Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When All Else fails Liberals Resort to Ad Hominem Attacks

Liberals usually resort to ad hominem attacks when they have no leg to stand on, when they have no argument.  This post is called coercion and torture on Vox Nova.  This is why liberalism has infected Catholicism.  Now the disease unfortunately runs throughout Catholicism.  This post is yet one more example of this. The liberals didn't know the difference between a Military Tribunal and a Civilian Trial and I didn't feel like it was my place to give them a high school social studies lesson.  This proves how low even  a so-called friend will allow his liberal friends to go. Here is the part of the conversation that I was involved in and where it led to:

Kevin Rice Says:


January 18, 2010 at 9:40 am

I believe that a terrorist in custody who withholds information to aid in a threat against civilian holds the power and holds the cards that are the key to stopping the threat against innocent civilians and indeed are still a threat both to civilians but even to the place where they are being detained as well. I do not believe that the terrorist is powerless since he controls the key to the information that will in fact harm innocent lives. In a scenario where the CIA agents only have a limited amount of time and cannot court him to talking I believe that coercion is the only possible way to obtain information.Kevin Rice Says:   This was actually me. I accidentally left Kevin's name in the box.


January 18, 2010 at 9:57 am

Oops! Teresa wrote the above comment but either she did not change the name or the computer messed with her (it messes with me all the time).

What she wrote is better than what I would have written. I will only add that I think a terrorist who is involved in a plot and who could stop it with a phone call or by imparting the information he has to authorities is not rendered harmless merely by being physically captured and detained. The idea that the only significant threat of harm a person like that can pose is the physical harm he can dole out in his immediate vicinity with fists, feet, blades, bullets or chest-strapped booby-trap bombs is a crude one. Even captured and personally disarmed, he remains a threat as long as he withholds the information necessary to eliminate the danger. By withholding that information, he continues to participate in murder and mayhem.

Rodak Says:

January 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

You speak of “the terrorist” in custody. Are you limiting your comments, then, to persons who have been tried and convicted of an act of terrorism? If that had been the case, then presumably most, or all, of that person’s relevant information would already have come into the hands of authorities in the course of investigation and trial. Or are you willing to torture men and women in order simply to find out if they might have information that could be used to stop future acts of terror? In other words, are you willing to risk torturing the innocent in order to prevent a hypothetical future event, which other events might well conspire to prevent in any case?

And for how long after a person is taken into custody can it be expected that his information will remain “actionable?” If he is a “terrorist” and it is known that he’s been captured, won’t his fellow terrorists realize that he may be disclosing information–with or without having been tortured–and altered their plans?

Do you completely discount those veteran interrogators who insist that torture is a poor way to get good information? Have you forgotten about all those “witches,” back in the day, who confessed to having sex with devils under torture?

Finally, will you risk losing your soul in order to protect the security of your world?

Kevin Rice Says:

January 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

My answer to nearly all of your questions is NO, except for ‘If he is a “terrorist” and it is known that he’s been captured, won’t his fellow terrorists realize that he may be disclosing information–with or without having been tortured–and altered their plans?’. My answer to that is “Not necessarily.” But I am concerned with real terrorists, not “terrorists” with dismissive scare quotes.

To put it as succinctly as I can, I do not believe that coercion or even torture is always wrong, necessarily and intrinsically. But that hardly makes me an enthusiastic supporter of torture, does it? I am not in favor of using these techniques as a matter of policy just to find out whether a terror suspect is the kind of sustained threat that would justify using these techniques on him in order to render him truly harmless.

Teresa Says:

January 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I am not for the willy-nilly use of coercion. I don’t believe our government targets perceived non-threats in a willy-nilly fashion either. When a terrorist is known to be hiding a plot that he is involved in or that other terrorists are planning I believe that it is in our country’s national security interests and the country’s duty to find out the truth about the terrorist plot. And, if that means allowing the use of coercion in those circumstances in order to neutralize the threat and stop terrorists from harming or killing many innocents than I can in good conscience allow those techniques to be used on rare occasions and I believe my soul can take solace in the fact that our brave men and women are doing all they can to prevent innocnt lives from being killed.

David Nickol Says:

January 18, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Rodak,

You have tossed aside the premises of the two messages written under the name of Kevin Rice and are criticizing an argument other than the one they made. They’re talking about the ticking time bomb scenario, and the premises are that you know the person in custody is a terrorist, you know there is a ticking time bomb, and you know the terrorist has, and is withholding, the information about how to disarm the bomb.

The presumption of innocence is an important principle in our legal system, but it is very limited. It does not prevent the proper authorities from apprehending and imprisoning suspects. And suppose one or several persons were holding a group of hostages and executing one per day until their demands were met. If the only way to put an end to the hostage situation were to kill the hostage takers, they would not be protected by the presumption of innocence.

Also, the Rice messages talk of coercion, and you talk of torture. I think we have established that “truth serum” would be considered coercion. The ticking time bomb scenario is usually used to raise ethical questions about torture, but in this case the Rice messages do not specify torture, and Kyle Kupp’s original post specifically sets aside questions of torture in order to consider other techniques of coercive interrogation.

