Friday, October 07, 2005

Interrogation

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Whoa. I hesitate to even ask after having had this debate once already with another. But...I'm curious...at what point IS it a question of torture? I mean, there have been many things thrown around that are not torture...maybe they're unbecoming, but not torture.

Yet other reports, and even pictures I have seen, (not the well known ones) are disturbing.

Not to say any of these things have been done, but by way of definitions, what falls within your evaluation here? When is it torture? When they starve them? Little cuts? Play russian roulette? Smash fingers? Genearlly physically abuse them?

Are these things justifiable if it is "what needs to be done to get the job done as expeditiously as possible"?

# posted by Shamgar : 10/06/2005 9:38 PM

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A reader posted this comment concerning my little essay on counterintelligence, in reply to Mark Shea.

These are all good questions that merit a serious answer.

1.A lot of Christians have a bad habit of opting out of nitty-gritty debates. They don’t want to get their hands dirty. The subject-matter is just too distasteful and morally compromising.

But if we sit out these debates, then we delegate all the tough questions to unbelievers to answer. That’s an abdication of our responsibilities. Christians don’t have all the answers. But with the benefit of revelation, we at least have some compass points to help us find our moral bearings. Should unbelievers be answering all the heavy-duty questions in ethics?

2.Christians are disproportionately represented in the armed forces. Out of respect and support for their sacrifice, that’s another reason we need to stay in the debate.

3.Too many Christians don’t have practical answers when the going gets tough. But if you don’t have workable answers to real world problems, then there’s something wrong with your value system. There are many forced options in life. Since we have no choice but to make a choice, we have no choice but to morally valuate our choices. Mere squeamishness is no excuse to let the unbeliever do all the heavy-lifting and make the decisions for us.

4.There is nothing wrong with debating the morality of torture. The problem is when the anti-war forces try to frame the debate by making torture the only prism through which we view the war effort. They use this as a form of blackmail to preempt a necessary debate. They use it as a conversation-stopper. And that puts us all in peril.

We really are facing a mortal peril. Whatever you think of the Iraq war, it has certainly shown us the face of the enemy—an utterly wanton, ruthless, fanatical, irrepressible enemy.

5.In ethics we’re often confronted with borderline cases—cases where our moral intuitions are too blunt an instrument to draw fine distinctions of right and wrong, or where we experience conflicting moral intuitions, a conflicted sense of duty.

In that case there may be no right answer, and it’s a question of what to do in case of doubt. To play it safe? Or to be lenient?

6.What is torture? Here’s one generic definition: “torture is the deliberate infliction of intense physical or psychological suffering to punish, or to deter others, or to extract information, or to coerce a confession of guilt, or to exact revenge, or for the sake of sheer cruelty.”

Now, that’s a broad definition. “Torture” is a very loaded word, and one reason is that it triggers all these varied connotations.

That’s because it’s a general, abstract definition, intended to cover every essential hypothetical case. But, of course, at a specific and concrete level, the definition doesn’t apply as a whole.

6.Let’s take a comparison: a physician may deliberately inflict intense physical or psychological suffering on a patient and his family as a means to an end. This may even include dismemberment or mutilation, viz., amputation or the removal of a vital organ.

Yet we don’t classify that as torture. We don’t indict him for war crimes and extradite him to the Haag.

7.What we’re talking about in context is interrogation to extract actionable intel from an unwilling informant.

The first question to ask is not, “Is it torture?” but, “Is it effective?” What are the most effective techniques for extorting intel?

The second question to ask, after answering the first question, is, “Is it torture?” There may be several methods at the disposal of the interrogator.

So one follow-up question is whether torture is necessary, or if there is some other method that will succeed short of torture.

8.Torture ranges along a continuum. You could say that any coercive interrogation is torture. That any infliction of physical or psychological suffering, however, mild or temporary, is torture. Any extraction of information against the will of the informant is torture.

And there are “human rights” groups who think it’s inherently wrong to force information out of a terrorist.

9.One of my presuppositions is that someone who breaks the social contract is not entitled to civil rights since it is the social contract that confers civil rights in the first place. The social contract is premised on a tacit agreement: I’ll respect your civil rights if you respect my civil rights. But if you game the system to sabotage the system, then you forfeit your civil rights.

10.I also draw a distinction between civil rights and human rights. Roughly speaking, only citizens enjoy civil rights. A terrorist has no Constitutional rights.

