Sunday, May 3, 2009

Losing the Bubble.....

I have not wavered on my opposition to the use of torture as a means to secure information. Although I cannot honestly rule out a situation where I could approve the use, I believe that the acceptance and attitude towards it, fostered and promoted by the Bush Administration is morally and legally egregious.

The argument for the use, or, more specifically, in support of those that initiated and those that carried out the deed, is based on one of three belief foundations:
  1. Would you do whatever it takes if it would save another’s life?
  2. We will receive worst treatment by them in a similar situation.
  3. Making them uncomfortable is not torture.
As stated earlier, I cannot rule out the first if in a situation I knew, or strongly believed, that torture might yield the information needed to save lives. Do I now lose my ability to criticize others that were actually put in this situation?

NPR ran a story on Col. Steven Kleinman, an Air Force reservist and experienced intelligence officer, who was mentioned in the recent Senate Armed Services report on the abusive treatment of terrorism detainees. Col. Kleinman analysis and critique sums up my feelings on this topic better than I could ever hope to do in this blog. Torture, like all other moral slippery slopes, starts out with a good intention that always degrades quickly.

“And so, people were reaching out to other methods, not understanding the subtle yet profound difference — using a method that was proven successful in obtaining propaganda, while on the surface it seems very effective, underneath it all it is very ineffective and counterproductive. … Any individual can force any other individual to admit to practically anything, but that's not the purpose of interrogation. I could see these people had lost the bubble on that.”

“And the reason I was unpopular is that people couldn't understand why I had stopped an interrogation, and the rationale that I heard repeatedly was …"If I had been captured by al-Qaida or some of these insurgents, that's how I would expect to be treated." And my response was always … "Let us not let the adversary set the standard, especially if it causes us to lower our standard.””

I guess deep down, it is my fundamental belief that the basic tenants of Christianity; love thy neighbor, forgiveness, turn the other cheek, the Golden Rule…. are standards worth having and maintaining. To put aside one’s basic animal instincts to dominate, strike first, to aggressively protect the pact, and to survive at all cost, and replace it, voluntarily, with a set of standards that runs counter to this is what morality and humanity is all about. Even though we can, even though we may have the need, possibly even the right, does not mean we should.

“What makes us who we are and who we can be standing on the shoulders of giants is this national character that does not bend to anyone’s standard but our own.”

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