"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Whatever It Was, It Worked

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques gained actionable intelligence regarding terrorist activities within the United States, according to a CIA report. This is not the first time these methods have been shown to have been successful.
That doesn’t necessarily close the question on EITs and whether or not they constituted torture [a point I've made before]. However, thanks to the political reality in the Beltway at the moment, the interrogators who employed EITs within the contemporaneous parameters created by the Bush administration won’t get prosecuted in Eric Holder’s investigation. Instead, they will focus on those who violated the boundaries, which leads to some pretty ridiculous outcomes. The DoJ
apparently wants to investigate an interrogator who blew cigar smoke into the faces of terrorists, another who used a drill and a gun to intimidate a detainee, and yet another who threatened to get a terrorist’s family members and kill them.
Are we to believe that the men who killed 3,000 men, women, and children were so sensitive that those threats would leave them psychologically scarred for life — but mass murder didn’t? Will the DoJ now prosecute police officers who blow smoke in subjects’ faces, either inadvertently or deliberately, during interrogations? Isn’t this defining torture down to an absurd level? If anything, it shows that the statutes governing torture are ridiculously vague.

The attempt to define torture down to include some of the relatively innocuous enhanced interrogation methods in my view erodes the moral force of the argument against genuine torture.

If we accept the common international law definition of torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person" (U.N. Convention Against Torture), we have to exclude many of the methods encompassed by the term "enhanced interrogation techniques," and many of the methods used against hardened Jihadists.


Anonymous said...

Mark is still going on about torture over there, not always in the most charitable ways.

I can't bring myself to agree that EIT's are always wrong either. How does this whole topic relate to http://www.catholic.com/library/Just_War_Doctrine_1.asp? Certainly a few minutes of discomfort is a much lesser evil than killing someone on the battlefield.

Anonymous said...

On a related note, prisoners in many of our prisons go through forms of what some might call "psychological torture". Situations in which sleep is very difficult. Psychological tension due to the constant threat of violence from other prisoners. The list goes on.

Why not give them all nice comfortable rooms with peace and quiet? Certainly if we want to do away with all "torture", we should focus on the broad perspective, not in those cases where it's politically expedient.

Of course I'm not serious about that, just observing.