The ticking time bomb scenario is very unlikely, but it is not impossible. I don’t think we should base our laws on highly unlikely scenarios. I do not think it is difficult to imagine situations in which all the premises of the ticking time bomb scenario are present and one is faced with a situation where you have someone in custody whom you know possesses knowledge that, if extracted, will allow you to save innocent lives. There are any number of television shows that invent variations on the ticking time bomb scenario once a week.

Kyle R. Cupp Says:

January 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm

A few thoughts on the recent comments:

1. It’s fair to consider a known terrorist in custody as dangerous and a wielder of power, and we’d be na├»ve to consider him otherwise, but those realities or potentialities do not negate the fact that the terrorist is in custody and that his being in custody ethically prohibits certain actions against him that might be called for on the battlefield.

2. If coercion and torture can be justly used or are sometimes the only means available to save innocent lives, why keep their use to a minimum? Why use them rarely? If they are effective methods for keeping us safe, why not use them more often?

3. I’ve been following the debate over interrogation techniques for some time, and what I (and others) have noticed is that the people who once justified coercion and sometimes torture (yes, by that name) in cases of the “ticking-time-bomb scenario” now justify their use in many more situations. What was argued for as the exception is now argued for as the rule. Why? Perhaps because if torture and coercion are acceptable (if not good) actions to keep us safe in the one situation, then it’s difficult to say why they should be avoided, morally speaking, in many other situations.

4. I cannot stress enough that the aim of keeping us safe cannot alone make means and methods aimed at safety just, not without embracing a moral relativism in which the realm of self-defense is held outside the moral law. Just because an action keeps us safe doesn’t make the action just. We may even find ourselves in a situation in which it seems the only way of saving lives is to commit a truly evil act. That situation doesn’t render the evil act good.

Rodak Says:

January 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm

David–

Under our system of law, a suspect does not have to answer any question which would incriminate him; much less should he fear being tortured. We can stick to what made us great, or “we” can become like “them.”

Moreover, I don’t see that the two Kevins have restricted their tolerance for torture to the “ticking bomb scenario.” Nor have the Americans who have been using “enhanced interrogation” techniques. There has not been, and almost never would be, such a scenario in the real world.

All of that said, the ends don’t justify the means for moral agents. For amoral and pragmatic materialists, they do.

David Nickol Says:

January 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm

All of that said, the ends don’t justify the means for moral agents.

Rodak,

This is such a cliche and a cop out. If the end don’t justify the means, what does? Now, not any end justifies any means. And some means may never be justified. But some are justifiable. The principle of double effect is invoked frequently in Catholic discussions. If a woman is pregnant and wants to get rid of the baby, she may not do so. If a pregnant woman has cancer of the uterus and removing the uterus (along with the baby, which will surely die) is necessary to save her life, the end (saving her life) justifies the means (removing the uterus even though the baby will die). The end justifies proportionate means. The Church (at least up until very recently) endorsed capital punishment — but not for shoplifting. It is a case of the end, in extreme circumstances, justifying extreme means.

Under our system of law, a suspect does not have to answer any question which would incriminate him;

Grant him immunity from prosecution. He no longer has a Fifth Amendment right to withhold what he knows. This has been affirmed by the Supreme Court.

What Kevin and Teresa are saying, as I read them, is that there are some circumstances in which coercion (they never used the word torture may be used to extract life-saving information from a known, would-be murderer. I think there is a reasonable argument that torture may never be used (although I don’t necessarily agree with it), but this thread is about any form of coercion, and I don’t agree that something like truth serum, or hypnosis, or some other means to subvert the will is always impermissible.

Suppose a lie-detector test could be administered that would reveal the information against the terrorist’s will. Would that be impermissible?

David Nickol Says:

January 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Just because an action keeps us safe doesn’t make the action just.

Kyle,

But just because an action is one that should be used only under extreme circumstances does not make it evil. Police use deadly force too often, in my opinion, but I would not argue it is never justified. I can imagine situations in which police snipers would be justified in killing someone holding hostages and executing them one by one. But not every hostage situation need be ended by killing the hostage taker. And deadly force is certainly not justifiable to stop a shoplifter or some other petty criminal in the act.

It seems reasonable to me to say that authorities must limit themselves to the use of proportionate means, and in a ticking time bomb situation, those means may be more extreme than in many other situations.

If someone who has been granted immunity refuses to testify in court and is held in contempt, does imprisoning them indefinitely until they will talk constitute coercion?

Teresa Says:

January 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Actually in the real world the “ticking time bomb” does exist today. Realists understand the grave threat that these terrorists pose to this world, unlike normative thinkers who do not live in the reality or the now, and want us to live in a fantasy land that that they believe should exist.

amoral is being against saving lives. People who force their morality of the normative state, and make judgments that allow others to die, instead of facing the reality of the threat, are not facing the reality of the threat like rational human beings. In addition, people who perceive that they are taking a moral high ground even though that moral high ground may in effect aid in or allow the killing of innocent lives may be relying on theories of peace from a textbook that is not applicable in the real world. Using coercion is along the same lines as self-defense but national security is much more important because that affects more lives.

Rodak Says:

January 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm

“This is such a cliche and a cop out.”