11.Coercive interrogation presupposes that the detainee is a terrorist. It would be improper to use coercive interrogation on the innocent. But the very fact that the detainee is a terrorist, that there is probative evidence to that effect, discharges the burden of proof.

This is not a question of legal evidence, of legal guilt or innocence. We’re not trying to extort a confession of guilt.

Rather, this is question of whether the detainee is likely to have useful information about those who would do us harm.

12.As I said before, I regard this as a two-step process. The first step is a screening process to sort out the high-value informant from the know-nothing.

13.Having isolated the high-value informant, it’s then a question of how to extract the intel. The techniques for #12 are not the same as the techniques for #13.

14.How far we should be prepared to go depends on such factors as the threat-level, the urgency of the threat, and the quality of the informant.

15.Remember, the detainee can spare himself any unpleasantness at any time by simply being forthcoming and telling the interrogator everything he knows.

16.This is not a license to be sadistic. We should avoid the infliction of unnecessary suffering. We should avoid the infliction of gratuitous permanent injury. And, morality aside, killing an informant is an ineffective way of extracting information!

17.I’m sorry that it has come to this, but we didn’t ask for this. We didn’t declare war on the Muslim world. Rather, parts of the Muslim world declared war on us.

Just look at the kind of enemy we’re up against in Iraq. Unfortunately, war forces good men to do things they hate to do. Not to do wrong, but to do things which would otherwise be wrong but for self-defense.

6 comments:

  1. I'll bet when liberals see American soldiers putting hoods on captured prisoners they consider that 'sick' and 'a kind of torture' not knowing that the military is forced by the Geneva Conventions to do it because otherwise they'd be attacked by those same dumb liberals (at the urging of lawyers) for 'parading before the cameras' captured prisoners.

    It's no win for the military. They're up against possibly the dumbest crop of human beings to ever have appeared on this planet (the modern day left-wing liberal) and at the same time the most shameless.

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  2. Ja, ve have vays of making zu talk, Herr Hays!

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  3. Well, I'm not sure what your first set of points were about. I'm certainly not afraid to get my "hands dirty" discussing difficult topics. As I said in my OP, I've already been through this debate once, regarding the use of torture to extract information. And we were referring to actual torture in that debate, and I found his arguments to be biblically unsupportable and morally bankrupt.

    My reasons for hesitating in beginning this discussion with you were related tot he fact that I have limited time, and that I don't particularly enjoy having such debates with fellow Christians. They are, as you noted, necessary, but I still don't find them enjoyable. You'll note that didn't stop me though. :-)

    I must say that I was rather disappointed with the rest of your post however. Assuming I understand you correctly.


    6.What is torture? Here’s one generic definition: “torture is the deliberate infliction of intense physical or psychological suffering to punish, or to deter others, or to extract information, or to coerce a confession of guilt, or to exact revenge, or for the sake of sheer cruelty.”


    As good a definition as any I suppose. Lets use this. Yet then you went on to call this broad, and used an example of a physician amputating an arm as a means to support this. Yet the definition defines the reasons and motivations that make it torture, and amputation for the sake of medical benefit is not in the list. This definition is not overly broad. Or at least, your assertion that it is remains unproven.


    7.What we’re talking about in context is interrogation to extract actionable intel from an unwilling informant.


    Correct. And iterrogation itself, is not torture. However, when they start using physical and/or psychological pain and suffering to accomplish this goal it becomes torture, by the very definition you described.


    The first question to ask is not, “Is it torture?” but, “Is it effective?” What are the most effective techniques for extorting intel?

    The second question to ask, after answering the first question, is, “Is it torture?” There may be several methods at the disposal of the interrogator.


    I'm not sure I agree with this order, but as long as both questions are asked, we're at least on the right track.

    The trouble is, what is generally being advocated today is not even asking the second question. To the mind of many (including the other person I asked) all that matters is the results. The ends. To them, as long as the end result was good, then it doesn't matter how we accomplished it.



    8.Torture ranges along a continuum. You could say that any coercive interrogation is torture. That any infliction of physical or psychological suffering, however, mild or temporary, is torture. Any extraction of information against the will of the informant is torture.

    And there are “human rights” groups who think it’s inherently wrong to force information out of a terrorist.


    I agree, And this is where the definition is not exact, and that's in the definition of "intense". Obviously, different people vary in what they consider intense. Yet the same is true of "cruel and unusual" and we still managed to make it work. This is why we appoint judges to interpret the law and make those decisions, to handle the ones that really are grey areas. However, I think we, as rational human beings with the imprint of God's justice and law on our hearts, can generally tell the difference between intense and non intense suffering.


