The Morality of Torture

#1
The Morality of Torture

by Laurence M. Vance

Everyone follows some sort of a moral code, even atheists. Jews have the Old Testament or the Talmud. Christians have the New Testament or the Bible. Other religions have their particular holy books. Non-religious people subscribe to natural law, the Golden Rule, altruism, or some other ism.

Every moral code shares some basic similarities: it is wrong to lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder ? and torture.

The current debate over the morality of the U.S. government engaging in torture has revealed many Americans who profess to adhere to a moral code to be hypocrites. Now we are being told that, because the end (saving American lives) justifies the means (torture), the use of torture is justified under certain circumstances.

Christians especially are being hypocritical since they have historically condemned situation ethics and the decline of moral absolutes. They are also cautioned in the New Testament not to do evil that good may come (Romans 3:8).

What some Americans are now advocating is the torture of suspected terrorists held in Guant?namoand other prisons. Real terrorists, like foreigners Ramzi Yousef and Zacarias Moussaoui and American Jos? Padilla, have been charged for their crimes, convicted in federal court, and are currently incarcerated in U.S. prisons.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that terrorists are those that fight against a U.S. invasion of their country and not vice versa, that men held in places like Guant?namoare really suspected terrorists and are not there merely because they were wrongly picked up by bounty hunters paid by the U.S. government, and that torture does in fact result in valuable information being revealed that could prevent a terrorist attack and save American lives.

If it is morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives, then:

* Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist who is a child in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
* Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist who is a woman in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
* Is it morally permissible to torture by any means a suspected terrorist in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
* Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist even if it results in his permanent disability in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?
* Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist even if it results in his death in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?

Is it morally permissible to do any of the above if it may save just one American life? If not, then why not?

I am afraid that many American torture advocates would not have a problem with any of the above, even if it might only save just one American life.

But if the goal is possibly saving American lives, then what about torturing American citizens who might know about American lives being in jeopardy? Is it morally permissible to torture a suspected terrorist who is an American in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not? What about American woman and children? Are all means of torture acceptable or are there certain forms of torture that are only reserved for foreigners? What if the suspected American terrorist becomes disabled or dies as a result of the torture?

Again, if the goal is possibly saving American lives, then what about torturing American citizens who are not suspected terrorists but might know about American lives being in jeopardy? Is it morally permissible to torture a suspectin police custody in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not? But what if the suspect is a woman or a child? And may any form of torture be used or are there certain forms of torture that are off limits for suspects in police custody? What if the suspect in police custody becomes disabled or dies as a result of the torture?

But why stop with suspects in police custody. I mean, if the goal is possibly saving American lives, then what about torturing Americans in their homes who might know about American lives being in jeopardy? And what about travelling overseas to torture foreigners in their homes? Is it morally permissible to torture anyone anywhere in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives? If not, then why not?

Just think about the potential benefits of torture for local law enforcement. Drug users could be tortured until they reveal the names of their dealers. Serial killers could be tortured until they reveal where they buried their dead bodies. Pedophiles could be tortured until they reveal the names of the children they have victimized. Burglars could be tortured until they reveal the addresses they have burglarized. Rapists could be tortured until they reveal the names of all the women they have violated. College students could be tortured until they reveal the names of those who illegally supplied them with booze. Reporters could be tortured until they reveal the names of their sources. Hey, if we torture enough people, we can get a confession for every unsolved crime in the world.

The trump card of conservative torture advocates like Thomas Sowell is always an emotionally-charged reference to one?s family:

What if it was your mother or your child who was tied up somewhere beside a ticking time bomb and you had captured a terrorist who knew where that was? Face it: What you would do to that terrorist to make him talk would make water-boarding look like a picnic.

In such a highly emotional and personal situation, it?s difficult to know with certainty how someone would react. Face it: If someone thought that their loved ones were in imminent danger of death, and they thought that the only way to save them was by torturing someone, he might be willing to torture a terrorist, a terrorist?s mother, a terrorist?s child, or even you, your mother, or your child. But is this the right thing to do? And is this how U.S. foreign policy should be conducted?

