Debate and Discussion

Torture
StaceyMontgomery at 12:02PM, July 2, 2007
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Ok, here's a pet peeve of mine. I live in the US, which has recently reversed about 200 years of precedent on the whole idea of the treatment of prisoners. We used to be famous for the way we treated and interrogated our prisoners. This started with commands from George Washington (our first president). This practice has served us well - the US has been famous for winning wars, for gathering good intelligence, and for gaining the respect of those we fought.

Nowadays, this idea is in disrepute. The recent findings of the US Intelligence Agencies Science Commission was that the US now uses torture all the time - using techniques copied from the nazis and the USSR (two groups famous for their viciousness - and also for losing).

Myself, I am against torture and mistreatment of prisoners - no matter who they are. Surely, the very definition of evil is to abuse a helpless prisoner in your custody. Even if you leave the morality issue out of it, it seems obvious that it's never been a winning strategy.

The argument seems to be that “torture works” - that is, you can get useful info by torturing people. But i have never seen any evidence of this. Torture has never been shown to produce reliable information - all it gives you is confessions, especially false confessions.

Of course, tyrants love false confessions. And Evil people always like to torture - thats why we call them “evil.”

And please, I'm sick of hearing “Oh, Its a bad thing but maybe sometimes it OK” because i have yet to hear of a specific instance where torture actually worked. I mean, we've been torturing each other for thousands of years - surely there'd be some good evidence in favor of it by now if it worked?

That's what I think. What about you?
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
Roguehill at 12:57PM, July 2, 2007
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Stacey,

I'm not sure about the reliability of that first statement: “We used to be famous for the way we treated and interrogated our prisoners.” I suspect as long as prisoners where “them” and not “us”, there was torture and mistreatment of prisoners. I sure know lots of it went on during the US Civil War…just look up articles on the conditions in which prisoners were housed.

The Laws of Conflict that are held by military armed forces to govern treatment of military and civilian prisoners were mainly established as a bargaining chip with an enemy country..“You treat my guys ok, and I'll treat yours ok.” Unfortunately, if you aren't dealing with a government, but are instead fighting independant terrorist cells, there's nothing to bargin with. One cell isn't going to care that you captured a fellow that failed to blow himself up, and as long as they can get film footage of the debasement or slaughter of “godless American” prisoners, they're happy.

So, let's say that you happened upon a terrorist who has been smuggling weapons-grade plutonium out of Russia. You know he has ties to several extremist groups who now may have the elements to destroy a large city. He considers himself to be a martyr and is ready to die for his cause.

What do you do? Threats don't seem to faze him and every day you lose, the trail to the plutonium gets colder.

I guess you could shrug your shoulders and put him away to rot in some prison cell, hoping that he didn't sell the radioactive material to the wrong people…

..or you squeeze him in any way you possibly could to get the information that could save hundreds of thousands.

That's not a pretty choice. Morally, I would say that our mistreatment of him debases us, but that's a hard thing to explain to a little girl who has just had both of her parents die of radiation poisoning while the news is screaming that we could have stopped it.

It really boils down to the question: “Do we hurt other people to protect ourselves?”

For me I guess, as long as there are people who want to hurt us, I'm for torture.

GHOST ZERO
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:09PM
Rori at 3:03PM, July 2, 2007
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Roguehill,