    10.I also draw a distinction between civil rights and human rights. Roughly speaking, only citizens enjoy civil rights. A terrorist has no Constitutional rights.


    I'm taking you out of order a bit here to address this distinction here before my next point, I hope you'll forgive me if this changes your argument significantly in any way.

    I agree with the first part. There is a distinction between natural rights (human) and civil rights (granted by the government). And those who are not citizens have no right to civil rights.

    However, I vehemently disagree that so called constitutional rights are civil rights. This is a big problem of constitutional law today. The bill of rights is not an enumeration of rights granted by the government. The constitution, without the first 10 amendments, still guarantees those rights. Why? Because the constitution is a document that restricts government, not grants freedoms. Those 10 amendments are a specific deliniation of rights which are recognized by the constitution that the people wanted to be sure were explicitly recognized. They are pre-existant and are not dependant upon the constitution for their validity. They are recognized as belonging to all men, not just americans, whether recognized by their own government or not.

    Indeed, in theory, this is the very reason we go to war to liberate people from oppresive governments (tho I disagree that such should be the case). It's the underlying idea that they have a God-given right to the freedoms that we enjoy. Yet suddenly, when it's inconvenient for us, we all suddenly forget that's the case.

    You know, there was a time in our country where it was argued that Africans were not really people, and therefore were not protected under the constitution. Apparently now we've pulled back a bit from that, we recognize the personhood of all but unless you're a citizen of teh united states you aren't deserving of the basic rights we enjoy.


    9.One of my presuppositions is that someone who breaks the social contract is not entitled to civil rights since it is the social contract that confers civil rights in the first place. The social contract is premised on a tacit agreement: I’ll respect your civil rights if you respect my civil rights. But if you game the system to sabotage the system, then you forfeit your civil rights.


    Interesting. Then how do you explain fourth and fifth amendment rights? The sole purpose of those are to protect those accused of breaking the social contract. Now, if you are convicted according to the law, you do forfeit your freedoms under the law to a limited extent, but even then, you are yet protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Again though, this comes down to a distinction of civil and natural rights. My view, and the view of the authors of the constitution, is that those rights are not conferred by the consitution, but only recognized, and are pre-existant and apply to all men.


    11.Coercive interrogation presupposes that the detainee is a terrorist. It would be improper to use coercive interrogation on the innocent. But the very fact that the detainee is a terrorist, that there is probative evidence to that effect, discharges the burden of proof.


    So now we're assuming facts not in evidence. We're saying that you can't do this if they're innocent, but you can if they're a terrorist, but then you say:


    This is not a question of legal evidence, of legal guilt or innocence. We’re not trying to extort a confession of guilt.


    So, now, you've said it's only ok if they're a terrorist, not if they're innocent, but have removed any method of making that determination except for the accusation. There's no need for a jury of their peers or even a court to determine the truth of the matter.


    Rather, this is question of whether the detainee is likely to have useful information about those who would do us harm.


    Oh? So, we have journalists who travel overseas and spend time among the enemy. Would you advocate using torture to extract information from them? If they were to get in contact with the right people they might be likely to have useful information about those who would do us harm.

    What about domestic criminals? What is the distinction? I'm guessing we're returning to the difference in constitutional interpretation here.


    14.How far we should be prepared to go depends on such factors as the threat-level, the urgency of the threat, and the quality of the informant.


    Ah, so as long as the ends are good enough, the means become irrelevant? Do you feel this is a particularly biblical approach to problem solving? Seems like someone else used this sort of logic...oh yeah, the Inquisition.


    15.Remember, the detainee can spare himself any unpleasantness at any time by simply being forthcoming and telling the interrogator everything he knows.


    Wow. I think I've seen that before in communist propaganda. Of course, telling them what you know isn't going to do you any good if they think you know more. Then the only way to avoid "unpleasantness" is to say what they want to here...which is why we recognize in our constitution that such activities are wrong. They make it far too easy for those in power to abuse the system and harass, torture, and imprison innocent people. This is the very reason we presume innocence and put the burden of proof on the prosecution, and why we very strictly view any sort of coercion in interrogation as out of line.


    Not to do wrong, but to do things which would otherwise be wrong but for self-defense.


