Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's Time To Play A Game...
It's not hard. I made it that way so even liberals can understand it

I think it's time to bring this little waterboarding discussion to an end. Let's play a little game that I fondly refer to as "How Much Do You Love Them?". By the way, feel free to click on the various links... it's enhances the game.

Step 1. Imagine, if you will, those who you love the most. Possibly they are your spouse and children. Maybe your siblings. Could be dear old Mom and Dad.

Step 2. Think hard about just how much you love them. Ask yourself important questions such as "have I always showed them how much I really do love and appreciate them?" and "what would I do without them?" and the ever popular "if they were threatened, would I protect them?"

Step 3. At this point in time, you're pretty much all warm, fuzzy and just oozing sensitivity and luv.

Now comes the hard part of the game.

Step 4. Imagine, if you will, that the very same loved ones you were just thinking about are;
a. On an aircraft that's just been hijacked by Jihaadists that in a few short minutes will be flown into a building, just like 9/11.
b. Are in a building that targeted for destruction by Jihaadists, just like 9/11.
c. Are in a school (or some such other facility) that's been taken over by Jihaadists, just like at Beslan.
d. In the wrong place at the wrong time, and have been captured by Jihaadists, just like Nick Berg.

Step 5. Now I want you to really think long and hard on this one. The very same people who you've brought into this game are about to be;
a. Evaporated in an explosion. But not before living in absolute sheer and utter terror for the last few minutes of their lives.
b. Either roasted to death, crushed to death as a building implodes around them, or they will throw themselves off of the building. But not before living in absolute sheer and utter terror for the last few minutes of their lives.
c. Shot in the back of the head execution-style, if they're one of the lucky ones. The girls will be gang-raped before being shot, and the babies will be slashed and stabbed to death. But not before living in absolute sheer and utter terror for the last few minutes of their lives.
d. Have their head literally carved off. But not before living in absolute sheer and utter terror for the last few minutes of their lives.

Now comes the really interesting part of the game

Step 6. Let's jump in the ol' Wayback Machine and time travel to about an hour or so before all the plans of the bad guys come to fruition. The good guys have captured the mastermind of all the various scenarios that we've discussed during out little game. Remember, we're about an hour away from our loved ones from possibly facing a terrifying, blood drenched, butchery of a death.

Step 7. The good guys have just asked you the following; "the mastermind refuses to talk, but we are 100% positive that something big and very nasty is about to happen, and it involves a gruesome death for your family members if we don't stop it in time. We can possibly thwart the event, but only if extraordinary means are employed, such as waterboarding. Will you authorize us to use such methods?"

Step 8. Before you give your answer, imagine long and hard what the grisly deaths of your loved ones would be like.

Step 9. Think about it some more.

Step 10. Think about it even longer.

Step 11. Think about your loved ones screaming in horror.

Step 12. Now give the authorities either a yes or no answer.

But is there even a reason to play this game? Let's not bull shit each other. We all know what the answer will be. Anyone who says that they'd answer "no" is a liar. Either that or a coward of the highest degree.

28 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Funny. I was under the impression that suffering pain in order to do the right thing (ie not inflict unnecessary pain on another person created in the image and likeness of God) was a noble and Christian thing. Because I would have said "no" to your question, but I don't think I'm a coward.

Since you like question games, what about this one:

Can you picture the Blessed Virgin Mary waterboarding someone?

7:51 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Funny, I just have to double check to make sure I understand you correctly Michael.

If you knew your daughters were about to be gang raped and then executed... if you knew your sons were about to have their heads carved off... if you knew your parents were about to throw themselves hundreds of stories off a bulding rather than roast to death, etc, etc, and even if you had a possibility to keep it from happening, your answer would be a resounding "NO" and in essence, you would tell your family members "oh well, just offer it up"?

Sad, I was kind of hoping that your loved ones who happen to also be created in the image and likeness of God, just might rate just a wee bit of your sanctimony. But I guess that's reserved just for terrorists, huh?