I don?t think that many Americans who say that torture is justified under certain circumstances if it may save American lives really believe what they are saying. If you really want to get a terrorist to talk, there are ways to do it without laying a finger on him. Here is one: Take his wife and son and, in front of him, rape her, crush the boy?s testicles, and sodomize them both. That will get him talking more than anything you could ever do to him. If the end is gaining information that may save American lives, then why not? Now, except for some red-state conservative fascists and a few bloodthirsty Christian warmongers, I think that most Americans wouldn?t go this far. But if you believe in torture in an attempt to gain information that may save American lives, where do you draw the line? Once you establish a "ticking time bomb" exception, every situation ends up becoming a ticking time bomb scenario.

And how credible is information obtained via torture? Face it: Just as someone might be willing to torture anyone and everyone if they thought the lives of their loved ones were in imminent danger, so anyone and everyone undergoing torture might be willing to admit to anything to get the torture to stop. If we took a chainsaw to Dick Cheney, he would confess to all sorts of crimes that the Bush administration didn?t even commit. Even the U.S. Army?s 2006 field manual on interrogation says about torture:

Use of torture is not only illegal but also it is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the HUMINT [Human Intelligence] collector wants to hear. Use of torture can also have many possible negative consequences at national and international levels.

But even if credible information could be obtained through torture, it is still immoral, barbaric, and un-American.

Seldom heard in the torture debate is why people became terrorists in the first place. A recent article by James Payne, "What Do the Terrorists Want," shows that, contrary to neoconservative warmongers like David Frum and Richard Perle, terrorists espouse neither an ideology of conquest like the Nazi Germany and Soviets Russia nor a desire to impose on the whole world its religion and law. The majority of Osama bin Laden?s venom is directed at the West for aggression, oppression, and exploitation of Muslim lands and peoples, not because he, like President Bush driveled, "hates our freedoms."

Rather than saving American lives, the torture of Muslim prisoners serves as a recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations. Yes, the crimes of terrorists are many. But why give them reasons to commit more of them? "If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy," says former commandant of the Marine Corps Charles C. Krulak.

It is proponents of torture that aren?t concerned about American lives. If they were then they wouldn?t support the senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have resulted in almost 5,000 American soldiers dying for a lie.

Who are the true patriots? Who are the real Americans? Those who defend foreign wars that send thousands of Americans to their deaths, create terrorists where there were none, and increase the hatred of foreigners toward the United States or those who want to end the U.S. foreign policy of intervening in the affairs of other countries, dismantle the Holy American Empire, and bring all U.S. troops home to stay?

May 22, 2009

Laurence M. Vance writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. His newest book is The Revolution that Wasn't. Visit his website.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance172.html
 

festeringZit

EOG Enthusiast
#2
Re: The Morality of Torture

It's morally wrong for me to blow someone's head off, but if some
guy is breaking into my home, I would have no qualms about shooting
him.

Laurence's little essay makes it sound like secular national security
is based on Christian morals.

We have spies in other countries pretending to be people they are not -
whooops, that is lying, better get rid of all our spies.

:+clueless
 
#3
Re: The Morality of Torture

It's morally wrong for me to blow someone's head off, but if some
guy is breaking into my home, I would have no qualms about shooting
him.
There is a distinct different between murder and defending one's person and/ or home.

Laurence's little essay makes it sound like secular national security
is based on Christian morals.

We have spies in other countries pretending to be people they are not -
whooops, that is lying, better get rid of all our spies.

:+clueless
Once again, it needs to pointed out that "terrorism" in no way, shape, or form threatens America's "National Security". That particular piece of fear mongering needs to stop.
 
#4
Re: The Morality of Torture

Once again, it needs to pointed out that "terrorism" in no way, shape, or form threatens America's "National Security". That particular piece of fear mongering needs to stop.
I couldn't agree more, Big Brothers battle cry of protecting national security is nothing more that hot air, it has no fact nor foundation.
 