    So this is self defense? So if you get wind that your neighbor is going to attack your family you would consider it justifiable self defense to capture him, and beat him up until he tells you his plan? Do you think that would pass muster in any court of law in this country?

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  4. 1.If you or other critics define any form of coercive interrogation as torture, then you’re your definition, coercive interrogation is torture. That’s a tautology. But everything we associate with the word torture is not applicable to coercive interrogation.

    2.The comparison with invasive medical treatment presents the case of something which, under ordinary circumstances, would be considered assault and battery, but is justified under special circumstances. That’s the analogy. Some things are normally wrong, but what makes them wrong is context-dependent. They aren’t moral absolutes.

    3.To say that the Bill of Rights applies to all men is a historical anachronism. It is only when activist judges began to apply the 14th amendment retroactively to the first 10 amendments that this revisionist notion took hold.

    Every nation and gov’t has its own set of laws. The only folks who deny this are one-world gov’t in Brussels and the UN and the Haag.

    4.It was a judicial ruling which denied the full personhood of blacks. So why are you appealing to the infamous Dred Scott decision to justify the judicial process?

    5.As a rule, non-citizens don’t have the same stake in the same. They don’t have the same right because they don’t have the same responsibilities.

    6.You’re equivocating over my social contractualism. This is not a case of law-breakers, per se. This is a case of organized Muslims terrorists who are using our rights and our freedoms to deny us our rights and destroy our freedoms.

    In addition, there can be little doubt that our Founding Fathers were influenced by social contract theorists of the 17-18C (e.g. Locke).

    The social contract operates on the honor system. Foreigners who are waging and informal war against our country and system of gov’t are not entitled to the very protections which they are striving to undermine and use against us—any more than a patient who starts assaulting and killing fellow patients and the hospital staff is entitled to invoke his patients’ bill of rights.

    7.What’s the purpose of the law if not to protect us from our enemies? What’s the purpose of due process if not to establish guilt or innocence?

    But if we pick up a terrorist on the field of battle, if he freely confesses that he is waging holy war against the infidels, then we are not assuming facts not in evidence. By his own evident activities and voluntary confession, he is the enemy. I’m not going to practice instant amnesia and pretend not to know something I know perfectly well just to give him a second chance to kill me and my family.

    8.The presumption of innocence is a legal standard of evidence that only applies in the jury box. I wouldn’t hire a Sunday school teacher who had been arrested and charged multiple times, but never convicted, of child molestation. Technically he’s innocent, but I’m going to give the little children the benefit of the doubt, not the grown-up with the rap sheet.

    9.I’d add that the courts have twisted due process so that it’s no longer about establishing guilt or innocence, but simply about the rights of the accused, so that demonstrably guilty criminals are acquitted and released on procedural technicalities invented by activist judges.

    10.As to journalists, it would be quite illuminating to interview some of the reporters assigned to Al-Jazeera.

    11.As to the Bible, certain Biblical penalties would qualify as “torture” (flogging, stoning, even a case of hand-cutting).

    12. As I said at the outset, in ethics we’re often confronted with borderline cases. But the existence of borderline cases is no excuse for moral paralysis in the face of danger, because every case is not a borderline case. The fact that dawn and dusk are borderline cases does not mean that we should treat noon and midnight as borderline cases as well.

    13.And you’re not the only one who can come up with invidious examples. How many suitcase bombs in a sports stadium or mushroom clouds over NY or biochem attack on LA or contamination of a major metropolitan reservoir would it take for you to reevaluate your risk analysis.

    It all depends on where we think the threat is coming from—the jihadis or the Bushies. I feel safer with Bush than Bin Laden.

    14.Yes, the means do sometimes justify the ends. Teleological ethics is an essential ingredient in moral valuation. It is not sufficient, by itself, but it is a necessary ingredient—your facile objection notwithstanding. The example of the Inquisition is fallacious—a bad end does not justify any particular means.

    15.Unlike you, I don’t care to have my life governed by the 9th Circuit in Frisco or the Supreme Court of Mass.

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  5. 1.If you or other critics define any form of coercive interrogation as torture, then you¿re your definition, coercive interrogation is torture. That¿s a tautology. But everything we associate with the word torture is not applicable to coercive interrogation.


    Ok. Of course, that's kind of a moot point, given that I don't define any form of coercive interrogation as torture. I said two things in my last post: Torture is wrong, Coercive interrogation is at best a grey area, at worst, wrong.

