"so in other words, do we torture them, or just subject them to excruciatingly painful physical interrogation stress techniques?"

This is the funniest take I've seen on torture hypotheticals. Torture hypotheticals are crazy, unrealistic hypothetical scenarios meant to justify torture in "just these extreme cases". They usually go something like "we know that an atomic bomb is somewhere in New York City and for some odd reason, we can't scan for radiation, and we happen to know for sure that this one guy (named Mohammed) knows -for sure- where that bomb is, and how to disarm it, and we know that he'll only say it under torture, and besides we don't have time for anything else, because we know for sure that it will go off within the hour, and anyway..."

These things seem to be everywhere in American politics these days, so I wasn't really surprised when I saw bloggers quoting the following scenario from a question in the last presidential debate:
Here is the premise: Three shopping centers near major U.S. cities have been hit by suicide bombers. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured. A fourth attack has been averted when the attackers were captured off the Florida coast and taken to Guantanamo Bay, where they are being questioned. U.S. intelligence believes that another larger attack is planned and could come at any time. First question to you, Senator McCain. How aggressively would you interrogate those being held at Guantanamo Bay for information about where the next attack might be?
The Slate piece I linked to above responds with some hypothetical scenarios they should use at the next debate:
Gentlemen, here's the scenario: As you are flying home from Moscow—having told the world you will never deal with terrorists—hijackers, posing as reporters, seize Air Force One. They vow to kill a hostage every half-hour, including your wife and daughter, until you release a murderous Russian general. I'll start with Senator Obama. Do you negotiate with the hijackers in the hope of saving lives, or do you flee into the bowels of the craft, then pick them off, one by one, with makeshift shanks and your bare hands?

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