It’s an abbreviation, but neither a cliche’ nor a cop-out. It is usually understood to mean that instrinsically evil means never justify even the best of ends. If one does not believe torture to be intrinsically evil, then one will use it with impunity, to be sure. If there is a price to be paid for that, it probably won’t be paid in this life.

All of the torture advocates commenting here keep putting forth scenarios in which violent means are used to subdue evildoers who are free and in the act of harming others; no argument with that.

The scenario in which the alleged terrorist is in custody, however, raises completely different issues. Granting a prisoner immunity so as to be able to torture him is a drastic perversion of our rule of law. Does he have the right not to accept that immunity? Are you really proposing to torture him, and then set him free because he can’t be prosecuted for his involvement in the crimes you force him to talk about? The hypotheticals that the torture advocates introduce to the discussion may make good debating points, but they seem to bear little relevance to what might reasonably be expected to transpire in the real world.

Rodak Says:

January 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm

“People who force their morality of the normative state, and make judgments that allow others to die, instead of facing the reality of the threat, are not facing the reality of the threat like rational human beings.”

We are all going to die. And some of us, unfortunately, are going to die violently. Would you also ban the ownership and use of private automobiles because of the certainty that thousands of people will be killed on the highways every year? The world is not safe place to live. Never will be. But it is a place in which one can choose to live morally, even if that means accepting some risk.

Alien Shore Says:

January 18, 2010 at 5:22 pm

The principle of double effect is indeed invoked in Catholic discussions precisely because the ends do not justify the means. That’s not a cop out on Rodak’s part. St. Paul said that one may not do evil that good may come.

First, double effect is more concerned with ends than means. Basically, an evil or undesirable end can be tolerated if the good end intended is proportionate or greater. However, those who invoke double effect are quick to point out that the means used to achieve the desired good end must itself be moral or at least neutral.

In the example you give of the cancerous uterus, the means is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. The intended end is to remove the cancer and save the life of the woman. The end tolerated is that the fetus will also die. But, those Catholics who invoke double effect would typically tell you that a direct abortion is never justified, even for a good end such as saving a mother’s life.

Sure, certain extreme ends might call for extreme means. But it is not on that basis that the means finds its moral justification.

That is basic Catholic moral teaching.

Teresa Says:

January 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Alien,

You mention the intension with regards to double effect and the removal of the uterus in order to save a person’s life.

It seems to me that coercive techniques being used to save innocent lives is also making use of a good intension- the intension to save lives.

Teresa Says:

January 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm

You comparing automobiles with terrorists is nonsensical. There is a HUGE difference between automobile accidents and terrorists or terrorist attacks. Automobile accidents are just that, accidents, whereas terrorist attacks are well thought and purposeful. Are you saying that we should ignore a kidnapping because what the heck it might be the kids time to die? Or a teenager in a car accident? Oops, no medical help for you because you might as well die sooner than later. Your above statement is extremely callous.

So, you don’t think that every life is precious.

Alien Shore Says:

January 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Teresa,

Correct. The end in view, or intention, is to save innocent lives. So if the principle that the ends doesn’t justify the means is true, whether a given “coercive technique” is justifiable is not able to be determined by the intention.

You seem to be saying that a good intention is the means (i.e. “making use of a good intension”). I don’t see, at least in Catholic moral theology, that a good intention–and end–can be converted to become the means. One does not “make use” of the desire to save innocent lives to save innocent lives. One makes use of a means in order to achieve a desired end. So I would disagree that employing coercive techniques is identical to making use of a good intention. That would seem to conflate means with ends.

David Nickol Says:

January 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Are you really proposing to torture him . . .

Rodak,

I am willing to grant (at least for the sake of this discussion) that torture is intrinsically evil, and consequently is never allowable. However, what I am discussing here is this statement Kyle Kupp’ made: “I oppose all coercive interrogation techniques, whether or not those techniques fall into the category of torture.” He has, in effect, declared all coercive techniques to be intrinsically evil. Is the use of truth serum or hypnosis intrinsically evil? I don’t know how that can be maintained. Kupp says, “To be sure, we may take away a person’s liberty by putting him in prison, but the prisoner is for that imprisonment no less of a free, moral agent, capable of making free, moral decisions.” Try telling a person who is imprisoned for contempt of court for refusing to testify that imprisonment is not coercion. It is, and it is intended to be. Remember Susan McDougal, who wouldn’t answer three questions about Whitewater? She spent 18 months in prison for refusing to talk. Remember Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who refused to reveal a source and spent 85 days in jail because of it? Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

The civil sanction for contempt (which is typically incarceration in the custody of the sheriff or similar court officer) is limited in its imposition for so long as the disobedience to the court’s order continues: once the party complies with the court’s order, the sanction is lifted. The imposed party is said to “hold the keys” to his or her own cell, thus conventional due process is not required. The burden of proof for civil contempt, however, is a preponderance of the evidence, and punitive sanctions (punishment) can only be imposed after due process.

Incarceration for contempt of court is clearly coercive, and I can’t see how Kupp is going to consider it justifiable if a person may never be coerced to tell what they know.

