Thursday, February 18, 2010

A strange passage

Joseph Lawler of The American Spectator is answering Andrew Sullivan's posts suggesting, like Morning's Minion of Vox Nova, that the U.S. Bishops have an obligation to address Marc Thiessen's public defense of torture on EWTN.

Lawler makes good sense, to me, on the specific topic of denying Thiessen communion, or even threatening to do so: the situation is not analogous to Catholic politicians who publicly and materially (via votes for funding, etc.) support abortion. Whether Thiessen's own bishop might want to have a chat with him about his rather clear misunderstanding regarding the principle of double effect or Just War theory, say, is another matter.

But then Lawler says:

Sullivan assumes that Church teaching is crystal clear on the moral gravity and permissiveness of torture, but in fact it's not. As far as denying communion or issuing public reprimands go, there is a very high bar to clear -- the action in question must be intrinsically wrong, meaning gravely wrong in every situation, and it must be recognized as such in authoritative Church teaching.

The Catechism addresses torture in general very conclusively:

Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.

Sullivan notes this passage and takes it as establishing torture as intrinsically evil, but there's a key possible exception to this rule: the Ticking Bomb scenario, which is omitted in the list of situations in this quote. It is possible that a Catholic in good conscience could interpret Church teaching as unclear or not settled in these circumstances -- such an argument is here. [Links in original--E.M.]

Is it just me, or is that passage extremely strange? If torture were merely gravely morally evil but not intrinsically evil, would it not still follow that no mere circumstances could make it suddenly morally acceptable? And how would any Ticking Bomb scenario change the morality of using torture against a person--would it not still be a grave (and sinful) violation of that person's human dignity?

What am I missing here?

72 comments:

  1. The dude needs to read Veritatis Splendor. Also, it is notable that B16 did not say, "I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances--except, of course, for ticking time bombs. I really appreciate Fr. Harrison's correction to this completely unrealistic absolute demand of the Catholic moral tradition. Because as Jack Bauer clearly shows, realism is what we see in the movies and on TV suspense shows." Pope Benedict XVI

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  2. You are missing the fact that unlike abortion where there is clear concensus of all the bishops and the church, there is not that clear concensus on torture because it is hard to determine what is clearly torture and it is also there is ones right to defend themself from harm. Someone comes into my house with the clear intent to harm, I have the right to blow them away. The terrorist are trying to come into our country, our home, to do us harm and so we have the right to defend ourself by gaining information to protect ourself. Torture to most would be us going into their house, finding a baby, and ripping its arms and legs off and sucking out its brain.
    This site and many misplaced souls want to come up with anything that might offend a islamic nut trying to kill us dignity. John McCain was tortured with all the other prisoners in Vietnam. Our troops were tortured and killed by the nazi and the japs in WWII on a routine basis. In fact, name a war where the enemy did not torture our troops. I have yet to hear of one war this did not happen. And guess what, the torture we recieved was far worse in every way than panties on the head, denying sleep, not giving them a twinkie, or the big bugaboo of all time, waterboarding.

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  3. There is a clear consensus by every secular and ecclesial authority for the past century. Then there is a radical break by the Bush Administration that is unilateral and unsupported by all those ecclesial and secular authorities.

    Then there are toadies of the Administration and various talking head carrying out the Administration's agitprop campaign--as well as combox dimestore philosophers who repeat the crappy arguments and sophistries of those talking heads.

    But there remains complete unanimity by all competent authorities, including our own gov't (before Bush's radical break with American policy) and the Church.

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  4. People need to stop treating Thiessen as if he is speaking about TTBs. He isn't. Only two conditions need to be present for Thiessen to support torture: 1) The person has committed acts against the US or been associated with that have conspired to do so and 2) He needs to be in custody. There is no nuance in his position. There is no proportionality test. He is an extremist amongst torture supporters. His sympathizers are either ignorant of the extent of his support or a lot of people are using the TTB as a Trojan horse.

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  5. "Our troops were tortured and killed by the nazi and the japs in WWII on a routine basis. In fact, name a war where the enemy did not torture our troops. I have yet to hear of one war this did not happen."

    I've yet to figure out the moral reasoning you are using that justifies torture just because our enemies do it. Could you please shed some light on this?

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  6. The Catechism is not a comprehensive list of do's and don'ts. It also doesn't address the issue of "how far can I go on a date without having intercourse" but does discuss sexuality, modesty, and respect for the human person.

    Why torture apologists insist upon needing to hear EVERY specific action that may qualify as torture is beyond me.

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  7. TORCH --

    It's the same reason that the randy high school kid wants a detailed list of things he can get away with in the back seat of Dad's car. He wants to commit the sin, it's attractive to him, and he wants to think that he has God's permission to do it. Torture apologists are, for the most part, good people who find the sin attractive for decent reasons -- they love their country and want to protect it, and they're scared of terrorism. Having been in NYC on 9/11, I can sympathize. But that still doesn't justify the sin.

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  8. The TORCH writes : "Why torture apologists insist upon needing to hear EVERY specific action that may qualify as torture is beyond me."

    Or it could be because the issue is not immediately knowable, and thus prudence is more difficult to apply without concrete particulars as guides. It's immediately knowable that fornication is not allowed, but what of long meandering kisses?

    A wise parent gives concrete examples not because he assumes the worst in his child, but in order to guide his child.

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  9. Mark Shea, you keep insisting that the ticking time bomb scenario is unrealistic, but it is plain to see that there have been cases where this type of scenario has happened. Not in a terrorist type setting, but in several criminal cases where convicted and admitted guilty criminals would not hand over life saving information. This type of scenario is worth investigating to determine what type of force can be used on a captured and admitted guilty criminal, to stop a violent crime that is being carried out, either by his own doing, or by his own orchestration.

    Examining this type of particular, and admittedly rare scenario, is not presented to endorse the Bush administration, or anything of that nature, and frankly I think it is cowardly to pretend that anyone who wants to examine the question as being a wholesale supporter of torture.

    Why do you run from addressing this issue? Addressing the ticking bomb scenario extends out to more than just a series of 24 on television. I and many others are growing tired of hearing the same poor analogies. Although these cases may be rare, they deserve to be addressed. Deal with it!

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  10. Or it could be because the issue is not immediately knowable, and thus prudence is more difficult to apply without concrete particulars as guides.

    Given that the supposed seekers of clarity in this matter routinely

    1. Reject every definition proposed to them.
    2. Offer none of their own.
    3. Reject the *unanimous* testimony of every competent authority, secular and ecclesisal, for the past century.

    I'm not very convinced that they are as helpless as they claim in finding clear guidance. Quite obviously, what the Perpetually Puzzled for Six Years are up to is not seeking clarity, but seeking to find some way to ignore the bleedin' obvious.

    Here's an easy rule of thumb: If you are not sure something is gravely immoral, don't do it--especially when the Church is signatory to something which says it *is* gravely immoral.

    The notion that somebody could be seeking to avoid the gravely immoral sin of torture while simultaneously constantly probing to see how much prisoner abuse he can get away with is like the notion that the teenager engaged in strip poker with his girlfriend is just honestly trying to explore the contours of chastity. It deserves derisive laughter, not chin-stroking respect.

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  11. "Examining this type of particular, and admittedly rare scenario, is not presented to endorse the Bush administration, or anything of that nature"

    Matthew, a statement like that can only spring from blank ignorance or total dishonesty. The ticking time bomb is *constantly* invoked as a justification for Bush torture policies. Constantly.

