Villa Beausoleil

The current state of the world, plus recipes...

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Location: Boston, MA

I try to keep up with the news, obsessively read my favorite blogs and try not to burn things while I'm surfing the internet...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

TORTURE

[NOTE: I have not been posting because formatting problems with Blogger have been getting me depressed. Anyone who can help me with simple issues like how to start a new paragraph etc. PLEASE leave a note in the comments -- Meanwhile, sorry about what appears to be non-stop rambling below, caused by FORMATTING PROBLEMS -- AAAAAGGGGHHH.] I know it's been eons since I last posted, but what with personal stuff getting in the way, and the deluge of topics on which to write, I got a little overwhelmed. But today I want to write about TORTURE and the theory that it might be justified in certain circumstances, ie. the "ticking time bomb" scenario, and that the possibility of such a situation calls for a change in our laws and rules and regulations in order to accommodate such a possibility. Bullshit. First of all, let me say that if I had a person in my custody, whom I KNEW to have information that would, if known, save the lives of x number of people, and that person would not cooperate quickly enough, I would not hesitate to do a little cigarette burning or waterboarding or fingernail pulling myself. But that's just me. BUT, and here's the big BUT: It should not be legal. I would be willing to do it, because at that split second I know that I would take the risk of being prosecuted and incarcerated for life if I could possibly save millions (or for that matter, my family). Once you start using this crazy and extraordinarily rare scenario as the basis for your laws though, you've lost the struggle for your soul and the soul of the country. And I, a totally unspiritual and irreligious person, mean that sincerely. Alberto Mora, the General Counsel of the U.S. Navy, wrote a 22-page memo to the Inspector General of the Navy, on the abuses taking place at Guantanamo, in which he raises the "ticking bomb" scenario:

I acknowledged the ethical issues were difficult. I was not sure what my position would be in the classic "ticking bomb" scenario where the terrorist being interrogated had knowledge of, say, an imminent nuclear weapon attack against a U.S. city. If I were the interrogator involved, I would probably apply the torture myself, although I would do so with full knowledge of potentially severe personal consequences. But I did not feel this was the factual situation we faced in Guantanamo, and even if I were willing to do this as an individual and assume the personal consequences, by the same token I did not consider it appropriate for us to advocate for or cause the laws or values of our nation to be changed to render the activity lawful.

[In case it's not obvious due to formatting problems, the rest of this post is NOT part of this quote, but rather my (rebmarks) observations] Ok, the reason I'm blogging about this now, is in that apparently Alan Dershowitz, who appalled me with his arguments for torture PRE-9/11 (totally based on the "ticking bomb" scenario), has now come out with a book arguing that we should pass laws lowering our civil rights standards for dealing with terrorists because the damage they can do is different from that done by your run-of-the-mill criminal. [BY THE WAY, CAN ANYONE HELP ME WITH FORMATTING ISSUES HERE IN BLOGGER? I cannot seem to "paragraph" because my "enter" key won't work, my block quotes function is very tempermental etc. etc. -- making blogging NOT FUN. Thanks!] Anyway, the problem with arguments like these, is that even if they have any merit whatsoever, they will degenerate our standards until we have none. This is is plainly obvious on the torture issue -- read Mora's entire memo to see what I mean. I cannot even BELIEVE that we are debating this -- has it become so acceptable to the American public that they see "torture" in connection with our government and our troops and go "yawn...ho hum"?? I'm going to stop posting right now. I haven't finished fleshing out my thoughts on this entirely, but the formatting problems here are giving me a headache....