While I agree with you about our mediocre record on prisoner rights, I think you're confusing information gathering with retribution. Torture is notoriously unreliable for getting accurate information. Therefore, it really doesn't protect us from anything, and as you said, only debases us. (Not to mention how very bad faulty info can be.)
I suppose one could argue that the threat of torture is a deterrent, but if we're dealing with people willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause, it doesn't seem like it would deter much.
The idea of torture as punishment is equally disturbing, especially in light of the fact that these people haven't had fair and open trials. Not to say that I approve of cruelty after a conviction, I think it is a very, very bad thing to give any government that sort of power. But in using torture, that's really all it is “good” for: retribution.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:11PM
patrickdevine at 9:42PM, July 2, 2007
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One of the worst things about torture is that sometime people will admit to something they didn't do just to make the hurting stop. In my opinion it's cruel and not neccecarily reliable.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
ozoneocean at 9:43PM, July 2, 2007
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Rogue is right about the “you treat our boys right and we'll do the same for you” deal, (but that does go further), the hypothetical situation with terrorists smuggling plutonium however is comic book fantasy. I'm afraid all justifications for torture fall into that classification: fantasy. Great big invented moral dilemmas that are engineered to make it so that saying “no” to torture is the wrong decision. lol!
Like the one about the serial killer who's kidnapped a child and you know he's hiding her somewhere but he won't tell you and time's running out!! o_O

Actually, that one actually happened in Germany not that long ago. The police “threatened” to torture the man… But it turns out the girl had been killed ages ago anyway and the police were dealt with harshly for using the threat of torture. So no gains anyway, in fact they came off worse.

Anyway, as other's have said, it never really works anyway, all it does is hurt you: it reduces your humanity, turns you into the bad guy, and makes it much more likely your people will suffer the same or worse fates.

Besides, you don't actually torture people usually unless you're not sure what they've done or what info they have, so by that rationale many of the people you torture haven't done what you suspect they have or don't know what you suspect they do. SO in effect you will always be hurting people for no reason. And yes, the US does use torture now. I remember listening to a man who'd been investigating Camp X-ray (or whatever those morons have named it). There are children there as young as 15. There was footage of one boy who was screaming so hard that he looked like he was laughing… Torture that involves sleep deprivation, being forced to hold restrictive positions over long periods or being blasted with incredibly loud music constantly etc is exactly the same as torture involving eclectic shocks, cutting or other obvious physical damage; because the result is the same; breaking your victim. Personally I'd rather get the shocks or have fingers cut off than the tortures that those men currently suffer; torture that has been specifically devised to be as bad as it can get without looking bad and pretending to stay within the guidelines.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:27PM
DemonSaintDante at 5:32AM, July 3, 2007
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The first American prisons were so bad that people commonly went insane while in there. So Torture is not something that is new in America just something that is being broadcast more.

As for using it, even in interrogations people will admit to things they never did, its something that happens a lot in police matters. I cant really say if i would do it or not, i have never been thrown in that situation. But I think if the circumstances were bad enough i would resort to it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Roguehill at 6:23AM, July 3, 2007
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These are very interesting thoughts, and I certainly agree that torture is morally repellant and debasing. But, just as war is repellant and debasing, and has it's uses when applied in certain situations, so does the technique of torture.
Of course, let me state that the use of torture (and war) should only be used in situations where no other methods are likely to succeed…such as when time is critical or the threat is huge. Perhaps you think that the plutonium arguement is too “dramatic”, but isn't that just the kind of situation that we would reserve torture for? You would not, as a moral society, torture a fellow because you want his tax information, but only in the extent that you believe many lives are at stake.
You could also say that the use of torture doesn't provide reliable results, but if the threat were dire, wouldn't you be obligated to risk questionable results as opposed to no results at all?

I think it's appropriate at this point to define when torture is acceptable and when it isn't. For instance, using torture as a means to simply punish or intimidate is absolutely out of bounds and should never be sanctioned by a moral society. You're simply being cruel.

However, if torture was the only way to provide evidence that could let you know when a terrorist strike on American soil was planned, it is acceptable.
Do you see the difference?

I think that the main objection people have with torture is that is widely mis-used, typically against innocent civilains by dictators as a form of retribution or punishment.

However, just as a gun is a horrible thing with it's appropriate uses, so does torture provide a technique to aquire information in desperate circumstances.

There's an interesting debate about torture here:
http://www.colossusblog.com/mt/archives/2005/11/the_devils_advo.html


I think the larger arguement here is “is there a time when we should suspend moral laws to achieve a goal”?