    The answer of the Church here, as with vastly *more* common phenomenon of difficult pregnancies, is the same: you shall not do evil that good may come of it. The prohibition against torture may *never* be contravened. Torture doesn't become "not torture" simply because the situation is desperate, just as abortion doesn't become "not abortion" simply because a pregnancy might be life-threatening.

    The problem with your approach is that you are forgetting that hard cases make bad law. You are playing right into the hands of people who simultaneously say "It was just three high value targets, so no big deal" yet who also insist that we should on the basis of this tiny group, radically change American policy and start torturing people. Indeed, the obvious result of your argument is this: We should expand the use of torture from dealing with terrorists to dealing with *any* person whom the state decides might constitute the clear and present danger--including domestic criminal investigations.

    Can you not *see* the incredible danger of this?

    This is why I am so astounded to see Catholic allow their fears to drive them to panic like this. The world has *always* been full of desperate and dangerous people. Always. Our criminal justice system, imperfect as it is, still makes the elementary separation of the evidence-gathering phase from the punishment phase of criminal investigation. You are calling for the elimination of all distinctions between the two. If the cop thinks the guy knows something, then torture him. It's a formulate for barbarism and tyranny, based on a few hard cases.

    And in the hand of Bush torture apologists, it is being foisted on us as a policy that will cover, not "three people" but everybody. That's how law works.

    Think, man, and stop letting your fears drive you.

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  12. No Mark, I don't see the the incredible danger of discussing this. My fears do not drive me. You apparently just don't get it. I find it appalling that you have determined my motives for looking at this particular scenario. Can you read my mind? Then how do you know what my motives are? Are you God now? I don't care if others have brought up the argument to lobby for the Bush administration. I and many others are not, so get off your high horse and come down to the rest of us common folk and discuss this rationally.

    I never said anything about endorsing torture by the Bush administration, have I? I do not appreciate your condescending attitude. I have also never called for the elimination between the distinctions of punishment and evidence gathering. I never said I endorsed torture, I am trying to discuss these types of scenarios to determine if it even falls into that category. Oh, I know, if I even bring up the question, I am endorsing the the Bush administration, right? Until you come up with something other than ad-hominem arguments, I will look elsewhere to discuss the issue. It must be nice to pontificate from your soapbox without addressing any real arguments.

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  13. @Matthew Bellisario -

    I understand that you intended to set your argument apart from those trying to justify the torture policies of our government. But context determines a great deal of the direction of an argument.

    Mark, and Tom, and Red, and Zippy, and I have seen exactly this kind of argument from the so-called Perpetually Perplexed, essentially as an excuse to get around objections to the policies of our past and current government.

    So, if you are genuinely interested in exploring this question, by all means do so. But please don't be surprised that some of us are suspicious of your intentions.

    And, as Mark says, even in a police interrogation with a real-live genuine ticking-time-bomb - torture still is not morally permissible. The Catholic perspective is that ANY torture under ANY circumstances violates a person's integrity and dignity as a person, and is therefore forbidden.

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  14. Robert writes : "torture still is not morally permissible."

    This is circular because it assumes torture to occur which is what is in dispute.

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  15. Matthew:

    "No Mark, I don't see the the incredible danger of discussing this."

    So, analogously, you don't see the incredible danger of continually, constantly, perpetually saying "But what about if Thelma is raped by by her syphlitic father and has a tubal pregnancy with a 90% chance of an anencephalic baby? Surely you can't *really* mean that abortion is intrinisically and gravely immoral in *that* situation? (And, of course, if abortion is not intrinsically and gravely immoral then, then that means it's not really intrinsically and gravely immoral.)" You don't see that continual and constant appeals to extraordinary and desperate circumstance, while basically setting aside the ordinary and obvious teaching of the Church in order to tug on emotional heartstrings, and multiplied by literally thousands and thousands of times on the Internet and in the media is a tactic designed to, well, persuade people to ignore the obvious and ordinary teaching of the Church? And you can't see that declaring people who don't buy this tactic to be "cowards" is bunk?

    You wrote: "I think it is cowardly to pretend that anyone who wants to examine the question as being a wholesale supporter of torture."

    Well, Matthew, I *did* deal with it. I pointed out that the Church's teaching is, both for Thelma and for the even more hypothetical scenario you cite, "You shall not do evil that good may come." Good ends do no justify evil means even in really really hard (and remotely hypothetical) circumstances.

    "My fears do not drive me. You apparently just don't get it. I find it appalling that you have determined my motives for looking at this particular scenario. Can you read my mind?"

    I can't read your mind, just your words. And your words are words which make clear that, in the face of a broad national movement that aims to justify grave and intrinsic moral evil in broad daylight, you choose to indulge in remote fantasy scenarios that give aid and comfort to that movement rather than to ask yourself "Is it spiritually healthy to join the constant din pro-torture apologists continually demanding 'What about Ticking Time Bombs?' instead asking the much more practical question "What about continually and perpetually indulging in remote fantasies which enemies of Church teaching constantly use to prop up their dissent from the clear and obvious teaching of the Church?"

    When I meet Catholics who tell me they care about the unborn yet who endlessly appeal to the pitiful case of Thelma, while constantly asking "What *is* a baby anyway? Do we even know? And is "abortion" really gravely evil? What *is* abortion anyway? Can we really call *every* so-called "abortion" a true abortion?etc. etc." I start to doubt that they are particularly interested in upholding the ordinary and obvious teaching of the Church. Sorry.

    "Then how do you know what my motives are? Are you God now? I don't care if others have brought up the argument to lobby for the Bush administration. I and many others are not, so get off your high horse and come down to the rest of us common folk and discuss this rationally."

    cont'd

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  16. I already discussed it rationally. I told you, for the umpteenth time, that torture, which is gravelt and intrinsically immoral and may not be used under "any circumstances" according to Pope Benedict may therefore *not be used under the circumstance you mention.*

    It's well past the hundredth time I've said that. Yet your question assumes that, if you posit circumstances desperate enough, then Benedict's teaching will become, "Oh, okay. In *those* circumstances, alright."

    "I never said anything about endorsing torture by the Bush administration, have I? I do not appreciate your condescending attitude. I have also never called for the elimination between the distinctions of punishment and evidence gathering. I never said I endorsed torture, I am trying to discuss these types of scenarios to determine if it even falls into that category. Oh, I know, if I even bring up the question, I am endorsing the the Bush administration, right? Until you come up with something other than ad-hominem arguments, I will look elsewhere to discuss the issue. It must be nice to pontificate from your soapbox without addressing any real arguments."

    You need to face that fact that when you "discuss" these things you do not do so in a vacuum. You do so in a world where Marc Thiessen just got on EWTN and declared that torture is fine if the ends are good enough. You do it in a world where the preferred way to create a good end is to appeal to the Ticking Time Bomb. You do so in a world where Bob Barr just got booed by everybody at CPAC for daring to suggest that waterboarding is torture. You do so , in that larger context, just as if you were publically demanding to know why "cowards" won't acknowledge that the pathetic tale of Thelma does not make abortion fine in such desperate circumstances--along with an immense chorus of other voices that have every intention of using that hypothetical situation as a club to beat the Church's teaching.