Teresa Says:

January 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

In a non-Catholic view or in a realist view, I must disagree since the use of coercion intention would be to save multiple lives whereas the unintentional killing of a life is in order to save one life. I think the benefits of using coercive techniques outweighs the risks. Plus, the benefits of the use of coercive techniques could be great as opposed to the detriment to life if not used.

Rodak Says:

January 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm

David–

Susan McDougall, it seems to me, illustrates and supports Kyle’s argument, rather than yours. Although she was imprisoned, she remained free NOT to testify. Her will was not coerced, although her freedom of movement was severly curtailed. In prison, she continued to do that which she was doing prior to prison, which was to refuse to cooperate with the demands of the court. Had she been administered a truth serum, or been hypnotised, her will would have been suborned, in effect, by force; this would have been a violation of her human dignity and, from a Christian viewpoint, a sin.

Rodak Says:

January 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm

NOTE: I meant to say it would have been “an evil”–although, for someone, it would also have been a sin, I suppose…

Kyle R. Cupp Says:

January 18, 2010 at 8:37 pm

David,

You wrote:

But just because an action is one that should be used only under extreme circumstances does not make it evil.

I agree.

In response to your question about whether or not imprisoning someone who refuses to testify in court constitutes coercion, I think it depends. Certainly in the broad meaning of coercion it qualifies. The court is attempting to force a person to testify. However, I’m not sure the aim or the effect is to render the person incapable of making free, rational decisions. I suppose if someone had a great fear of prison to where imprisoning him would cause such mental or emotional anguish that the person began to lose the capacity for free, rational decision making, then I would consider the imprisonment coercive in the narrow sense to which always and everywhere I object.

I should add that my saying something is intrinsically evil doesn’t necessarily mean that it is very, very bad. I think use of a truth serum would be immoral because of what it does not a person’s will, but I don’t hold it to be as grave a matter as, say, torture, or even necessarily as some actions that are not intrinsically, but are rather conditionally evil.

Alien Shore Says:

January 18, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Teresa,

I believe we are talking past one another here. First, I’m not sure what you are disagreeing with since I didn’t state a position with regard to the rightness or wrongness of coercion. What I did was to say that the intention to save lives and the means employed are not the same. Calling it a “coercion intention” doesn’t change that. I can intend to coerce someone to achieve the intention, or end, of saving lives. In the context of this discussion, one is not so much intending to coerce as if coercing were the end to be achieved. Another way to say it, I may intend to employ coercion as a means to the end of saving lives. An end can be an intention, but not all intentions are ends in terms of double effect.

I was replying to a previous comment on double effect. Because this is a Catholic blog and double effect is present more so in Catholic moral reasoning, I referred to Catholic moral thought. But double effect is not foreign to moral philosophy in general. It is not exclusively the property of Catholic moral thought. If we are appealing to double effect, then we need to use it correctly. My original response to you was because you suggested in light of double effect, that coercion was “making use” of the intention to save lives, essentially converting an end to a means. Regardless of whether Kyle is right about coercion, what I was pointing out is that your use of double effect was not in keeping with the principle itself. When you are talking about unintentional killing, coercion, saving lives and so on, you need to identify, if you appeal to double effect, which is an means, which is an intended end, and which is an unintended end. You are essentially tossing the terms around trying to get them to fit without any real regard to the formal structure of double effect.

For the record, I think (along with Anscombe) that double effect, while a valid form, has been the most abused and misused principle among Catholic moral thinkers. When misused I think it can help one avoid difficult moral issues. Not good.

Lastly, I have no idea what you mean by a non-Catholic or realist view. What non-Catholic view are you appealing to? They are not all a single piece. Plus, what do you mean by realist? In Catholic moral theology, especially conservative, realism is generally considered to be the Catholic position. At least metaphysically. I am going to deduce that by realism you just mean the way the “real world” is out there. Discussing the realities of the world is neither Catholic or non-catholic necessarily.

In any case, the “real world” shows us that the abstract principles of moral reasoning don’t always fit neatly. Yet, we do not jettison moral reasoning on that account. Your approach from what I have read on this thread seems to be more of a consequentialist approach–i.e. we don’t want this bad thing (and killing innocent lives is indeed bad) so anything that stops this bad thing is good by that fact. In the theological/philosophical sense, this position is anything but realist. In the sense of the “real world out there” a better approach than consequentialism might be what I would call a “phronetic” approach. Following Aristotle, Paul Ricoeur referred to the role of phronesis, or practical judgment, when addressing that gray area between the objective, abstract moral principle and the real world situations that don’t easily fit into the idea.

Ricoeur’s approach (which I can’t explain here. I’ve already gone on too long) takes seriously moral reasoning while recognizing the difficulties presented by that pesky real world. Yet he does it without falling prey to dogmatism with regard to the abstract nor does he fall prey to the consequentialism which is an easy out when moral principles don’t fit nicely.

And I thought Kyle might enjoy a Ricoeur reference since he is clearly a Ricoeur enthusiast (as I am). :-)

Of course, I may be wrong as to what you mean by realist. If you mean it in the philosophical sense, you are wrong and my point stands. If you mean it in the sense that I have described about the “real world” then you are wrong and my point stands.