But anyhow, the fatal flaw in your reasoning is when you stated "unnecessary pain". The pain inflicted during a waterboarding is not fatal. Granted, one most certainly DOES FEEL as though they are drowning, but that's the entire pont of the procedure. The whole thing is nothing more than a mind game.

No one dies, information is extracted. It's what they call a "win-win situation".

And as far as The Blessed Mother waterboarding someone? I have no idea. But I do know what her Son said about certain evildoers. Something about tying a millstone around their neck and casting them into the sea?

That sounds quite a bit rougher than a simple waterboarding, doesn't it?

8:16 PM  
Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

Mike,
No, I can't picture the BVM doing that, but I can picture St. Joseph doing it to protect HER. By the way, Mike, instead of some future threat, let's say you could see your loved one being really tortured (burning, skin peeling, bones broken) behind a locked door and you had the guy with the combination to the lock in your custody. Would you lift a finger to extract the needed info from him?

Vir,
Good game. Waterboarding is no worse than a college prank. I remember when Wisconsin's 32nd Red Arrow Division was called up during the Berlin Crisis and sent off to Washington state for war games in preperation of possibly being shipped out. Mindful of the many soldiers who broke and cooperated with the Chicoms in Korea, the brass decided some psych warfare training was called for. If some GI was caught during the war games he was stripped and staked out in the forest and told to talk. When the initial response was negative, a burlap bag of squirming reptiles was produced and the "captive" was told it was full of rattle snakes. If the response was still negative, the snakes were dumped out on the ground within sight of the poor SOB. Every one of them broke! Of course, the creatures were harmless grass snakes.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

First poster: You really believe that waterboarding to save lives is "unnecessary pain"? You believe that allowing innocent people to suffer is a noble thing? Is injustice a virtue?

At the end of the day you take responsibility for the fruits of your actions. What will it be? A harsh interrogation to draw important information from a terrorist? Or innocent blood on your hands?

9:25 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

Michael...are you serious?! You're telling us that the comfort of Jihadists mean more to you than the lives and well-being of those you love?

I can't speak for the Theotokos, but I can see just about every prophet doing that to save Israel, and St. Joseph did everything in his ability to save the Theotokos and the Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Father himself do this this smites those who mock him.

To Hell with Jihadists! I care more about those I love than those raving warmongering rage monkeys who've been trying to conquer the world since that murdering pedophile started preaching in Mecca.

Who is Ted Kennedy to criticize water-boarding after leaving a girl in the water anyway?

For the love of God, lose this swishy Vatican 2 drivel or you're going to find out what the Copts, Maronites and Orthodox in the Middle East know!

IMHO we should take a page from Vlad "The Impaler" Dracula. I know it's un-Christian but dammit we're fighting for survival!

10:47 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

Michael--

two things here--the biblical "smote them hip and thigh" was a hebrew euphamism for kicking them in the balls.

And when the hebres collected all those Philisitne "foreskins", that was a euphamism for plug castration.

St. Garbriel Prosetti pulled guns on people as an act of righteousness. He on another occasion used a hunting knife.

St. Micheal the Archangel is a Warrior.

The Battle of lepanto was one through the intercession of Our Lady. many of the bad guys drowned outright.

So, I would, in the situations mentioned, not waterboard the bad guys. I'd oughtright torture them.

I'd feel horrible about it. I'd go to confession about it. I'd have nightmares about it the rest of my life.

But I would unhestitatingly do it. Being a man, especially a soldier is about doing what one must to protect ones family, friends and country. It's not like some sicko perve in SF beating people for fun and profit, which our society apparently allows.

(There's an idea! Send all the Gay Leather boys over to be interrigators--whaat they do is OK and I'm pretty sure they'd get job satisfaction and info! Dillemma solved *snark off*)

12:07 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

The ends do not justify the means under any circumstances. I think that we can agree on. Yet your line of questions seems to suggest that the tremendous weight of the damage the terrorist will do could somehow change moral law. Honestly, you sound a bit like the high school student asking scenario after scenario to a priest who is firm about never breaking the seal of confession.

