Torture

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Apr 3, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. BandofClones Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2009
    star 3
    The *possible* deaths of others with the *likely* harms produced. If you want to weigh options, make sure that they are comparable. These deaths are not concrete,


    Nor is the harm concrete, they so they perfectly comparable. I could change the words, if you like: possible deaths with possible harm. Likely deaths with likely harm. Do I choose possible harm over possible death? Yes.

    And the kind of analysis you have consistently offered makes me concerned that you are in the protecting business.


    Well, you're still alive -- no terrorist attack in this country since 2001. Of course, now that our tools are being taken away under this administration, there's no telling what will happen.


    I've known many, many Catholics over the years, and there are those who quietly live their lives of faith, and those who put their faith front and center, ahead of other interests, in all cases, and who are eager to impose a litmus test on the faithful. From what I have seen of your time here, your posts are consistent with the latter. I will happily admit that I am basing this entirely on your post history here, and I could be wildly inaccurate. I *freely* admit that, and, what's more, I want to be wrong on this.


    A litmus test . . . as to whether or not I consider them Catholic? Unless a Catholic renounces his baptism, he is still Catholic. I do indeed distinguish between obedient and disobedient Catholics. And even within those groups, I make distinctions. There are those who fundamentally disagree with the Church's teachings and therefore decide to disregard them altogether but still they come every Sunday to take communion. They baptize their kids and get them to religious education classes. And there are those who agree with the teachings and try to obey but commit sin from time to time, repent, and try to make amends for their sins. I am willing to engage with anyone, but I will not gloss over disobedience for the sake of not making waves.


    Again, if you deny that there are alternatives to torture, you are engaging in simplistic reasoning and committing a false dilemma fallacy. There is no way around that.


    I don't deny that there are other methods that should be used first.

    I will defend myself and my loved one's if attacked (hell, I'd even defend you if you were attacked), but I will not inflict pain on another human being based upon probabilities.


    When definitive plans have been uncovered and details are necessary, wouldn't you consider that taking a preventive measure against something that is definitely in the works? It's too late to defend anyone once the plane crashes into the building, unless you want to defend dead people.


    That's not being glib - being glib is being thoughtless or superficial, i.e., only engaging issues on the surface, engaging in simplistic reasoning, etc. If you believe it is fair to make psychological judgments based upon limited interaction, allow me to throw one your way:


    Well, you're drawing conclusions about me from our interaction. I am drawing conclusions about you. Yes, I find you glib and a bit too academic for real-world contingency operations. To me, you are more interested in arguing over methods of argument than in the actual subject matter under discussion. Your approach is academic, not pragmatic.

    You prefer to be part of a system and submit to the will of others, because it is easier for you to do so than to weigh issues on your own. You find it easier to live with a rudder, and consequently you are happy to let others make decisions for you. As such, you are perfectly happy working within the military, a notoriously autocratic and hierarchical institution, as well as strong identification with Catholicism, a notoriously autocratic and hierarchical institution.


    This is funny. As if being an obedient Catholic is "easier" in today's world than bein
  2. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    I have a University function to attend, so I can't respond now. Suffice it to say that we disagree significantly, and there are significant problems with your responses: the nature of probabilistic statements, degree of Papal authority in encyclical statements, the apparent hypocrisy of your position in light of your earlier assessment of "disobedient" Catholics, "academic vs. pragmatic" and the baselessness of your statement, your desire to categorize people based upon limited interaction, etc., etc.
  3. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    People die, BoC. Sometimes they die because of terrorist attacks. That's just how it goes. The government can do everything right and still fail to prevent a terrorist attack.

    This notion that we must protect everyone no matter what is foolish. People can and do die every day from a myriad of causes.

    Losing our collective soul and betraying our values to possibly save lives is not worth the cost. It just isn't. It means living on the terms of terrorists and radicals, rather than our own. It means putting them in control, rather than ourselves.