#5
Re: The Morality of Torture

Someone please explain to me the Logic of Cheney and the GOP bragging about Protecting America when: 1) 3000 Americans died under Cheney's watch 2) Bin Laden was never captured (we all know the answer for that) 3) Clinton protected this country from attack longer than Cheney and never lost 3000 Americans under his watch This lip service from Cheney has become an embarrassement to this country
 
#6
Re: The Morality of Torture

Once again, it needs to pointed out that "terrorism" in no way, shape, or form threatens America's "National Security".
To Mr. Road Dawg:

The Munchkin Man is rubbing his eyes in disbelief over your statement above.

Are you serious?

Apparently, you are.

The Munchkin Man finds it incredible that you would believe that the worst attack upon America during Her entire history, right onto Her home soil, and one which included an attack upon the Pentagon, did not constitute a threat to America's "national security."

About 3,000 people not only lost their security from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

They lost their lives.

That particular piece of fear mongering needs to stop.
To the contrary.

The type of truth telling that Dick Cheney is revealing to the American people needs to continue.

Very Sincerely,

Munchkin Man
 
#7
Re: The Morality of Torture

and the question to the Munchkin Man: 1) Why is Bin Laden not wanted w/connection relating to 9-11 by his FBI Poster? 2) The "attack" on the Pentagon by what? It sure was not a commercial airline jet ..... Read your history .... False Terror Opps go back to 70AD and if you believe that 19 Arabs pulled this attack off without inside help from our govt I have a stock broker who would love to call you next week
 
#8
Re: The Morality of Torture

T
Once again, it needs to pointed out that "terrorism" in no way, shape, or form threatens America's "National Security". That particular piece of fear mongering needs to stop.
wrong, unless you consider the potential of 10$ a gallon gas not a matter of national security
 

driver8

EOG Addicted
#9
Re: The Morality of Torture

If Americans are really serious about making our country safer and less susceptible to terrorism, we ought to get serious about forcing our government to stop participating in terrorism.
 
#10
Re: The Morality of Torture

Driver: ohhhhh .... I can't wait to hear the Righties respond ... I love how we call the DUDES IN WHITE HATS "Freedom Fighters" when our govt is supporting them ... the moment they turn around they are "Terrorists"
 
#11
Re: The Morality of Torture

The Immorality of Pacifism (aka Road Fraud'ism):



(US embassy bombing in Kenya)



(USS COLE)






(I don't need to name the last one, even though some people already apparently forgot the real definition of torture)
 
#12
Re: The Morality of Torture

Do you have proof Arabs attacked on 9-11? .... Our govt sure can't prove it can they? Notice you leave out the Beirut Marine barracks killing that killed over 230 Marines and caused Reagan to "cut and run" ... why is that? ..... Other PACIFISM moments under Reagan: REAGAN: 1982?1991 Lebanon: Thirty US and other Western hostages kidnapped in Lebanon by Hezbollah. Some were killed, some died in captivity, and some were eventually released. Terry Anderson was held for 2,454 days. 1983 April 18, Beirut, Lebanon: U.S. embassy destroyed in suicide car-bomb attack; 63 dead, including 17 Americans. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Oct. 23, Beirut, Lebanon: Shiite suicide bombers exploded truck near U.S. military barracks at Beirut airport, killing 241 marines. Minutes later a second bomb killed 58 French paratroopers in their barracks in West Beirut. Dec. 12, Kuwait City, Kuwait: Shiite truck bombers attacked the U.S. embassy and other targets, killing 5 and injuring 80. 1984 Sept. 20, east Beirut, Lebanon: truck bomb exploded outside the U.S. embassy annex, killing 24, including 2 U.S. military. Dec. 3, Beirut, Lebanon: Kuwait Airways Flight 221, from Kuwait to Pakistan, hijacked and diverted to Tehran. 2 Americans killed. 1985 April 12, Madrid, Spain: Bombing at restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers, killed 18 Spaniards and injured 82. June 14, Beirut, Lebanon: TWA Flight 847 en route from Athens to Rome hijacked to Beirut by Hezbollah terrorists and held for 17 days. A U.S. Navy diver executed. Oct. 7, Mediterranean Sea: gunmen attack Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro. One U.S. tourist killed. Hijacking linked to Libya. Dec. 18, Rome, Italy, and Vienna, Austria: airports in Rome and Vienna were bombed, killing 20 people, 5 of whom were Americans. Bombing linked to Libya. 1986 April 2, Athens, Greece:A bomb exploded aboard TWA flight 840 en route from Rome to Athens, killing 4 Americans and injuring 9. April 5, West Berlin, Germany: Libyans bombed a disco frequented by U.S. servicemen, killing 2 and injuring hundreds. 1988 Dec. 21, Lockerbie, Scotland: N.Y.-bound Pan-Am Boeing 747 exploded in flight from a terrorist bomb and crashed into Scottish village, killing all 259 aboard and 11 on the ground. Passengers included 35 Syracuse University students and many U.S. military personnel. Libya formally admitted responsibility 15 years later (Aug. 2003) and offered $2.7 billion compensation to victims' families.
 