Gerald A. Naus Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:17 am

Torture usually doesn’t render valid results. Not when the Catholic Church did it, nor now that the US engages in it. People will confess to anything just to make the pain stop – in the Middle East, being gay is one thing men frequently “confess” to, in addition to a laundry list of crimes.

Frequently, the tortured will implicate others, no matter if they’re guilty or not. They then vanish into one of the CIA planes, without charge, without lawyer, without rights. This is what the US always claimed to be against. To

it’s credit, the military did not want to get involved in it – as far back as the Revolutionary War, the US prided itself on treating prisoners well. The US had worked to outlaw torture, then Bush changed the definition of torture.

The degree of sickness is astonishing, the humiliation, sleep deprival, sexual degredation, electro shocks, keeping people in coffins, you name it. All done by the US and its allies. Some things are so atrocious, even the Bush pack outsourced it (even while calling Syria axis of evil material, renditions were going on, suspects delivered to a special hell in Damascus.) the connections to former US-sponsored torturers helped, too – contractors from Latin America, what Cheney called the Salvador option.

CIA agents who resigned over the horrors state that, no matter how repulsive it

might be, showing a suspect respect goes a long way. It’s idiotic to think by destroying their Korans their hearts and minds will be won.

Not to mention that committing vile acts damages the perpetrator, too. When you look into an abyss, the abyss will also look into you. The US simply has lost any credibility when

it comes to human rights. It belongs next to Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, after all they’re doing the dirty work for the US (as well as some Eastern European countries – you know, not the derided “Old Europe.”$

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 9:20 am

Gerald,

Is torture evil only when the US and its allies do it? Or is it evil when Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China, North Korea, and Al-Qaeda do it?

I condemn the use of torture by the United States, but you make it sound like if you had a choice, you would rather deal with al-Qaeda justice than US justice.

Rodak Says:

January 19, 2010 at 10:41 am

David–

That’s a cheap shot. Self-criticism does not in any way imply endorsement of the practices of any other group.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 11:47 am

That’s a cheap shot. Self-criticism does not in any way imply endorsement of the practices of any other group.

Rodak,

It is not “self-criticism” to be constantly harping about how horrible the United States is without acknowledging that it is in a battle with a ruthless, evil organization that is bent on killing Americans, whether they be military or civilian, wherever in the world they are. To the best of my knowledge, Gerald is not in the United States, and whatever his citizenship is, he is not speaking as an American criticizing his own country.

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

It is hypocritical to apply different standards to other countries around the world with regards to International laws and International laws opposition to torture and then apply a different standard to the United States and other leading countries (members of G-8) in the world. Instead of penalizing the U.S. while applying justifications for its use by other countries around the globe the laws must be consistent for all of the countries around the world.

Rodak Says:

January 19, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Okay, David–If you have knowledge that Gerald is not an American, so be it. I, nonetheless, agree with him. And I AM an American. What I said stands.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Rodak,

I have no problem whatsoever with your statement: “Self-criticism does not in any way imply endorsement of the practices of any other group.” I am not objecting to self-criticism. I am objecting to criticizing the United States alone. I think the United States went seriously astray under the Bush administration when it came to handling prisoners. However, I hope you would acknowledge that they were acting in response to a totally unjustifiable attack on civilians without any knowledge about what might be coming next. I agree that the United States should stick to its principles when fighting a ruthless enemy, but I do acknowledge that the United States really is fighting a ruthless enemy, and justifiably so. Extraordinary measures are justified, but not all extraordinary measures.

Let me put it this way. If the United States were to ask me to help fight al-Qaeda, and simultaneously al-Qaeda were to ask me to fight the United States, if I had to choose, there would be no question that I would side with the United States. I wouldn’t maintain some kind of moral equivalence between the United States and al-Qaeda.

Rodak Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm

“I wouldn’t maintain some kind of moral equivalence between the United States and al-Qaeda.”

Oh, please. Climb down off it. The United States has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in fighting its never-ending series of wars in the past century. What were Hiroshima and Nagasaki, if not state terrorism? Japan was already defeated; the targets were civilians. Certainly the second bomb, if not the first, was unnecessary.

Moral equivalence is as moral equivalence does.

My position is that we should be much, much better than we’ve been to-date. And I make no apology to you, or to anybody else, for holding that opinion.

Come to me when your hands are clean, and I’ll praise you to the skies.

Kyle R. Cupp Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Here’s a disturbing investigative report by Scott Horton that three deaths at Guantanamo ruled suicides by the official narrative may not have been suicides at all. Evidence suggests our government may have tortured people to death and covered up the evidence.

Rodak Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:29 pm

My best guess there is that they tortured one of the men to death, perhaps accidentally, and then just murdered the other two in cold blood to make certain that the story was never told. It stretches credibility to think that they simultaneously killed all three inadvertantly.

Kyle R. Cupp Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm

It’s good to see the U.S. MSM is all over the story.

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:42 pm

It seems like Scott Horton’s report is supposition and not filled with any evidence to prove that these terrorists actually did not commit suicide. These terrorists were already on a hunger strike so the possibility that they actually did commit suicide and that the report is correct is very likely.

The MSM will pick up any story with an anti-american agenda to it. Today, the “green” movement is the old “red” movement. Communism is arising in our country and destroying our country because of the MSM, the Democrats and their ilk.