    In short, you are not an island, Matthew. When you keep banging away on "Surely there must be *some* way to reduce the force of what the Church teaches?" (which is what your question really means), then you are, like it or not, giving aid and comfort to a very broad and deep program of dissent from clear Church teaching.

    You asked your question. The answer remains what it has always been:

    "I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances...”" Pope Benedict XVI

    Deal with it.

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  17. Robert writes :" But please don't be surprised that some of us are suspicious of your intentions."

    Judging intentions is the dominion of the libs. In fact it's the first thing the libs do while always assuming the worst of those who they disagree with.

    Vox Nova which you reference above stands out as the classic lib site. Where they bend over backwards to defend pro-abortion Catholics while condemning anyone who wonders if this or that particular act qualifies as torture.

    Now it seems pretty obvious to me that waterboarding is torture, but then again, my understanding of what torture is, is a bit different than what others think it is. And that's the problem, what torture is, is not always so obvious to each person.

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  18. "Judging intentions is the dominion of the libs."

    This will come as news to the countless readers who have informed me that my real reason for opposing torture is because I am a closet socialist, Obama supporters, pro-choice, enemy of truly true patriotic American Catholic truly truth.

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  19. Perhaps Mark you need to decide if the scenario even fits into the torture category before you go anathematizing me. It seems that you are insistent on presuming that I am endorsing the Bush administration, despite my clear position to the contrary. Thanks for judging me, your royalness. I have never endorsed torture despite your accusations. What is clear is that you will not take a particluar scenario, which is quite realistic, and rationally examine it to see if it fits into the Church's category of torture.

    Instead, once again you have dodged the question by giving me more rhetric on what everyone is doing in regards to the Bush administration and the government. Let me make myself clear in case you didn't understand me before. I could care less about the Bush administration or the government in regards to this moral question. This moral question is strictly from a Catholic, moral, theological point of view, and that is how theologians genuinely debate these issues. I have no intention of endorsing anything except what the Church teaches. So lets take a particlar scenraio and plug it in and see if it meets the category of torture, or not, instead of going back to what he said or she said about the Bush administration. Quoting Pope Benedict over and over doesn't answer the question posed.

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  20. Matthew:

    In the context of a post about the TTB scenario being used as a posssible justification for torture, you ask, yet again, whether "[t]his type of scenario is worth investigating to determine what type of force can be used on a captured and admitted guilty criminal, to stop a violent crime that is being carried out, either by his own doing, or by his own orchestration." You then demand to know why I don't bother with question.

    In reply, I bother with the question (yet again). I tell you flat out that Benedict has answered it: "I reiterate that the prohibition against torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstances...'" Pope Benedict XVI

    In short, whatever type of force may be used, it cannot be torture. But then, we all knew that (I hope). So why inject the question *here*?

    Now: it may be that, for no good reason that I can see, you were suddenly moved to ask somebody with absolutely no training or specialized knowledge in police interrogation procedures what he thinks ought to be done in a TTB scenario. Why you would apply to *me* for that information and then call me a coward for not giving it, I do not know. When *I* want specialized information about particular specialized knowledge (such as "What are legitimate interrogation techniques used by professional policy and military interrogators in emergency situations?" or "How do I plumb a house?" I apply to people with the appropriate information and training to know the answers. I do not apply to some random schlub on the web for that information and then call him a coward when he doesn't have it.

    So: if you actually want to know the answer to your question, I would suggest you lodge that question with a professional police or military interrogator, not insert it into the middle of a discussion about torture while protesting that it has nothing to do with the umpteen other times people have used that question in order to provide a justification for torture.

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  21. Mark Shea writes : "This will come as news to the countless readers who have informed me . . ."

    Libs come in many forms. For instance, the American Exceptionalists are thought of as conservative when they're simply another type of Lib.

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  22. I thought Mark Shea had his own blog where he pushes his total paranoia of the big bad Bush and Cheney administration and from that anyone who dares to support the republican party. By this choice, he is a supporter of Obama and abortion but as with the fact that there are different views on what torture is or isn't, he refuses to acknowledge that his bashing of the republicans leads to giving power to the democrats. He cannot seem to understand that in this country there is only two choices on who will have power, republican or democrat. Perot got the largest vote tally in years for another choice and all that did was give us Clinton but maybe that is what Mark really wanted. Good ol pro abortion team in the white house to keep abortion the law of the land. Yes, lets worry about a terrorist who is kept awake a little too long, denied his dessert, or given that really nasty waterboarding while 4000 babies are slaughtered a day. So are we better now Mark with Barry in the white house and democrats in majority even on the issue of how we deal with the terrorist issue? How about those drones killing innocent people as happened the other day. What was that, 12 people killed by mistake? could that be more than all the so called terrorist killed by torture in 8 years of Bush? Did Obama stop the questioning of terrorist by setting up a policy not to want them taken as "prisoners" but killed with drones? Is the "prisoner" taken recently in Pakestan now being questioned with his lawyer at his side or do you suppose he is getting questioned to get info using somethig truly nasty like panties on the head?

    We are at war folks and I could care less if they waterboard someone because I do first not see that as torture, but questioning a slime ball who gave up their humanity when they fought without uniform or honor by any military code and kill women and children as their target or hide behind them in battle.

    I doubt the English were to easy on the IRA members when they were caught and suspect they did far more to them than we have done to the terrorist we have captured. The IRA was slime as well. Terror has no place in any civilized society when it preys on innocent lives as its intent. We moan correctly when we do it by accident while they do it as their purpose.

    If we were doing what the vietnameses did to McCain and others, what the Nazis did to our troops, or the Japs did to them or the chinese in nanking, they I would be right beside you. But we are not doing torture and not doing it out of joy or some sadistic pleasure. That is torture. that is my definition. As to the dignity definition, that is frankly naive and puts us at risk.

    As to someone saying that my pointing out that every enemy we have faced for the last 100 years or more have tortured our troops, that is in response to those who ask would we want that done to our troops as a reason to treat them with dignity. It has no impact on the evil we have fought for generations. It does not keep anyone safe or prevent torture far greater than what we do. The world learned that appeasement did not stop evil with hitler or tojo. It is not working in Iran and I fear that we will one day wake up with the news that we have been hit with a nuke in NYC. If so, it will be because of the weak links in our society that do not understand you fight wars all out to win. That is why we have to fight. The other side is evil and will not stop short of violence stopping them.

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  23. Love the girls:

    Greta peers into the depths of my heart and declares: "By this choice, he is a supporter of Obama and abortion"

    It's so thoughtful of people to facilitate our communication with such accessible examples, doncha think? :)

    Well, gotta get back to my feast of freah human fetuses with all my terrorist buddies. How I love evil! Yum!

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  24. If so, it will be because of the weak links in our society that do not understand you fight wars all out to win.

    CCC 2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. "The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties."

    Apparently our Catechism is a weak link in implementing the philosophy of totaler krieg which has now become standard issue among those who espouse contemporary Talk Radio thought more highly than the Church's teaching on Just War.

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  25. "That is torture. that is my definition. As to the dignity definition, that is frankly naive and puts us at risk."

    I will pray that you are able to open your heart and listen to what the Church has to say about the dignity of the human person.

    "The world learned that appeasement did not stop evil with hitler or tojo."

    So, refusing to torture is the equivalent to appeasement now?

    "The other side is evil and will not stop short of violence stopping them."

