Video: Marc Thiessen On EWTN Justifies Enhanced Interrogations on Just War Theory Grounds

Marc Thiessen appeared recently with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN and explained why it was important to him as a practicing Catholic, (and initially a skeptic) that we make sure that the interrogations were “effective, necessary, (there was no other way to get the information), and that they were carried out in a moral way”.

Part One:

Part Two:

Videos via The Right Scoop.

Incidentally, Thiessen’s book, Courting Disaster has debuted at #31 on the NYT bestseller list. You can order the book, here.

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151 thoughts on “Video: Marc Thiessen On EWTN Justifies Enhanced Interrogations on Just War Theory Grounds

  1. So, b/c it worked, it’s ok.

    If that’s all you got from watching both videos?
    Did you miss his argument that these techniques did not cross the line into torture, his argument for it using just war theory, his argument against radical pacifism, which is actually the immoral stand according to the catechism…

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  2. Pingback: Obama’s 2010 job 1: recovery pretense and shift the blame « VotingFemale

  3. His “arguments” were merely quoting the Catechism out of context while ignoring EVERYTHING the Bishops and Holy Father have said on the subject. There was also, of course, the beautiful portion of the video when he made the claim that torturing Muslim prisoners was actually helping them.

    Let us do evil that good may come of it! Hurray, torture!

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  4. Perhaps you could provide some cites to back up your “argument”.

    He never claimed to be torturing anyone. He specifically stated that it stopped short of torture.

    You and people like you constantly repeating the word, “torture” does not make it so.

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  5. So you honestly hold the position that waterboarding (that is: immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages, causing the captive to believe he or she is dying) is not torture?

    Seriously?

    Have you always held this belief or is this revelation new since it was discovered that we’ve been doing it?

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  6. Yes, I honestly hold that position.

    And I think that people like you, who grieve endlessly about the treatment of a very few enemy combatants, who have no respect for the rules of war, who would kill as many American civilians as possible if given the chance, who would saw off your head with a rusty knife as soon as look at you… harbor a bizarre, misplaced compassion.

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  7. So you honestly hold the position that waterboarding (that is: immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages, causing the captive to believe he or she is dying) is not torture?

    Yup. Absolutely. Though “causing the captive to believe he or she is dying” is not accurate.

    Look, we waterboard our own troops and intelligence officers. We would never torture them. Journalists volunteer to be waterboarded, and some have undergone the procedure more than once. Morons have done it for kicks. Protesters have done it during demonstrations. Criterion #1 for the definition for torture is it is something that no one would choose to endure voluntarily and repeatedly.

    Nobody wants the occasion to waterboard to arise, but when it does, if the intelligence experts feel that it’s warranted, then I support them. They used it in a very limited number of special cases, and have never used it since. Case closed.

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  8. “And I think that people like you, who grieve endlessly about the treatment of a very few enemy combatants, who have no respect for the rules of war, who would kill as many American civilians as possible if given the chance, who would saw off your head with a rusty knife as soon as look at you… harbor a bizarre, misplaced compassion.”

    Like that Jesus clown, who was constantly going on about loving our enemies and his endless whining about forgiving the people who beat the shit out of him and had him crucified. What is up with that guy?

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  9. Yes, we have waterboarded our own. Why, pray tell? To show it isn’t torture? Or perhaps, knowing damned well that it is, we seek to prepare them for it and build up their resistance to it should they (God forbid) be captured by an enemy.

    And yes, journalists have undergone the procedure…and nerly all have concluded that it is, in fact torture. Mancow and Chris Hitchens had themselves waterboarded in order to validate their belief that it isn’t torture and both came away with the opposite impression.

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  10. Are you saying that that Jesus guy would have us all lay down our lives in order to save one unrepentant terrorist from getting water poured on his face?

    That is just tragically messed up thinking, right there.

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  11. He said something about it…let me think…
    Ah, yes.
    “And if your right eye scandalize you, pluck it out and cast it from you. For it is expedient for you that one of your members should perish, rather than your whole body be cast into hell. And if your right hand scandalize you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is expedient for you that one of your members should perish, rather than that your whole body go into hell.”

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  12. uh huh. So to bible literalists like yourself, it is better for 3000 people to die at the hands of a terrorist, than one terrorist have water poured onto his face. That to you is the just, and moral outcome, because no one was “scandalized”.

    The left often says that Christian fundamentalism is as bad as Islamic fundamentalism. I’m starting to see their point.

    (I’m being facetious…I don’t even believe you’re Christian).

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  13. Or perhaps, knowing damned well that it is, we seek to prepare them for it and build up their resistance to it should they (God forbid) be captured by an enemy.

    You are stupid. We don’t require our military to resist torture, we train them to resist enhanced interrogation and hope that that helps them resist torture. Hence, the military and intelligence agencies have always regarded waterboarding as enhanced interrogation.

    Mancow and Chris Hitchens had themselves waterboarded in order to validate their belief that it isn’t torture and both came away with the opposite impression.

    They came away thinking that it was torture. But ask Hitchens to undergo any other means of torture twice. Any one of them. I’m absolutely certain he won’t oblige you.

    But ask yourself in all honesty: who asked for permission to apply this technique? And then: did they feel that the technique was successful?

    The answer is: the professionals in charge of the situation, and yes.

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  14. Nice, Deb. So, the true mark of a Christian is supporting torture? Nicely done, indeed.

    If you must know, I am a youth minister for my church parish. I’m pro life, too. Just sent a large group to the March for Life in Washington. See, I’m trying to follow the Catholic Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person and a consistent life ethic.

    I’ve noticed that the arguments coming from you and geoff have tilted to the ad hominem almost immediately. It’s too bad.

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  15. Adolfo, if you were truly concerned about the dignity of the human person, you would support the humane methods that have been developed (with Catholic teaching in mind) to protect human persons.

    And btw, there’s nothing more obnoxious than people using the word “torture” with such moral certitude, when at the very least, the subject is open for debate. That might explain the use of any ad hominems that have been thrown your way. You might try to avoid that in the future.

    “Enhanced interrogation”, is better just as “pro life” is better than “anti-choice”.

    You get annoyed when people call you “anti-choice”? You find that a little obnoxious? I thought so.

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  16. “Enhanced interrogation”, is better just as “pro life”

    “Pro-life” is the truth. “Enhanced Interrogation” is an open-ended euphemism that can mean what-you-will. Torture is not so hard to define. It occurs whenever the human person is degraded from an end to a means.

    Your argument that we’re talking about “very few” is irrelevant.

    Your argument that they’re “enemy combatants” is irrelevant.

    Your argument that terrorists (known or suspected) are bad guys is irrelevant.

    Your appeal to consequentialism is irrelevant.

    Your proffering of extreme hypotheticals is irrelevant.

    What is NOT irrelevant is documents of Vatican II, a papal encyclical, and the Catechism. The United States military has always recognized waterboarding as torture when committed against our troops, and has executed enemy prisoners found guilty of the practice.

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  17. What more, Adolfo, I myself am a pro-life, devout Catholic, as is Marc Thiessen, as is Raymond Arroyo, (who was clearly sympathetic to Thiessen’s argument).

    It should cross your mind that such people would never condone real torture.

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  18. It should cross your mind that such people would never condone real torture.

    A pretty good example of circular logic there.

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  19. “Pro-life” is the truth.

    Not really, some pro lifer’s believe in the death penalty, for instance.

    Your argument that we’re talking about “very few” is irrelevant.

    Really? Making 3 people uncomfortable for a short period of time in order to gain information, (later) that can save perhaps thousands, is irrelevant?

    I agree. Even if it were 30, or 300, I’d still be for it.

    Your argument that they’re “enemy combatants” is irrelevant.

    How about enemy combatants who don’t follow the rules of war, and are not subject to the Geneva Conventions?

    Your argument that terrorists (known or suspected) are bad guys is irrelevant.

    To put a finer point on it – my argument is that they are deadly dangerous people who want us all dead.

    Your appeal to consequentialism is irrelevant.

    Results do matter. But they’re not the entire argument.

    Your proffering of extreme hypotheticals is irrelevant.

    Um. We’re not talking in hypotheticals. Real actionable and timely intelligence was gained from using waterboarding. Intelligence that saved lives.

    What is NOT irrelevant is documents of Vatican II, a papal encyclical, and the Catechism.

    Did you bother listening to Thiessen’s argument using Just War theory?

    The United States military has always recognized waterboarding as torture when committed against our troops, and has executed enemy prisoners found guilty of the practice.

    You understand that we have waterboarded our own troops, right? You understand that the type of waterboarding that war criminals like the Khmer Rouge did that killed thousands, bare little resemblance to what our CIA did? That’s apparently a common misconception.

