Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The "But we waterboard our own troops!" objection

Mark Shea has a terrific post up today answering the objection that if waterboarding is torture, then we would be forbidden to train our troops to resist the technique. Excerpt:
With respect to your question, asking if "waterboarding" is torture is sort of like asking if "sex" is rape. Precisely the same physical actions can, in different contexts constitute radically different acts. A man can have sex with his wife and it can be an act of love. A man can force his wife down onto the bed against her will and it can be the gravely immoral act of rape. In the case of military training, the whole point of subjecting people to waterboarding is to *build them into better and stronger men*: to humanize them. In waterboarding prisoner, the whole point is to terrorize the prisoner, dehumanize him, and break him down into something like a frightened animal. That's part of the double-think involved in justifications for waterboarding and other forms of torture. On the one hand, we are told is "really works" because it has the victim begging in no time. On the other, we're told it's not torture.

There's a whole lot more--go read the whole thing!

36 comments:

  1. I've wondered if the modified SERE stuff wasn't intentionally chosen to be our roster of torture techniques on purpose, based on the "we do it to our own troops" -- equivocating on the word "it", of course, as this argument always does -- "therefore it can't be wrong" theory.

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  2. "In waterboarding prisoner, the whole point is to terrorize the prisoner, dehumanize him, and break him down into something like a frightened animal."

    Darn right, if you're not up to protecting innocents Mark, stay home and leave it up to the men.

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  3. Recommended for the FAQ:

    Q. Isn't terrorizing, dehumanizing, and breaking down a helpless human being a manly thing to do?

    A. No.

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  4. "Q. Isn't terrorizing, dehumanizing, and breaking down a helpless human being a manly thing to do?"

    in these circumstances, that 'helpless' human being is a mass murderer. No tea and crumpets Tom..

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  5. Jasper:

    You do realize you are advocating grave evil, right? That the soul of the man who terrorizes the mass murderer is just as dead as the soul of the mass murderer?

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  6. Jasper doesn't even seem to grasp that the person you are degrading to an animal is not even certain to be a mass murderer. He might, like Dilawar, be a guy who happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time when a police sweep grabbed him. Or maybe he was a member of a rival clan who got turned over to the CIA as part of a local feud and denounced as a "terrorist". He might, like Maher Arar, be a guy who made the mistake of flying while Arab. But they all wind up tortured and Dilawar wound up murdered. Jasper not only defends grave evil against Bad Guys from Central Casting, he defends the torture and murder of completely innocent people. That's cowardice, not manliness. Indeed, Mr. Dube is such a coward he can't even sign his real name to his opinions.

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  7. "You do realize you are advocating grave evil, right? That the soul of the man who terrorizes the mass murderer is just as dead as the soul of the mass murderer?"

    what's the alternative Tom? Mark? standby while innocents die? Public officials have a moral obligation to protect citizens, this id also in the CC. You say there are other ways of getting information quickly? what are they?

    do you think the CIA chooses to do evil because they like it?

    SD

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  8. "Jasper doesn't even seem to grasp that the person you are degrading to an animal is not even certain to be a mass murderer"

    see KSM.

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  9. Jasper:

    Do you know what "wrong" means?

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  10. You say there are other ways of getting information quickly?

    For what it's worth, I don't think I've said that. I've long understood that there are realizable circumstances in which there are no morally good choices that will avoid really bad things from happening.

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  11. Tom,

    sitting by idle while innocents die is immoral.

    2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense.

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  12. "sitting by idle while innocents die is immoral.

    2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense."

    Duty does not demand participation in intrinsic evils.

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  13. Jasper:

    Since you won't answer, I'll ask again a different way.

    Do you comprehend that there are some things that are always wrong to do, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what you know will happen if you don't do them?

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  14. "Do you comprehend that there are some things that are always wrong to do, regardless of the circumstances"

    Yes, but WB and enhanced interrogation is not one of them. I don't agree with you that these fall under torture.

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  15. "Yes, but WB and enhanced interrogation is not one of them. I don't agree with you that these fall under torture."

    Why not?

    Waterboarding fits the definition established by the UN Convention Against Torture (to which the US and Vatican are signatories) and has been ruled as such by the US Courts, Military courts, the US Army Field Manual, etc.

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  16. "Why not?"

    Because no permanant damage is done.

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  17. "Because no permanant damage is done."

    And why is "permanent damage" necessary for it to be torture? The catechism does not require permanent damage for it to be torture, neither does the UN Convention Against Torture, the Geneva Conventions, US Law, the Army Field Manual, etc.

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  18. Because I do not think it is fair to group WB and other techniques we used with the torture that maimes, severly injures or kills people. In fact, it could be a sin to do so.

    but, let's say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it. God will be the ultimate judge of that.

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  19. but, let's say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it.

    Heck, you might even gain the whole world.

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  20. "but, let's say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it."

    I'm sorry to hear that. I'll pray that you come around to realize that it is not worth it to save a life at the cost of your soul.

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  21. but, let's say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it.

    Do you understand that this is evil? That you, personally, are advocating mortal sin?

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  22. "but, let's say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it."