    The other side is evil, so we should become evil to fight them? I would rather die fighting than live a long life after selling my soul so that we can torture.

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  26. The other side is evil, so we should become evil to fight them? I would rather die fighting than live a long life after selling my soul so that we can torture.

    There is a great scene in the otherwise meh movie Bounty in which Captain Bligh and his handful of loyal sailors are starving in a life boat and one of them offers his body for food after he is dead. Bly replies no, "We are civilized men, not savages. And civilized men we shall die. Have no fear."

    I'm just as susceptible to temptation in the time of trial as anyone, but that doesn't change the expectations of us in the time of trial. Frankly, the excuses for treating prisoners inhumanely are as if Captain Bligh wouldn't even bother waiting for the sailor to die before eating him.

    Scott W.

    P.S. (The scene is at ~00:46 here

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  27. Leo Schwartz writes : "I will pray that you are able to open your heart and listen to what the Church has to say about the dignity of the human person."

    Do that. But bear in mind, offers of prayer have the appearance of sanctimony, and are generally about as helpful as the article which brought me to your blog which referred to people he disagreed with as 'moral idiots'.

    So, given the title of this blog, what is perhaps a bit more helpful is better elucidation of the Church's teaching.

    The encyclicals for instance set down the parameters, they don't typically explain the reasoning of those parameters or explain their practical application.

    Fortunately for us the issue of torture is far removed and we have no more affect on whether or not men get tortured than we do on whether or not we get jammed with national healthcare. And thus Greta is fairly safe from being in a position of committing a sinful act, and is certainly safe from knowingly committing it.

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  28. will take on attacks one at a time

    Greta peers into the depths of my heart and declares: "By this choice, he is a supporter of Obama and abortion"

    Of course you are a supporter of Obama and death when you have a two party system and either do not vote or throw away the vote with some unelectable candidate. As I pointed out, votes for perot gave us clinton. It is amazing how so many fail to understand the two party system. You vote for those who support life the most and comparing the two parties, there is no comparison between Obama and McCain. Is McCain perfect on life, no, but far better than Barry and we would not have had Barrys choice for the supreme court, another leftist liberal so the failure to get behind better choice already has made our pro life position worse. McCain said he would look for justice like Sacalia. Barry also signed number of executive orders that resulted in dead babies. but Mark gets up in the air of a few terrorist he thinks were tortured and that trumps killing babies. So yeah Mark, your actions led to more dead babies.

    Mark again of course
    If so, it will be because of the weak links in our society that do not understand you fight wars all out to win.

    CCC 2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict.

    He fails to address the other issues mentioned which concerned real torture in all the other wars we fought all of which were far greater than anything we have heard about with the USA. Does he condemn the use of firebombing cities in WWII, the use of the nuke on hiroshima and nagasaki to end the war before millions died in trying to send troops into Japan, or the fact that our soldiers were ordered to shoot prisoners around D Day so as not to slow them down again in order to gain a foothold so that we could move in to end the nazi regime. We should fight wars as a last resort, but fighting them with our hands behind our back and with limits that no one else is observing leads. People that come behind our lines in war without uniform and attempt to harm us are dealt with differently than soldiers captured in combat in most cases. One can be shot as a spy. Is that bad? Is that some form of evil? The terrorist like the IRA or the Islamic nuts fight without uniform and aim to kill and maim civilians including women and children. I have little use for them. Put on a uniform and fight like a human being observing laws of warfare or suffer the loss of your humanity and life like a spy.

    If we follow people like Mark we can simply surrender to the terrorist. He is against our being in Iraq and I assume anywhere over there and if we must be there, wants to place our troops in danger and our cause at risk.

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  29. Greta:

    My choice to vote third party had absolutely no effect on who is president. You don't know what you are talking about.

    The rest of you post is an elaborate declaration that you do, in fact, defy and despise the teaching of Holy Church, which does in fact tell us that there are limits on what can justly be done in war. This include the unequivocal condemnation of the mass murder of nnocent icivilians by terror bombing, which yoiu laud and applaud. Your argument is exactly the same sort of reasoning that animated Osama bin Laden, who likewise targeted innocent civilians. You argue that we must become evil in order to defeat evil. That is cowardice, not manly courage. No thanks.

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  30. Mark, stopping a violent crime by force is not necessarily torture. So your Pope Benedict quote doesn't do much good until we have determined that the action is actually torture. You have not proven this as of yet.

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  31. And that would matter if I had ever claimed that stopping a crime through violent force was necessarily torture. But since I haven't claimed that (and would never claim that) I again ask, "Why are you asking me, who has no training in or knowledge of standard police interrogation methods, to hold forth on what legitimate and ethical interrogation techniques are used in crisis situations?" What you obviously need to do is go to sources with that specialized knowledge: namely, professional police and military interrogators. You may as well arraign me for cowardice because I won't tell you how to plumb a house, prepare a gourmet meal, or hold forth on the intricacies of the British tax system.

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  32. Shea, I find it quite comical that you insist that Matt go ask police interrogators as to what would be the ethical manner in interrogating someone during a crisis situation when Matt is discussing this at the level of moral action. Matt isn’t asking which method is preferable for a particular situation as to its utility, but whether such a method giving the circumstances would be moral action. The fact that you understand an interrogator to be a competent authority to answer this question is truly troubling. A moral theologian would be a competent authority. One who is schooled in Church teaching would be a competent authority. You have assumed these very roles for yourself by condemning those who pose such scenarios, by indiscriminately taking Church teaching and applying vague principles as bumper sticker slogans against those who are attempting to narrowly apply the same Church teachings. You can try to have it both ways; on the one hand you can stand there on your soap box handing down anathemas as if you were the competent authority. Then on the other hand whenever you are challenged, set up the facade that you are tackling the scenario by mockingly dismissing the opposition, when in reality you are no authority at all. I suggest that you go about this under the reasonable Akin approach. The content of moral action to which Matt is attempting to address is up for serious study. You readily admit that you would not argue that, “stopping a crime through violent force was necessarily torture.” It is at this point that precise principles for moral action must be defined. If you are unable to do so due to the recognition that you are not a competent authority on matters of moral action, then I suggest that you refrain from your soap box anathemas of those who are competent authorities such as Fr. Harrison, and any other individual who attempts to address this discussion seriously.

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  33. I would like to add to the above that just because someone is a competent authority on the subject, like Fr. Harrison, that in itself does not mean that they are in the right. What Matt, and myself for that matter, are in search of is reasonable (and respectful) dialogue.

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  34. Alex:

    You seem to have a point, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is beyond "Shut up about torture already, Shea."

    I never said anything about asking professional interrogators about "utility". I said you should ask them what techniques are regarded as ethical in the circles of those who do this stuff for a living. They have training, after all, not only in the mechanics of interrogation, but also in the ethics thereof.

    You retort that we should ask moral theologians instead. Fine by me. I'm not a moral theologian, so why is Matthew asking me?

    You then leap from this to saying that I need to shut up about torture because I'm not a moral theologian. And you appeal, not to the ordinary teaching of the Church, the statements of Pope Benedict, and the unanimous consensus of every authority both secular and ecclesial for the past century, but to one priest who is enormously popular in the rarified atmosphere of Internet pro-torture polemics, because he basically says that, in Hollywood thriller scenarios, it *might* be possible to torture--despite Benedict's reiteration that the prohibition on torture may never be contravened.