    Fast forward to 5:40:

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  20. Being pro-life does not exclude the possibility of the death penalty any more than it requires one to be pacifist.

    Really?

    Yeah, really. You seem not to be able to accept this.

    The Geneva Conventions also are irrelevant, unless you’d like to argue they’re the source of human dignity. Perhaps you have done so already and I have overlooked it.

    You understand that we have waterboarded our own troops, right?

    Already dealt with in this thread. You seem not to be able to acept this either.

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  21. Look, I’m not going to try to have a discussion with someone who says every argument I make is “irrelevant”.

    It seems to me, the game is over, you have forfeited.

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  22. The problem is, you introduce a lot of irrlevancies in your arguments. Have you ever studied rhetoric? One loses count of all the fallacies flying about.

    One of the problems with people these days is sentimentality. It clouds their ability to reason with rigor. Reality is rarely what we wish it to be.

    If you don’t want my comments on your thread, just say so.

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  23. The problem is, you introduce a lot of irrlevancies in your arguments. Have you ever studied rhetoric? One loses count of all the fallacies flying about.

    No, I haven’t studied rhetoric, but I’ve studied spelling.

    The real problem is, you are unable to refute any of my arguments, so you deem them “irrelevant”.

    Being pro-life does not exclude the possibility of the death penalty any more than it requires one to be pacifist.

    Really?

    Yeah, really. You seem not to be able to accept this.

    This, to me, is “circular logic”, and your point, irrelevant, but guess what? I’ll argue whatever point you were trying to make there on the merits, (or lack thereof).

    If you are against abortion, the most logical terminology is anti-abortion. Pro aborts can and do say that pro lifers are not always consistently “pro-life” in other circumstances. They are right.

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  24. Torture is not so hard to define. It occurs whenever the human person is degraded from an end to a means.

    Apparently it’s too difficult for you to define. I’ve never heard such a mild, fuzzy, and internationally unaccepted definition.

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  25. The United States military has always recognized waterboarding as torture when committed against our troops, and has executed enemy prisoners found guilty of the practice.

    You know, I’m going to need a citation for that. Really. Because the last time our troops executed prisoners in an official capacity was when? WWII?

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  26. The Geneva Conventions also are irrelevant, unless you’d like to argue they’re the source of human dignity. Perhaps you have done so already and I have overlooked it

    I’d like to argue that the source of human dignity: 1) is subjective; 2) doesn’t address the real issue, which is sanctity of human dignity; and 3) doesn’t address the issue of people who target civilians are deserving of human dignity.

    Your entire argument is fluff. “I’ve defined the words to mean what I think in my head, and everything else is irrelevant.”

    Typical sloppy liberal thinking.

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  27. Have you ever studied rhetoric?

    Hahaha!! What a tool. “Rhetoric?” The art of persuasive discourse? What does that have to do with logical fallacies?

    Another lib who mistook Obama’s soaring oratory for competence.

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  28. Deb, thank you for the change in your tone. I use the word torture b/c waterboarding is torture. This is not complicated.

    I know Raymond Arroyo. He’s not bad, he’s just wrong here. Just like Sean Hannity is wrong when he defends his use of artificial contraception and proceeds to berate a priest over it. (I’m not arguing that Arroyo berated anybody, just noting that otherwise good people can be ridiculously wrong on an important topic.)

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  29. Adolfo, I didn’t realize that I changed my tone, but you’re welcome.

    I don’t believe waterboarding as we have practiced it is torture. The very least you can do is concede that it is a matter of opinion and use less strident language.

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  30. Hey, look! Geoff sweeps in with yet another personal attack!

    Since you’ve been completely unable to answer a single counterpoint, or even couch an argument not pulled completely from your nether regions, I stand by by my assessments. Your entire argument is based on personal fancy, and I’m tired of your preaching to us based on such fluff.

    If you have anything to say beyond: “you have to live by my morals,” I’m willing to take you more seriously. But at this point, you’re in the bottom 20% of people who have come here to argue this point at this blog. And that isn’t a particularly bright or accomplished set of people.

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  31. I use the word torture b/c waterboarding is torture. This is not complicated.

    We use the phrase “enhanced interrogation” b/c waterboarding is not torture. This is not complicated.

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  32. Hey!

    Trying to remember the best liberal commenter who ever came to this site. Ace had a couple of decent ones, and BiW’s is not too bad. I had a couple in the early days at my blog, but they started making loopy arguments so off they went.

    This blog, though, while it gets a lot of liberal drive-by traffic, has really had a hard time getting a decent representative of the liberal case.

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  33. Wow, geoff. I’m a ‘liberal’ because I don’t support torture. That makes Ronald Reagan and I both liberals, I suppose. Maybe that’s why I’m so proud of that letter from him he sent me that hangs in my home today.

    See, geoff, I’m Catholic which means that I’m pro life. It also means that I am doing my best to respect the inherent dignity of all people, even murderous bastards. It’s not easy, I understand the desire to excuse torturing them. I’m sure you won’t believe me, but I lost someone in the 9/11 terror attack on the Pentagon so, yes, it’s personal to me. But, as a Catholic, I am going to follow Church teaching even when it’s hard–especially when it’s hard.

    Whether or not torture works is immaterial to me. Some experts say it does, some it doesn’t; I don’t care because I know that the end never justifies the means. I don’t know your religious persuasion but if you assert any belief in Christ then you ought to know that too.

    I call waterboarding torture because it is bleedin’ obvious that it is and our government used to think so too, until it was decided we needed to change our policy based upon expediency. Did you know that the U.S. military has court marshalled officers for waterboarding in the past?

    It was not U.S. policy to waterboard captured Italians, Nazis, Japanese, or Koreans and yet we managed to win those wars. How can this be?

    I love my country and I think torture is beneath us as a people. I’d much prefer we were the example for the rest of the world to follow as in times past.

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  34. Because the last time our troops executed prisoners in an official capacity was when? WWII?

    Certain Japanese personnel were executed for crimes that included waterboarding. Yukio asano received 15 years at hard labor for waterboarding alone. Google is your friend, Geoff. It isn’t hard to find this stuff if you really want to.

    Apparently it’s too difficult for you to define. I’ve never heard such a mild, fuzzy, and internationally unaccepted definition.

    Geoff, I’m late to this discussion, so forgive me, but: are you a Christian? I ask because the definition of torture I offered derives nor from international law, but from Catholic moral theology.

    Your comment that human dignity is subjective chills me to the bone. It is utterly incompatible with the Jewish or Christian traditions. Indeed, it strikes me as demonic.

    The art of persuasive discourse? What does that have to do with logical fallacies?

    Um…you’re kidding, right?

    It’s so cute that you tag me as “liberal” because I oppose torture. You realize, don’t you, that you are completely out of your depth?

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  35. I call waterboarding torture because it is bleedin’ obvious

    Well, no it isn’t. To many of us, it is not. And every poll shows a majority of us believe enhanced interrogations are justified.

    The fact that the procedure is used on thousands of our own troops should suggest to you that it is not torture…

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  36. Pro aborts can and do say that pro lifers are not always consistently “pro-life” in other circumstances. They are right.

    You make a good point. Pro life and anti abortion are not entirely congruent. Someone who’s anti-abortion can be pro embrionic stem cell research (I am dealing with one such right now). Pro-life is surely a more comprehensive category. I have already explained however that it is not pacifist and does not exclude the possibility of capital punishment.

    It should be remembered that the more we affirm the good (rather than simply oppose the evil), the more we become like God. God’s name as revealed to Moses discloses his nature as transcendent being. For God to explain himself as opposed to something would make that other thing the reference point. In reality God is our only reference point.

    Your snark about spelling typos is just silly and unworthy of any serious person. I’ll overlook it this time.

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  37. The fact that the procedure is used on thousands of our own troops should suggest to you that it is not torture…

    We also send our troops into deserts and jungles to improve their chances of survival. They learn how to eat maggots and for all I know drink their urine. I doubt they enjoy this, but they accept it because they need to know what to expect in adverse conditions. You know this of course.

    The waterboarding our troops endure as a training exercise is performed by friends, with medical personnel standing by. No serious person can equate this with interrogation imposed on an unwilling victim by enemies who hate him.

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  38. Are you a Christian?

    Not any more.

    I ask because the definition of torture I offered derives nor from international law, but from Catholic moral theology.

    Not that I care about anything but international law, but go ahead and provide me a link that says that the Church defines “torture” as “the human person is degraded from an end to a means.” As far as I know, the catechism defines it as “physical or moral violence.” While you’re at it, read the last two paragraphs from this priest’s consideration of torture.

