Thursday, March 12, 2009

Drawing a Line Where No Line Should Be

Sean Hannity spoke, and said something troubling: "If we capture an enemy combatant in the battlefield -- or we can use Osama bin Laden -- who may have information about a pending attack. You know what, I don't have any problem taking his head sticking it underwater and scaring the living daylights out of him and making him think we're drowning him, and I'm a Christian,"

Now, you can debate whether this is "justifiable" or not if the person was Osama Bin Laden. I personally think it's not. Even if you did do this to him, there is absolutely no way of knowing that what he's saying is credible or not. Use the ticking time bomb argument - there's a time bomb that will go off in 2 days. All he has to do, the zealot, the fanatic who believes he's doing Allah's work, is lie to us for 2 days until the bomb goes off, and he's succeeded. What's the motivation to tell the truth? That's the fault of this situation, and the practical reason why I am opposed to torture.

As I've mentioned before, I went through basic training and was taught that torture was what the bad guys did. We were above that. We were, that is, until the Bush Administration, who not only authorized it, but also reportedly led an "Executive Assassination Ring" with absolutely no oversight (except to Dick Cheney). Hat tip to Vim and Vinegar for directing me to this must read article. But I digress. The point is, I've long lived under the premise that we were better than them, and as such, we didn't torture. That's part of my philisophical opposition to torture.

Then there's the rational opposition to torture, which stems from the position of "Who are we torturing?" It's one thing to say you'd be willing to torture Osama Bin Laden. It's something completely different to say you're torturing a 15 year old boy you picked up near a place where a grenade was thrown in the direction of U.S. Soldiers. Or when you're torturing a 22 year old medical student at the University of Michigan who has returned to his home in Iraq during break and you picked up in his apartment because he fit the profile of a terrorist. I am rationally opposed to torture because there is no adequate way to ensure that the only people who are exposed to "enhanced interrogation techniques" are the people who truly hold the information you want to elicit from them.

When we began torturing, we started down a road that destroys our freedom. And that's a road I don't want to be on.

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