    One gets the sense that the agenda behind this conversation is not really, "Jeepers, I sure would like an answer to my desperate question about about what techniques are ethical in emergency situations." but is instead, "How can I get Shea to shut up about torture?"

    So: do you want information about what techniques are morally legit in crisis situations or not? If not, then keep asking me, who has no training in police and military interrogation. If so, then go to people who can actually give you answers. Those answers *cannot* include the use of torture, according to Benedict XVI. They also cannot be techniques which are, in fact, torture, but are called some bullshit euphemism like "enhance interrogation".

    What is so complicated about this? Make a phone call to the cops or the Army if you are really so desperate for an answer.

    Oh, and Fr. Harrison is no more a competent authority on the question, "what type of force can be used on a captured and admitted guilty criminal, to stop a violent crime that is being carried out?" than I am. The competent authority, in this case, is the person with actual knowledge of and responsibility for how interrogations are carried out. In the same way, Fr. Harrison is not the "competent authority" in the matter of declaration of war: the elected heads of state are. He may have insights on what Just War teaching is, but that does not make him a competent authority to declare war.

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  35. You readily admit that you would not argue that, “stopping a crime through violent force was necessarily torture.” It is at this point that precise principles for moral action must be defined.

    The precise principles have been defined. They are found in the Catechism's teaching on Just War. Among these principles are things such as the mere fact that war has broken out does not mean that you can do anything you want in order to win. This means, among other things, that the prohibition on torture may never be contravened.

    It also means that we are bound to treat prisoners humanely.

    Here, however, we get into a lot of chin-pulling about what, exactly, precisely, technically *is* torture anyway, with reasoning (ably spelled out Zippy) that goes like this:

    "Another fallacious mode of argument is Magisterial positivism, or more colloquially an appeal to finer detail. Waterboarding prisoners for information is not torture because the Magisterium has not specifically said that it is. But of course the Magisterium has not said that suction aspiration of a living fetus is an abortion either. On the one hand, the Magisterium imposes latae sententiae excommunication on anyone who procures or performs an abortion. On the other hand, how can we know that the person procured an abortion if the Magisterium hasn't defined suction aspiration as abortion? The appeal to finer detail is one of those gifts that keep on giving: like a small child saying "why" over and over again, there is no answering it."

    So: if the purpose of asking "What about really super duper desperate crisis situations?" is really to get an answer to the question "How do we avoid torture and act ethically?" I would ask people who do this stuff for a living since, in fact, we have a whole slew of people who have acted as interrogators in crisis situations and who have not felt the instant compulsion to resort to barbarism as, say, Greta does. They know, far better than I, how this stuff is done.

    However, if the real purpose is just to say "Shut up you." or to suggest, yet again, that desperate times call for desperate measures, then just continue the course you have pursued so far in this discussion, Alex.

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  36. Mark says "My choice to vote third party had absolutely no effect on who is president. You don't know what you are talking about."

    Simple to most. You have three people running and claim to want to stop abortion. One is for abortion, the other two are pro life. However, only one pro life person has any chance of being elected. He may not be as pure on the issue as the one who cannot be elected, but since he has no chance, in reality he is no more a candidate than yourself of Mickey Mouse. That means there are two viable candidates, one far more pro life than his opponent, and one pro death. Six Pro life voters are voting and five pro death are voting. Should be a win for life. But you chose to vote for Mickey Mouse and convince one other person to do so because of some issue like torture and try to frame that as in any way close to the issue on abortion. End result is your vote and your dialogue elect the pro death person. Direct connection between you and the death of innocent life. In the last election, many people ran around throwing their hands in the air whining about a lot of issues and as a result we got Barry, the most pro death president in history. Thank you Mark and other like you who whined about Bush and Cheney forgetting Barry voted to kill life that survived abortion. Face it once and for all that there are only two choices in politics in the USA, pro life republicans who may not be pure, but they look like mother theresa next to Democrats.

    As to your statement on those who fought and won WWII, that says a lot about you as a person. You would have had all of them up on war crimes. Firebombing Nazi and jap cities to defeat them, dropping nukes to save millions of lives of our soldiers and the innocent civilians caught in between. You are a weak sister Mark and it shows. Last time I looked they were called the greatest generation and you say they are the same as Osama Bin Laden .."This include the unequivocal condemnation of the mass murder of nnocent icivilians by terror bombing, which yoiu laud and applaud. Your argument is exactly the same sort of reasoning that animated Osama bin Laden, who likewise targeted innocent civilians." So according to Mark, the USA did mass murder all through Germany, France, and Japan and should forever be condemned to the same trash heap as Hitler, ToJo, and Osama Bin Laden. Thank God we did not have a lot of you around in our past Mark. Do the other torture whiners agree with Mark on the history of our country in WWII?

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  37. Here is my final attempt to discuss this issue. This is a specific scenario that is a reasonable one, although admittedly rare. But this is what moral theologians discuss in regards to Church teaching. The scenario is very specific, so lets plug it in and see if it the action would be morally licit or not according to Church teaching. Once again, for the record, my intent is not justify any specific government operation, Mark.

    Scenario,

    Joe is pulled over by highway patrolman. The officer finds that he has a girl in the car with him that has recently gone missing. They take Joe to the police station where Joe admits to the state authorities that he has kidnapped several girls, and he admits that he has another girl in an undisclosed location who is locked in a closet with no access to food and water. Can the state authorities withhold food and water from Joe, until Joe decides to tell where he has the other girl? Does this action fall into the states right and duty to protect its citizens from violent criminals? Is it immoral to take a proportionate action against Joe to stop his violent crime? Would the Church classify this as torture? If anyone can answer that question in a rational, Thomistic style reply, it would be most appreciated.

    Notice there are a couple of known facts that make this scenario completely different from the usual ticking time bomb scenario.

    1. We know for a fact that Joe is guilty.
    2. We know that there is a violent crime still being carried out by Joe.

    Thanks for humoring my question.
    I have also posted this over on my blog.
    Catholicchampion.blogspot.com

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  38. Mark says this amazing statement

    " the Magisterium has not said that suction aspiration of a living fetus is an abortion either. On the one hand, the Magisterium imposes latae sententiae excommunication on anyone who procures or performs an abortion. On the other hand, how can we know that the person procured an abortion if the Magisterium hasn't defined suction aspiration as abortion?"
    Every successful abortion leads to death and that was the intent of all abortions. They do not have to specify various types or talk about various situations because the person seeking an abortion and the one doing it cleary intended to kill. How in any way does this make any sense at all as to torture. If you torture someone to death and intended to kill them, then it is very clear and we call it murder. If there is no death involved in this torture, then we are dealing with a number of things that would have to be defined. It is obvious that you and the others have not been able to define it as clearly as abortion and yet now amaziningly you seem to want to say it like it is just as clear. A person authorized by his government in attempting to save lives by an act of itterogation has no intent to kill or damage them as in the types of torture that are clear such use of battery wires to the genitals, pulling out fingernails, pulling up arms behind the back and suspending them for hours while beating them with a club. You problem is that none of the accepted torture techniques the normal person would classify as torture have been used by the USA. You and the group want to expand this to saying it is not right to hurt their dignity even to save thousands of lives and many people as saying you are full of crap and a appeaser to terrorist. I say flat out that you and people like you get innocent people killed in a world where evil exists. I ask again to show me anywhere in the gospels Christ was taking his disciples on a protest march against crucifixion and everything done to him in the Passion. He was tortured and yet where was the protest. Yet there is no doubt that we would today call this torture in very plain terms and all would agree. Imagine if they had waterboarded Christ and let him go. Where would be our savlvation. Good can never come from evil some of you have said and I point to the Cross and the Passion of our Lord. I point to waterboarding and thousands of lives saved that you would want to see lost to save the dignity of a terrorist.