#15
Re: The Morality of Torture

Haha. . .Riding with Cheney. . .That tell you all you need to know about the twenty-percenters as well as our wacky contingent of posters here. . .Fortunately, of wack-jobs here, one can't even vote in the U.S., one's a "bit", and the other few are most likely ghosts. . .
 
#18
Re: The Morality of Torture

80%+ at The Hague pretrial detention center?:+clueless

I know he won't be popular with 80%+ of the typical federal detainee; he's not near cute enough, nor does he appear to have much of the skill set desired for purposes of pickup basketball games at recreation time. . .
 
#21
Re: The Morality of Torture

CNN Poll: Favorable opinion of Dick Cheney on the rise

By the time King Hussein is finished taking a wrecking ball to the country, Dick Cheney's approval ratings will be 80%+. :thumbsup
But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Wednesday morning, indicates that a majority of Americans still have an unfavorable opinion of Cheney.:+clueless
But as the old saying goes:

"The trend is your friend."

Dick Cheney's approval numbers are trending upward.

Munchkin Man
 
#30
Re: The Morality of Torture

the GOP core in this country will run to Home Depot to stock up on Duct Tape if Glenn Beck starts crying with his "I love this country and I fear the Muslims are getting ready to overrun us at any moments notice ..."
 
#33
Re: The Morality of Torture

I would pay good bucks to watch that Chickenshit Lying POS Cheney take on Mr Ventura in a live debate about Torture .... Scarface's pacemaker would explode into a thousand pieces once Mr Ventura got in his face and asked him: "I don't recall your butt being over in Vietnam .. why was that?"
 
#34
Re: The Morality of Torture

I'll state this again... the one true way to defeat "Terrorism" is to simply not be terrified.
To Mr. Road Dawg:

The real and present danger of terrorism does not go away by pretending that it does not exist.

The Munchkin Man hopes you don't find this out the hard way.

Thank God, the Munchkin Man's brother-in-law, who lives in the state of Missouri, already has a bomb shelter prepared for his entire family, including the Munchkin Man.

Best Wishes,

Munchkin Man
 
#35
Re: The Morality of Torture

Here lies the problem in this country: The Religious Right are brainswashed as Carlin hit a homerun how mentally fucked they truly are .... they think all Muslims want to kill them when their limited brain activity has no clue what Wahhabism is or that only 5% of the Islamic faith follow the violent teachings preached ... the Religious Right endorses torturing ALL MUSLIMS and their hatred of Barack Obama is strictly based on the color of his skin not being pale white ... could you find ONE black at the RNC gathering in Minneapolis? ..... The Religious Right watches what "news" (thats funny!!!) outlet? TRY FOX NEWS .... RUN BY ROGER AILES WHO WORKED FOR REAGAN, BUSH 41 and GIULANI .... the biggest threat to WW3 is the Religious Right nutjobs who have the mentality of Sarah Palin and actually believe the Iraq war is "gods work"
 
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