GHOST ZERO
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:09PM
StaceyMontgomery at 7:36AM, July 3, 2007
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Roguehill: the question “is there a time when we should suspend moral laws to achieve a goal” is an interesting one, and of course it's all about what you think moral laws are - and what you think they are for. if moral laws are just thin veils of niceness to be used when convenient - well, I don't want to risk MY family's safety just because someone else has tender sensibilities. So if you put it that way, most people will do ANYthing to survive, right?

Well… anything that actually works. To my way of thinking, most moral laws are not just flimsy protection for delicate tastes - they are rock solid values that serve us and make us safer.

For instance - you're still operating under the assumption that torture is in some way effective or useful. I say that it isn't. Is there any reason to think you are right?

There are lots of written reports of torture. I've read accounts by US POWs who were tortured, and by Soviet dissidents. Their stories are horrific, but rather consistent. First you resist and say nothing, then you break and say whatever you are told to say. Real information is never forthcoming in a way that can be used.

Professional US torturers admitted recently in open hearing before congress that they just “made stuff up” and did stuff they thought the Soviets and Nazis had done.

If you research the way the US interrogated prisoners in WW2, you'll be amazed to discover the careful and professional techniques used to get information. They didn't use torture - they used brains and hard work. Hey, isn't that the war the US won? In fact - it's the war where the US had all the best intelligence.

But my challenge is open - just name 1 time in all of history that someone got real information by torture, information they were able to use to save lives or stop a crime or anything solid like that. I mean, even I assume it has happened at least once.

hasnt it?

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
ozoneocean at 8:20AM, July 3, 2007
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Heh, Well the USA didn't exactly “win” WW2… It was sort of a joint effort.
Something to remember there. ;)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:27PM
Phantom Penguin at 8:28AM, July 3, 2007
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It comes down to “treat us good and we will do the same” which i know has been said before.

And it seems no one is treating anyone with the respect they deserve anymore. I respected the people I was fighting, so I treated them with respect, I was one of the few who did.

The general belief is they are trying to get US soldiers so they can torture and kill them so US soldiers wonder why they have to treat them nice.

But I agree that torture gives false answers, its barbaric, and unneeded.
Not to mention a violation of the Geneva Conventions and The Hauge agreements, which the US both signed.

Its also came out that the CIA was running ‘black-ops’ prisons in which they used torture to get information.

I also think this ‘past without torture’ doesn't exist. I'm sure the Allies during ww2 tortured the living hell out of people and just didn't tell anyone. Besides the winners write history, so thats why things say torture was never used.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
ipokino at 9:10AM, July 3, 2007
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Just to set the record straight, the Americans invented the ‘concentration camp’ when they rounded up the families of Moro Philipines in an effort to force the Moro tribesmen to give up. Routinely these tribesmen were summarily executed by U.S. Forces after giving up. This was in 1900. The Brits then took the idea and ran with it, setting up ‘Concentration Camps’ to harshly imprison the families of the Africaaners (Boers) in the Boer War 1903. It worked. The Africaaners surrendered. We in the US are far from guiltless when it comes to War Crimes–its just, War Crimes as a concept didn't exist until after the Nazi's and Japanese took our own ideas and raised the stakes.
Torture is just plain evil (unless its consentual) and I felt horribly diminished by learning our troops had perpetrated acts of torture on Iraqi Prisoners. I understand how people can feel out of control and angry–but torture has no place in American Military Policy, nor should it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
Roguehill at 12:00PM, July 3, 2007
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StaceyMontgomery
But my challenge is open - just name 1 time in all of history that someone got real information by torture, information they were able to use to save lives or stop a crime or anything solid like that. I mean, even I assume it has happened at least once.

hasnt it?