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  39. Matthew:

    Here is my considered reply:

    Why do you keep asking somebody with no experience in police or military interrogations what would be done in a suspense movie scenario? Wouldn't it be smarter to go to a knowledgeable expert in pre-Bush norms of interrogation and a) ask them for a *real* crisis situation they might have experienced and b) ask them how interrogations are done ethically? Why keep insisting on getting your info from non-specialists?

    Meanwhile, do ask "Why am I focusing on incredibly remote scenarios which encourage and justify the use of torture in the minds huge percentages of fellow Catholics, while ignoring the much more pressing need to persuade fellow Catholics to obey the Church's teaching that torture is intrinsically and gravely immoral?"

    Greta:

    I ask again to show me anywhere in the gospels Christ was taking his disciples on a protest march against crucifixion and everything done to him in the Passion. He was tortured and yet where was the protest. Yet there is no doubt that we would today call this torture in very plain terms and all would agree. Imagine if they had waterboarded Christ and let him go. Where would be our savlvation. Good can never come from evil some of you have said and I point to the Cross and the Passion of our Lord.

    God bless you and have mercy on you. You've made my case better than I ever could.

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  40. Mark, why do you insist on not addressing the scenario in light of Catholic teaching? I don't care what the police think or the govt. This blog is called the coalition for clarity no? Why not address issues like this one? A

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  41. Mark is amazing. He cannot seem to ever address any issue in a straightforward way. Of course he would have banned anyone who challenged him on his blog and will be hoping those who disagree get banned here as well.

    "God bless you and have mercy on you. You've made my case better than I ever could."

    You make no case to defend yourself from calling those who saved our country from the Nazi and Jap threat the same as Osama Bin Laden. Those are your words Mark. So all those who died did so as terrorist in the eyes of Mark Shea. Your right Mark in once sense, you could never make any case on your own because you refuse to ever acknowledge any common sense argument and act the role of a libereal who cannot debate the points made. So Mark, you are the coward for not being willing to explain why the heroes of WWII rate so low in your mind. You see terrorism everywhere. We would all be Nazi's and have no freedom. I thank God there were those willing to drop bombs and to defend our country. With weak sisters like you, we would be lost.

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  42. Mark, why do you insist on not addressing the scenario in light of Catholic teaching?

    Why do you insist on asking a non-specialist in the techniques of police and military interrogation what he would do in a situation that requires specialized knowledge of police and military interrogation techniques?

    I don't care what the police think or the govt.

    Then you are ignoring your primary source of information for getting an answer to your question.

    This blog is called the coalition for clarity no? Why not address issues like this one?

    This blog is not about Everything. It's about a specific thing: the moral illegitimacy of torture. Despite repeated attempts by some interlocutors to make it seem as though I say so, I do not believe that all forms of coercion are torture. An exhaustive intinerary of which forms of coercion have been regarded as ethical when the US was under Geneva I don't know, nor do I know what police investigators regard as standard ethical treatment. Myself, I can see the withholding of food (for a time) as within the pale of humane treatment. I can also see that attempts to torture prisoners by starvation and thirst are torture. But so what? I'm a schlub with no training in interrogation and it may well be that this crude attempt at coercion is actually counter-productive however you implement it. That's why I think such attempts to ask "How close can I tiptoe to grave evil without quite doing it are a waste of time and a waste of time on stilts when you insist on asking people with no formal training in ethical interrogation procedures to give you answers you could more easily find by asking an actual interrogator with the proper ethical training.

    That's the thing: you don't know what you are talking about when it comes to effective interrogation and neither do I. You are assuming (as everybody seems to do) that the first and best option for anybody seeking information is to starve, drown or beat it out of a prisoner. Bottom line: you are operating under the assumption that interrogation *must* involve abuse of some kind, the only question is how much.

    But you, I suspect, are completely wrong about that assumption. It *may* be that the method of interrogation that is most effective has nothing to do with prisoner abuse and everything to do with building relationship with the prisoner.

    This is not wussy stuff. This is how the US got way better intel than the Soviets during WWII: because Nazi soldiers went out of their way to surrender to the Western allies whom they knew would not torture them.

    So I repeat, if you want information, why not go to sources that can give it. If you merely want to play the game of looking for the non-existent bright line between legitimate coercion and torture, then permit me to repeat Tom Kreitzberg's old point:

    "bright lines" don't exist.

    They do not exist.

    Of existence they have none.

    There are no bright lines. There are no dim lines. There are no lines.

    The lines you insist on do not exist. They are not.

    I recommend against constructing laws based on these bright lines, since they don't exist.

    This does not mean it is impossible to know what torture or abuse are any more than it impossible to know what pornography due to the existence the nude statue of David. It means that (as I have said now, what?, a half dozen times?) you should go consult somebody with knowledge of the relevant ethical and technical issues who was responsible for interrogation under the norms of Geneva.

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  43. Red:

    By all means do *not* ban Greta. Hopefully she will serve as a warning to others tempted to embrace consequentialism of just how badly it can distort the human mind.

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  44. Greta:

    "When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits?" he asked. "I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. ... Somehow or other, from that day on in our American life, we say we want no limits and no boundaries." - Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Weak Sister and Miserable Coward

    "There no longer exists a knowing how to do separated from a being able to do, because it would be against freedom, which is the absolute supreme value...Man knows how to clone men, and so he does it. Man knows how to use men as a store of organs for other men, and so he does it; he does it because this seems to be a requirement of his freedom. Man knows how to build atomic bombs and so he makes them, being, as a matter of principle, also disposed to use them. In the end, terrorism is also based on this modality of man's self-authorization, and not on the teachings of the Koran." Benedict XVI, Weak Sister and Miserable Coward

    The satanic inversion of values always tends to identify resolute willingness to do grave evil with "courage" and rejection of such evil with "cowardice."

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  45. Why are people now so eager to defend torture?

    Why are people so puzzled about it now? Why is the Church's teaching suddenly so "unclear," so subject to exceptions and extreme scenarios?

    We didn't have this debate during WWII or Vietnam, did we?

    If you asked anyone about this before 9/11, would there be any question as to the right answer?

    So now that we're dealing with "really bad guys," torture may be OK? But since when does something intrinsically immoral become possibly OK because we're dealing with a "really bad guy"?

    Or is this about defending Bush? If the Bush policies were enacted under a Democratic administration, just think of the howls from conservatives about the end of civilization . . . .

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  46. "Mark is amazing. He cannot seem to ever address any issue in a straightforward way. Of course he would have banned anyone who challenged him on his blog and will be hoping those who disagree get banned here as well."

    thats right Greta, hang in there. He is now bashing you on his site, he will be sure to ban you though, so you cannot respond. These people here do not act like good catholics at all, we need to pray for them Greta.

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  47. Sam:

    Precisely right.