    You talk about how it's all worth it to save lives, but you end up losing so much in the process for uncertain gain. It's not like we're under attack daily, or even yearly. Our values and our way of life is far more important to maintain and keep alive.

    We all need to have some level of courage in the face of whatever is out there in our lives. That includes all of us at a national level.
  4. BandofClones Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2009
    star 3
    KnightWriter, people die, but we try our best to prevent it. We wear seatbelts, warn against smoking, take medication for high blood pressure, incarcerate dangerous criminals (sometimes), and keep a standing Army to ward off enemies. We issue tornado warnings, monitor levies, and post speed limits. We ticket for drunk driving. We wear safety equipment when doing hazardous activities. All of this is meant to prevent death and injury.

    On the other hand, we kill unborn babies, cull developmentally-disabled babies in the womb, think it's okay to destroy embryos for research, are starting to approve assisted suicide, and think it's okay to remove food and water from a sick person and let them die -- even when there are people willing to care for and love that person.

    We will off the most defenseless members of society. What does that say about us as a nation? To me, that's a lot more damning that whether or not we waterboard a terrorist. Please don't lecture me on harsh tactics unless you're willing to acknowledge that tearing a baby apart in the womb is far more ghastly than waterboarding.
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    KW, Quix-

    What's so ironic, and the fact that you both keep missing is that your very own exchange highlights just how complicated the issue is. Let's look at the following list, and if you can, indicate which methods you think are torture and why:

    1)Putting a beetle in a darkened room with someone, and while you don't tell the person what it is, it's inferred that it's a scorpion (or similar). The goal is to trade a piece of information for removing the "bug."

    2)Keeping two people isolated in 2 different rooms while you lie to one person by telling them that the other person has blamed everything on them. The goal is to play off any mistrust the two might have vs self preservation.

    3)Walking into a room while holding a file folder full of meaningless papers and asking the subject to explain why their fingerprints were found at a scene (or how their phone number came up in a wiretap, or how witness statements identify them, etc...) The goal here is to use the unknown papers to trick the person to revealing incriminating evidence.

    4)Forcing a connection between the subject and the subject's family, such as telling the person that their parents are 2 months behind on their mortgage and the subject's cooperation or lack of cooperation will be the difference between keeping or loosing the family home. The goal here is to play family loyalty off of self sacrifice.

    5)Keeping someone isolated in a bare room while you go take a nap and have a nice, relaxing meal. At about 2:00 in the morning, while you're refreshed and wide awake, you go wake the subject up and ask them to describe in detail their accomplices (or some other detail-rich task.) The goal here is to exploit the fact that the bodies natural defenses and ability to think quickly are diminished when fatigued.

    Now, I'm sure these 5 examples are enough of a start, even though there are many more interrogation methods. Do you see a difference in any of them? Do some cross the line while others don't? Do any, as it's been mentioned, have the potential to create long lasting emotional harm?

    I agree with a lot of what you posted. For one, I too don't think that the government should (or has the capability to) protect everyone all the time. But while both of you seem to be quite willing to make lofty pronouncements, your statements are just about divorced from reality as they can be.- And I don't mean in the sense of "we have to protect ourselves from terrorists!!! Can't you see that!!!" I mean in the sense that your ideas don't take into account that even at its best, the process is adversarial and intrinsically conflict-based.