The Bonjinka Plot - The Bojinka Plot was a planned large-scale terrorist attack on airliners in 1995. After “practicing” the use of explosive devices in aircraft, resulting in more than one death, Abdul Hakim Murad was captured and under torture confessed to his previous crimes as well as detailing a horrific plot to kill the Pope and crash an explosives-laden aircraft into the CIA headquarters. His confession also help implicate his associate Ramzi Yousef, who was also arrested and convicted before they could carry out the rest of their plan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Bojinka


In the 1984 case of Leon v. Wainwright, Jean Leon and an accomplice kidnapped a taxi cab driver and held him for ransom. Leon was arrested while trying collect the ransom but refused to disclose where he was holding the victim. When he refused to tell them the location, he was set upon by several of the officers . . . they threatened and physically abused him by twisting his arm and choking him until he revealed where was being held. Although the appellate court disclaimed any wish to sanction the use of force and coercion, by police officers the judges went out of their way to state that this was not the act of brutal law enforcement agents trying to obtain a confession. This was instead a group of concerned officers acting in a reasonable manner to obtain information they needed in order to protect another individual from bodily harm or death.

-Taken from the book “Tortured Reasoning” by Alan Dershowitz

So you see, if torture is used within proper guidelines, much as war itself, it's final outcome may be desirable. Ultimately, lives are saved.

If lives aren't on the line, then war is simply opression, and torture is just abuse.


GHOST ZERO
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:09PM
DemonSaintDante at 12:32PM, July 3, 2007
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Hey thats 2 … she only said 1 lol…

The question with torture is does the gain outweigh the risk… Interrogation i guess is the appropriate thing to call torture when used the right way lol.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
ozoneocean at 1:25PM, July 3, 2007
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Interesting stuff about the “The Bonjinka Plot”, but since the information was extracted under torture I'm inclined to dismiss it totally. Oh I'll grant the stuff that's supported by circumstantial evidence and the intent inferred by the planning but a confession under torture? Ha! What else did he tell them? That he'd try and crash the moon into the Whitehouse? lol!

Worthless.

Lives saved? As if. Just part of a rationale for retaining an outdated remnant of our barbaric past. May as well justify slavery while we're at it, and torture was used as part of that practise too if I remember rightly. But that's by the by.

The fact remains it's used on innocents as much as the guilty, which it must be if it's to be used at all (you don't know for sure the VICTIM has any information to confess until you've actually extracted it), the ultimate rationale is “the saving of lives”, but that's all it is: a rationale.

Stick to your principals. The state shouldn't treat people like that. What you seem to miss is that for every kidnapper the police get away with beating up to tell them something useful, they'll also get away with treating the same number of innocents and lessor offenders the same way. Once you sanction such behaviour there's no magic way of telling people to only apply it to the correct parties… Don't you see?

Once torture is sanctioned in anyway, the use is expanded. Now I'd rather live in a place where one terrorist bombing kills 200 people than a place that secretly gets away with torturing thousands on the pretext of preventing such things.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:27PM
Rori at 3:08PM, July 3, 2007
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Nice points, ozoneocean.

Roguehill-I'd like to hear what you think “proper guidelines” for the use of torture would be. Also, specifically, how do you define torture and what acts, if any, are beyond the pale?

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:11PM
Roguehill at 6:48PM, July 3, 2007
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Oceanozone - Our friendly terrorist managed to confess to plots that were confirmed by data on his PC in the hotelroom and also by his companion….I could go on, of course, but you can read the article yourself.

So, since the confession retrieved under torture prevented these plans from being carried out, and the plans were to kill numbers of people….wouldn't you say that those people were saved? I mean, say you got hold of the video tape where the psycho at Virginia Tech spilled his plan to kill folks at the college…but you stopped him before he could. Did you save those folks?

Of course you did.

I also noticed that you didn't mention the case where the policemen pretty much strangled the location of the hostage (who was at gunpoint) from that kidnapper. I'm…not sure how much clearer the connection there could be to saving a life.
Look, I'm not a violent person. I'm actually very kind, funny and gentile. The thing is, I don't want to take the chance of my moral high-ground killing someone. Call me immoral, but I'd rather live with self-loathing from my acts than to know that my inaction led to folks getting killed.

