Saturday, February 20, 2010

Intellectual Honesty

It seems to go out the window when discussing torture. The waterboard has been used as a torture method for hundreds of years by regimes that we would normally be ashamed to be associated with (Khmer Rouge, Gestapo, WWII Japan, inter alia). It's been prosecuted here in the United States (ask James Parker), yet there's still "debate."

But the discussion about torture goes beyond the waterboard alone. There are several other "enhanced interrogation tactics" that are available to those who think they're entitled to lord such control over others (even innocents). There's sleep deprivation, stress positions, slamming people into walls, sensory deprivation, and many others. The argument has been akin to the "ticking time bomb" a la Keifer Sutherland in 24. In a sense, some (like Thiessen) believe that "In traditional war, when you capture an enemy soldier, once he is disarmed and taken off the battlefield he has been “rendered unable to cause harm.” But that is not true of senior terrorist leaders like KSM. They retain the power to kill many thousands by withholding information about planned attacks. A captured terrorist leader remains an unjust aggressor who actively threatens society — targeting innocent civilians in violation of the laws of war — even when he is in custody." This is specious oversimplificating justification. I believe a reader who wrote in to Andrew Sullivan might have the best response:
[S]uppose the captured soldier in a "traditional" war is a high ranking officer with knowledge of the enemy's battle plan. Certainly, by Thiessen's definition, he would still be capable of inflicting harm by withholding information, yet Thiessen appears to be saying that torture is off limits for that individual. On the other hand, a relatively low-ranking al Qaeda operative with most likely little to no knowledge of operations outside of his particular cell (does anybody think that the idiot they convinced to put a bomb in his underwear has really been entrusted with information about planning for other Al Qaeda operations?) must be tortured.

The level of intellectual dishonesty gives me cause for despair.

I'm not sure it could explained any better...

No comments: