September 9, 2006

Torture, continued

Tony asked some very good questions on the previous post. I started writing my response in the comments and decided to make it a post. :)

People may not believe this, but I wanted to believe that Bush was competent and moral as President. I want to believe him even now when he tells me that the US doesn't torture. His signing statement following the torture ban make me doubt him. Or when his counsel (One Al Gonzales) redefines torture so that it only applies when the techniques cause "organ failure" or death. I am not sure how to believe him when he says we don't torture. To a certain degree, it seems like a sick parotting of the Clinton "meaning of is" joke, where people can be fake buried, waterboarded, or even denied medical care for open wounds, but as long as they don't die or have organ failure, it isn't "torture."

And for those who want to justify it in some ends justifying means way, there are problems even with that. And huge problems. This long piece from Newsweek (little old now) details some of them. One of the early high value targets from Afghanistan was tortured by Egypt (sometimes we outsource our torture to others--calling it "rendering") he told tales about Al Qaeda training in Iraq on the use of chemical and biological weapons. Except it turns out that was wrong.

I suggested to a Baptist friend of mine that if Christian values didn't oppose torture, then there are no Christian values.


Tony said...

There are a lot of things that go on behind governmental closed doors we don't know about, and I kind of like being ignorant.

But ignorance does not substitute for accountability. Terrorists need to be interrogated; threats to our national security discovered and appropriate actions taken; but redefining terms to suit one's own purpose is taking too many liberties.

I am not trying to be anti-America or even anti-Bush; just asking some questions that need answering. I agree with your statement, if Christian values didn't oppose torture, then there are no Christian values. Is faith suspended in the interrogation chamber?

My head is still spinning.

Streak said...

Yes, if pressed, I can completely understand that espionage (far from the romantic Bond films) is a dirty, dirty business where morally questionable peopel from all sides do unspeakable things to each other. This may be a necessary evil to stop even greater horrors, and we have ample evidence of that occurring during our last cold war.

I remember hearing a former member of Clinton's team asked about the famous "ticking bomb" scenario that my other sbc critic undoubtedly was recalling. This Clintonian said that if an agent or government person truly felt that they had to do something awful to stop a larger horror, then they would have to do the best they could with their conscience and moral voice. But at the end of the day, they would have to be responsible for their actions. If that meant going to jail, that would be the cost of breaking the law.

But this particular President and his Vice President seem to want to legitimize it. They not only want to do it, but they don't want any pesky legal challenges to their power or their right to inflict pain on other human beings. All the while invoking the nameless evil of our enemies.