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The Gross National Debt

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

No really.  Molesting children, while abhorrent and generally frowned-upon is ok as long as the molestation:

Read on.

Yes, that was an attention-getting introduction to my diary.  But it occurred to me last night as I was watching all of the news coverage on the subject of "to torture or not to torture".  What caught my attention was this exchange between CNN's Tom Foreman and Retired US Army General James "Spider" Marks:

TOM FOREMAN (voice-over): If you could save the life of a soldier, rescue the hostage children; stop the next terrorist bomb by torturing a prisoner for information, would you do it?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, MAJOR GENERAL, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I'd stick a knife in somebody's thigh in a heartbeat.

FOREMAN (on camera): Retired General "Spider" Marks, a CNN consultant, worked for U.S. Army Intelligence, teaching interrogation

MARKS: The kinds of enemies we're fighting have no sense of right or wrong. They will go to any depths to achieve their ends.

FOREMAN: Do we have to go with them?

MARKS: We don't need to go with them. We need to preclude them from going there. And that might include some use of torture in order to prevent it.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Polls have shown that more than 60 percent of Americans think torture can sometimes be justified. But here is the catch. Experts, including General Marks, are convinced with the vast majority of prisoners, it just doesn't work.

MARK JACOBSEN, FORMER OFFICIAL, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: It does not give you credible, accurate, timely and actionable intelligence.

FOREMAN: Mark Jacobsen, a former Defense Department official, outlines the troubles. You need to know a prisoner has critical information. The prisoner must be susceptible to torture. And, oh by the way,

JACOBSEN: When people are tortured, when people endure physical pain, they're going to seek to stop that as quickly as possible.

(voice-over): If I torture you, you're going to tell me exactly what I expect to hear.

FOREMAN: The White House, under fire over reports of secret CIA prisons overseas, says torture is not allowed. But,


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: We are going to do what is necessary to protect the American people. We are also going to do so in a way that adheres to our laws and to our values. We have made that very clear.


FOREMAN: The definition of torture is: Infliction of severe physical as a means of punishment or coercion. Legal authorities around the world are arguing over what that means. Some insist the abuses at that Iraqi prison easily qualify, along with sleep deprivation, humiliation, extreme fear. Others say those things don't even come close.

The global jury is still out. And even experts are pondering a paradox.

(on camera): So in your experience and in your view, torture as a policy should be against the law?

MARKS: True.

FOREMAN: And yet, we might still have to use it.

MARKS: True.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And wondering which truth about torture will stand in a dangerous world. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


My emphasis added.

On the subject but off my main point, I find it infuriating that anyone, let alone a General in the US Army would dare impugn any other person's sense of right or wrong when they say in the same stretch of two minutes that it may be ok to torture another human being.  The irony of that is beyond description.  I was further floored with the figure that 60% of Americans think that, in some circumstances, torture may be justified.  Conceptually, that is as ludicrous as envisioning any circumstance where it's OK to molest a child.

Back to my rant - The tone of the "discussion" on torture is striking.  First, nowhere in that exchange do any of the commentators talk about the moral crime of condoning torture.  Rather, if you read what they're saying, they're discussing whether or not torture is effective.  By implication, if they could find proof that torture was effective in preventing terrorist attacks (or crime, or rape, or ____ [insert your bad thing here]), it would moot the moral question without a whiff of the stink of the equivocation that would occur.

No one thinks it's OK to molest children.  Ever.  It is the vilest and lowest of acts performed by some sub-human mutation masquerading as a man or woman.  Right?  But what if molesting children would prevent terrorist attacks (or crime, or rape, or ____ [insert your bad thing here])?  What if molesting the child of a detainee in front of him or her was an effective way to get credible information from that detainee that prevented terrorist attacks etc.?  Would it be ok then?

My point is obvious.  So obvious that I can't believe there isn't a moral component being openly discussed as the reason why it is abhorrent and why we, the United States, should state without equivocation that it is abhorrent and will not be tolerated.  The administration talks about what's legal but squirms around both the law and the language when dealing with something they also think may be effective.  Politicians who oppose torture are quoted in the MSM as citing reasons that torture isn't effective and that information gained from torturing is almost always unreliable.  Is that the reason not to torture someone?  Because we won't get anything from it??

Torture is wrong.  It's a moral affront and an abomination.  The country that will torture its enemies are only a whisper away from torturing their own citizens in the hallowed name of "safety".

I'm sick and tired of hearing the argument being made on the merit of whether or not it's effective.  How can our country even consider that torture is ok under any circumstances?  Taken from this perspective, my initial assertion that it's ok to molest children as long as you get something from it or may get something from it is, frighteningly, not that far-fetched.  Shame on the MSM for failing once again in their duty to report on the issue as opposed to reporting on the talking points.

NOTE: I am aware that some politicians and many human rights activists speak out against the moral outrage of torture.  My point in this diary is that the media is framing the discussion from the perspective of effectiveness, not morality.

posted by RenaRF at 7:41 AM 2 comments links to this post


Blogger Martian Anthropologist said...

Plus, it's lazy. People that torture are not experts on human behavior -- they can't be. I learned a long time ago that you can get anything you want from someone, if you show them something they can have that they value more.

The challenge for our "experts" is to actually BE experts.

And what happens when the "terrorist" stop looking like middle-east guys, and start looking like white blond guys? What happens when they look like US?

If they rape, cut off breasts and penises, is it then okay for us to do so, because we need to "play on their same level"?

No way.

9:40 AM  
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8:14 PM  

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