Rodak Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm

It is, indeed.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm

My position is that we should be much, much better than we’ve been to-date.

Rodak,

I don’t disagree with that. But if I thought the United States taken as a whole was no better than al-Qaeda taken as a whole, I would move to another country. There is a difference between being deeply flawed and being dedicated to evil.

Gerald A. Naus Says:

January 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I live near San Francisco. Born in Austria, married to an American from Ohio. I’m a permanent resident. Of course, none of that is relevant. Your nativism is rather sad, what’s next, “go back to Russia, boy” ?

Other governments murdering and torturing doesn’t change a thing. There’s no medal for being better than North Korea. I observe frequently how people identify government with country – and thereby defend the former. It’s a godsend for criminals.

What makes the US system so despicable is the claim to moral superiority when in reality it’s just another aggressive empire.

US courts have been dismissing law suits re: torture, citing state secrets. The secret being torture, of course. How can a country bring “freedom and democracy” to anyone when it eroded its own long-cherished principles ? Torturing innocents, no legal recourse, no lawyer, no charge. that’s a banana republic.

In a just world, Bush and Cheney would be sitting in Den Haag on war crimes charges. To defend the American system because one happened to have been born here seems second nature, and I’m sure it’s common in all countries. The problem starts with identifying with a country to begin with.

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 2:10 pm

In my book, Bush and Cheney are my heroes, and if people had an understanding of what it takes to win a war, like in WWII and in previous wars, than Bush and Cheney would be revered as heroes around the world also, instead of the MSM compromising our national security by leaking classified documents and in doing so, aiding our enemies while allowing our enemy to cause grave harm to our brave men and women serving overseas and protecting our country from harm.

Rodak Says:

January 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

“There is a difference in being deeply flawed and being dedicated to evil.”

If one is dedicated to one’s deep flaws, and those flaws are evil, then there is no such difference.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I live near San Francisco. Born in Austria, married to an American from Ohio. I’m a permanent resident.

Gerald,

I have two basic points regarding your messages. First, you seem to be saying that the United States is morally no better than al-Qaeda. Two, wherever you live, and whatever your citizenship, when you criticize the United States, it is not “self-criticism.” I am more than willing to criticize the United States. I think Bush and Cheney did serious damage to the country. But I don’t believe the United States and al-Qaeda are morally equivalent. I don’t think it is necessary to be an American to be of that opinion. The NATO countries and the United Nations don’t seem to see a moral equivalence between the United States and al-Qaeda.

You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but I don’t take your criticism of the United States to be “self-criticism,” and it does seem to me you seem to delight in criticizing the United States in a way you don’t in criticizing other countries (if you do so at all).

I agree with you a lot of the time, and I enjoy the way you needle people when you disagree with them, except in this case your needling gets to me. But I promise not to try to have you booted out of the country as long as you oppose Proposition 8.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 3:52 pm

In my book, Bush and Cheney are my heroes . . . .

OMG!

I take back anything I said that might be construed to support Kevin Rice and Teresa! Bush was a terrible president, and largely because of Cheney. I am willing to support coercive interrogation in theory, but virtually everything Bush-Cheney did in terms of handling prisoners was not merely wrong, but counterproductive.

There may someday be a ticking time bomb, but there has not been yet, and to use ticking time bomb tactics in the absence of a real ticking time bomb threat is totally unjustified.

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

There is a huge difference in using flaws to both allay people’s fears and using them to fight terrorists(flaws as perceived by others) (some would consider what others call flaws in actuality necessities to win wars) and Al-Qaeda which is using its evil to kill innocent civilians.

Or do you believe that there is a moral equivalency between innocent civilians and terrorists?

The terrorists are using evil to kill innocent civilians, whereas the Bush administration was using all neccessary means to fight that evil. Besides, I consider people who are willing to sacrifice themselves and be suicide bombers as violating their own humanity and possibly entering a sub-human category that deserves any type of harsh interrogation methods as such as is necessary to provide for the United States’s national security interests. We have no obligation, as a nation, to consider our enemies so-called human rights or their feelings being hurt as human rights organizations would have you believe. This is about winning war and we cannot let human rights organizations dictate how we fight a war, or lose the war due to them pleasing terrorists.

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

@David

First, my husband thinks to at least to some degree differently than me regarding Bush and Cheney.

But, I believe in certain circumstances where there is a “ticking time bomb” scenario or where there is a limited amount of time to follow up on a threat and to stop that threat than I believe coercive techniques of all kinds are justified to use on the terrorist. As much as I am glad that the poll showed 58% of Americans wanting the underwear bomber to be water-boarded and people realizing the reality of fighting a war and the threat posed against our nation, I don’t think that the underwear bomber was of high-value, like KSM was, so I don’t see it as a necessity to water-board him.

But, I do think considering 9/11, which was an Act of War, and all the issues surrounding that event after that tragic event, that Bush and Cheney did the right thing and the necessary things to protect this country. Obama has weakened this country greatly and as you saw on Christmas Day, the terrorists are taking advantage of his weak presidency.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm

We have no obligation, as a nation, to consider our enemies so-called human rights or their feelings being hurt as human rights organizations would have you believe.