And that's exactly what we're talking about here. It's not fantasy at all. People want to kill other people, and if we know about it, we're obligated to do anything we can to stop that from happening. Yes, we could use a gun. Yes, we could use torture. As long as your “principles” kill people, I want no part of them.

Rori,
Torture is the act of inflicting mental and/or physical pain, short of death, to obtain information from someone. Let's be clear here. If you torture them “to death”, then your only goal is to abuse them to get your jollies.
Deciding when to use torture is simple. If a person has suspected information about the imminant threat to people's lives and refuses to share that information, you could torture them for it. Notice, you don't torture people who you know aren't involved. Also, there has to be lives at stake, and the cost of hesitation or delay is too great. If he doesn't plan to kill anyone for 50 years…then you don't have to torture him. You can wait him out.

It's just like using a gun. A fellow is running at your child with a knife. You have a gun, and there's no time to waste. Now, I could say, as a moral person, that killing that man would be unethical (and certainly there are those who may choose that), and letting my child be stabbed to death is simply part of the life-death cycle of which we're all part.

Or, I kill him and feel badly about it during my child's next birthday.

I'm simply saying that torture is a very, not-nice tool, like carpet bombs and hand grenades. Unfortunately, until we are all pacifists or someone comes up with better tools, we are entitled to use them to protect ourselves from agressors.

GHOST ZERO
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:09PM
Rori at 7:09PM, July 3, 2007
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Roguehill
Rori,
Torture is the act of inflicting mental and/or physical pain, short of death, to obtain information from someone. Let's be clear here. If you torture them “to death”, then your only goal is to abuse them to get your jollies.
Deciding when to use torture is simple. If a person has suspected information about the imminant threat to people's lives and refuses to share that information, you could torture them for it. Notice, you don't torture people who you know aren't involved. Also, there has to be lives at stake, and the cost of hesitation or delay is too great. If he doesn't plan to kill anyone for 50 years…then you don't have to torture him. You can wait him out.

It's just like using a gun. A fellow is running at your child with a knife. You have a gun, and there's no time to waste. Now, I could say, as a moral person, that killing that man would be unethical (and certainly there are those who may choose that), and letting my child be stabbed to death is simply part of the life-death cycle of which we're all part.

Or, I kill him and feel badly about it during my child's next birthday.

I'm simply saying that torture is a very, not-nice tool, like carpet bombs and hand grenades. Unfortunately, until we are all pacifists or someone comes up with better tools, we are entitled to use them to protect ourselves from agressors.

Okay, this all falls apart, because it's all about suspicion. As others have said, you don't know if the person has info or not. Even if you have strong leads saying so, you don't know if this info is correct (especially if torture is legal), therefore, you torture with the knowledge that you may be torturing someone who's innocent. As to people you “know aren't involved” (I guess through mind-reading?) how does this jive with capturing a whole family and torturing the wife or kids to get the husband to speak? If it's for the greater good your rules would seem to justify the torture of innocents already, so why not. And just so someone doesn't call hyperbole, this happens, specific instance being in Apartheid South Africa. They were fighting “terrorists” too.
Only bad can come from acceptance of “total strategy.”

Your example about the man and child is fallacious and pandering. In that example, one knows exactly where the imminent danger is coming from and that it is indeed imminent. In cases of investigating terror plots this is not true. The two situations are not analogous.