The question then is waterboarding really torture. If it is, it's immoral in all circumstances. Considering neither one of you could feel confident in saying that Mary would do it, that's probably a pretty darn good sign that maybe it's something we shouldn't be doing.

1:30 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Yet your line of questions seems to suggest that the tremendous weight of the damage the terrorist will do could somehow change moral law.

And what "moral law" am I advocating being broken? As I (and others) have already pointed out, waterboarding is not only non-lethal, it also causes no permanent injury. In essence, it's nothing more than somewhat of a rather harsh mind-game.


Honestly, you sound a bit like the high school student asking scenario after scenario to a priest who is firm about never breaking the seal of confession.

No, Michael. I'm asking hard questions, and you sound a bit like someone who resides in an ivory tower who refuses to even imagine one of his loved ones being put to death. And a slow torturous one at that.


The question then is waterboarding really torture. If it is, it's immoral in all circumstances.

It's already been established that it's not.


Considering neither one of you could feel confident in saying that Mary would do it, that's probably a pretty darn good sign that maybe it's something we shouldn't be doing.

As I've already pointed out, Jesus stated something about a millstone. With that in mind, what did The Holy Mother say at the Wedding Feast at Cana? Something along the lines of do whatever He says. But if you really want to play the game of "What Would The Virgin Mary Say", I feel confident that she probably wasn't all that thrilled with Marines, sailors and soldiers actually shooting back and trying their best to kill the attacking Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Does that mean that the Marines, sailors and soldiers comitted an evil act and hence, an action that was contrary to moral law when they tried to kill... how did you put it again... "another person created in the image and likeness of God".

5:37 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

The Battle of Lepanto was one through the intercession of Our Lady. many of the bad guys drowned outright.

IR, excellent point.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Another excellent blog Caveman. Morally speaking, I don't have a problem with mild torture as a means to extract life saving information just as in your scenario. However I am wondering, how reliable that information could be? They did an episode on this on the tv show JAG and Col. Mackenzie (Marine) suggested that tortured information was suspect. What do you think?

5:57 AM  
Blogger PreVat2 said...

Michael,
I have a strange feeling you may be pulling the "Democrat Lever" in 08?

For the love of God Almighty, Michael. Man-up and grow a set of Balls! There are times in life when pure evil must be met with the sword.

Semper Fidelis

8:47 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

prevat2:

On the Democrat Lever: "f" no. I voted for Bush in 2004. I'd like to be able to vote Paul or Huckabee in 2008 but if pro-abort Giuliani gets the nod I'll jump third party.

I'm not against using the sword against evil. I'm a big advocate of the just war doctrine. I just think waterboarding crosses that line.

Ignorant Redneck:

I'm a bit confused. If you'd go to confession about it, then it seems you recognize that it's wrong.So I'm not sure why you're also trying to justify it.

Drowning outright is very different from torture. There are justified times to wage war & kill. There isn't a justified time to torture.

Vir:

I don't think Mary had a problem with Marines defending themselves at Pearl Harbor. That's justified. Torture isn't.

As far as what Jesus said, according to His Church: "Torture which uses physical and moral violence to extract confessions...is contrary to the respect for the person and for human dignity.(Catechism 2297)

Although the physical pain of waterboarding might not be lasting, the physical pain and most of all the mental anguish during the procedure seem to make it unethical.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

I don't think Mary had a problem with Marines defending themselves at Pearl Harbor. That's justified. Torture isn't.

Yet again Michael, here's the fatal flaw in your reasoning... YOU consider waterboarding to be torture. Just because you happen to find it to be morally offensive, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is.

There's a real simple test to vilidate is a certain procedure is torture or not.

Does a government use said procedure on it's own people. Case in point: IR correctly pointed out that WB'ing is one of the exersizes used at the various Branches of the Armed Forces SERE Schools.

We don't use power drills on the students enrolled in SERE. That's torture. We don't use electric shock on the students enrolled in SERE. That's torture. We don't pry the fingernail off of the students enrolled in SERE. That's torture. We don't hack off limbs of the students enrolled in SERE. That's torture.