    There is one and only one reason we are forced to have this conversation: because a Republican Administration enacted torture policies and the veterans of the Administration and its stooges, shills, and enablers insist on maintaining that what they did was good. Nobody, on 9/10/01, if asked, would have said "Torture is compatible with Catholic teaching." Indeed, one of the many standard lines of attack, hotly rebutted by Catholics, was the old "The Church approves of torture" schtick from the keepers of the Reformation flame. Now, however, you have people like Greta appealing to the torture and murder of our Lord Jesus as a reason for embracing torture and imbeciles like Jasper cheering her on.

    It's madness.

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  48. Mark: no fear. Is giving someone more than enough virtual rope becoming an accessory before the fact to his/her eventual rhetorical suicide? 'Cause, if so, guilty, and whatnot.

    I'm so glad you posted that Fulton Sheen quote. I remembered it, and went looking for it the other day, but I have many Sheen books, and no memory as to the specific book that quote was in. I'm thinking that one belongs on the sidebar here.

    I've also got a picture of what Bishop Sheen called a "Soviet Torture Room." Does it involve boiling oil, whips, and hot irons? Nope--just no place for a person to sit, stand or lie down, forcing him to be in, essentially, a stress position for hours at a time--you know, kind of like what Americans were doing not that long ago (and may yet be doing for all I know). Yet Weak Sister Sheen called it "torture." As soon as I figure out how to upload the picture to the Internet I'll post it here, too.

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  49. Mark, again you are missing the point. I never mentioned that I want to find out the most effective interrogation method did I? No, I did not. I asked if the act in the scenario taken by the police was morally permissible in the eyes of Catholic teaching. It seems that you are either unable or unwilling to address the issue I presented. It seems that no one else on the blog is able or willing to do either. So much for clarity part of the coalition. Thanks alot.

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  50. Matthew, I find your questions puzzlingly obtuse.

    What you appear to be asking is, "If the police have a true TTB situation and the only way they can stop the Bomb (or whatever) is by performing some unspecified action anywhere from short-term food deprivation (which must not cross over to starvation) to full-scale waterboarding, beating, mutilation etc., are the police morally justified from Catholic teaching in taking any of these actions?

    What Mark, and others, have said in reply to you is, "They may not torture (waterboard, etc.). Whether short-term meal delays etc. cross a moral line is not a question about torture; it is a question about the morality of various police interrogation tactics. In order to determine the morality of these tactics, we must first discover whether they exist or are actually ever used; then, when we understand the parameters of their use, we can discuss whether or not they are a) torture and thus always forbidden, or b) coercion that does not rise to the level of torture and thus potentially morally possible."

    Your reply to that has been to ask, "But why won't you tell me know whether it's moral to use methods which may or may not be torture in TTB scenarios?" The problem is the question; the answer is as always--we may not torture, period.

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  51. I'm new here, so please forgive me, as I'm afraid I really am confused. Greta, in your
    statement

    Imagine if they had waterboarded Christ and let him go

    I take it that "they" refers to the Pharisees and Roman officials. Firstly, I'm not sure that they wanted or needed intelligence from Our Lord. I thought they wanted to kill Him; but I certainly am not an expert on the Bible. I may have this wrong. And I understand your position is that waterboarding is not torture, but a legitimate means of interrogating possible suspects. Perhaps you could explain what my mistake here is?

    At any rate: second, I don't see what you mean about them waterboarding Him and letting Him go. I beg pardon--I indeed cannot imagine what purpose that would serve. Was there information that Christ was supposed to reveal which they could find useful? And as they considered Christ to be the chief instigator of the ongoing rebellion against them, I don't see why they would let Him go once they have Him in custody. And even if they had thought Him less of a threat, would it not be more practical for them to have a potential criminal behind bars? In this manner, wouldn't they be able to make further use of him when they so wish, and also keep him from causing them any more inconvenience?

    And thirdly, in the scenario where they waterboard him and let him go--it would seem that you are suggesting that it is a mistake to waterboard him and let him go. But in light of your position, surely this is not what you mean? Do you mean that it is a mistake to let him go afterward? Or are you saying here that it is a physical impossibility for a man to die as a result being waterboarded, and so waterboarding Our Lord would have been an obstacle to our salvation?

    But if either, or both of the above is indeed what you meant, I'm afraid I find a few things still a little confusing. As you say that waterboarding is an effective method of data gathering information and not torture: what then is the point you are making? And, since you also support exhausting all possible means of protecting the state from potential threats--what is the point you are making? It would seem that you're saying that it would be a mistake if the Pharisees and Roman officials had used waterboarding to neutralize Christ, whom they considered a threat to their government. (And I do know they publicly executed Him by nailing Him to a cross.)

    Now, supposing for a moment that your position is actually that torture itsef is not wrong, (and I apologize for misunderstanding if it really is your position!) what you've said rather suggests that waterboarding is not, in fact, a very effective means of dealing with suspected terrorists. I'm also curious--if torturing is not wrong, would you say that there was nothing very wrong in the manner of Christ's death? For He was working against the ruling officials to institute His own Kingdom. They had cause enough to fear Him. Would it not seem that the Passion was an example of an ordinary legal process carried out thoroughly and successfully?

    I'm new here and I'm afraid I have not fully grasped the issues. Perhaps you could help me understand?

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  52. I'm sorry, but perhaps you could also explain what you mean when you say

    I ask again to show me anywhere in the gospels Christ was taking his disciples on a protest march against crucifixion and everything done to him in the Passion. He was tortured and yet where was the protest.

    Is it correct that you're saying you might reconsider your position if Our Lord had organized a political protest (after His Death and Resurrection) to address as well as to seek legal compensation for, as you say, "everything done to him in the Passion"? Am I representing your statement accurately? If so, why should He seek any redress for perceived grieviances done to him, when all that transpired was officially sancitioned, follwing due process of law?

    I also apologize for my lengthy comments!

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  53. "McCain said he would look for justice like Sacalia. Barry also signed number of executive orders that resulted in dead babies. but Mark gets up in the air of a few terrorist he thinks were tortured and that trumps killing babies. So yeah Mark, your actions led to more dead babies. "

    I've been trying to explain this to Mark for some time but he just doesn't get it. He always comes back with his snide or sarcastic remarks (as you've probably already noticed Greta)..his hatred for Bush and Cheney is more than his love for unborn children.

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  54. Once again we hear the "it's just a few people we've waterboarded! What is that to millions of aborted children?" Well, if waterboarding is such a small thing, then it is no great loss to repudiate it completely so we can move on to bigger business.

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  55. @Matthew -

    Red's reply says it pretty well. I'll just repeat what I've said before: in this current political and historical context, when there are actual policies of torture in place and gaining real credence among the population, can you not understand that your questions have more than merely theoretical implications?

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  56. @Greta and @jasper -

    Why do you insist, despite evidence to the contrary, that an anti-torture stance is necessarily pro-abortion.

    The main reasons I've come to stand against torture are exactly the same as the reasons I stand against abortion: first, that I see how degradingly inhuman it is; and second, that (if I had any doubt) the Church has pronounced magisterially on the topic.

    To repeat that "there is no broad consensus" in the Church is actually more an argument for permitting abortion, which also has no "broad consensus" ... if you count non-magisterial sources like dissident theologians and the laity misled by them. The fact is that every magisterial authority who has spoken on this topic has opposed the use of torture absolutely.

