Appropos of last week’s torture post, some additional discussions on the web:
- EWTN and torture Mollie Wilson O’Reilly picks up the story (Commonweal February 19, 2010).
- Torture, Conscience, and the Tortured Conscience Mike Potemra (NRO‘s “The Corner” February 18, 2010) – with responses by Andrew McCarthy and Mark Thiessen himself (“The Bush administration met its responsibility to protect society. And it did so without resorting to torture, by using methods that were lawful, moral, and just”).
- Taking note of a recent article by Thiessen on the notorious “underwear bomber”, Vox Nova‘s M.Z. Forrest points out how the second wave of “torture apologists” have practically abandoned the “ticking time bomb” scenario.
- Michael Sean Winters (America magazine) has a modest proposal.
- Austin Ruse clarifies his position in “Torture” and the Pro-Life Cause (The Catholic Thing February 19, 2010):
For some in the pro-life world there is a fear that this debate will be successful in the effort to draw people away from the imperfect but still pro-life Republican Party. They also wonder how the fact that three terrorists were waterboarded more than six years ago in the aftermath of the horror of 9/11 can eclipse the regular, ongoing killing of unborn children in the tens of millions. In the six years of the waterboarding debate, there have been something like 7.2-million abortions and exactly zero cases of waterboarding. To their credit, most, if not all, of the conservative critics of waterboarding do not say waterboarding is more important than abortion, and if forced to make a choice of issues to work on would easily and quickly choose the fight for the unborn child.
On the one hand are the good-hearted who are advancing serious moral arguments. On the other side are those who use torture as a political agenda item. In the end, no matter what the motives, the prolife community must protect the momentum we have generated since 1973.
- ZippyCatholic on “Why I believe waterboarding prisoners is torture, and you should too”.
- Showdown at High Noon – ZippyCatholic and Austin Ruse meet in person, in a civil and friendly exchange of views:
When you are deeply committed to protecting the unborn, the holocaust of whom is possibly a worse stain on humanity than even the large-scale atrocities of the last century, and one of your personal passions is organizing people into formal institutions to engage in political action; and when you further see nothing but unprincipled political hatchet jobs coming from people who literally hate anything resembling an existing actual formally organized anti-abortion group; and when a principal weapon employed in these hatchet jobs is this particular issue — when all of that is true, you can’t help but have a particular impression of this whole debate.
Until, that is, you encounter orthodox Catholics who are also deeply passionate about protecting the unborn on that same side, the side forming the edge of the hatchet, under the “stopped clock” theory, of this particular issue.
In fact, being the sort who does the organization think-tank policy dance every day, [Austin] was enthusiastic about orthodox activist-anti-torture Catholics getting involved at that level and in that manner.
- In an addendum on Against The Grain, I offer my own wrap-up of sorts.
Lastly, one particular party, who had read over the recent exchanges on this blog, contacted me with the suggestion that, given my unfortunate reliance on “unreliable axe-grinding sources,” it would do well to elicit the assistance of some conservative organizations “with credibility” to review the various charges (of prisoner abuse, deaths of detainees in U.S. custody, etc.) and publish a report.
This struck me as a grand idea. Particularly, were a credible conservative (and preferably Catholic?) organization to actually take up this proposal, I’d welcome an analysis of any or all of the following:
- waterboarding and the various other “enhanced interrogation” techniques employed by the Bush Administration which people like Mark Thiessen are now publicly lamenting have been repealed, and are actively campaigning or their restoration:
- the merits of the legal process that took place to institute such tactics as part of our interrogation process
- reports by living detainees of abuses which occurred in U.S. custody (chiefly those which occurred during the interrogation process — for instance as depicted in ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody
- charges of actual deaths which occurred of detainees in U.S. custody (I concur that only a percentage of these are deemed reasonably suspicious)
- evaluations — from a Catholic perspective — of the ‘just war’ defenses of such offered by Mark Thiessen and others supporting the above addressing the question: whether it is morally permissible (and legally permissable) to employ interrogation techniques on unlawful enemy combatants that otherwise would not be permissible to employ on lawful enemy combatants, or honorable captured soldiers held in POW status(After all, I expect that we would rightly register a protest if any of our own in the armed forces, or any U.S. citizen, were treated in this manner in captivity by another foreign government).
Such would be much appreciated — although I’m not exactly holding my breath in anticipation.