    Just because I define both as being wrong doesn't mean I think they're both the same thing.


    2.The comparison with invasive medical treatment presents the case of something which, under ordinary circumstances, would be considered assault and battery, but is justified under special circumstances. That¿s the analogy. Some things are normally wrong, but what makes them wrong is context-dependent. They aren¿t moral absolutes.


    Ok. I still say it's irrelevant. The definition you offered and I accepted already stipulates that there are specific limiting factors in its purpose that define what torture is and isn't. I already acknowledge this point. To further clarify how different they can be:

    -Chopping off a persons arm = Assault
    -Chopping off a persons arm to save their life = Medicine
    -Chopping off a persons arm to gain information = Torture

    Again, given that the definition already precludes any such silly confusion of what torture is and isn't, I fail to see the purpose of belaboring the point.


    3.To say that the Bill of Rights applies to all men is a historical anachronism. It is only when activist judges began to apply the 14th amendment retroactively to the first 10 amendments that this revisionist notion took hold.


    Really. I find that interesting given that this assertion isn't supported by federalist or anti-federalist writings, or the Declaration of independence, or the constitution itself.

    - We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
    -Congress shall make no law
    -shall not be infringed.
    -No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
    -shall not be violated
    -No person shall be held...nor shall any person be subject for the same offense twice...nor shall be compelled...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken...
    -In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed...
    -the right of trial by jury shall be preserved
    -The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
    -[Most importantly]: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    Look carefully. Are these the granting of rights? The only one you might be able to construe that way is the 6th. All of the rest are negative. They deny power to the government specifically. The very phrasing demonstrates that the rights are pre-existant. If our founding fathers truly believed that rights were not granted to them by their creator, then what was their basis for revolution? If they did not have a right to liberty as all men do, then on what basis did they rebel? If Britain didn't grant the right,then they didn't have it under your words here.


    Every nation and gov¿t has its own set of laws. The only folks who deny this are one-world gov¿t in Brussels and the UN and the Haag.


    Right, but again I fail to see your point. I never denied each nation has its own laws. What I sais was that there is a natural law which proclaims that liberty and freedom are the pre-existant rights of all men, and a government which violates these precepts is in violation of them. Not that other countries are subject to our constitution, but that they are subject to the same natural law our constitution is, and are often in violation of it.

    More than that, that our country uses this very principle to justify going to war with countries like Iraq. One of the big reasons Bush has used to gain support for the war is the granting of freedom and liberty to the Iraqi people. Why? On what basis? Because (most of us), as americans, believe all people should be free.

    Now, personally, I believe that also means free to setup and serve governments which restrict that freedom if they so desire. I certainly wouldn't advocate such behavior, but if that is what they want to have, I am not their mother. It is not for me to force them to accept the responsibilities of liberty and freedom just because I appreciate them. Hence I don't support such reasoning as is used by many to justify these violations of the national sovereignty of others.

    Note that I fully support the right of a nation to defend itself...I'm not a pacifist...but I don't beleive in invading nations and overthrowing governments in the guise of saying it's for their own good.


    4.It was a judicial ruling which denied the full personhood of blacks. So why are you appealing to the infamous Dred Scott decision to justify the judicial process?


    And who was Dred Scott? He was a black slave. He wanted freedom, but was being denied it because people already denied the full personhood of blacks in practice. The only thing the Dred Scott decision did was put the backing of the law behind it. So it was not the judicial ruling which denied it, the ruling merely reflected the thinking of the period in which it occured.

    Regardless of this, it misses the point I was making completely. We now look back and recognize how utterly and completely wrong that was. All men were created equal. Yet, in the case of these evil men, these terrorists, we're suddenly willing to go back to that and make them less of a person, such that we can get around the idea that we should treat them as human beings.


    5.As a rule, non-citizens don't have the same stake in the same. They don't have the same right because they don¿t have the same responsibilities.


    I assume you meant 'stake in the game'. Again, I deny this. We are not talking about privileges specifically given to our people as actual civil rights. I.e. things granted to us as codified in US Civil Law. We are talking about rights granted through recognition of our founding document as belonging to ALL. There is not something special about people who were born here that we deserve freedom and humane treatment that other people in countries like China don't. If it were, we certainly wouldn't welcome the world in the limited fashion we do today, let alone the way we used to do it. We'd shut out the world and close up our borders in our pride and selfish conceit.


