Monday, January 10, 2005
There is a debate here whether you want to believe it or not.
Recently Sen. Arlen Specter posed this question to three witnesses at the hearings, all of whom consider Alberto Gonzales dangerous: "Are consideration for those tactics ever justifiable, even in teh face of a ticking-bomb threat?"
The three witnesses were:
* Harold Hongju Koh, dean of the Yale Law School, who served as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor from 1998 to 2001.
* Retired Admiral John D. Hutson, one of 12 high-ranking retired officers who signed a letter sent Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee to express "deep concern" about the role Gonzales played in crafting administration policy on questioning detainees.* Douglas Johnson, executive director of the Center For Victims of Torture in Minneapolis.
Let's review the ticking-bomb scenario. A terrorist is captured who knows the whereabouts of a ticking bomb that could kill thousands of Americans (or anyone for that matter). Would torturing him be permissible to prevent a catastrophe?
So what did our cast of three intellectuals have to say? Check it out...
Harold Koh -
"I think that my approach would be to keep the flat ban, and if someone - the president of the United States - had to make a decision like that, someone would have to decide whether to prosecute him or not."
John Hutson (a retired navy judge) -
"I agree with, uh, with Dean Koh that it is always illegal. Now, you may decide that you are going to take the illegal action, ummm, because you have to."
Doug Johnson -
"I think that it's very overblown in our imaginations, and - and it's very ripe with what I would...could only call fantasy and mythology."
My response to all three (rather loudly is) - Huh?
So if I can understand this (step in anytime with help folks) the idea is to make it illegal, but do it when you have to, but make sure you prosecute the person who did the torturing afterwards. Or is it a problem that will never exists, therefore no answer is needed?
Let me thank all three gentlemen for providing NOTHING of substance to that question. A very important question that these three intellectuals could not answer.
Now I leave it to those of you in Blogger Land. What are your thoughts on this moral question. Is torture ever permissible? Even in the case of a ticking-bomb scenario?
@ 9:51 AM
Regarding the ticking-bomb scenario though, your answer is exactly what? Would it be justifiable?
@ 11:32 AM
@ 2:14 PM
I've personally reacted violently in the past, defending either myself or a loved one, but the difference is that it was reactive. And the instant it happened I was actually sick to my stomach. I'm not someone who chooses to be violent if given the opportunity to think first, but Im also not so nieve that I dont realize humans have the capacity for both.
So when I think about whether I believe torture is acceptable or not I only have to think whether I could do it myself. Absolutely not. So therefore my opinion on the matter reflects just that.
On a lighter note - HOW BOUT THEM CANUCKS EH MERK!!!! *wink*
@ 9:09 AM
No I do not believe in torturing someone, but I also do not believe in sitting idle in the face of danger (either my own, or the potential for others)
I try to imagine myself a soldier (of any country) simply fighting for my country. Then being captured, thinking only death could be worse, only to be subjugated to much pain and suffering and wishing for death.
It can be a very emotional subject, as I also cast myself in the very real position that you could also be in contact with an individual who has first hand knowledge of catastrophic plot. Which is worse looking at the face of the person your tortured, or looking into the faces of the family and friends of all the victims you could have spared.
I guess torture as policy is something that can not be condoned. But as with murder, it may be something where the punishment is based on intent. I really have not given it that much thought but this is my general feeling for the moment.
@ 6:01 AM