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  57. Greta:

    Are you aware that the Catholic Church teaches that firebombing and nuking cities are objectively gravely evil acts?

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  58. Matthew:

    Do you mean "sending the criminalto bed without dinner" or do you mean this.

    Are you asking "How close can we get to the latter?" If so, I would suggest that the answer to your question is, yet again, "Listen to the Church when she says 'Treat prisoners humanely'" If you want to know how professionals do that, ask the professionals.

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  59. "Treat prisoners humanely" Whatever that means. Tell me Mark, are you treating a woman humanely when you pay her significantly less than a man who does the same job? The reason why I ask this is because "treating someone humanely" is based on a sliding scale.

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  60. Well, it means "Don't torture them" for starters.

    It's only complicated if you want it to be.

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  61. Do you agree or do you not agree that "humane" treatment is not a static action? Clearly prisoners lose many basic freedoms which would be intolerable if applied to the rest of society.

    Also, stop the assumptions Mark. You can't assume that I am in favor of torture, unless you believe in a nutty sort of way that all forms of physical violence and coercion are torture. My postion is that in circumstance A, action X could very well be torture; however, in circumstance B, it is not. If you can't discuss this reasonably, then don't respond. Leave all your assumptions out of this, and allow me to speak for myself. I could just assume that you are completely absent from Orthodox Catholicism and the mind of Pope Benedict because your approach to Catholicism is based on modernist principles. I assume this because symbols carry meaning, and the modernist architecture of your Church is opposed to the long standing tradition of the Church. You know the saying of when we assume? Therefore, stop these silly fallacies of assuming that I'm pro-torturer Bushite. It degrades intellectual honesty.

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  62. Dude, I'm still trying to figure out what in hell you want. If you are looking for the bright line between bed without dinner and enforced starvation, there is none, as I have repeatedly said. So what do you want? If you aren't sure that action X is torture, then *don't do it*. Err on the side of 'Humane". Doesn't seem that complex to me.

    I'm having trouble buying the notion that this is a burning question for you when you refuse to go to the people who actually have the training in the ethics and practice of legitimate Geneva-compliant interrogation and instead keep pressing for answers from some schlub on the internet with no specialized knowledge. Why, it almost seems as though you are trying to fish for some way to say that torture is sometimes no torture when the end is sufficiently desperate enough.

    I have already said that action X may or may not be torture given particular circumstances. So as "sex" may or may not be rape given the particular circumstances of the identical physical act, similarly waterboarding *may* not be torture when applied in situation in which, say, all parties involved view it as an agreed-upon test of endurance in which the whole psychological situation is ordered toward building a soldier into a better man, surrounded by comrades cheering the subject on and applauding his bravery. Such a scenario is a thousand miles away from the deliberate attempt to shatter a human personality and degrade him to an animal.

    Mind you, I'm not saying that's what military training necessarily is. I'm agnostic about whether SERE training is torture. Some accounts sound downright sadistic. But, as zippy points out the attempts to equate waterboarding detainees and our own troops are basically crap (along with a lot of other crap arguements):

    http://zippycatholic.blogspot.com/2010/02/catalog-of-failed-arguments.html

    So, I continue to ask: what do you want? The opinion of a complete non-specialist on what technique are used ethically by interrogators? Why not ask an actual interrogator? Why persist in asking me--unless the point is to find some way to get me to say that torture can be used if the situation is desperate enough?

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  63. "Dude, I'm still trying to figure out what in hell you want."

    Mark Shea is using the word 'Dude', if anybody had any questions before about this phoney, this shoould answer them. Do not trust this liberal.

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  64. Jasper, dude, you're trying my patience. Disagree with Mark all you want. Call him a phoney--not cool.

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  65. Mark Shea is using the word 'Dude', if anybody had any questions before about this phoney, this shoould answer them. Do not trust this liberal.

    Dude, thanks. That is the funniest thing I have read since I discovered Axe Cop. I'm sorely tempted to make it my alternate blog motto.

    I'm starting to suspect, Jasper, that you may be a plant from Moveon.org sent here to make right wing torture advocates look utterly ridiculous. What do we really *know* about you?

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  66. I'm starting to suspect, Jasper, that you may be a plant from Moveon.org sent here to make right wing torture advocates look utterly ridiculous. What do we really *know* about you?

    Mark, just promise me that whatever methods you use to find out more about him, you won't resort to waterboarding or other forms of torture!

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  67. Mark, bringing quote from Sheen twenty years after the war saying that this may have been the moment that started the US off course is his opinion. I respect Sheen, but frankly Hiroshima pales in comparison to the date that Roe made the holocaust of 50 million innocent babies that continues to this day pale by comparison.

    I note that you have taken this discussion to your site where I was banned for pushing you on your support of pro death politicians by advocating voting for third party that has no chance to win. You failed to address the point there and fail to address my point here. I have no use for a coward who refuses to answer a point when made.

    You say that the USA acts during WWII were the same as Osama Bin Laden today. Your words with some poor typing and spelling.

    " This include the unequivocal condemnation of the mass murder of nnocent icivilians by terror bombing, which yoiu laud and applaud. Your argument is exactly the same sort of reasoning that animated Osama bin Laden, who likewise targeted innocent civilians."

    You answered that yes, what we did in WWII to defeat evil in Germany and Japan were war crimes in the same way as Osama bin laden who dispatched terrorist to fly civilian planes into buildings was the same as the US sending planes of war after repeated offers to surrender flown my soldiers as the same thing and a war crime.

    Frankly, I am done with this site and have long been done with your site when you hit and attack and hide if the heat gets a little to hot for you. You are a weak sister and I thank God each day we do not have more of you in our country. If you do not understand the difference between the Enola Gay and the terrorist of 9/11, you hopefully outside this site of those who seem to hate America are in a minority. Unfortunately, we have the president you helped elect in office who also seems prone to apologize for and hate our country. Good bye weak sister.

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  68. Greta:

    You are free to start your own blog. I do not owe you a forum to spout your evil ideas. We've actually been quite patient with you *here*.

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  69. Wait, is "Dude" a liberal shibboleth that I didn't know about?

    And what is a "weak sister"?

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  70. I think you need to start a contest for new mottoes for your blog. Here's some suggestions:

    "CAEI: Dishing the truth to dudes and weak sisters."

    or

    "Mark Shea: Don't trust this liberal."

    or

    "Mark Shea: he's quite a dude for such a weak sister."

    or

    "Mark Shea: he's the dude to your weak sister."

    keep up the good blogging, Mark!

    -Kelly

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  71. Greta said:
    "Hiroshima pales in comparison to [the effects of Roe]"

    So what? Nuking Hiroshima was morally wrong. The fact that 50 million kids have been murdered in America too doesn't make Hiroshima "OK". Are Manson's murders "OK" because they didn't result in killing as many people as Hitler did?

    Greta said:
    "If you do not understand the difference between the Enola Gay and the terrorist of 9/11..."

    I can see at least two differences:

    1) The Enola Gay was responsible for killing 70,000-80,000 non-combatants; The terrorists of Sept.11 killed less than 4,000.

    2) The Enola Gay landed safely back at home...

    Chris

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  72. Mark Shea writes : "Greta:

    You are free to start your own blog. I do not owe you a forum to spout your evil ideas. We've actually been quite patient with you *here*."

    But it's not the same, and you know it. Singling people out for derision where they're unable to defend themselves is unsporting.

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