    Um…you’re kidding, right?

    Not at all. Rhetoric can employ logic or logical fallacies to achieve its aim. The Greeks distinguished rhetoric from logic and grammar. You should do the same.

    You realize, don’t you, that you are completely out of your depth?

    Blah, blah. So far we have the fabricated definition of torture and . . . nothing else. You can’t even use words correctly.

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  39. No serious person can equate this with interrogation imposed on an unwilling victim by enemies who hate him.

    I’m a serious person, and I do.

    Would we pull off our soldiers’ fingernails? Would we use the sorts of instruments our enemy uses like, meat cleavers, whips, and wire cutters? No. Because that would be torture.

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  40. Yukio asano received 15 years at hard labor for waterboarding alone.

    Perhaps you should use Google once in a while, rather than lying. And, as I said originally, the last execution was in WWII. Hardly contemporary.

    Did you know that the U.S. military has court marshalled officers for waterboarding in the past?

    Show me a citation of a military member court-martialed for the approved use of waterboarding (not “water cures”).

    It was not U.S. policy to waterboard captured Italians, Nazis, Japanese, or Koreans and yet we managed to win those wars. How can this be?

    That’s the point. Terrorists don’t follow the rules of war and they specifically target civilian populations. The Geneva Conventions were established with the presumption that conflicts would be more or less “fair” – i.e., that the combatants would know that they were at war, that combatants would be indentifiable as military members, and that combatants would be, well, combatants.

    Not that the question made any sense anyway – there are a number of reasons why people might win a war other than their interrogation techniques.

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  41. The waterboarding our troops endure as a training exercise is performed by friends, with medical personnel standing by. No serious person can equate this with interrogation imposed on an unwilling victim by enemies who hate him.

    First, I can assure you that military members are not required to eat maggots or drink their urine during training. They may opt to do so, but it’s not required. Second, SERE training is performed with instructors posing as enemy guards and interrogators. Read this account for a much more accurate description of the SERE training environment.

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  42. Your comment that human dignity is subjective chills me to the bone. It is utterly incompatible with the Jewish or Christian traditions. Indeed, it strikes me as demonic.

    Demonic, huh? Just goes to show you that it always pays to go the extra mile. I better ask ND for a raise.

    I actually said that the “source of human dignity” was subjective, but I’ll go ahead and bite on your misreading. Go ahead and give me a non-demonic, objective definition of human dignity that isn’t so vague as to be pointless.

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  43. 1.) Where is the evidence that waterboarding works? Alot of those who believe it does – do so on the basis of John Kiriakou’s 2007 interview with ABC. However – Kirakou hos now retracted — http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/26/cia_man_retracts_claim_on_waterboarding .

    2.) A lot of you who support waterboarding do so by invoking the highly unlikely “ticking time bomb” scenario. You have been watching to much 24. Care to share any real world examples where this became a necessary and viable option?

    3) Those opposed to waterboarding want to make it illegal. Making it illegal does not, however, mean that it will never be employed, just as making vigilanty justice illegal never stops it entirely. But it does make people think twice before pursuingit, just as it should be. For while we can all sympathize with someone who murders the daughter of his child’s rapist – and be pleased if such a person goes unconvicted – similarly – we can sypathize with torture when and if a “ticking time bomb” situation ever does occur – and be pleased if those who employed it escape conviction. But this does not mean that vigilantiasm and torture should be legal. Nor that it should be prosecuted when it is. Rather, it means quite the opposite. That it must remain illegal – so as to avoid its abuse. And I don’t see why the logic here is any different whether were talking about waterboarding, pulled fingernails, or hot pokers.

    Finally – terrorists are cowards. Why would we want to respond to cowardice with cowardice. As Franklin said, those who would sacrafice liberty for security deserve neither. Let us deserve our liberty. Unflinchingly. With the courage of our convictions.

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  44. Apologies for jumping in here late. It’s always seemed to me that, no matter whether you consider the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” torture or not, the best argument against them is that innocent people were subjected to them. It follows that if you think that these techniques are ok to use on terrorist ‘suspects’, they should be ok to use on any suspect in any crime, innocent or not. Or is there a certain class of crme that it is okay to use these for (or a certain class of person)? It’s easy to make the argument for people like Khalid Mohammed, but what about other terrorist suspects? If any of you were arrested on suspicion of robbery or murder, do you think that it would be appropriate for the law-enforcement authoroties to waterboard you, slam you against the wall, remove your clothing, expose you to persistent loud noises and cold in order to get you to confess. Put yourself in the position of the arrestees in Abu Ghraib an Bagram, many of whom were released without charge, but were subjected to such ‘techniques’

    This kind of behaviour is not appropriate in a western democracy. Germany, Britain, France and Italy have all been subject to terrorism over the last 40 years wthout resorting to such techniques (at least without institutionalizing them). This is wothout even getting into what a fantastic recruiting tool it is for extremists to see the US behaving like this against Muslims (because, funnily enough, it’s always Muslims)

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  45. Guys, the techniques were used verrry selectively on only three hardened terrorists, back when 9/11 was fresh in our minds, and more attacks like it seemed certain. But for the actions the Bush administration took, they probably were certain.

    It follows that if you think that these techniques are ok to use on terrorist ’suspects’, they should be ok to use on any suspect in any crime, innocent or not. Or is there a certain class of crme that it is okay to use these for (or a certain class of person)?

    No, that doesn’t follow, at all!

    There were very clear perimeters set up for the use of enhanced interrogations in military settings. Really, you should read Thiessen’s book and put yourself to some knowledge.

    Bush established a line of distinction between citizen suspects and illegal combatants. He set up a structure where it was clear that citizen suspects were owed full constitutional protections, and only terrorist illegal combatants were to be treated with lesser protections.

    It’s Obama who has created a system where as far as the law goes, the line between how we and the terrorists get treated gets blurred.

    The precedent at the “suspect” KSM has already been condemned to the death penalty by the Obama administration, (before his “fair” civilian trial) is the precedent you should be worried about.

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  46. Where is the evidence that waterboarding works? Alot of those who believe it does – do so on the basis of John Kiriakou’s 2007 interview with ABC. However – Kirakou hos now retracted — http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/26/cia_man_retracts_claim_on_waterboarding .

    My evidence comes from the CIA memos released by the Obama administration:

    The memo continues: “Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ ” Once the techniques were applied, “interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

    Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast.

    http://patterico.com/2009/04/21/marc-thiessen-waterboarding-worked/

    A lot of you who support waterboarding do so by invoking the highly unlikely “ticking time bomb” scenario. You have been watching to much 24. Care to share any real world examples where this became a necessary and viable option?

    I tend to invoke the less extreme variant in which a high-value terrorist refuses to divulge crucial information that could save innocent lives.

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  47. Alot of those who believe it does – do so on the basis of John Kiriakou’s 2007 interview with ABC. However – Kirakou hos now retracted

    Nope. The CIA has always maintained that the techniques were effective and resulted in actionable intelligence. And Kiriakou didn’t retract his statement – he just noted that he obtained the information second-hand.

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  48. Same old arguments. All the complaints against the waterboarding of those 3 delightful gents come up against one simple fact: the guys actually performing the interrogation requested permission to use waterboarding because they felt it was needed. Tell them that it wasn’t useful or warranted.

    I believe that they were thoughtful and careful in deciding to use it – in short, I trust their judgment and wouldn’t second-guess it even if they hadn’t obtained anything actionable. I guess you, who have no knowledge of the actual circumstances, believe that you know better. That’s fine, but don’t try to convince me that I should believe your fabricated version compared to their real one.

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  49. Nicedeb, Ah yes – the CIA. SO now we are to believe that the fox can guard the henhouse? That they are unconcerned about protecting themselves? And we are to dismiss Kiriakou – who has no reason to “retract” (Geoff – he does come very close to retracting, and raises a very good question to all of you who think of waterboarding as some sort of magical technique which defies the ability of prisoners to make stuff up: “Now we know,” Kiriakou goes on, “that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied.”

    And so – we are simply to roll over for the CIA -and dismmiss all these other experts: http://thinkprogress.org/why-enhanced-interrogation-failed/

    No – I’ll take my chances with courage and conviction.

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  50. “I trust their judgment and wouldn’t second-guess it even if they hadn’t obtained anything actionable. I guess you, who have no knowledge of the actual circumstances, believe that you know better. That’s fine, but don’t try to convince me that I should believe your fabricated version compared to their real one.”

