Friday, April 6, 2007


I had a very long and interesting conversation about torture, the death penalty, and radical Islamic terrorists the other night...I'm finally getting around the post about it; thank goodness for Easter Break.

I have a close friend with whom I argue for the sake of arguing on what amounts to a daily basis. On this particular occasion, one of my house mates and I were discussing the legitimacy of US "torture" on the terrorists they had captured when my friend chimed in and vehemently condemned any torture of any kind. He argued that as human beings, even the terrorists had inalienable rights (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? heh) that we have no right to take away from them. I did (and will continue to) put forth this argument: When men or women act inhumanely and without responsibility towards the rights of others, they give up their own rights as human beings.

No one will ever be able to convince me under any circumstances that Timothy McVeigh, Saddamn Hussein, or Osama bin-Laden had (or have?) a right to live. These men acted with the sole purpose of killing hundreds to thousands of innocent men, women, and children. They have forfeited their rights as human beings.

The torture we use to obtain information from terrorist detainees will not kill them. We do not shove bamboo into their finger nails. Waterboarding (which I do believe happens at Gitmo, despite what our fearless leaders say) can cause death, but hasn't resulted in any that we've heard of...and yes, I do think we'd hear about it eventually.

Many people, including my friend, say torture doesn't work because you can't rely on the information that comes from it...but I disagree...Don't you think that eventually if we got bad information again and again they would stop using torture as a means to obtain intelligence? The reason "torture" is used is because it does work.

And, just so that no legitimate comparisons can be drawn between US torture and the beheadings, etc. of the US and Allied Forces by the Islamic terrorists: There is a difference between us and them, and there's no denying it. We fight to make peace and prevent mass murder. They fight to kill us...all of us. When we harm or coerce others for information, we're doing it to save others. The terrorists capture civilians and gruesomely kill them in cold blood to maximize the body count in order to get civilians back on US soil riled up enough to fight against the war at home.

There has got to be some objectivity. You cannot just say, "We fight for freedom, and that's how they feel too, so everyone's right (...or no one is)." For better or worse, there are evil men and women on this planet who have to be kept in check or killed by any means necessary. And as long as we're not intentionally blowing up hospitals , Universities , and neighborhoods , I'm behind our government one hundred percent.


Travis said...

You completely missed the very fabric of my argument.

First of all, the fact that water boarding does not kill a person is part of the reason why it is so heinous. Come to think of it...THAT'S WHAT TORTURE IS!

Now the problem with your argument is that you are in effect, using your own moral code to prove the validity of your own moral code. This is a problem. Not only is it a tautology, but this is precisely how the terrorists behave. Their morals tell them to do this. You cannot just say they are wrong using your moral code. If you cannot see how that is a logical fallacy, then debating is all but pointless. You are not allowing for the fact that you cannot prove your moral code to be ultimately correct.

Furthermore, if you're going to make the supposition that these people renounce their humanity, you're going to have to do some leg work and site some philosophical and religious sources. This argument is SO HUGE that you have to actually make the case for it. Saying it is so just isn't going to cut the mustard. That argument must be made IN FULL.

Also, lumping Saddam Hussein together with the terrorists is another logical fallacy. They are not at all alike. Terrorists are fundamentalists while Hussein was a secular dictator acting with very different motivations. Further note that Hussein was not tortured. He was given a FAIR TRIAL before being hanged. I'll further point at that this trial was done by those who endured his tyrannical regime. (Note, this is a debate about torture, not the death penalty. The scope of this debate is limited to that subject and that subject alone.)

What's more, there are documented cases of innocent people being jailed in Gitmo, and being interrogated. Torturing them is clearly wrong as by even your own standards, they are still human. This definitely punches a hole in the argument that torture is an effective means of obtaining information. An innocent person being interrogated will in fact lead them to say anything. What's more, you have no information on how accurate the information coming out of those interrogations actually is. The administration is telling you that it is helping, while not providing you with any evidence in support of such a statement. You are blindly taking the administration at its word while not at all listening to their detractors (including former members of the administration, current and former high ranking military officials, and current and former members of the intelligence community). Dismissing them as liberal isn't going to work.

For the sake of argument, lets says someone being interrogated is, in fact, a terrorist. You're trying to obtain information from them that they simply do not have and you won't accept no for an answer because after all, they are a terrorist and must be lying. You push them far enough, they'll tell you whatever you want to know despite the fact that they do not actually have the knowledge you seek. You need to read up on years of well documented psychological research which contradicts the unsubstantiated statement that torture is an effective means of extracting information. I'll start you on your search: Rethinking the Psychology of Torture. That is out of Georgetown University FYI and is just one scientific study. If you're going to refute many years of solid scientific work, you've got your work cut out for you.

Also consider the fact that the US can no longer prosecute many of the actual terrorists held at Gitmo due to the interrogation techniques used. As the information was taken in unlawful ways (US laws and international treaty), they cannot be prosecuted for their crimes (not even in military tribunals). No justice will be served. The current administration likes to play word games and call them enemy combatants. This is nothing more than semantics. They say we are fighting a war with these people (it is The War on Terror), yet refuse to call the captured people prisoners of war. It is either a war or it is not.

This is ultimately unacceptable and damages our credibility on the world stage. Even if your argument, that these people are no longer human, is true, the practice of torture is still barbaric and sub-human for those practicing it and benefiting from its use. We are destroying our own humanity in the process.

Spoticus said...

I disagree on all accounts.

Travis said...

You can't just disagree with makes you look...well, ignorant.

"Science, it works bitches!"