Teresa,

We followed the first three of the four Geneva Conventions in our fight against Hitler, and all four of them through the Cold War. Everyone has basic human rights, otherwise they wouldn’t be called “human rights.”

Extreme times call for extreme measures, but they don’t call for pitching human rights and American values out the window. If we go down that road, the United States really will become as bad as Gerald and Rodak claim it is.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Obama has weakened this country greatly and as you saw on Christmas Day, the terrorists are taking advantage of his weak presidency.

Teresa,

Al-Qaeda is reduced to putting lone individuals on airplanes with explosives (that don’t explode) in their underpants, and you say Obama has weakened the country?

I think it is playing right into the hands of al-Qaeda to make a big deal of the failed attack on Christmas. Terrorists want to intimidate, and if you are frightened by not having absolutely perfect security, then they have won.

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

@David

First, EIT’s and the actual torture committed prior to the Iraq war are on way different levels. Plus, The Japanese waterboarding was of a different method than the United States used. There is a huge difference in using certain unconventional methods in order to save innocent lives and the terrorists beheading a reporter or soldier, in fact targeting innocent civilians.

In WWII, there were NO reporters that could endanger the Nation’s national security interests. And, who knows exactly what techniques were used during that war that people don’t know of. But, now most of our hidden secrets that aided in our national security interests are shot to heck because of the MSM and their anti-american sentiments.

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm

David,

Its not just that terrorist attack but also, the Ft. Hood terroist shooting. But, there are other signs of Obama’s weakness in office, like treating terrorists as civilian criminals. That is unconsionable. Never, in the history of this country has an enemy combatant that has been captured on a foreign battlefield been considered a mere common criminal.

I am not frightened. Just pointing out the weakened security. But, I am ambivolent on whether we should have body scanners or not.

National Defense does not go against our American values.

Joshua Brockway Says:

January 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm

“Never, in the history of this country has an enemy combatant.”

Where is the War…Congress has not declared war. Even if they did, what state would be the Enemy? We are talking about a stateless, loose coalition of people. How is Hasan an enemy. He has no links to funding by Al Qaeda. At most he is a domestic terrorist…akin to McVeigh.

So if these “enemy combatants” are not common criminals, does this mean their punishment is somehow worse? Is the Geneva Convention wrong for placing limits on what a state can do to a prisoner of war? Even the Nazi’s were tried as criminals, in a court with representation with expectations of rights.

No, National Defense does not go against our values…but the WAY we are defended can. (But apparently David thinks this is a cop out, which is a debate for a whole other thread).

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

@Joshua

It is proven that Hasan had ties to al-Qaeda. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/11/09/abc-fort-hood-shooter-hasan-tried-contact-al-qaeda

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fort-hood-shooter-contact-al-qaeda-terrorists-officials/story?id=9030873

Since you state that there is no one particular country that is our enemy than the Geneva Convention does not apply. There needs to be a new convention that specificallly focuses on terrorists and the threat of terrorism. These terrorists do not use conventional warfare and do not wear uniforms and follow warfare rules so the United States must accomodate its strategy and do whatever is necessary to kill these evil terrorists, and thus should come a new Treaty focusing on terrorists or Muslim Jihadists.

The Trials at Nuremberg were Military Tribunals.http://nhs.needham.k12.ma.us/cur/Baker_00/03-04/Baker-scl-cap-3-04/nuremberg_war_crimes_trial.htm

Like there would have been already if it hadn’t been for Eric Holder and his cronies. http://teresamerica.blogspot.com/2009/12/eric-holder-and-his-leftist-comrades.html

So, Justice would have already been served if it wasn’t for Eric Holder and his comrades defending terrorists por bono.

Military court is far different than a civilian court.

Gerald A. Naus Says:

January 19, 2010 at 8:14 pm

“certain unconventional methods”

Teresa Orwell, I presume ?

There also is little difference between intentionally killing civilians or accepting the fact that my actions are going to kill them, day after day, without any good reason. Murder 1 vs Murder 2.

Joshua Brockway Says:

January 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm

So Al Qaeda funded and trained a lone gun man? Just because he sought out the group does not mean he was Al Qaeda.

I am not even going to touch your dismissal of the AG. I am sorry but the office deserves more respect than that.

Now, please explain to me how a military court is far different, and apparently better, than a civilian court.

David Nickol Says:

January 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Military court is far different than a civilian court.

Military justice is to justice as military music is to music.

Rodak Says:

January 19, 2010 at 8:37 pm

“…accepting the fact that my actions are going to kill them…”

There it is; there is the crux at which we make an idol of our “flaws.”

Joshua Brockway Says:

January 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm

“Military justice is to justice as military music is to music.”

Does that mean it needs a good Sousaphone?

Teresa Says:

January 19, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Am I your high school social studies teacher?

And, Yes, justice would have been served to terrorists in Gitmo, if it wasn’t for AG Holder and his comrades aiding the terrorists by donating many, many hours pro bono.

Joshua Brockway Says:

January 20, 2010 at 12:02 am

“Am I your high school social studies teacher?”

Apparently your arrogance has gotten in the way of clear expression and definition of your terms.

I don’t need to engage in a discussion with someone who can’t respect me long enough to actually answer my question.

