Torture


#1

From a Christian perspective is torture of prisoners ever justified?

What constitues torture? If our government considers the Geneva Conventions quaint and obsolete, how should we respond as Christians?

I’m asking because one of the apologists for our government’s policy on this matter is now nominated for Attorney General.


#2

I think it would be hard to find a case where torture is justified. Admittedly, it’s hard to come up with a precise definition of torture.

Besides, as the Army’s Field Manual says, information extracted by torture is horribly unreliable. The prisoner will often say whatever he thinks the torturer wants to hear.


#3

No torture is never justified. What does it accomplish?God Bless


#4

No, torture is not justified. And apparently we have a huge problem with the Abu Graib prisoners and many others. Our only shred of an excuse we have is that right after 9/11 people were so freaked that talk was going around that torture may be necessary to break up these terrorist cells. Even Slate magazine had a rather cavalier article about whether we should include torture in our arsenal. I think it all began there, meaning with the post-9/11 anxiety.


#5

The problem is that what are considered to be normal methods of interrogation are being labeled torture, due to an unwillingness by the media to learn more about modern methods of interrogation.
Benedictus is absolutely right, torture accomplishes nothing more than ending up with someone who will tell you whatever you want to hear just so you’ll stop. Our methods of interrogation and intelligence gathering are far more sophisticated and reliable. And before someone starts yelling “Abu Ghraib! Abu Ghraib!” Realize that those people weren’t MI types and nor were they even trained for the job they had been assigned there was a complete and total failure of leadership from the top down. Contrary to their defense counsel’s bleating, there was no one in the shadows whispering that they had to be softened up. Also, before someone starts citing the latest talking head’s report about Guantanamo Bay, I can assure you that the only people down there who have suffered abuse have been the soldiers down there guarding the prisoners who go out of their way to throw every body fluid imaginable at the guards and to even use food as an improvised weapon.

No torture is never justified. What does it accomplish?God Bless

If by torture you also mean interrogation, then if it means that I can possibly save the lives of my soldiers or those around me through interrogation of a prisoner (within the parameters set by MI and using approved methods only) then I would use all legitimate means at my disposal to do so.

Walter you talked about the Geneva Conventions being labeled as “quaint and obsolete” by our government. My question is, when was the last time we faced an enemy who also adhered to the Geneva Convention? Iraq may have been a signatory but, in the Gulf War, female POWs were raped, and others were subjected to brutality that is unimaginable. Our present foes are insurgents, they are not the uniformed, indentifiable, forces of a hostile nation state. These are important distinctions. The means of indentification is key as without a uniform or wearing the uniform of the other side (as some insurgents have done) you are considered a spy and can be executed under the Geneva Conventions. The insurgents represent no government. De Facto and de Jour, they have no legal right to Geneva protections save for the activist idiots in black robes who seem to think that if we treat them nicely, they’ll treat us nicely. the insurgents and terrorists we face believe in one set of laws they are called Shari’a and there is no chapter on POWs. We are all infidels and therefore should be destroyed.
I’ll worry about the Geneva codes when I fight the Swiss as they seem to be the only other nation abiding by them.


#6

Torture is only permissible if it is consentual.


#7

Torture is only permissible if it is consentual

Kind of like the masochist said “Beat me! Beat me!” and the sadist said, “No.”


#8

[quote=Nichevo]Kind of like the masochist said “Beat me! Beat me!” and the sadist said, “No.”
[/quote]

Exactly.


#9

As catholics subject to abusive media slant, I think we should be better than to jump to conclusions based on headlines.

Has anyone here heard precisely which articles were referred to as quaint? For all I’ve heard from this lazy and lax media he might have been referring to clauses about treatment of cavalry officers versus foot soldiers. Come on bloggers, tell us what he REALLY said.

Does anybody here realize that the Geneva Convention applies specifically to clearly uniformed soldiers under the command of a sovereign nation which has properly declared war upon another? It SPECIFICALLY excludes spies and those who seek to disguise themselves as civilians with the intent to use such stealth to cause additional harm to their enemy. Sounds to me like much of the terrorists operating in Iraq are NOT addressed in the convention.

The fact is that the Geneva Convention IS horribly out of date and badly needs updating. Sadly, diplomacy today is in such a sorry state that I don’t expect an agreement any time soon.

Should our nation use torture? No. Does ALL of what has been termed ‘torture’ in recent months deserve the term? No.
If there is a reasonable suspiscion a prisoner has information that could save lives I believe it is justified to make his life somewhate miserable. Make him eat veggie-loaf. Make him sleep on the hard floor. Wake him up and interrogate him often. Make it clear that if he doesn’t cooperate, life will not be fun. I’m not quite sure what good making a prisoner lie naked on the floor
with underwear on his head does. But I really wouldn’t call it torture either.


