warrants.

Keywords: Alan Dershowitz; Albert Camus; Michael Walzer; dirty hands; political ethics; political theater; torture

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9795.2009.00416.x

Affiliations: John Carroll University20700 North Park Blvd.University Heights, OH 44118216.397.4706, Email: plauritzen@jcu.edu

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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