Any one else care to talk?

samrocha Says:

January 20, 2010 at 12:17 am

I have come to mediate this dispute and disclose my up-to-now hidden identity: I AM YOUR HIGH SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER!

There you have it. Settled.

Joshua Brockway Says:

January 20, 2010 at 12:34 am

Ah, its been so long!

Now about that C…

Kyle R. Cupp Says:

January 20, 2010 at 8:27 am

Now that the matter is settled, let’s return to debating the questions of coercion and torture. Not that I hold out hope for settling those, but the conversation has been interesting, to say the least.
 
I must say that I had a little fun with my last comment regardless of whether it is posted or not.  I said, "Liberal intelligenstia has ruined people's intellect."
 
So if anyone wants to join in on the discuusion have fun!! Here is the link to the post.

19 comments:

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

Teresa, I posted the answer to these questions at Woodsterman Too today here is the address :

http://woodstermantoo.blogspot.com/2010/01/thoughts-on-waterboarding.html

Fuzzy Slippers said...

I've come to the conclusion, very recently, that trying to talk to liberals is like trying to talk to a wind-up doll. They just say the same thing over and over, without reflection or thought. It's sad, but I've written them off as a result.

Tides are turning, and frankly, what they think, say, and do is no longer of any import. They just don't know it yet.

Liberty said...

I must say that, in reading this over, I saw ad hominem used by both sides. (For instance, calling someone who doesn't agree with you a person who lives in fantasy is an ad hominem attack; it is not attacking their argument, but their person.)

Ad hominem is used by people everywhere, regardless of theirp olitical affiliation.

That said, I must say I agree more with the 'liberal' side of this argument. ;)

Opus #6 said...

I think that reading some liberal websites is a form of torture.

Doom said...

Bless you for trying. What Fuzzy and Opus said though... I haven't given up on "liberal" people, I have given up on their "logic". My Mom, yeah, I work with her but slowly. Education and simple suggestions for ways to understand things rather than brute force. And, she is coming around. Others, not so much.

Just be careful. God guards us, at times, when we are put in the lions den. If he does save us at times, going back in to pet them is not wise. :p

Ron Russell said...

FS, I'm with you, I don't engage with liberals. I refuse to let them muddy my waters. I refuse to see or live in there gray world. I keep out of the tall grass as it only breeds confusion and mosquitos.

Teresa said...

Odie,
I loved the answer. We should revert back to those techniques for defense.

Teresa said...

Fuzzi Slippers,
I'm not writing them off but I do like the wind up dolls description. They are definitely sheeple following the herd.

Teresa said...

Liberty,
You are highly mistaken. My last remark wasn't posted over at Vox Nova. I knew you would disgree agree on this topic.

Teresa said...

Opie,
I agree. That's a good one.

Teresa said...

Doom,
I tried but some people just refuse to see the light. Your right, going back to pet them might be dangerous.

Teresa said...

Ron,
I totally understand. I only engage liberals on a few sites, but even that has become dangerous for my health.

Eman said...

I bet your husband loves you very much. You have such patience. You are very candid but forgiving. I just hope your family knows what a true patriot and wonderful woman they have for a wife and mother. With all the health issues you’ve had to deal with, may I be the first on the list to put you up for sainthood Teresa. I hated wrestling with Diogenes on my blog too. I finally bet him on the Mass. Senate race and he lost so he’s now gone…I hope. This post was a real mind twister. It’s just a great day to be party of the Boston Tea Party. Enjoy and know you have people here to back you… dozens of them!

Teresa said...

Eman,
I really appreciate your kind words. Kevin and I don't have any kids yet, but I hope some day God will bless us. Actually, I had just stated that I would love to adopt a child/orphan from Haiti but that would mean moving to a new place and better finances. I do remember, or at least try to, with God all things are possible.

Sorry for rambling...


God Bless, Eman

Amusing Bunni said...

Teresa, you have the patience of a saint to try and talk sense into these people....as great as you explain things, they don't want to listen.
You might as well talk to your cats, they would make more sense out of it. God Love you, you still try.
I hope you are feeling well and I know you're happy like me with Scott's win.

Teresa said...

Bunni, Thanks for your sweet words. I do my best in trying to change these libs or pacifists minds. I hope you are doing well and meditating or pretending you are somewhere else besides that hellhole(work) when at work. I won't go into my feeling well, or not feeling well. Who knows... Have a great night!!

Malcolm said...

I agree with Liberty. Resorting to personal attacks is not a liberal or conservative thing. If you doubt that conservatives aren't capable of making personal attacks when their argument is weak, I'll be happy to show you examples.

Teresa said...

Malcolm,
I was particularly talking about this post. But, the vile nature of personal attacks more frequently comes from the left. Yes, some conservatives do so also. But, not as vociferously and not in the great lengths or amount that liberals do.

Malcolm said...

Teresa, we'll just have to agree to disagree (as we do on most things). I don't think there is any way that anyone can say a particular side of the political aisle launches personal attacks more. Because I read conservative blogs more than liberal ones, I see more attacks coming from conservatives. Still, I'm not willing to say conservatives do it more than liberals because there's no solid evidence to back it up. The same goes for people saying that liberals attack more.