We do, however, expose the students to sleep deprivation, waterboarding, cold temperatures (not freezing), etc. The three procedures I just mentioned are managable to a certain degree. and the only way one could ever cope with such is to be exposed to such.

You know Michael, every year of the 20 I was in the Marine Corps, I had to go to the "gas chamber" for familiarization. Inhaling clouds of CS Gas while doing push-ups and singing The Marines Hymn isn't exactly my idea of a good time, but we most certainly were familiarized with the pleasantries of CS.

Does that mean I was tortured?


As far as what Jesus said, according to His Church: "Torture which uses physical and moral violence to extract confessions...is contrary to the respect for the person and for human dignity.(Catechism 2297)

I've already established that waterboarding isn't torture.


Although the physical pain of waterboarding might not be lasting, the physical pain and most of all the mental anguish during the procedure seem to make it unethical.

Unethical to who? You? What's unethical, is knowing that one's own daughter was gang-raped and them sexually tortured to death, and all the while, dad did nothing to stop it because he was squeamish.

Allow me to be direct. If someone threatened my daughter in the manner I've already described, forget about waterboarding. I'd do everything to save my child's life, squimishness be damned.

I'd take a claw hammer to the son of a bitch.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Unitas said...

I think this can easily be summed up as thus:

We, as individuals have the moral right to lay down our lives. But that right ends when others' lives depend on our own; we may not forsake them by doing nothing. If others depend on us we have a duty to them.

The just use of power allows for killing of aggressors if it is unavoidable to save innocent people.

If we may use lethal force to protect innocent people, then the moral ability to use non-lethal force to save innocent people is a given.

I think tazers have killed more people than waterboarding has. And just about every cop has one of those.

It's quite simple.

The lives of innocent people outweigh the comfort level of the agressor.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

Maybe we should take a cue from SAINT Michael, the Archangel. He knew how to deal with the followers of Satan.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Gentlemen,

It's my first time commenting here, I think, but I believe that Michael has something here.

You've constructed a very powerful set of hypotheticals, packed with an emotional charge that will make any man angry and ready to fight.

The hypotheticals you've constructed, however, are not entirely plausible in their practical aspects, ie., that we have some way of knowing with certitude that a certain terrorist act is going to transpire and when, and we've caught the mastermind with sufficient time to stop everything and bring it to a happy ending. That part borders on the absurd. Life isn't an episode of 24 or a Vince Flynn novel. It's more complex, more confusing, and less likely to give us such strictly defined parameters.

But let's go with your scenario, for the sake of argument.

First thing we need to clear up is there can be a vast difference between what we would find ourselves willing to do as men - husbands, fathers, sons - and what we should do as Catholics.

At this point, we have to check our emotions at the door for a moment. If our Catholicism doesn't come first, we can't go any further in this discussion. If I'm going to react strictly on the emotions I feel as a man at witnessing the rape or murder of my wife, my little girls, or my infant son, I'll be strangling people with their own entrails no matter how many bullets they put through me en route.

But if I am a follower of the moral law, a Catholic first and foremost, an inheritor of the mantle of those Roman Catholics under Nero who had loved ones defiled and butchered for their faith, I may perhaps consider that the standard we are called to comes not from an Ivory tower, but from the Cross.

None of you would call the Roman Martyrs "cowards" for refusing to deny their faith, even when they knew what the consequences to their families would be, would you? What about St. Rebecca, who under the persecution of Diocletian stood fast in her faith along with her five children, who were tortured in front of her, and finally martyred?

The point that Michael makes, and it is a valid one, is that one may never do an evil to accomplish a good.

You say that waterboarding has been established as not being torture. But Malcolm Nance of the Small Wars Journal, who has a list of credentials that more than qualify him to make a judgement on the issue - including the fact that he is a SERE school instructor and has undergone limited waterboarding himself, as well as supervised it as a training tool, has this to say:

1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.

2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.


In this, he is referring primarily to a controlled environment with limited exposure to the technique in order to train soldiers on what they might expect. This is not full-on interrogation style waterboarding.