    But why should we simply “trust”? When we live in a world where we can move beyond “trust”? Where we can use an independent commission to investigate the situation, and determine what exactly happened. But no – any talk of this sort automatically leads the “enhanced interrogation” defenders to cries of “traitor” and “soft on terror.”?

    And only 3? Really? Its not that simple: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/16/terror/main680658.shtml

    We deserve a commision. And – even more importantly – we deserve the right to ask for one without being called traitors.

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  51. Where we can use an independent commission to investigate the situation, and determine what exactly happened.

    In the case of CIA use of waterboarding, there is no evidence of a crime. An investigation is pointless, resource-consuming, and unfairly accusatory. Show some evidence that there should be an investigation before demanding one for your personal satisfaction.

    And only 3? Really? Its not that simple: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/16/terror/main680658.shtml

    That has nothing to do with waterboarding – those incidents fall under the military justice system. And they’ve been investigated already. Long since.

    We deserve a commision. And – even more importantly – we deserve the right to ask for one without being called traitors.

    No, you don’t. And no one here called you a traitor, though I’m starting to warm up to the idea. The notion that you’d pursue legal action against those who worked to protect you, when you wouldn’t do the same for them, nauseates me.

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  52. An investigation is pointless, resource-consuming, and unfairly accusatory.

    I forgot to mention that it’s also a political football, and a chance, once again, for people like Andrew Sullivan to place American lives at risk by broadcasting inflated, inflammatory information just so he can assume his undeserved higher moral ground.

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  53. “Now we know,” Kiriakou goes on, “that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied.”

    Did you watch the videos?

    Thiessen tells the story of how interrogators told him that
    Abu Zubaydah actually thanked interrogators for waterboarding him because it “lifted a moral burden from his shoulders, the burden to resist.” He told them they should do it to all the brothers.

    Thiessen also says he “spilled his guts” after interrogators used enhanced interrogation techniques.

    But why should we simply “trust”? When we live in a world where we can move beyond “trust”? Where we can use an independent commission to investigate the situation, and determine what exactly happened.

    You know, I don’t even know where you’re coming from. What do you suggest those high value terrorists were waterboarded for? Shits and giggles?

    I can’t help thinking of this famous Orwell quote:

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

    As for the reports of deaths in captivity that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan…that’s a different situation, and one I have little info to go on.

    I’m talking about the waterboarding we did to GITMO detainees.

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  54. Geoff – he does come very close to retracting, and raises a very good question…

    That’s very funny. Kiriakou hears that KSM gave up useful intelligence info, but you won’t accept that because it’s second-hand. Then Kiriakou does some speculating, and you think that’s “a very good question.”

    all of you who think of waterboarding as some sort of magical technique which defies the ability of prisoners to make stuff up

    Who would those people be? I think the magic happens when people like you believe that waterboarding replaces, rather than supplements, other techniques. Again, it’s oh-so simple: they applied all the standard techniques, and continued to apply them throughout the month in which he was waterboarded. Just because they added waterboarding to the mix doesn’t mean they stopped normal interrogation, cross-checking of info, asking trick questions, etc.

    No – I’ll take my chances with courage and conviction.

    That’s not “courage and conviction.” That’s “I want it my way.”

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  55. Interesting discussion. As someone who considers himself a Catholic I must say I was appalled to watch Mr. Thiessen justify waterboarding on Catholic catechismal grounds. To say that waterboarding is not torture because it is not torture the way we define it is the very definition of circular logic. If one can dismiss an argument because he does not allow the validity of an opposing argument then there is no room for differing minds to come together.

    In my mind, as I’ve watched my country sink into a morass of questionable morality when it comes to treatment of defenseless prisoners (one of the key components of the Geneva Conventions), the proponents of Islamic terrorism have attained their objective. We are indeed terrorized, so much so that we are willing to ignore our Constitution in the interest of expediency in the war on terror. We’ve allowed ourselves to sink to their level with barely a fight.

    Finally, let me throw this out: “We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.

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  56. We’ve allowed ourselves to sink to their level with barely a fight.

    You can not be serious. Please tell me you’re not serious. Waterboarding makes the subject seriously uncomfortable, it causes psychological trauma because it gives them the sensation of drowning, but you would compare us to our enemies for employing this method, (which was used to save lives)?

    We are at the same level as this?

    Torture, Al-Qaeda Style
    Drawings, tools seized from Iraq safe house in U.S. military raid:

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0524072torture1.html

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  57. To say that waterboarding is not torture because it is not torture the way we define it is the very definition of circular logic.

    Or it is the definition of a definition. Torture has a legal definition. You may choose to outlaw waterboarding, but you can’t make it torture without changing the definition.

    In my mind, as I’ve watched my country sink into a morass of questionable morality when it comes to treatment of defenseless prisoners (one of the key components of the Geneva Conventions)

    The Geneva Conventions only applying, of course, to legal combatants.

    Finally, let me throw this out: “We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.

    Since Dr. Kolm has no idea what he’s talking about, I’ll throw it out as well.

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  58. For the purposes of the argument here I will use this definition of torture:

    For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

    Where is it written that we must observe the Geneva conventions only with regard to other signatories?

    Why dismiss so matter of factly the statement of a WWII interrogator? Is Al Qaeda any less single minded than the Nazis were?

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  59. Look, if you guys want to define waterboarding as a mild form of torture, you go right ahead. I don’t think it crosses the line, but it really is a matter of opinion, since there are so many definitions to go on.

    The question is, is it sometimes justified? When thousands of innocent lives have already been lost, and the unrepentant mastermind of that attack is promising more to come, and refuses to talk, you would sacrifice hundreds, perhaps thousands more lives to respect the dignity of his? That’s the moral position, you think? When you know he would saw your head off in a heart-beat if given the chance?

    You would challenge him to a game of chess, or something?

    Where is it written that we must observe the Geneva conventions only with regard to other signatories?

    Where is it written that we must observe the Geneva conventions with non signatories?

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  60. Where is it written that we must observe the Geneva conventions with non signatories?

    I believe that if we are to hold ourselves up as an example of what is right to the world then we must live up to our ideals, including observing the Geneva conventions with all combatants. If we want to throw the gloves off then let’s at least come clean and knock off the moral superiority. I’d like to assume we’re better than a schoolyard bully.

    If we cannot agree on a definition of torture, then this argument is pointless. What is your definition? And no, in my mind waterboarding, a form of torture, is never warranted. If I had been waterboarded over 100 times I’d be ready to confess that 2+2=5. How does this get us any nearer to the truth?

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  61. Why dismiss so matter of factly the statement of a WWII interrogator?

    Because he has absolutely no idea what the circumstances of the current situation were, so he can’t possible make that claim with any credibility. He has no idea if he did indeed get more information than current interrogators did. He has no idea of the nature of the detainees, what methods were tried, or what the results were.

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  62. Because he has absolutely no idea what the circumstances of the current situation were, so he can’t possible make that claim with any credibility. He has no idea if he did indeed get more information than current interrogators did. He has no idea of the nature of the detainees, what methods were tried, or what the results were.

    But he did know the circumstances of his prisoner. Do you not think that the WWII Germans were constantly plotting against the Allies, seeking at all times to vanquish them? Yet still there was no resort to methods now considered by some, including me, to be torture. Moreover, how does one know when every last bit of intelligence has been wrung out of a captive? When do we stop?

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  63. in my mind waterboarding, a form of torture, is never warranted

    Then we have nothing to discuss. In my mind waterboarding is obviously not torture, and may be (hopefully only very rarely) warranted.

    If I had been waterboarded over 100 times I’d be ready to confess that 2+2=5. How does this get us any nearer to the truth?

    That is the silly argument that we’ve already been through, which presumes that waterboarding replaces other forms of interrogation. Nonsense. It is supplemental, so all the supposedly reliable methods of “good” interrogation are still in place. And we weren’t looking for a confession – we were looking for names, phone numbers, addresses, plots, etc. All information that can be, and was, checked.

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  64. But he did know the circumstances of his prisoner.

    Doesn’t matter. At all. There are two sides to the equation, and he only knows one. You can’t figure out which way the inequality sign should point without knowing both.

    And he should have known that. He’s an embarrassment to my alma mater.

    He also should have told us what he learned. Then we could have judged the efficacy of his oh-so-formidable chess-playing techniques. Based on his faulty construction of his inequality, I don’t have much faith in his side of the equation either.

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  65. Apparently, we’re addressing one statement at a time so let me restate: Do you not think that the WWII Germans were constantly plotting against the Allies, seeking at all times to vanquish them?

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  66. Do you not think that the WWII Germans were constantly plotting against the Allies, seeking at all times to vanquish them?

