Friday, May 1, 2009

Even Unnecessary Torture Is OK?

David Martin: How will we know that less coercive techniques couldn't have produced the same results

Michael Sheuer: Well who— Why would you care? If we got the information we needed and America's better d— better protected, who cares? These are not Americans.

Well we know that Scheuer's way of thinking is out there. It's the foundation of Cheney's current claim that once people know how effective torture was, it'll be all the proof they need that it was necessary. But it's frustrating to see the level of antagonism Scheuer shows to the very thought that many people in this country will care about torture no matter what it revealed. And especially frustrating is his casual insistence that torture doesn't even have to be a last resort.


Casey said...

I listened half-carefully, and I'm reasonably sure that nobody in this video used the word "torture." This "move" has been very popular in sources objecting to the use of waterboarding -- call it torture. But that seems irresponsible to me: the definition of torture is what this debate should be about. You sided with Stewart in the post below, but I was intrigued by the slippery slope argument. I'll tell you this: I'd rather be water-boarded 183 times than put in jail for a year.

If you can't understand that jail is a kind of torture, read this:

So I'm not saying (obviously, I hope) that I don't object to waterboarding or that I think it's okay to waterboard "certain folks" or whatever... but I am saying I'd like to hear the ethical and pragmatic reasons more clearly enunciated. When we screwed up in high school basketball practice, Coach made us do "wall squats" as punishment. We didn't screw up as much after that. Inflicting discomfort obviously can be an effective measure, and to argue that it's never justified seems possible to me... but it also seems like an argument that we can and should have publicly. Again: I'd like to hear that argument. Maybe I can get on board with it. I don't need a lecture about sympathizing with humanity and not just Americans... I guess I'm just trying to take it out of the frame you put it in, somewhere between for-the-sake-of-conversation and because-it's-not-perfectly-clear-to-me-as-a-viewer-of-24.

Casey said...

Psychologist defends "harsh tactics":

Defense on turf you might appreciate... or at least be interested in refuting.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Oh, please. I imagine you were free to walk off that team instead of do squats.

Casey said...

That's true, Ridger. I used a bad example... nevertheless, I'm not satisfied with the clarity of the public discourse right now. And I'm still waiting for a convincing ethical argument that does not rely on idealistic pacifist foundations. The "immanent threat" situation must be addressed in our discourse, and right now, because we aren't under immanent threat, we're dodging the question... so our theoretical opposition to torture is a castle in the sky.

(Again, the non-violence/pacifist argument is always available, but I'm not sure that's the ground we're on right now... at least, nobody's made that explicit.)