    Himmler used to make the same sorts of arguments, calling the men of the SS to have the "courage" to commit war crimes. It's a hellish inversion of the virtue of fortitude to identify naked rebellion against God with fortitude.

    And in the end, it's cowardice. Do you not fear God, Mr. Dube?

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  23. For your reading pleasure:

    http://www.mark-shea.com/killing.html

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  24. "Himmler used to make the same sorts of arguments, calling the men of the SS to have the "courage" to commit war crimes."

    Mark, are you comparing what we did to 3 terrorists to the war crimes of Nazis?

    do you understand that bearing false witness is a serious sin?


    "And in the end, it's cowardice. Do you not fear God, Mr. Dube?"

    No Mark, sitting idlely by why innocents die is cowardly.

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  25. No Mark, sitting idlely by why innocents die is cowardly.

    Above, you said you comprehend that there are some things that are always wrong to do, regardless of the circumstances. Then you said you'd do them anyway.

    Since you don't know what the word "wrong" means, why should we look to you for the meaning of the word "cowardly"?

    I ask this not to catch you out in a contradiction, nor to score an imaginary point in a debate, but on the off chance that, just maybe, it will prompt you to find out what the word "wrong" means.

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  26. Mark, are you comparing what we did to 3 terrorists to the war crimes of Nazis?

    No. I'm comparing what you said (""but, let's say that I lose my soul to save innocent lives. Then so be it.") to what Himmler said.

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  27. "No Mark, sitting idlely by why innocents die is cowardly."

    Courage is a virtue. Participating in an intrinsic evil is against virtue. Participating in an intrinsic evil to save innocent lives is certainly not courageous.

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  28. You understand that this is God's Law, not a rule in a game, right? This isn't committing a foul in basketball to prevent a lay-up, where you might purposely "break" a rule, since the penalty is better than what would otherwise happen.

    Out own salvation is The Game. There is no greater cause than that. Yes, even saving the lives of innocents.

    Christ Himself said -- "There is no greater love than this -- to lay down one's life for one's friends." Breaking God's law to save innocents is not a "greater love."

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  29. i just realized there are certain men who will not lay down their lives for their fasmily. Thats ok though, that is just how you are...

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  30. If this "realization" came from anything written in this thread, I'd be curious what it was.

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  31. How is a refusal to commit grave sin a refusal to lay down one's life?

    You really do sound like Himmler, Jasper.

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  32. It did not take Shea long to compare Mark to Himmler. Way to go bringing up those evil Nazi's. that is always a winner as long as someone does not bring up Hitler on his blog saying the democrats are worse than the nazi's. Democrats 50,000,000 and adding 4 million a day leagally in the USA. Nazi 6 million killed and stopped.

    But lets stay on topic of post

    Mark Shea said
    "In the case of military training, the whole point of subjecting people to waterboarding is to *build them into better and stronger men*: to humanize them. In waterboarding prisoner, the whole point is to terrorize the prisoner, dehumanize him, and break him down into something like a frightened animal."

    Waterboarding our troops makes them better and stronger men- to humanize them. But then Mark is attacked by Tom with "there are some things that are always wrong to do, regardless of the circumstances." The worse torture everyone seems to whine about is waterboarding. If it is wrong, how can it "humanize" our troops. Seems like Tom makes the point that Shea is wrong.

    Shea continues that "in waterboarding prisoner, the whole point is to terrorize the prisoner, dehumanize him, and break him down into something like a frightened animal" which I do not think is the intent. The intent of our people is to cause him to tell us what he knows to save lives. If they did not care about getting information or saving lives, but to dehumanize him and turn him into a frightened animal, then you might have a point. You do not honestly believe that was the intent of any of those quesioning the "prisoner" terrorist do you? If this were true and proven, it would be all over the news. I know of no one that has ever suggested that.

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  33. @Greta,

    Of waterboarding doesn't work by breaking down the prisoner and dehumanizing, how does it work?

    If my wife has a different opinion of where we should go on vacation than I do (or something less trivial, like the preferred course of health care for one of our children), would it be acceptable for me to utilize waterboarding as a tool to cause her to change her opinion? Why not?

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  34. Jasper,
    can't you make a cogent argument without the ad hominem attacks?

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  35. It is bogus to say that our only choices regarding prisoners is to waterboard them or do nothing.

    If my wife has a different opinion of where we should go on vacation than I do (or something less trivial, like the preferred course of health care for one of our children), would it be acceptable for me to utilize waterboarding as a tool to cause her to change her opinion? Why not?

    A good analogy, but I suppose one could duck under the excuse that it is disproportionate. I've asked this elsewhere, and afaik, no one has answered: If waterboarding is acceptable, why not allow local police to train in the technique and use it on criminals to reveal accomplices, learn of upcoming drug deals, locate a kidnapped child, etc? Why not?

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  36. "i just realized there are certain men who will not lay down their lives for their fasmily. Thats ok though, that is just how you are..."

    I think we can draw a suitable distinction between "lives" and "souls." It is spiritually irresponsible and a sin to lay down my soul, for the Love of others--because if I truly am doing so it is no longer the Love of God I am practicing, but a human concept of love that is out of proportion with what God intended; Love is first directed to God and second to neighbor. It is virtuous to lay down my earthly existence for the Love of others.

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