If it then, in fact, torture - as Mr. Nance makes a very strong case for, then it is a moral evil.

If it is a moral evil, it is not permissable to attain a greater good.

The unique value of our faith is that God draws good from evil if we cooperate with his grace. St. Rebecca and her five children are an example of this - they led many to the faith because of their steadfastness in the face of torture and death. St. Maria Goretti also comes to mind.

In my family, this past summer brought the murder of my mother-in-law over a small sum of money. She was brutally beaten with blunt objects and left in the desert to die with broken ribs and trauma to the head. She wasn't found for nearly a month.

I understand the desire for retribution and vengeance, and I see it in the face of my wife who is no stranger to conflict. But we pray together as a family not only for the repose of her mother's soul and justice for her killers, but that these killers will experience a conversion.

I can say that as much as we wish things happened differently, I can only hope that we would not have used torture to stop it. The moral law comes first, and when it is followed, God rewards it.

All evils are not ours to right, and all conflicts are not ours to resolve. We need to be vigilant in our war with the forces of global jihad, but we must not become evil in our conduct of this war. Even in war, there is just conduct.

The question is whether, faced with these circumstances, any of us could live up to the standards we should aspire to, instead of giving in to the instincts that tell us to maim, kill and torture to prevent harm coming to those we love.

Self-defense and the defense of a loved one is one thing. Torture is another.

4:58 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

Dude, you quote the catechism about "physical and Moral violence" to extract a confession. It's not about a confession of wrong doing, to be used in a court of law. It's about timely aquisition of tactical intelligence for use to prevent enemy action. One is about law--the other about
WAR.

Don't confuse soldiers and cops--it pisses them both off and neither job gets done well.

7:07 PM  
Blogger USMC 9971 said...

On Tuesday in Afghanistan, the terrorists hit children and politicians.

The 59 schoolchildren had lined up to greet a group of lawmakers visiting a sugar factory in the northern province of Baghlan on Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives.

On Thursday there were reports that the FBI had issued warnings of Al Qaeda plots in the U.S. for the 2007 Christmas season.

The FBI is warning al-Qaeda may be planning attacks at shopping centers in Los Angeles and Chicago. [...]

They had no choice, they said, but to discuss it and acknowledge it publicly. Shopping malls are considered to be so-called soft targets. Thousands of them in the U.S. are open to the general public and the parking lots are readily accessible. There is only minimal armed security at many shopping centers.

That's why the FBI warning the local law enforcement is so chilling. Al Qaeda reportedly planned to strike shopping malls in Chicago and L.A. during the 2007 Christmas season, it said. Al Qaeda was reportedly hoping to disrupt the economy and has been planning it for two years.


When it is 59 schoolchildren lined up to greet Santa at the local mall, what methods are we willing to endorse so as to prevent an attack on those children similar to the one in Afghanistan?

If we waterboard a bad guy, or use any other coercive methods, and in the process stop an attack, those such as Michael will likely stand-up and sanctimoniously condemn our actions. Yet, at the same time, if we don't use methods that some may be squeamish about, and then an attack occurs, those such as Michael would likely stand-up and sanctimoniously condemn the inability to extract the information necessary to prevent the attack.

Given that we will likely be condemned by those such as Michael regardless, I'll go with the more coercive methods to extract the information when it is necessary to save lives. I'll sleep just fine at night with Michael and his ilk thinking that our actions were neither noble, nor Christian. Saving the lives of innocents is much more important to me than Michael's approval and good graces.

1:50 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Well said USMC 9971

_________________________________

Steve,
A few things I've like to point out.

1. the scenarios I've used aren't "hypotheticals". 9/11 really happened. The Beslan Massacre really happened. The beheading of Nick Berg really happened. People really did die horrible deaths atthe hands of the Jihaadists.

2. No one here is advocating "retribution and vengeance" for the sake of retribution and vengeance. What we're advocating is justice and [the Christian Act of Charity by] protecting the innocent.

3. It really isn't all that hard to find one from within who is a dissenter. Just look at our own Catholic priesthood, it's filled with modern day Luthers. But I digress; for every one dissenting former SERE School instructor you find, I can find a thousand with the opposing POV as your dissenter.

