In Defense of Torture

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Adam's Apple, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Had to print full article. It is restricted to paid subscribers only.

    When Torture Is the Only Option ...
    By David Gelernter, The Los Angeles Times
    November 11, 2005

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) proposed legislation incorporating into U.S. law the Geneva Convention ban on mistreating prisoners. The bill, which bans cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, passed the Senate 90 to 9. To say it's got momentum is putting it mildly.

    But President Bush says he will veto the bill unless the CIA is exempted. Vice President Cheney has led the administration's campaign for the exemption. It's a hard sell; pro-torture politicians are scarce around Washington.

    But, of course, you don't have to be "pro-torture" to oppose the McCain amendment. That naive misunderstanding summarizes the threat posed by this good-hearted, wrong-headed legislation. Those who oppose the amendment don't think the CIA should be permitted to use torture or other rough interrogation techniques. What they think is that sometimes the CIA should be required to squeeze the truth out of prisoners. Not because the CIA wants to torture people, but because it may be the only option we've got.

    McCain's amendment is a trap for the lazy minded. Whenever a position seems so obvious that you don't even have to stop and think — stop and think.

    Americans will never be permitted to use torture as punishment or vengeance. A criminal might deserve to be tortured; we refuse to torture him nonetheless, because to do so degrades us. But if torturing a terrorist (or carrying out some other form of rough interrogation) is the only way to save innocent lives, we have no right to refuse.

    Most human beings recoil from committing torture. But sometimes we have an obligation to do hard things for the good of the nation — as no man knows better than McCain, who fought for his country and suffered long years as a brutally mistreated POW. But his amendment lets the CIA do what he refused to do. It lets the CIA take an easy out.

    In 1982, the philosopher Michael Levin published an article challenging the popular view that the U.S. must never engage in torture. "Someday soon," he concluded, "a terrorist will threaten tens of thousands of lives, and torture will be the only way to save them."

    Suppose a nuclear bomb is primed to detonate somewhere in Manhattan, Levin wrote, and we've captured a terrorist who knows where the bomb is. But he won't talk. By forbidding torture, you inflict death on many thousands of innocents and endless suffering on the families of those who died at a terrorist's whim — and who might have lived had government done its ugly duty.

    Those who defend McCain's amendment and attack Cheney and Bush feel a nice warm glow, as if they're basking in virtue, as in a hot tub, sipping Cabernet. But there is no virtue in joining a crowd, even if the crowd is right — and this one isn't.

    McCain is a bona fide hero. But there's nothing courageous in standing firm with virtually the whole cultural leadership of this nation and the Western world, under any circumstances. It's too easy. To take a principled stand that you know will make people loathe and vilify you — that's what integrity, leadership and moral courage are all about. This time Cheney is the hero. McCain is taking the easy out.

    Of course, saying "never" instead of "almost never" is a trap that well-meaning, lazy people have been falling into for a long time. In a celebrated passage in "The Brothers Karamazov," Dostoevsky tells a story designed to end that error forever — about a rich, powerful general and an 8-year-old boy serf who "hurt the paw of the general's favorite hound." The next morning, the child is stripped naked. The general looses his pack of wolfhounds on the boy, who is torn to pieces before his mother's eyes.

    What should be done to the general? The gentle monk Alyosha, who can't stand the thought of bloodshed, answers, "Shoot him." He has decided that capital punishment should be "almost never," not "never."

    In the end, this column is indeed about willful, cheerful torture — committed not by the CIA but by terrorists whose bombs leave bewildered innocents maimed, blinded or wracked with pain for the rest of their lives, or ripped to pieces. Why? The torturers (or their friends) only smirk and tell us that "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Great").

    We do not torture such terrorists to punish them. God forbid we should do as they do. But if torture (used with repugnance) can stop even one such atrocity, our duty is hideously plain.
     
  2. nakedemperor
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    nakedemperor Senior Member

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    "Those who oppose the amendment don't think the CIA should be permitted to use torture or other rough interrogation techniques. What they think is that sometimes the CIA should be required to squeeze the truth out of prisoners."

    Ok, so how is "squeeze" not just a friendlier word for "torture"?
     
  3. The ClayTaurus
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    The ClayTaurus Senior Member

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    It's like torture, but with puppies and chocolate, and perhaps a hug after.
     
  4. LuvRPgrl
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    LuvRPgrl Senior Member

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    Im surprised that comes from the LA Times.

    When the marketers call or arrive at my door trying to sell the LA Times and I say I dont want, specifically, the LA Times, they ask, "you have a problem with the paper? Is it too liberal?" hahhaha

    THEY ASK ME !

    Anyways, its obvious what he is saying. We cant officially sanction torture, but we know it goes on, always has and always will, to bring up legislation against it is stupid and silly.

    If the CIA or any other covert anti terrorist activity has a, without a doubt, terrorist on their hands, then as far as Im concerned, and many would agree, the terrorist has lost absolutely, 100%, ALL of any human rights he ever had. THAT MEANS ALL, even the right to not be tortured.
     
  5. GotZoom
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    GotZoom Senior Member

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    "We do not torture such terrorists to punish them. God forbid we should do as they do. But if torture (used with repugnance) can stop even one such atrocity, our duty is hideously plain."

    Sounds good to me.
     
  6. deaddude
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    deaddude Senior Member

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    What about sodium pentathol (or whatever it is called) i was under the impression that it could make anybody talk. Most likely I was wrong it seems.
     
  7. nakedemperor
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    nakedemperor Senior Member

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    We're already signed up: the Geneva Convention.

    What about murderers without "terror" goals as such? Rapists? Why does "terror" forfeit human rights when other illegal deplorable actions bring legal action against you, but does not "forfeit your human rights"? You're treading a very slippery slope; I, for one, wouldn't condone torture under any circumstances.
     
  8. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    The Geneva Convention does not apply to people who don't subscribe it. Al Qaeda is not a member of the Geneva Convention, nor was the Taliban, so if you want something that bans torture all together, the Geneva Convention just won't cut it.

    Actually, domestic terrorists with U.S. citizenship do have legal action levied against them instead of being put in Gitmo. However, foreign terrorists or those in the country illegally are not entitled to the same rights afforded to a U.S. citizen, no matter what so many people try to say about illegal Mexicans. In addition to this proviso, even legal residents can have their visas revoked if they commit an act of war, such as an attack on U.S. government property or a militarily motivated mass murder. Personally, I do have a problem with torture, but I won't lose any sleep about it as long as I never have to see it.
     
  9. archangel
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    archangel Guest

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    way too may James Bond movies dude...SP makes one giddy and talkative,not necessasarily coherent...and while we are discussing torture...hey! what is torture to one may not be torture to another....some say tickling ones feet with a feather is torture....some people are saddists and love to be tortured....so to generalize what one considers to be torture may in reality be anothers pleasure...who knows...who cares...let the military and intell do their jobs without all this second guessing! :terror: :D
     
  10. LuvRPgrl
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    LuvRPgrl Senior Member

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    Yea, untill you have a family member murder by a terrorist.

    Murderers or rapists to be tortured? What would be the purpose, unless there is a network of rapists all working together. And yea, if say, a person was kidnapped and held somewhere, and without the kidnapper telling us where that person is, if torture is needed to get the info, then Im all for it. But there are some like you who think the rights of criminals outweighs the rights of people who have commited no crime.

    Orwellean.
     

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