#10

The whole situation is getting blown out of place by the usual suspects, the NYT, ACLU etc. If “torture” means intensive interrogation, sleep deprivation, or loud music, that is not torture. Pulling out fingernails, beatings, and such tactics used by the Vietcong against our soldiers are/were torture and should not be accepted by a civilised society.

Lisa N


#11

[quote=Lisa N]The whole situation is getting blown out of place by the usual suspects, the NYT, ACLU etc. If “torture” means intensive interrogation, sleep deprivation, or loud music, that is not torture. Pulling out fingernails, beatings, and such tactics used by the Vietcong against our soldiers are/were torture and should not be accepted by a civilised society.

Lisa N
[/quote]

Thats what I am talking about:thumbsup: Fingernails:eek: OUCH!God Bless


#12

A key provision of the Geneva Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture.”


#13

[font=Arial]A key provision of the Geneva Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture.” [/font]

[font=Arial]I didn’t decide that torture occured at Gitmo, Afghanistan, Iraq. FBI agents did. I don’t accept the spin that “modern interrogation methods” don’t constitute torture. Those techniques have been withdrawn now by our government after the secret got out. Is water boarding not torture?[/font]
[font=Arial][/font]
[font=Arial][/font]


#14

[quote=walter.gonzalez][font=Arial]A key provision of the Geneva Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture.” [/font]

[font=Arial]I didn’t decide that torture occured at Gitmo, Afghanistan, Iraq. FBI agents did. I don’t accept the spin that “modern interrogation methods” don’t constitute torture. Those techniques have been withdrawn now by our government after the secret got out. Is water boarding not torture?[/font]
[font=Arial][/font]
[font=Arial][/font]

[/quote]

Well I think the spin that modern interrogation techniques (sleep deprivation, lengthy interrogations, loud music) are torture is just that, spin. Some of the Abu Ghraib techniques were indeed torture and the guily parties are paying for their crimes. No one is condoning those ‘over the top’ actions because of war.

What do you think constitutes torture? What is ‘water boarding’ It sounds like a form of surfing to me

Lisa N


#15

Forced sleep deprivation (in order to make someone say something), even if one doesn’t want to call it torture, nevertheless hardly seems right.

Think about the law of how the ends don’t justify the means. The purpose of the sleep deprivation is to remove integrity and stability and health from the person (in order to achieve information). It seems like an ends/means issue.


#16

Is a purple nurple against the Geneva Convention?


#17

[quote=Pug]Forced sleep deprivation (in order to make someone say something), even if one doesn’t want to call it torture, nevertheless hardly seems right.

Think about the law of how the ends don’t justify the means. The purpose of the sleep deprivation is to remove integrity and stability and health from the person (in order to achieve information). It seems like an ends/means issue.
[/quote]

You cannot say that there are NO ends that aren’t justified by certain means. IOW sometimes the means justifies the end. It is where that line is drawn that is the issue.

So for example, if locking up a killer, depriving him of freedom, prevents him from killing again, does this very critical “end” (public safety) justify the means (incarceration)? I think so. Does pulling out fingernails, cutting off toes, putting a person into a tiny space (remember our POWs from Vietnam?) without ability to move justify getting someone to talk? No. Again, some ends justify some means, and others do not.

I just don’t think sleep deprivation is that big of a deal. It does not leave permanent mental or physical scars. It is relatively non-intrusive and apparently effective. I think it’s just fine for a violent and dangerous prisoner although not appropriate for a traffic ticket.

Lisa N


#18

[quote=Lisa N]You cannot say that there are NO ends that aren’t justified by certain means.
[/quote]

-3 points for using a triple negative. :smiley:


#19

Lisa,

From my perspective, there are a lot of points in your post!

First, in my understanding, you are a different type of moral thinker than myself. Perhaps you follow proportionalism? A method of weighing the various goods in a situation? If so, we follow different systems.

Second, you propose that the prison system violates the ends/means law. I’ve got to think about that, never having really thought about it.

Third, you propose a situation in which torture is not justified for the particular goals to be achieved. Would you accept torture of a person who could singlehandedly save the lives of 100 people by telling you where a poison antidote is?

Fourth, I agree, so far as I know, a person can recover from a period of sleep deprivation. The long term damage is less than with other methods. I still see it as harming a person in the short term. Making it so a person can’t think straight is not good for the person. However, I can’t tell if you are saying that you can hurt the person this small amount if they are a *bad *enough person or if they are *dangerous *enough. (violent guy v. traffic violator).

I do see long term damage in making a person say something that they would never have said unless you forced them. I think the experience could linger with someone forever. I also think the indignity of the experience could linger. But this could be said of pulling nails as well.


#20

I think the point regarding ends and means is that it is not morally licit to deliberately do evil such that good may result, even for the gravest reasons.

Paul VI: "Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good," *** it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (See Rom 3. 8*)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general." (Humanae Vitae, 14, emphasis added)


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