Also, absence of death does not mean that the torturer did not enjoy the torturing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:11PM
patrickdevine at 8:32PM, July 3, 2007
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Roguehill
These are very interesting thoughts, and I certainly agree that torture is morally repellant and debasing. But, just as war is repellant and debasing, and has it's uses when applied in certain situations, so does the technique of torture.
Of course, let me state that the use of torture (and war) should only be used in situations where no other methods are likely to succeed…such as when time is critical or the threat is huge. Perhaps you think that the plutonium arguement is too “dramatic”, but isn't that just the kind of situation that we would reserve torture for? You would not, as a moral society, torture a fellow because you want his tax information, but only in the extent that you believe many lives are at stake.
You could also say that the use of torture doesn't provide reliable results, but if the threat were dire, wouldn't you be obligated to risk questionable results as opposed to no results at all?
…………
I don't see how it could be the only way to find information seeing as how you can just as easily get misinformation.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
Phantom Penguin at 10:25PM, July 3, 2007
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Roguehill
It's just like using a gun. A fellow is running at your child with a knife. You have a gun, and there's no time to waste. Now, I could say, as a moral person, that killing that man would be unethical (and certainly there are those who may choose that), and letting my child be stabbed to death is simply part of the life-death cycle of which we're all part.

Or, I kill him and feel badly about it during my child's next birthday.

I'm simply saying that torture is a very, not-nice tool, like carpet bombs and hand grenades. Unfortunately, until we are all pacifists or someone comes up with better tools, we are entitled to use them to protect ourselves from agressors.

That makes no sense. Torture and killing someone in self-defense are two entirly different things. There are ways to blend and distort peoples minds without inflicting physical pain on them such as light and sleep deprivations, theres no physical pain.

We have come up with things better then carpet bombs and hand grenades. Its called smart bombs and flash-bangs.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
Phantom Penguin at 10:27PM, July 3, 2007
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ozoneocean
Once torture is sanctioned in anyway, the use is expanded. Now I'd rather live in a place where one terrorist bombing kills 200 people than a place that secretly gets away with torturing thousands on the pretext of preventing such things.

Khmer Rouge anyone?
Thats what they did. They were paranoid people we plotting aganist them and tortured and killed hundreds of thousands.

And we know how much of a good guy Pol Pot was right? :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:42PM
DemonSaintDante at 6:22AM, July 4, 2007
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Phantom Penguin
Roguehill
It's just like using a gun. A fellow is running at your child with a knife. You have a gun, and there's no time to waste. Now, I could say, as a moral person, that killing that man would be unethical (and certainly there are those who may choose that), and letting my child be stabbed to death is simply part of the life-death cycle of which we're all part.

Or, I kill him and feel badly about it during my child's next birthday.

I'm simply saying that torture is a very, not-nice tool, like carpet bombs and hand grenades. Unfortunately, until we are all pacifists or someone comes up with better tools, we are entitled to use them to protect ourselves from agressors.

That makes no sense. Torture and killing someone in self-defense are two entirly different things. There are ways to blend and distort peoples minds without inflicting physical pain on them such as light and sleep deprivations, theres no physical pain.

We have come up with things better then carpet bombs and hand grenades. Its called smart bombs and flash-bangs.

those are all still forms of torture though they be mental.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Roguehill at 12:09PM, July 4, 2007
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Rori
Okay, this all falls apart, because it's all about suspicion. As others have said, you don't know if the person has info or not. Even if you have strong leads saying so, you don't know if this info is correct (especially if torture is legal), therefore, you torture with the knowledge that you may be torturing someone who's innocent.

I suppose you have to see the gentleman blowing up a plane before you would question him about it? Suspicion is the main tool we use to tag people for investigating in the first place…it's the reason they're called ‘suspects’. And yes, he could be innocent, which is why you would not torture someone unless your evidence was pointed and the situation dire. Also, torturing someone who was not involved simply to get someone else to talk is sick. Threatening to torture a man's wife and child (and not doing it) is within bounds, however.

Rori
Your example about the man and child is fallacious and pandering. In that example, one knows exactly where the imminent danger is coming from and that it is indeed imminent. In cases of investigating terror plots this is not true. The two situations are not analogous.

You don't see a connection? Honestly? I could construct many scenarios where I could have a known terrorist in custody with friends who plan to bomb a major landmark on the eastern seaboard within 24 hours. You don't consider those situations similar? You don't consider the kidnapping case I mentioned earlier similar? In both situations you have a known threat on the move to endanger lives. Perhaps you're not being objective.