    We live in a representative democracy and society should have a say in matters like this- but the core problem here is that neither one of you has attempted to define what those concepts mean, how they can be put into practice, and where the line falls. Your only constant seems to be the idea of "if Bush did it- it's bad," and the specifics don't matter. That's the completely partisan outlook, but I haven't even seen basic definitions being discussed.
  6. Quixotic-Sith Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2001
    star 6
    I only have a few minutes, but I wanted to jump in quickly. 44, you are mischaracterizing my position and putting words in my mouth. I have a problem with forms of interrogation that inflict significant physical and psychological pain on subjects. Some of what you've listed do inflict that (e.g., sleep deprivation, the insect cage), some don't (presented with fake evidence, family loyalties, and the prisoner's dilemma (which has been a long-standing philosophical experiment)). I'm perfectly fine with the latter techniques. Don't even attempt to characterize my position as disconnected from reality - you don't know me any better than anyone else here at this anonymous message board does, you don't know my experience, or the full basis for what I say or why I say it, so it is *grossly* inappropriate for you to fiat motivations or a disconnect with reality on my position. I am perfectly happy when someone reaches conclusions that differ from me; what I do not claim is that this person is disconnected from reality. I am perfectly happy to examine their argument, explore where it works and where it doesn't, and am perfectly happy to admit flaws in my own, as I am just as human as everyone else, and I am not a walking encyclopedia. What I will not stand for, however, is an accusation (like others have made in this thread) that I am over-intellectualizing, am disconnected, or am basing my opinion on anything other than the available data. The fact that I reach a different conclusion than you or others is not evidence of any intellectual or analytical shortcoming; I simply do not accept the same warrants that you do. My "lofty pronouncements" are abbreviated versions of much longer and more nuanced positions, a point I tried to elucidate earlier by noting the shortcomings with attempting to fiat motivations or characterizations upon people. If I had the time and inclination, I'd be willing to write up a formal presentation of why I believe what I believe, the bases from which it comes, etc. I can also guarantee that it would be longer than my normal Senate posts by orders of magnitude. Suggesting that I am making "lofty pronouncements" is doubly ignorant considering I base this upon existing psychological data, my near decade of clinical experience (most of which involves behavioral health), and empirical data on public perception in the national and global community. I've been around here a long time, 44, and you've seen me post on a number of different topics. Do you *really* think I'm ignorant of the nuances and complexities involved here? Do you really think I'm going to be the one painting with a broad brush? Have you forgotten the myriad accusations from posters that I'm a relativist when I insist on moral complexity and case-by-case analysis? I was being asked, specifically, what *I* would do, and I answered - I am not creating a generalized rule, I am not fiating motivations or requiring particular policy changes, nor am I condemning those who reach different conclusions. When asked about guiding principles, I will reaffirm everything that I just said, recognizing that there is a relationship between theory and practice - it's what I teach my students to do in *every* class I teach and every practical decision I make. I'm not an ivory tower academic - there are people who *have* died as a result of the decisions and recommendations that I've made, so I'm quite cognizant of the complexities of these kinds of decisions, and to suggest otherwise is absolute toxic ignorance. I'm not discussing Bush or Bush's practices, because the man has been out of office for three months, but the moral and political dilemmas remain, so I am talking about the practices *right now*. To suggest that this is simple partisan sniping is also toxic ignorance.

    I have to get back to work, but I want you and Clones to recognize that you are making pig ignorant statements about why I make the choices I do and have the opinions I do. Efforts to pigeonhole people with whom you disagree, especially on an internet board, is rep
  7. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    I'm officially holding my judgment on "is waterboarding torture?" until I hear what Hannity calls it after Olbermann waterboards him.
  8. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Quix, while the first part of your post did answer some of my questions, I'm not sure I follow the rest.

    Nowhere did I make any sort of judgment about you personally, so I'm not sure where that long middle part is coming from. It seems to be unnecessarily defensive. Notice the specific terminology I used in my post you're replying to? (such as- "Your statements...." or "The problem here... (on the boards)" My entire focus applies here, to the forum. I inquired about a lack of definitions being discussed here- not about any kind of personal motivation- but perhaps this is also borne out of my view that the regulars here should be held up to a higher standard.

    But getting back on topic, you again highlighted the complexity of this issue. From a moral standpoint, what's the difference between lying to someone about a hairy caterpillar that really isn't a scorpion and lying to someone about their friend potentially betraying them? I'd say that on paper, the potential for negative reaction is about the same. Where does the line fall then?