    Let me restate. It doesn’t matter. How much info did Kolm get from the German general? How much did the CIA extract from KSM? How hardened to interrogation were they? What other techniques were tried?

    Kolm has no idea what the answers to the KSM side of the equation are, so his statement is arrogant, self-inflated nonsense.

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  67. Neither do we. If the techniques are so efficacious then justify using them against 200 years of not using them, at least not without consequence.

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  68. If the techniques are so efficacious then justify using them against 200 years of not using them, at least not without consequence.

    As I said above:

    All the complaints against the waterboarding of those 3 delightful gents come up against one simple fact: the guys actually performing the interrogation requested permission to use waterboarding because they felt it was needed. Tell them that it wasn’t useful or warranted.

    I believe that they were thoughtful and careful in deciding to use it – in short, I trust their judgment and wouldn’t second-guess it even if they hadn’t obtained anything actionable. I guess you, who have no knowledge of the actual circumstances, believe that you know better. That’s fine, but don’t try to convince me that I should believe your fabricated version compared to their real one.

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  69. If the techniques are so efficacious then justify using them against 200 years of not using them, at least not without consequence.

    We’ve used them on our own soldiers for the past 40 years. The fact that we so rarely employ them in actual interrogations speaks to our reluctance to use them unless deemed absolutely necessary.

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  70. Reagan would have cried.

    “From President Ronald Reagan’s signing statement ratifying the UN Convention on Torture from 1984:

    The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.”

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  71. You shouldn’t speak for Ronaldus.

    In 1984, I’m sure I applauded the signing of that UN convention, too, (If I knew about it). Who doesn’t condemn torture in almost every case?

    If you can’t see why we would use waterboarding on 3 high value terrorists, shortly after 9/11, when more attacks were promised, and seemed imminent, and after other forms of interrogation had failed… why we would use our harshest method (which is quite mild compared to what the enemy uses) to get the information we needed – I think we are at an impasse. We are never going to agree.

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  72. That’s fine, but don’t try to convince me that I should believe your fabricated version compared to their real one.

    Fabrication? Please point this out to me.

    It’s nice to know that the ends justify the means in this case. This kind of “morality”, which is where this whole blog post and ensuing discussion began, is hardly Christian and barely American.

    Terms such as torture should not have such an expedient, fluid definition as to make it fit whichever situation one sees fit to use it. I’ll stand by my statement that we defeated Nazi Germany, perhaps the most evil state in the history of the Western world and certainly orders of magnitude more powerful than any terrorist group we face, without resorting to torturing defenseless captives, and it lessens our county that our leaders felt it necessary to use it today.

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  73. Fabrication? Please point this out to me.

    You are not reading clearly – I made that statement earlier in the thread in response to another commenter. But the fabrication is common to pretty much everybody who takes your position, so you’re probably guilty as well. The fabrication lies in the speculations that conventional interrogation would have eventually been adequate, that the information gained from waterboarding was faulty or useless, and in the assumption that those looking from the outside without knowledge of the actual circumstances are more credible than the men who were actually there. That’s all imaginary.

    The CIA has consistently said that they needed to use the technique, that they used it sparingly, and that it worked. That’s reality.

    They didn’t do it for fun, or vengeance, or out of some sadistic impulse, or because they were bored, or because Bush&Cheney ordered them to do it. They did it because they felt that it was necessary.

    It’s nice to know that the ends justify the means in this case.

    Now we are in agreement.

    This kind of “morality”… is hardly Christian and barely American.

    A bald statement of opinion does not an argument make.

    Terms such as torture should not have such an expedient, fluid definition as to make it fit whichever situation one sees fit to use it.

    Which is why calling waterboarding “torture” should never have happened. We have used it as the upper limit of techniques used to train our personnel simply because we think it falls short of torture. It would be illegal to train them in this fashion if it were torture.

    Just because it’s awful doesn’t make it torture. If you want to outlaw it, go ahead. But don’t villainize the men and administration who used it in the past with the understanding that it was not torture.

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  74. According to a May 7, 2004, CIA Inspector General special report on interrogation techniques used on terror suspects, which has some parts redacted, “OIG’s (Office of the Inspector General’s) review of the videotapes revealed that the waterboard technique employed at (redacted) was different from the technique as described in the DoJ (Department of Justice) opinion and used in the SERE training. The difference was in the manner in which the detainee’s breathing was obstructed. At the SERE School and in the DoJ opinion, the subject’s airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contest, the Agency interrogator (redacted) continuously applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose. One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the Agency’s use of the technique differed from that used in SERE training and explained that the Agency’s technique is different because it is ‘for real’ and is more poignant and convincing.”

    The report also says the CIA’s Office of Medical Services has characterized the SERE waterboarding as “so different from the subsequent Agency usage as to make it almost irrelevant.” The office said its frequency and intensity raised questions about whether it was effective or medically safe.

    http://tinyurl.com/m2q7vn

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  75. explained that the Agency’s technique is different because it is ‘for real’ and is more poignant and convincing.”

    “Poignant and convincing?” Sounds pretty dire.

    The office said its frequency and intensity raised questions about whether it was effective or medically safe.

    And what was their answer? Oh I see – they were simply speculating. I can see why that would appeal to you.

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  76. But here, perhaps, we’re coming to a convergence of sorts. Your point now seems to be that some interrogators may have deviated from SERE practices, which may have crossed some line that you haven’t established.

    So if the interrogators had followed the SERE practices exactly, are you saying they would have been off the hook? That it would not be torture?

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  77. Allow me to play interrogator here for a moment so I’m playing with the same deck as everyone else. Please document these statements:

    And we weren’t looking for a confession – we were looking for names, phone numbers, addresses, plots, etc. All information that can be, and was, checked.

    The CIA has consistently said that they needed to use the technique, that they used it sparingly, and that it worked.

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  78. It’s pretty obvious, but here you go. From Time Magazine:

    Captured al-Qaeda planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has given U.S. interrogators the names and descriptions of about a dozen key al-Qaeda operatives believed to be plotting terrorist attacks on American and other Western interests, according to federal officials. Other high-level al-Qaeda detainees previously disclosed some of the names, but Mohammed, until recently al-Qaeda’s chief operating officer and the brains behind the 9/11 attacks, has volunteered new ones. He has also added crucial details to the descriptions of other suspects and filled in important gaps in what U.S. intelligence knows about al-Qaeda’s practices.

    The same article notes that cross-checking showed that key information he gave was accurate. Note that KSM confessed to crimes, but that’s not why he was waterboarded.

    The CIA has consistently said that they needed to use the technique, that they used it sparingly, and that it worked.

    Both that article and the CIA IG report say that KSM was not cooperating until after the waterboarding, at which time he yielded useful information. The CIA IG report also notes that when the subjects were deemed cooperative, the techniques ceased.

    Here’s a more recent example of the CIA noting that waterboarding was used in only 3 cases, that it yielded useful information, and that it was stopped (this last point is in the article, but prior to this excerpt):

    Hayden told reporters later that the interrogations of Mohammed and Zubaydah were particularly fruitful.

    From the time of their capture in 2002 and 2003 until they were delivered to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2006, the two suspects accounted for one-fourth of the human intelligence reports on al Qaeda, Hayden said.

    Some analysts have questioned Mohammed’s credibility under interrogation. But Hayden said most of the information was reliable and helped lead to other al Qaeda suspects.

    Thanks for wasting my time.

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  79. Watch any of the videos I’ve posted of Marc Thiessen. You could start at the 3:30 point in the second video in my post. Or you could read any of his many articles, or his book. He’s spoken to the actual interrogators to find out what happened.

    This is from “Meet The Jack Bauers” in which he recounts his interviews with interrogators:

    Critics have charged that enhanced interrogation techniques are not effective because those undergoing them will say anything to get them to stop. Soufan, the FBI agent and CIA critic, has written: “When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them. . . . That means the information you’re getting is useless.”

    What this statement reveals is that Soufan knows nothing about how the CIA actually employed enhanced interrogation techniques. In an interview for my book, former national-security adviser Steve Hadley explained to me, “The interrogation techniques were not to elicit information. So the whole argument that people tell you lies under torture misses the point.” Hadley said the purpose of the techniques was to “bring them to the point where they are willing to cooperate, and once they are willing to cooperate, then the techniques stop and you do all the things the FBI agents say you ought to do to build trust and all the rest.”
    ***
    Until the program was temporarily suspended in 2006, well over half of the information our government had about al-Qaeda — how it operates, how it moves money, how it communicates, how it recruits operatives, how it picks targets, how it plans and carries out attacks — came from the interrogation of terrorists in CIA custody.

    Another reason the program was so effective, Harry and Sam explained, was that because the terrorists were in a secure location, CIA officials could also expose sensitive information to them — asking them to explain the meaning of materials captured in terrorist raids, and to identify phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and voices in recordings of intercepted communications. This could never be done if the terrorists were being held in a facility where they had regular contact with the outside world. The danger of this information getting out would have been far too great.

    Harry and Sam told me that the agency believed without the program the terrorists would have succeeded in striking our country again.

    Harry put it bluntly: “It is the reason we have not had another 9/11.”

    These are the people vilified by the left as inhuman monsters in Bush’s regime of terror:

    Beckham recalls having a long conversation late one night with one of the interrogators when he was conducting his review. This was “a very dedicated, capable guy who told me that he had been in with KSM one day, and KSM had basically said to him matter-of-factly, ‘If I ever get out of this hole, I’m going to kill you and your entire family.’ We were sitting there at nine o’clock at night or something, and he said to me, ‘You know, I work long days; this is hard. When I get down about it, I just think back to the film footage of the two people standing on the window of the World Trade Center on the 90-something floor, grasping each other by the hand and stepping out into space.’ He said, ‘I think of those two people, and I just go back to work.’”

    http://article.nationalreview.com/421249/meet-the-real-jack-bauers/marc-a-thiessen?page=5

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  80. Thanks for wasting my time.

    Hardly a waste of time to document one’s assertions, Geoff.

    I can see I’ll be changing no one’s mind here and I’ve seen nothing to change mine so I’m going to have to leave with these last queries and I’ll come back to see the response. You’ve laid out all sorts of evidence as to the efficacy and serious but fleeting discomfort it produces; why not go straight to it? Make it SOP for suspected terrorists. Why the squeamishness about its use?

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  81. Hardly a waste of time to document one’s assertions, Geoff.

    Unless they’re common knowledge. As these were.

    I can see I’ll be changing no one’s mind here and I’ve seen nothing to change mine

    You’ve been typically evasive – not answering our questions and changing the subject whenever you get cornered. You “interrogated” us, we answered, and then you run away. Here’s another example of you trying to twist away and be a butthead at the same time:

    “Make it SOP for suspected terrorists. Why the squeamishness about its use?”

    I’m not going to even dignify that with a response. A**hole.

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  82. Geoff, can’t stay away from the informed debate here! Please point out one of my evasions and I’ll answer. Let me give you an example of one in case you’re not sure what an evasion is:

    “Make it SOP for suspected terrorists. Why the squeamishness about its use?”

    I’m not going to even dignify that with a response. A**hole.

    Deb, yes it is. Can you convince me otherwise?

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  83. Geoff, can’t stay away from the informed debate here!

    Your question was insulting, and displayed complete ignorance of the discussion throughout the thread. We have clearly stated our position at several times and in several ways. For you to let loose with that bit of sophistic flatulence was both ignorant and inflammatory.

    Why don’t we make waterboarding SOP for suspected terrorists? What an idiotic proposition, and one that seems to have entered only your mind.

    Please point out one of my evasions and I’ll answer.

    I’m really tired of doing all your homework for you, but here’s a question that I asked directly:

    “So if the interrogators had followed the SERE practices exactly, are you saying they would have been off the hook? That it would not be torture?”

    Which I asked because otherwise I don’t really follow your point in presenting that excerpt. But you conveniently crept off to insult us with a pointless question.

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  84. Geoff and Deb,

    OK, now we’re talking. First, I’ll answer your uestion. Unless I miss my guess, the whole reason for incorporating waterboarding in SERE was to give the serviceman a taste of the torture he might encounter if captured by one of our more barbaric enemies. So, yes, it still would have been torture.

    Now answer mine you state that waterboarding was necessary, relative harmless, and successful. What is insulting about asking why it isn’t used in the first instance?

    And, by the way, me asking you to document your statements is not doing my homework for you. Try turning in a history paper without citations and see what kind of grade you get.

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  85. Deb, torture in a controlled environment probably isn’t. The reason I quoted the CIA IG report above was specifically to debunk this line of reasoning. It is often pointed out by the advocates of waterboarding that it can’t be torture if we do it to our own men. Yet, the CIA’s own report found the two scenarios quite different.

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  86. Unless I miss my guess, the whole reason for incorporating waterboarding in SERE was to give the serviceman a taste of the torture he might encounter if captured by one of our more barbaric enemies.

    You missed your guess. We would never use torture to train our servicemen – especially when they’re no longer required to withstand it.

    And, by the way, me asking you to document your statements is not doing my homework for you.

    It is when the information is mundane and readily available.

    Deb, torture in a controlled environment probably isn’t.

    Torture isn’t torture? You are even more facile with your definitions than I thought you were.

    Yet, the CIA’s own report found the two scenarios quite different.

    So you’re saying that it’s possible that individuals within the CIA went beyond their authorized bounds in interrogating prisoners using the waterboard technique. I agree – that’s entirely possible. That would be a crime and should have been prosecuted, if true. I suspect, based on statements of CIA personnel, that it’s exaggerated.

    It’s also not clear, without quantification, how serious the differences are. For example, does application of more water necessarily result in a substantially different experience? SERE training applies 1 cup of water 15 times in a single session: how much more water was applied in the case of the interrogations?

    Now answer mine you state that waterboarding was necessary, relative harmless, and successful. What is insulting about asking why it isn’t used in the first instance?

    That’s only a half-step away from “If you like it so much, why don’t you marry it?” It’s an idiotic question – let me make that so clear that even you can follow it.

    We have consistently stated that waterboarding is undesirable, as it lies at the very upper end of enhanced interrogation techniques. We have consistently supported the notion that waterboarding should only be used when the professionals performing interrogations feel that it is warranted by circumstances, and when other means have failed. We have consistently expressed our relief that it only had to be used on 3 individuals some 7 years ago.

    Where in there do you find room for advocacy of its wholesale use? Or against “suspected terrorists?”

    But that only underscores the ignorant aspect of your question – I haven’t quite arrived at the idiocy you present:

    Your question assumes that just because something is acceptable, it is as desirable as anything else that is acceptable. This is obviously not the case: we would all have preferred it had KSM spilled his guts over a cup of tea before waterboarding. Yes, eliciting information with no coercion or effort or ugliness would always be preferable, but that doesn’t always work.

    Equating drinking tea to waterboarding by claiming that they belong to the same set of acceptable interrogation techniques is idiotic. Trying to expand our approval of waterboarding in limited circumstances to all circumstances is idiotic. It’s too stupid to qualify as a logical fallacy.

    As to the insulting part: implying that we are fans of waterboarding is insulting. Of course we aren’t. We are fans of the gentlemen who tried to do their jobs to protect the citizens of this country. It is our faith in those gentlemen that causes us to defend their decisions and actions.

    And with that, I’m done with you. Enjoy the life that the CIA interrogators protected.

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  87. I would just add that yes, it is tragic that it was necessary to waterboard these three individuals. Nobody is comfortable with the fact that we used a technique that is borderline torture. But I’m thankful that they did because I know that lives were saved by the intelligence that was gained.

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  88. “Cops said Army Sgt. Joshua Tabor, 27, who served 15 months in Iraq, admitted to punishing his daughter by holding her down on the kitchen counter in suburban Washington State and repeatedly pushing her head backward into a full sink.

    “He explained she’s deathly afraid of water,” said Todd Stancil, police chief in Yelm, Wash.

    “He would lay her down on her back and push her head into the water right up to her eyeline. He was open about it. He did it all the time. To him, that was an acceptable form of punishment – because she wasn’t able to say the alphabet.”

    Stancil said neighbors told cops that he also ran water over the flailing girl’s face, taking her to the edge of drowning, but Tabor denied that.

    “It was hot! The water was hot!” the girl said, according to the police report.

    Tabor, who was arrested Jan. 31, will be arraigned Feb. 16.

    “We originally booked him on third-degree assault, but if he did put the water over her face, that would constitute a more tortuous type of crime,” Stancil said. “We are looking into those allegations.” ”

    Now, is this just “enhanced parenting”? I mean, all he did was make her uncomfortable for a little while, right? If it happens to a 4 year old it cannot possibly be torture, right?

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  89. To him, that was an acceptable form of punishment – because she wasn’t able to say the alphabet.”

    But did it work, Adolfo? Because if it did, that would make it OK, you know.

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  90. Geoff, wonderful “arguing” with you. Just so I have it right next time let me see if I have it right. First, I must accept your premise, then I must realize I am wrong. Attempts to present counterarguments get to be dismissed as irrelevant. Come on man, try to put at least a little bit of effort into it.

    Hayden said most of the information was reliable and helped lead to other al Qaeda suspects.

    As for me, I prefer to take with a gigantic grain of salt whatever the same government who brought us United States v. Reynolds.

    I will be back here when, God forbid (truly), the news that one of our servicemen has been captured by these knuckleheads and waterboarded to elicit information. I hope your position remains consistent.

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  91. Now, is this just “enhanced parenting”? I mean, all he did was make her uncomfortable for a little while, right? If it happens to a 4 year old it cannot possibly be torture, right?

    Strawman which has already been addressed.

    But did it work, Adolfo? Because if it did, that would make it OK, you know.

    Strawman. And you are a liberal – a conservative would never try to score a point with a statement like that.

    Bill Sherlock Says:

    Nothing. Though he whines quite prettily.

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  92. You are a moral consequentialist, geoff. Something far worse than a dreaded liberal. See, a political liberal can still enter heaven. So can a political conservative. Moral consequentialists, however, hold positions and say things that threaten to damn their souls.

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  93. Something far worse than a dreaded liberal.

    We don’t dread them – we just don’t like stepping on them and getting the goo all over our feet.

    See, a political liberal can still enter heaven.

    Now I know you’re making things up.

    So can a political conservative. Moral consequentialists, however, hold positions and say things that threaten to damn their souls.

    As I’m an atheist, I can’t really say that that’s a very impressive statement. Even if it were true.

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  94. Strawman.

    Now, Geoff, admit it — You don’t know what a staw man is, do you? Nicedeb and you have repeatedly appealed to the supposed effectiveness of waterboarding. Christians, qua Christians, are not interested in effectiveness. What they’re interested in is the moral quality of acts. This in turn depends upon the object, the intention and the circumstances, in that order, noting however, that “Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.” (CCC 1754)

    And you are a liberal

    Oh, please. I am probably the first genuine conservative you have ever met. I understand what a disagreeable shock this must be. But still you mustn’t sling labels indiscriminately. People might get the idea you’re shallow, silly, ignorant, and unserious. Words DO mean things, you know.

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  95. What they’re interested in is the moral quality of acts.

    I don’t think it’s immoral to waterboard our own soldiers, and I don’t think it was immoral to waterboard those three high value terrorists who gave us information as a result that saved lives.

    I’m interested in both effectiveness and the morality because both are relevant. I find your position to be immoral because of your lack of concern for the human lives saved as a result. Your refusal to accept the evidence shows a stubbornness and implacability that is a very unfortunate thing to see in a Christian.

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  96. And Romulus, both you and Adolfo have the comment/debate styles of “concern trolls” a type of dishonest astroturfer we’ve become accustomed to, (and pretty good at spotting), in the right wing blogosphere.

    In case you’re wondering why we might have doubted your Christian/conservative creds.

    I strongly suspect both of you Reaganite conservative Christians voted for Obama.

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  97. Nicedeb and you have repeatedly appealed to the supposed effectiveness of waterboarding.

    No, Joda first attacked the effectiveness of waterboarding, so we pointed out her errors. Then Bill attacked it, so we pointed out his. Obviously, however, if they were correct and that fact was known to the interrogators at the time, then there would have been justification for using waterboarding. That would have been evil.

    I think CCC1754 isn’t as relevant as CCC2297:

    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.

    Note that saving lives is not included in the prohibition. The “Legitimate Defense” guidelines might also apply.

    As to your lack of comprehension regarding strawman arguments, I can certainly help you out. Here’s a working definition:

    The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.

    When you claim that our position is that the ends always justify the means, you are guilty of a strawman argument.

    Oh, please. I am probably the first genuine conservative you have ever met.

    Nope. It permeates every comment you and your cronies (sockpuppets?) make. Even your defense of your conservatism is off. You faux conservatives are all too easy to identify, and the fact that you lie about it tells us all we need to know about your morals.

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  98. I strongly suspect both of you Reaganite conservative Christians voted for Obama.

    I’d put money on them voting the Democratic ticket since at least 1992.

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  99. Your thinking is not what determines morality. Sentimentalism is a great source of moral confusion thse days, as Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy have both pointed out.

    The fact that terrorists are “high value” is — again — an appeal to consequentialism. As is your mention of lifes saved “as a result”. You still do not get (or accept) that a Christian must exclude that from his moral calculus. Read Romans 3:8.

    Again — waterboarding our own soldiers is training, not torture. As when a drill instructor yells at a recruit, it’s motivational, not threatening. The soldier in training knows all of this is for his good and that no harm will come to him. Everyone understands this except those who don’t want to.

    Yuo are very much mistaken to suppose I have no concern for human life. It’s precisely that concern that moves me to exclude torture as a possibiltiy.

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  100. I strongly suspect both of you…

    You need to re-calibrate, dear. I have never voted a D for president, and I’ve been voting since Reagan ran. You’re not as good at spotting trolls as you think you are. I am the real deal.

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  101. As when a drill instructor yells at a recruit, it’s motivational, not threatening. The soldier in training knows all of this is for his good and that no harm will come to him.

    You didn’t read the link of the fellow who went through SERE training, did you. SERE training makes every effort to be threatening, to simulate a hostile environment using people who are unknown to the trainee. And it’s very, very convincing.

    This is not a case of “today’s class is waterboarding.”

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  102. Note that saving lives is not included in the prohibition.

    Know why, geoff? Because unlike the examples in CCC 2297, saving lives is a consequentialist rationale. See also 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.'”

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  103. You faux conservatives…

    That’s neither true (of me, anyway), nor relevant. This is a moral argument we’re having, not a political one. But for the record, I’m not sure you can offer a coherent definition of conservatism. Hint: it isn’t “voting for the R.”

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  104. waterboarding our own soldiers is training, not torture

    Thank you for admitting that there are forms of waterboarding so mild, that it does not cross the line into torture.

    Now, the experts in Bush’s Justice Dept took very seriously this very issue, and took care that the waterboarding that we did to these 3 high value terrorists did not cross the line into torture, either.

    That is what you are not willing to accept.

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  105. Because unlike the examples in CCC 2297, saving lives is a consequentialist rationale

    Riiight. Totally different than the benefit of a confession or “he deserved it.” The priest’s analysis that I linked above completely disagrees with you.

    Let’s agree on what we’re talking about:

    “1751: The object chosen is a good toward which the will deliberately directs itself.”

    The object is the inducement of brief panic in prisoners via waterboarding. You say it’s intrinsically evil; we say it’s not.

    “1752: The intention is a movement of the will toward the end: it is concerned with the goal of the activity.”

    Intention: To prevent terrorist acts and save lives.

    Circumstances: Just magnify or reduce the goodness or evil.

    You keep saying that we’re claiming that “the ends justify the means.” In a sense, of course we are – ends are commonly justified by means. It is the exception when ends are not justified by means.

    But that’s obfuscation – the real questions all along have been related to object and intention. Is it torture? (No) Were our intentions properly motivated? (Yes)

    So stop yammering about ends and means and get to the meat of the argument.

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  106. the waterboarding that we did to these 3 high value terrorists did not cross the line into torture, either.

    Just training them, I guess. You crack me up.

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  107. Intentionalism is not a moral category.

    That’s because I made the word up as a parallel to “consequentialism.” Yeesh, follow along. You were the one who noted that Catholic morality consists of object, intention, and circumstance. I’m obviously talking about intention.

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  108. But for the record, I’m not sure you can offer a coherent definition of conservatism.

    You are the last person who should be talking about coherent definitions. After the butchery you made of “torture,” I can’t believe you can say that with a straight face.

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  109. Just training them, I guess. You crack me up.

    Why do you continue with your ignorance on SERE training? Yeah, the terrorist interrogation and SERE training environments may have differed, but it’s a tossup as to which was worse.

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  110. Geoff, consequentialism is a recognised term in moral theology. “Intentionalism” is a real word, but pertains more to epistemology. I understand now that you were just being silly. My mistake; I won’t overlook it again.

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  111. Just training them, I guess. You crack me up.

    Huh? You’re not even a serious person. You have no proof that CIA interrogators crossed the line into torture, any more than the SERE trainers did. Yet you’ll keep smearing these men who used techniques that saved lives. And you’ll do it on supposedly moral grounds.

    And you’ll accuse those of us who coolly look at the facts as being in the throes of “sentimentality”.

    It’s those of you who can’t see the difference between the torture of the Spanish inquisition and what we did, who are in the throes of something phantasmal.

    It’s disgusting.

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  112. Nicedeb: it’s “throes” dear. “Throws of something phantasmal” are something you catch from a Mardi Gras float.