4. You qualify WB'ing as "an evil". Is life in prison... no, make that life in prison in solitary confinement "an evil"?

5. I yet again, here of the martyrs being brought up. I wonder why Jesus even bother saying "suffer the little children come unto Me". Think about it Steve. Using your rationale, should Jesus just have told them to offer it up? I think Unitas said it best when he commented "The lives of innocent people outweigh the comfort level of the agressor."

3:35 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

USMC,

When it is 59 schoolchildren lined up to greet Santa at the local mall, what methods are we willing to endorse so as to prevent an attack on those children similar to the one in Afghanistan?

So we can weigh grave moral evils, one against another, and decide that at some point we can choose a grave moral evil to effect a good end?

What if it was one child? Ten? Where is the tipping point?

Let's use another uncomfortable analogy, while we're here. Rape is an effective form of torture, and we know that rape is always wrong - always. The rape of a male is further completely repugnant to most men, and humiliating (but not permanently physically damaging) to the victim. One could say that it merely would affect his psychological well-being and his "comfort level".

What if repeatedly raping a terrorist would get the information out of him? Should we do that? I mean honestly, what methods are we willing to endorse? 59 children are at stake.

Physical tortures are objective evils, and whether it's waterboarding or electric shocks, they should be as repugnant to us as homosexual rape. It is a violation not only of the inherent dignity of the victim (obviously, these terrorists don't have any dignity of their own making, what they have is because it has been irrevocably imbued in them by God, who made them in His image) and it is a violation of OUR dignity.

The moral law protects not only those who we would torture or kill - it protects us from destroying our souls in the process.

As Mr. Nance said in his piece about waterboarding (which I failed to link to before), "One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American."

I'd suggest that it further would leave you to question what it is to be a man.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Vir Speluncae Catholicus,

1.) Those things did happen, but the construct you offered as part of your game - the bit where we knew something was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and who could stop it, and we had them in our possession in time to effect an outcome - I believe that this is extremely rare. That's why all the things you mention have happened. I don't believe our government has the same scruples I do, and we've got operations that would have gotten that information, my arguments be damned.

2. You may not be advocating retribution and vengeance for their own sake, but you are, essentially advocating it. It's the time machine analogy you make - what if you could go back, after the horrible things they did to your loved ones? Then what would you be willing to do to stop it?

Injecting the emotion of "after what they've done to your family" is an appeal to that part of us that wants vengeance.

Justice, on the other hand, demands that no grave moral evil be committed in order to accomplish a good end.

The end you want to accomplish is good; I submit that the means are unacceptable.

3. Find me a thousand then. Or ten. Or five. Make sure that they are instructors, that they've undergone the waterboarding drills and that they've overseen them being done to others.

If what Mr. Nance describes is accurate, it is quite obvious that waterboarding is a particularly vile form of torture that easily leads to death if not done properly.

It's not simply a question of comfort level.

4.) Solitary confinement is something different than WB. On some level, one might consider it to be a psychological torture, but I think it would be much harder to prove that.

Waterboarding is, again, if Mr. Nance's description is correct, not simply a "trick" despite the fact that so many refer to it that way. It's not a simulation. It is in fact actually slowly drowning someone while their lungs fill with water, but then bringing them out of that so that they can answer questions.

It has both a phsyiological and a psychological component, and it is something that can lead to hypoxia or death if insufficient caution is used.

Solitary isn't like that.

5.)I hope you aren't serious. Jesus wanted the children brought to him because He is just. But he often does ask us to offer things up, even when they are unjust or extremely difficult to bear. The number of young children killed in the Roman persecutions was not insignificant, so the analogy fits. The Roman Martyrs allowed this to happen because they would not commit a moral evil (ie., deny the faith) to achieve the safety of their families. This is why they are martyrs. This is why they are saints.

As far as I can tell, torture is a violation of the fifth commandment. It's about more than comfort level.

I haven't seen a moral argument against my position. If there is one, I'm willing to hear it.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Hail3N1 said...