    In your above post, you even implied just how accepted the "prisoner's dilemma" was- not because it's morally superior, but because it's simply been around for a longer time. Honestly, the idea seems to be that the prisoner's dilemma is a smashingly fun exercise in psychology, where even the prisoners chuckle that it got them to confess- but HOLY COW! put a big beetle in a room and suggest it's a scorpion, and that's inhumane torture that causes irreparable harm!

    My claim is that from a general standpoint, it's not enough to sit back and say "torture is bad" without first examining what is accepted, and then comparing/contrasting the differences that may apply. Almost always, there isn't a bright line that defines them.

    Previously in this thread, someone did try to claim a moral equivalency between the ritual beheading/murder of 250,000 prisoners and the fact that 2 people were waterboarded. Now, that's definitely a unique moral litmus, but I'm not sure I would ever understand it. Realistically, the differences for this topic are much less extreme by nature.

    There most certainly can be a line that is discussed-I'm not suggesting that everything goes- but the main issues here are being glossed over, or at the very least, it seems that a lot of critique is being feigned.

  9. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    I find it quite telling about Olbermann's state of mind that he is more willing to waterboard Sean Hannity for kicks than he would be willing to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in order to save lives.
  10. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    It's telling that you'd rather torture than uphold certain values that this country has always professed. We don't throw away those values just because they're inconvenient for a moment. Torture saves no lives, Smuggler, it merely destroys them.

    All the bizarre scenarios people concoct to justify the breaking of various laws amount to the same thing in the end, which is the refusal to admit that it isn't about saving lives at all, but rather about revenge and trying to show other people who's boss. It's about as primal as you can get in humanity.
  11. DeathStar1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 31, 2003
    star 4
    Mr44

    Let's look at the following list, and if you can, indicate which methods you think are torture and why

    1. Well, not as bad as physical torture, but still not acceptable.

    2. Acceptable.

    3. Acceptable.

    4. Unethical, especially if it's not true. Probably not acceptable.

    5. Again, not horrible, but not acceptable. I would think that in a diminished state people would say anything for food and/or sleep and have difficulty remembering details accurately.


  12. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    all the above arguements above against or for torture basically shows why Bush got in trouble in the first place. By having the arguements for and against and trying to rationalize it just put them in deeper and more like to be found out by the media. Just do the damn deed and get it over with. Stop trying to rationalize it and just get the info. Thats what the CIA usually does with minimal consequences.

    So what its ugly, so what its horrible, So what it dehumanizes the person who torture.
    its what the CIA does to get the job done. Just don't ask questions and allow yourselves the satisfaction of being able to say your govt does do it and be happy in the unknowing bliss.
    Just make it happen and don't let the CIA do its job and when they screw up and the media find out let those in charge fall on the sword.

    Everyone would be alot happier if they just chose not to ask that question and allow the CIA to do its job.
  13. Jediflyer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2001
    star 5
    Why should the CIA get a pass?

    The law applies to them as well.

  14. Danaan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2008
    star 4
    This interestingly touches upon another tangiential theme, as well. Throughout the 20th century, the American foreign policy (and America has absolutely not been alone in this) have been guided by realpolitik rationales - "it's a harsh world out there, and our enemies are ruthless and so we have to be as well, and cut a few corners for [the greater good/American interests/defending freedom/insert other worthy rationale]". The net result has been that America talks alot about freedom and democracy, and yet constantly seems to become embroiled in highly questionable ventures - like supporting dictatorships (Saudi Arabia ("they're tyrants, but our tyrants")), coups against democratic governments (Latin America), and funding groups of a highly questionable nature ("But the Taleban are fighting the Soviets..."). These choices, motivated by (short-term) realpolitik when they are made, always comes back to haunt the US in the long-term, and together, they seriously undermine America's credibility as an agent of freedom. Seen from that perspective, the present discussion on torture just becomes another black spot on an already far from spotless record. So maybe it's time to ditch those methods and start putting the money where the mouth is.
  15. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    The issue with torture, at least in the sense of direct physical torture (psychological has too many grey areas, imo, to not create a distraction in my point here) is that we lower our ideals. Its the same as how I feel about intrusive monitoring of average citizens in the case of 'security'. If we sacrifice our ideals on freedom, if we sacrifice our high ground, then I think the goal that some terrorist groups want is being achieved without them having to do anything.
    To suggest that we should torture because it has the potential to save lives undermines the importance of our values. Two quotes that come to mind offhand would be "Live free or die" and "Those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety" (Franklin)
    I think we lose far more, all in all, if we lower our standards as a responce to attacks.
  16. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    The reality is that by lowering our standards by our actions, we are forced to live our lives on other people's terms, rather than our own. If we stick to our standards, we keep life on our terms, depriving terrorists of power over us.
  17. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Are you serious? The first scenario involve(s/ed) bringing in staff psychologists to make a professional evaluation of the captive. Then, on discovery of an acute fear of stinging insects, and on the heels of other harsh treatment, locking the victim in a tightly confined space with what he presumes, but cannot confirm, is in fact a stinging insect. A stinging insect, which, insofar as he knows, may have deadly or excruciatingly painful poison. You really can't see the difference between telling someone something unfortunate, but neither unforseeable nor really unusual happened, and going out of your way to generate extreme, pathological mental duress?