    6.You're equivocating over my social contractualism. This is not a case of law-breakers, per se. This is a case of organized Muslims terrorists who are using our rights and our freedoms to deny us our rights and destroy our freedoms.


    I disagree. They are using our rights and freedoms to convince us to deny ourselves our rights and freedoms. We are doing it to ourselves. We have chosen to live in fear. Our government and media isn't helping that any with their fearmongering over the whole thing. I don't deny that there are some risks here. I am under no illusions about the evil that Islam will willingly perpetrate against our people given the chance. I would rather face that risk daily, than give up my liberty.

    I'm not going to belabor this point overly much. You brought up the social contract, and made arguments based on it. My goal was simply to demonstrate that your arguments fall apart when applied consistantly and compared with the wisdom God gave to those who wrote our founding documents.


    ...
    The social contract operates on the honor system. Foreigners who are waging and informal war against our country and system of gov't are not entitled to the very protections which they are striving to undermine and use against us...


    I disagree with this, and as I have already demonstrated it is incorrect. Someone who violates the social contract still gets to appeal to it. Only, the parameters change. For example, somene who has violated the law has forfeited his freedom under the contract, but is still protected by provisions of the contract. For example, the fourth through seventh amendments.

    You know, everyone wants to use the scenario of some militant raging muslim captured in Iraq trying to murder children as their picture. Yet we have held, and continue to hold, many american citizens (naturalized or no) in the same manner. They are named as "enemy combatants" and stripped of their rights and face the same potential end as the most rabid muslim "terrorist".

    And I put terrorist in quotes, not because I don't believe there are evil men enslaved to Islam who would do terrible things. I do it because I recognize that "terrorist" is a label. It is a label that is historically used against enemies of governments to evoke particular responses in people.

    It was used against the IRA until recently, it's used in China against those who oppose communism, and if they'd thought of it, it would've been used against us during the revolutionary war. It could very well be used against you and I as christians in the coming years. Imagine the irony as you sit there being tortured to reveal the locations of your evil co-conspirators in the christian faith that you were one who endorsed such behavior when it's "for good".


    7.What's the purpose of the law if not to protect us from our enemies? What's the purpose of due process if not to establish guilt or innocence?


    It is to establish guilt or innocence. But not by the police (or the soldiers themselves in this case). This is a job for the courts (the military courts in the context we are referring to). Yes it protects us from our enemies, but not by giving a free hand to abuse our enemy.


    But if we pick up a terrorist on the field of battle, if he freely confesses that he is waging holy war against the infidels, then we are not assuming facts not in evidence. ...


    I wonder. Did you get upset when you witnessed the atrocities done to our soldiers overseas? Does it sadden you when you consider the men who went to war in Vietnam and were POW of the enemy, tortured and abused for years? Does it anger you that some are still over there, mistreated daily?

    If so, why? On what basis do you do this? Do we have rights they do not? Is it ok for us to abuse and torture prisoners for information but not them? Is there something special about us that makes us superior? Does the evil that taints them and their actions not taint us? On what basis? Because it's us? Because we're "good guys"?


    8.The presumption of innocence is a legal standard of evidence that only applies in the jury box. I wouldn't hire a Sunday school teacher who had been arrested and charged multiple times, but never convicted, of child molestation. Technically he's innocent, but I'm going to give the little children the benefit of the doubt, not the grown-up with the rap sheet.


    No. Technically, he's not guilty. Not necessarily innocent. THere is a legal distinction there. Though "presumed innocent" in regards to the law before trial, they are still arrested, still confined. There is nobody here suggesting you as a person should hire a muslim soldier as your sunday school teacher. I'm just advocating treating them like human beings.

    I'm advocating that the very reason we have a jury system is that we recognize that power corrupts people. THat if you entrust the police to investigate the crime, make a judement, and execute punishment they will abuse it. We recognize that if you give all of the power to the judge, it will likewise be abused. Hence the protection of a jury panel of 6-12 people to establish guilt.

    I don't believe a soldier posesses some natural inborn protection against the abuse of power. Especially since I believe that the root of this is sin. Hence I will not say they should be allowed, even with a confession, to establish guilt and then set about abusing them until they give up some good information. Even if they have determined they know something immediate and valuable that could save lives.


    9.I¿d add that the courts have twisted due process so that it¿s no longer about establishing guilt or innocence, but simply about the rights of the accused, so that demonstrably guilty criminals are acquitted and released on procedural technicalities invented by activist judges.