The Church holds that there are two reasons for inflicting punishment, namely "medicinal" and "vindictive." The medicinal purpose is to prevent the criminal from repeating his crime, and to protect society from his criminal behavior. The vindictive is to expiate for the wrong-doing perpetrated by the criminal. Thus reparation is made to an offended God, and the disorder caused by the crime is expiated. And nowhere in the New Testament is capital punishment outlawed, the New Testament not only recognizes the right of the State to excercise authority in the name of God, but enjoins obedience to the State in applying the laws of God to its citizens. St. Paul explicitly declares that the State has authority from God to punish criminals. Christ Himself tells us to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. St. Thomas Aquinas made the classic defense of capital punishment. He reasoned that "if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good." {Summa Theologica II,II,64,2}

10:56 AM  
Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

USMC 9971,
You're absolutely correct about the after-attack handwringing and scape-goating that will occur if the government withheld coercive measures to extract info about an imminent attack and Americans die. Just one more reason for the libs to attack our President, the aging flower children to attack our police, and the pacifists to attack our military. Oh, how the sheep love to muzzle the sheep dogs, but then when the wolves attack, the ignorant sheep blame the sheep dogs for not protecting the sorry asses.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Steve,
The only way that I could be advocating revenge or retribution is if justice is factored out.

Example; have I advocated that the mastermind not just be waterboarded, but skinned to death also? No I haven't.

So you see, the "revenge/retribution" argument just doesn't hold water, no pun intended.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Coffee Catholic said...

"We, as individuals have the moral right to lay down our lives. But that right ends when others' lives depend on our own; we may not forsake them by doing nothing. If others depend on us we have a duty to them."

Amen brotha! In firefighter parlance: We have a duty to act!

So...what's the hang up?

Right now I might be a bonnet-wearing stay-at-home wife but I was there in the Middle East helping fight the bad guys (not on the front lines, granted, but as a helicopter mech) while *how* many holy and rightgeous Liberals stayed at home sucking up all the freedom myself and my shipmates were protecting?! (Not to mention the Air Force, Marines and Army warriors as well!)

While the Liberals kick back and skim the cream off of the top of the milk jug - and whine and wail about how bad and evil war is wnd how the United States is soooo bad for fighting back - EVERYONE ELSE is protecting them and fighting for *their* freedom. YOU LAZY BUMS!!

If anyone came near MY family with the intent to torture and kill I'd go into the very holy and justified Mother Tiger mode and tear them to shreds. IF I WAS NOT A DISABLED GULF WAR VETERAN (service-connected)THEN AFTER SEPT. 11th I WOULD HAVE RE-JOINED THE MILITARY AND BEEN OUT THERE IN IRAQ FIGHTING! And dying, if necessary. (pardon the caps but I'm really annoyed.) What say you, Liberals? Eh? It's sad...American service women have more CLANG then full-grown Liberal men. Ugh...

All you limp-wristed Liberals need to toe the line and help preserve your happy little life. Otherwise you're just another cowardly spineless useless (and yappin') mouth to feed.

5:07 AM  
Blogger USMC 9971 said...

Steve,

So we can weigh grave moral evils, one against another, and decide that at some point we can choose a grave moral evil to effect a good end?

I do not believe that using waterboarding, or other coercive interrogation techniques, on one who likely has information about an impending terror attack is torture. As such, I do not accept your premise that use of a legitimate coercive interrogation technique is a grave moral evil that can be weighed against another grave moral evil.

Defense of human life is a grave duty, and permitting an attack to occur when one has legitimate, non-lethal means at one's disposal that would possibly allow for the prevention of such an attack would be, in my opinion, a violation of such a duty. Would one be partially culpable in the evil of the terrorist act if, by avoiding the duty to defend life, one allowed the attack to take place?

What if it was one child? Ten? Where is the tipping point?

I used the number of 59 schoolchildren because that is the number of children who were attacked by a terrorist in last Tuesday's suicide bombing in Afghanistan. The tipping point for me, though, is any instance in which legitimate coercive means may be used to prevent a terror attack. What is your tipping point? How many innocents may be injured or killed before legitimate coercive means may be used?