    Glad I could help.

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  113. Yes, dear, I know. I corrected that 2 seconds after I hit the send button. But you knew that because I spelled it correctly in the other paragraph I used it.

    So all you do is reinforce my suspicions about what you really are with your nonsense.

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  114. Geoff:
    Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor 80-83 discusses human dignity, including torture in some detail. (Psst…he’s against it.)

    The Catholic case for prohibition of waterboarding and other tortures goes like this:

    Man has a unique and inherent dignity that commands respect because it refers to the dignity of God (CCC 1700).

    Man is created and intended for God. God is his purpose. (CCC 1878)

    In this, man is unique. Because of this, man is willed by God for his own sake, not as a means to something else (CCC 1703).

    This universal call to holiness is the controlling principle for men’s dealings among themselves. (CCC 1881)

    Holiness involves avoiding both the cowardice to confront evil and the violence that worsens it. Holiness is approached through the virtue of charity, which teaches us to respect the rights of others. (CCC 1889)

    Secular authorities have no right to violate natural law or the fundamental rights of persons (CCC 1901). They are not self-authenticating (CCC 1903).

    The human person is the end of all social acts, which are ordered to his dignity (CCC 1929).

    Societies that violate human dignity are illegitimate (CCC 1930).

    No society may lawfully command what is contrary to human dignity (CCC 2235).

    Political authorities have a special obligation to respect human dignity (CCC2237).

    The standard of charity man is to have for his neighbor is beyond that of legislatures (CCC 1931).

    Man cannot achieve eternal life unless he loves his neighbor as himself (CCC 2052).

    Men have a positive duty to disobey directives contrary to natural law or human dignity (CCC 2242).

    Torture is evil because it violates human dignity. Acts of torture may be physical or not. Its essence lies in compulsion of will or conscience. Its sinfulness lies in torture’s reduction of the human person from a moral end, to a means (of obtaining information, a confession, etc.). (CCC 2297) Other ways in which human dignity is violated because persons have been reduced from ends to means include: embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, pornography (or trafficking in other addictive substances), prostitution, contraception, fornication, slavery and human trafficking, and exploitation of laborers or of the poor.

    Hope this helps. God bless.

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  115. those of us who coolly look at the facts as being in the throes of “sentimentality”.

    You don’t understand what sentimentality is. Flannery O’Connor gave a handy definition as “tenderness separated from the source of tenderness”.

    You may scoff at this. All I can say is that the demonic intellect is more subtle and treacherous than you have guessed. One of the Enemy’s favorite tricks is to use our virtues to deceive us into damnation. Happens all the time.

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  116. Oh a little more amusement value.

    First Romulus says this: <Torture is not so hard to define. It occurs whenever the human person is degraded from an end to a means.

    Which is nonsense. Then he tells us the truth: the Catholic Church defines torture as evil because human dignity is violated. Completely different, and completely useless. We wanted a definition of torture, not an explanation of why it is bad.

    Hope this helps. God bless.

    Unfortunately, no. You lost me at “torture.” We’re talking about enhanced interrogation, not torture. None of your comment applies.

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  117. I provided the definition; you just don’t like the message.

    Look; I get it. This blog is not about Catholic faith or anything that pertains to it. It’s about being a booster for GOP politics and burnishing its image. I am wasting my time proposing moral arguments to an amoral audience.

    You may return to your regularly scheduled program of hard-breathing indignation. It won’t help you any.

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  118. Flannery O’Connor gave a handy definition as “tenderness separated from the source of tenderness”.

    I have no idea how that applies here.

    Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor 80-83 discusses human dignity, including torture in some detail. (Psst…he’s against it.)

    (pssst…so are we)

    You’re right, this is a secular blog for the most part. But I am Catholic so I am conservative.

    If you were truly interested in demonology, you would look into what inspires people to fly planes into buildings, instead of demonizing the people who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe from such.

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  119. I provided the definition; you just don’t like the message.

    Nope. That is absolutely untrue. You provided a rationale for why torture is immoral. You said nothing about what torture is. We have stated all along that we believe that the choices made by the interrogators did not constitute torture.

    I am wasting my time proposing moral arguments to an amoral audience.

    Nice sin of pride. Your slanted version of morality constitutes an absolute objective standard? Hardly. As pointed out before, even priests within the Catholic Church don’t agree with your morality.

    You’ve told us that you believe that that torture is immoral because it violates human dignity. You didn’t need to make that point – I believe that torture is immoral because its awful. But you have no argument if you can’t bridge the gap between waterboarding and torture. And there you’ve failed.

    Your whole argument is moot. SERE training is obviously not torture. So what exactly are the substantive differences between the SERE environment and the actual interrogation environment? Since you haven’t bothered to read anything about SERE training, all of your responses to that point have been irrelevant.

    Cling to your ignorance if you find it comforting. But do try to understand the difference between rhetoric and logic, and between a definition and a rationale.

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  120. I believe that torture is immoral because its awful.

    That would be a textbook example of the sentimentality O’Connor finds so destructive.

    Some people think WMDs are awful. Some people think South Park is awful. Some people think anchovy pizzas are awful. It’s no way to approach moral questions, which deal in objective realities.

    You said nothing about what torture is… So what exactly are the substantive differences between the SERE environment and the actual interrogation environment?

    See above: “Acts of torture may be physical or not. Its essence lies in compulsion of will or conscience.” SERE training is not about compulsion of will or conscience. It’s about acclimatzation.

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  121. No doubt Flannery would be impressed by your pedantry.

    “Nyah nyah” isn’t much of an answer.

    Actually, it was, but you’re too full of yourself to get it.

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  122. That would be a textbook example of the sentimentality O’Connor finds so destructive.

    You’re right – I was using a shorthand when I had promised that I wouldn’t mess around again. So sorry, but it’s amusing that even when I agree with you, you disagree. Take awful = “obviously contrary to secular standards of human decency.” Or take it as sloppy sentimentalism. Or take it that I completely disagree with you after all – it doesn’t really matter. And now that you’ve wasted time worrying about why I don’t approve of torture, you’ve simply added to the time you wasted telling us why torture is bad.

    Its essence lies in compulsion of will or conscience

    So does a homily’s. So does bribery’s. So does blackmail’s. So does any interrogation. You’ve told us what you think torture is like, but not what it is.

    The Vatican II phrase, BTW, was “coerce the spirit,” which has a much different meaning than “compel the will.” Did the CIA “coerce KSM’s spirit?” Not at all, as anyone who’s heard his subsequent statements can attest.

    And I see you’ve misquoted CCC 2297 to point of distorting its intent and scope. Here’s the real one:

    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.

    No “obtain information” in there anywhere. Why lie?

    SERE training is not about compulsion of will or conscience. It’s about acclimatzation.

    Wrong again, or at least wrong in essence. Why don’t you try learning about SERE training instead of imagining it? SERE training is designed to break the trainee, to show them both what the experience is like, and how to recover after being broken. That’s a sort of acclimatization, but it occurs after the “compulsion of will or conscience.”

    I was curious about one point, though – let’s accept for a moment that waterboarding is evil and a sin. Let’s take turning a blind eye to the prospect of 1000’s of deaths as evil and a sin. Which do you morally choose?

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  123. What, BTW, was the Pope’s position on waterboarding in particular? Surely if it was that egregious and that obvious a violation of the Catechism, he would have made a statement?

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  124. Pingback: My email to Raymond Arroyo (EWTN) on Mark Thiessen « Cheap Green Bastard

  125. Pingback: A Friendly Letter, The Blog. » Blog Archive » American War Christianity & Quaker Ecumenism

  126. ISIAIh 41 BRING forth your IDOLS did they PREACH to you see they can’t speak they can’t DO ANYTHING all they do is cause confusion. spalms 115 and spalms 135 thier IDOLS are FALSE cant speak can’t hear cant smell and those that make them shall become like them. Jeremiah 10 they nail their IDOL down like a scarecrow it can’t move can’…t speak can’t move must be carried these are nothing but the WORK of CON men.john 10 jesus christ sais his sheep hear his voice and another voice thy will not follow and if another person tries to preach to them they WILL FLEE from him. jeremiah 5 the priests bear rule on their own authority what will you do when your judged my word is not inside them. Now here is the kicker john 5 son of man voice goes back in time mathew 16 jesus christ claims to be the son of man.‎1 cor2 mind of CHRIST preached internally and john 16 sais the spirit of truth comes in the future. Ezekiel 13 lying prophets of ISRAEL my word is not inside them saying god sais god sais god sais wrote hoping mankind would CONFIRM their WORDS. all of this is EASILY verifiable.

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