Rori
Also, absence of death does not mean that the torturer did not enjoy the torturing.

I should hope to God he didn't. I should hope to God any soldier doing his duty doesn't enjoy it, or any cop that has to gun down a criminal. The enjoyment of torture is psychopathic. Doing your job to save lives isn't.

May I say again that I think that torturing someone is an abomination that no one should have to commit or experience? Treating another human being in such a manner is absolutely immoral….unless you're doing it to a would-be murder with the goal of saving lives.

To me, saving lives of innocents is the most important thing.

GHOST ZERO
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:09PM
marine at 2:16PM, July 4, 2007
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Whatever happened to “take no prisoners?” Surely we should be executing known bad guys. No judge, no jury, just executions. Be they on a cell phone camera or just in a public square, we should be sending these guys a message. That message should be a loud and clear “We kill people we don't like. Do not fuck with us.”

Course, if I was king, I would have deployed nukes in the Vietnam conflict and the world would never question us again. We need a guy like Truman whose going to get shit done.

Shit or get off the pot already with all this war shit.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:52PM
Rori at 2:48PM, July 5, 2007
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Roguehill
I suppose you have to see the gentleman blowing up a plane before you would question him about it? Suspicion is the main tool we use to tag people for investigating in the first place…it's the reason they're called ‘suspects’. And yes, he could be innocent, which is why you would not torture someone unless your evidence was pointed and the situation dire. Also, torturing someone who was not involved simply to get someone else to talk is sick. Threatening to torture a man's wife and child (and not doing it) is within bounds, however.
It's obvious that I wasn't talking about questioning suspects, but torturing them, so please put away your straw men.
You seem to be saying here that torture is okay because we wouldn't torture people who aren't guilty, but how on earth is that feasible? There is a reason that people are brought forth on charges in from of a judge and jury of their peers before they are punished. People make mistakes; people are corrupt. A lot. Even with checks and balances. If you need specifics, I'll trudge through the internets and get you some once I finish the paper I'm avoiding.

Your example about the man and child is fallacious and pandering. In that example, one knows exactly where the imminent danger is coming from and that it is indeed imminent. In cases of investigating terror plots this is not true. The two situations are not analogous.

You don't see a connection? Honestly? I could construct many scenarios where I could have a known terrorist in custody with friends who plan to bomb a major landmark on the eastern seaboard within 24 hours. You don't consider those situations similar? You don't consider the kidnapping case I mentioned earlier similar? In both situations you have a known threat on the move to endanger lives. Perhaps you're not being objective.

If you can, feel free. Your analogy about the man and child is still weak and you've done nothing here to defend it. Not to mention I could come up with scenarios that are similar and prove my point. It's a rather futile exercise in one-upsmanship, so I try to avoid it.

Rori
Also, absence of death does not mean that the torturer did not enjoy the torturing.
Roguehill
I should hope to God he didn't. I should hope to God any soldier doing his duty doesn't enjoy it, or any cop that has to gun down a criminal. The enjoyment of torture is psychopathic. Doing your job to save lives isn't.
Okay, you must understand that I'm not trying to be snarky when I say this: this shows the central weakness in your (and many others) argument for torture. Your hope doesn't make it so. You seem to be imbuing officers and soldiers with super-human powers of knowledge, wisdom and restraint. This is naive. It would be nice to live in such a world, but we don't.

Roguehill
May I say again that I think that torturing someone is an abomination that no one should have to commit or experience? Treating another human being in such a manner is absolutely immoral….unless you're doing it to a would-be murder with the goal of saving lives.

To me, saving lives of innocents is the most important thing.

I don't think you are malicious in this, but you have to think of what this would actually be like. You save one innocent life by torture–how many others do you ruin? And how weak and deplorable do you render the system that openly uses torture?This is not a hypothetical about ending world pain by torturing one innocent. This has very real consequences.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:11PM

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