Let's use another uncomfortable analogy, while we're here. Rape is an effective form of torture, and we know that rape is always wrong - always. The rape of a male is further completely repugnant to most men, and humiliating (but not permanently physically damaging) to the victim. One could say that it merely would affect his psychological well-being and his "comfort level".

What if repeatedly raping a terrorist would get the information out of him? Should we do that? I mean honestly, what methods are we willing to endorse? 59 children are at stake.

Physical tortures are objective evils, and whether it's waterboarding or electric shocks, they should be as repugnant to us as homosexual rape. It is a violation not only of the inherent dignity of the victim (obviously, these terrorists don't have any dignity of their own making, what they have is because it has been irrevocably imbued in them by God, who made them in His image) and it is a violation of OUR dignity.

The moral law protects not only those who we would torture or kill - it protects us from destroying our souls in the process.


You continue to refer to torture. I say again, I do not accept your premise that approved coercive means of interrogation are torture. Rape is not an approved coercive means of interrogation, and I do not believe that it ever could be. I reject the premise of this argument.

I wonder, though, what means would you accept to protect innocent life, and how many lives need to be at risk before you would enact those means? Would you only allow the arrest and conviction of terrorists following an attack? If the attacks became grievous enough, would you allow mass incarcerations and/or deportations to protect the common good and the dignity of future innocent lives? I hear often of objections to the methods used to fight the terrorists, contain the terrorists, and to interrogate the terrorists. I rarely hear any solutions to implement in the absence the techniques that the morally superior object to out-of-hand (outside of de facto capitulation to the terrorists).

As Mr. Nance said in his piece about waterboarding (which I failed to link to before), "One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American."

I'd suggest that it further would leave you to question what it is to be a man.


Mr. Nance may believe that "One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred." I would say the same about those who must endure seeing or experiencing the effects of a terror attack; such an event may just as easily force one into a personal moral dilemma between one's humanity and the hatred for those who would commit the brutality of such an attack.

As a human being, I have free will, and I am required to make choices regarding my actions according to moral law. When looking at the targets terrorists choose, and the absolute evil that those who plan and commit these acts embody, the comfort of evil will continue to take a lower position than the safety, dignity, and life of the innocents.

You and Mr. Nance may question what you will. As for me, I will stand for the defense of the innocent.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

USMC,

I do not believe that using waterboarding, or other coercive interrogation techniques, on one who likely has information about an impending terror attack is torture.

I think that ultimately this is the problem. How do we objectively define torture? I'm trying to understand this from the perspective of moral law. I'm making assertions based on my current understanding of moral law, which I do not claim to be an expert in.

For the sake of discussion, how should we define torture? Do we know if there is a body of Church teaching on torture? The arguments I'm making are based on the premise that one can never commit an evil to accomplish a good.

If a case can be made from moral law and Church teaching that torture is not essentially an objective grave evil then we have more wiggle room.

I want to have a crystal clear perspective on this, because this discussion will not go away. War with Islam is a fact of our lifetimes - I say Islam and not "Islamofascism" because I believe that this is a misnomer (fascism is something else, tied to national identity). I also believe that orthodox Muslims find justification and even obligation for jihad in the Quran and the Hadith. Mohammed himself was a jihadist. The history of Islam follows the course it's now taking again, only their ability wage war is diminished, and terror has become their most effective tactic.

We need to know the guidelines and define the terms before we can really take the discussion any further.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Steve,
The guidelines and the terms have already been defined. Waterboarding is simply not torture.

But much like the liberal attempt at "immigration reform" (ie: change the laws in mid-stream), this is yet another attempt by liberals both in the halls of Congress and within The Church Herself (especially in America) to make as much noise as humanly possible over something that already established both in precident and in law.

But nonetheless, I've decided to cease discussion on this particular thread. It's going to have to come down to "we agree to disagree".

I invite all to continue to comment on all other threads.

Thanks,
VSC

2:57 PM  

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