October 10, 2005
@ 03:16 PM
From the post "Darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death. " on the Making Light blog

The nine Senators who voted against the anti-torture amendment:

  1. Sen. Wayne Allard [R-Colorado]
  2. Sen. Kit Bond [R-Missouri]
  3. Sen. Tom Coburn [R-Oklahoma]
  4. Sen. Thad Cochran [R-Mississippi]
  5. Sen. John Cornyn [R-Texas]
  6. Sen. James Inhofe [R-Oklahoma]
  7. Sen. Pat Roberts [R-Kansas]
  8. Sen. Jeff Sessions [R-Alabama]
  9. Sen. Ted Stevens [R-Alaska]
Henceforth to be known as the Nazgul.

(Meme via Jim Henley.)

If you haven't been following this story you can catch up on it in the Telegraph news article entitled Bush will veto anti-torture law after Senate revolt.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005 6:54:32 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Well may I just say: good for those 9. It’s nice to see some people in Washington still have some integrity.

Here’s the deal, we shouldn’t torture people, we should do everything in our power to keep from torturing people, but sometimes it’s necessary and congress shouldn’t take it away from people who need it just to make themselves look good.

Now, I’m not talking Abu Gahrib here or Guantanamo Bay, I’m talking we know a bomb is headed to a civilian target, we know the guy we have in custody knows what that target is, and we have less than an hour to stop it. It’s great to be on the moral high ground but one has to ask how much its worth when 3,000+ people are dead just so you could feel morally superior.

It’s a sad reality of life but things happen behind closed doors to keep us safe that most of us (myself included) would prefer not to think about, but that doesn’t mean those things are unnecessary. It should be used as little as possible but it shouldn’t be taken off the table by a bunch of senators who know an “anti-torture” bill is good PR.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 2:58:04 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
This may not be the best forum for this, but what the hell.

"Now, I’m not talking Abu Gahrib here or Guantanamo Bay"

But you are, whether you like it or not.
When you're saying that torture is a legitimate tactic in certain situations, you have officially put it in the "toolbox" of the army/government. Now you don't have a moral decision on whether to use it or not - now you just have a quantitive scale, to decide whether it's time to use it or not.

It's an issue that goes very deep in politics. It's an argument I've had with many here in Israel. I don't believe that a moral code is something you should keep only in peace-time, and be willing to put aside when things are tough. It's the classic slippery slope.

You say that it should be used as little as possible - can you make hard and fast rules on when it should and when it shouldn't? Will you torture a man to save 50 lives? Rape? Kill? Kill 50 men?
If you can give me a solid, comprehensive guide to using torture that I - and a majority of people - would find acceptable? We both know you won't. As long as such a consensus can't be reached, I do not trust the government, the military or anyone else with excessive power.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 3:02:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Dare - sorry for filling your blog with irrelevant arguments. Feel free to kick us out if you feel like it. :)
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 4:44:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
But see, you can’t legislate out all bad behavior, if you try you end up taking away a valuable tool from good people while empowering bad ones. Admitted, if you absolutely won’t trust the Government, Military, et al. then there’s little I can do to justify this but in the end I’d argue that a certain amount of trust is necessary.

Take a more down to earth example…

Say you happen to be holding a gun (I don’t know why, say someone handed it to you) and you see a knife wielding maniac grab one of your loved ones and start to stab said loved one. I’d like to think, at that point, you’d shoot the guy.

Shooting people is bad, but in this one circumstance in the hands of a good person, it produced a necessary result. Making a law that says “no one can ever shoot anyone else” would be a bad thing because your loved one would be dead. Further, those who would go around shooting people for no good reason probably aren’t the types to concern themselves with the law anyway.

You have to assume most people in the Military are good people, of course there are going to be “Abu Gahrib-esque” incidents and those people will be prosecuted but remember, those people were court marshaled under existing uniform military code, that’s already unacceptable. We shouldn’t torture unless absolutely necessary but there are rare situations where it is and we shouldn’t tie the hands of law enforcement by out right banning it. Saying “they just can’t be trusted” prevents them from being effective in any way because you tie the hands of the only people in the position to use it.

For the record, I wouldn’t be opposed to a law that more severely limits it and if someone is ever tortured unjustifiably I’m not against them suing the U.S. and getting a bunch of money out of us (well me, and Dare, but not you).

P.S. Dare feel free to kick me out too :)
Sunday, October 16, 2005 5:39:09 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"We shouldn't torture unless absolutely necessary" avoids the fact that torture does not produce reliable results: people who break will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say.

The current administration's "Lets Torture for Freedom" policy brings shame on US' allies, such as my country. Torture is a gift in PR terms for the evil terrorists. In the long, middle and short term, terrorism can only be beaten by winning over hearts and minds: the population that opts for democracy, the mother who rescues her son from a gang of brainwashing teachers, the policeman who doesn't look the other way. Cruel treatments, secret interrogations, disappearances and renditions, sham trials, the mocking of civil liberties, let alone the top-down culture that apparantly has winked and equivocated at torture, all these belong to the bad guys; we should clearly have no part in them.

I was just reading some parliamentary records for Britain in WWII, where the parliament was in uproar over the idea that POWs should be shackled. A state's conduct during the extremity of war exposes what its values really are.

To cut a long post short: good on you Dare for posting about those evil, banal men. Torturers are war criminals and we are better than that.
Rick Jelliffe
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