    Wow.
  18. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Lowie, KW, I don't completely agree.

    These standards you perceive, aren't they a bit haphazard? After supporting military dictators in South America, Africa, and Asia; after throwing two nuclear bombs on cities; after invading two countries this decade... After helping Israel occupy a country and after putting roadblocks around Mecca and Medina... I don't know if stopping torture would bring the U.S. to any standard that's really fair.
  19. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'd point out, I contrast it with ideals, not actions. I think there's a difference between America's ideals and actions. Torture is one thing that goes against those ideals, but its not the only one, and I think that torture moves us further from those ideals, no matter how close or far we are from those ideals.
  20. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Ok, I agree, but I think that all these things have to be taken into consideration if the U.S. really want to put their money where their mouths are. Is. Whatever. Because when the torture started, the U.S. already considered themselves world police. Now, it's good to have world police, I think, but police should be kept in check by government and court. And since the U.S. abused the U.N. and disregards the ICC, the world police goes unchecked.
  21. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7


    There will always be violence and terrorism, anyone remember the OK bombing. Our enemies will always be at the front gate. If the american people and more importantly the govt learns to look the other way when the job has to be done then alot safer will they be. Remember we supported the taliban and al quaida way back during the Soviet invasion. It wasn't until the first gulf war that we screwed up. We chose to put men in Saudia Arabia really pissing off the terrorists. There is a difference between freedom fighters and terrorists. Terrorists have no agenda and they only perform their acts because they felt wronged or slighted. Not royally screwed over by a govt.

    we need to always remember terrorists are not motivated by self righteous but by a sense of greed, greed for power and dominion over others.


    Put your heads in the sand like your forefathers and let the CIA do its job and realize you will all be safer in the long run.

  22. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7

    I dunno about that one. When you let an agency run amok like that you end up having things like giving LSD to the public that IIRC actually was fatal or near-fatal on more than one occasion. Or you get people like J.Edgar Hoover spying on just about everyone. Is that what you consider 'safe'? It's too much power to give to a few people. If we go back to that era in today's society then America might as well cease to exist.
  23. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    LSD was experiments in non torture. basically trying to get people to talk without using torture. Didn't work obviously.

    and Hoover spied to blackmail. NOt for info on the enemy.


    The agency isn't in the hands of one person. its a group of managers that decide whats the best action.

    The CIA have never been about one man.
  24. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    There's always the possibility another J.Edgar Hoover type will come along. No, if we go back to that time with today's technology there will be no end to their madness. It's not paranoia, just a simple fact. Intelligence agencies aren't to be trusted to act humanely on their own initiative. And 'enemy' is a loosely defined term these days.
  25. JediCouncilMember Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2003
    star 4
    Can we waterboard Nancy Pelosi to find out when she knew about waterboarding?

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.