    First, even granting the truth of your accusation, are you then advocating by your statement that we should just throw the whole thing out, and move to just letting say, the police handle the whole deal start to finish? What is the point you are trying to make here? You can't just try to discredit the system and assume that will solve the problem.

    Second, while I agree that we as a nation have been cursed with unjust judges, we also have a police force and prosecutors who are more than willing to do as many end runs around the law as they can. They stretch the meaning and violate due process and the rights of the accused on a regular basis. I have sat on juries and had to free people I suspected were guilty, simply because the prosecutors and the police didn't do their jobs. THey abused the process and made assumptions of guilt and then left it hang. Others grossly violated the rights of those accused.

    This is a travesty of justice on both sides. Like those before me in this tradition, I would rather that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished. If you would see fewer get off on technicalities (which often when the media and lawers talk about that, they mean technicalities like fourth amendment violations, abusing suspects and witnesses, etc) then reform the police and prosecutors offices. Get rid of kickbacks for convicting suspects and get state and lcoal governemnts to hire prosecutors interested in justice rather than making a name for themselves.


    10.As to journalists, it would be quite illuminating to interview some of the reporters assigned to Al-Jazeera.


    This doesn't even come close to answering the question.


    11.As to the Bible, certain Biblical penalties would qualify as ¿torture¿ (flogging, stoning, even a case of hand-cutting).


    Wait...are you seriously suggesting that because the Hebrew people in their time and context used these things to punish sin under God's direction and law, that we today should be able to crush someones fingers until they tell us what we want to know?


    13.And you¿re not the only one who can come up with invidious examples. How many suitcase bombs in a sports stadium or mushroom clouds over NY or biochem attack on LA or contamination of a major metropolitan reservoir would it take for you to reevaluate your risk analysis.


    There aren't enough. If this entire nation were destroyed in this fashion and all were killed it would not change my stance on this. You may think I speak rashly, and understandably so, since you do not know me. If someone I didn't know told me the same, I'd doubt them. However, that being said, I do not say it flippantly. I have never said that liberty, or choosing to do right come without a cost. For me, I am willing to pay that price. I would rather that I and my family die in pain and suffering doing right, than do evil that good may result.


    14.Yes, the means do sometimes justify the ends. Teleological ethics is an essential ingredient in moral valuation. It is not sufficient, by itself, but it is a necessary ingredient¿your facile objection notwithstanding. The example of the Inquisition is fallacious a bad end does not justify any particular means.


    Interesting. The goal (at least the stated goal) of the inquisition was to save souls. Is that a bad end? Granted, you and I would see this as absurd, and do not in any way believe that souls are saved by the actions of men, whether the actions of the inquisition or of a sweating weeping evangalist on TV. But, many involved in the crusades and the inqisition truly believed they were doing a good thing in rooting out heresy. Self-deception is a powerful thing.

    I'm confused about your first sentence. Did you mean to say the ends do sometimes justify the means? If so, I simply cannot agree with that, particularly in this instance. I agree that the ends participate, but they cannot be the sole justification. If the end is to detain a suspect, then it certainly supports the means of using handcuffs. BUt handcuffs are justifiable means of detaining on their own.


    15.Unlike you, I don¿t care to have my life governed by the 9th Circuit in Frisco or the Supreme Court of Mass.


    I assume this is a response to my comment that claiming self defense is not a valid means of explaining away a savage beating of a man as an attempt to gain information. It is, as much of the rest of your post, insufficient, and doesn't even begin to address the objection made.


    Leaving aside all matters of law, worldly ethics, etc, how, as a Christian do you advocate such activities. From reading the excellent articles you have published here, I know that you are no stranger to the truths of scripture.

    You are well aware of man's state. YOu know that he is estranged from God and his every thought is inclined towards evil all the time. And into this hand, you would put such a tool as torture of others, guilty or not, for the possibility of an increase of your own safety, and the safety of others?

    You here continually advocate doing evil, so that good may result. I find this morally, and biblically reprehensible. I do not understand how one goes from loving those who hate you, and doing good to those who persecute you, to torture those who mean you harm.

    Here is where the reference to the inquisition becomes particularly relevant. The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful. How easy it is to be ensared by it. How quickly fear controls us, and drives us to believe such baseless and unscriptural arguments.

    This. This is why I do not relish these debates. It wounds my heart to see my brothers in Christ ensnared in such things, advocating such things as these. So much more so when they are brothers I hold in high regard.

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