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02/05/2009

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Planes flown into buildings - Waterboarding three guys

Suicide bombers blowing up civilians - temperature extremes

Beheading infidels - stress positions

Yup, we sure surrendered our moral position didn't we!

Look, I'm sure you were an excellent documentarian, but really, are you going to tell me we fought wars without doing some fairly nasty things that you and your fellow hand wringers might consider torture. Cuz if so, I'd say you've surrendered your intellectual credibility.

All one has to do is look at the pictures of past conflicts to know that we did what we have to do to win. Difference is that the media didn't grind an idealogical axe back in the good old days.

Hell, your hero, FDR locked up U.S. citizens - lets pause on that for a moment.... U.S. Citizens! - simply for the crime of having the wrong kind ancestory. While not torture, I wonder what rule he was following in that circumstance. Similarly, I'm sure the good citizens of Dresden must be comforted to know they weren't tortured. Which rule of warfare would you cite to say it's ok to fire bomb citizens? Ever see pictures of GI's with necklaces of severed ears from WWII. I have. Are you sure none of those ears were from enemy soldiers that we had to extract information from?

And what color is it in your world anyway?

I could go on, but you get the point. Attack the U.S. - oh, wait, Germany didn't attack the U.S., well never mind - declare war on the U.S. and the gloves come off. That is what has kept you, and your childish theories of war safe for all these years.

By the way, keep this up and I'm gonna have to ask that you name me as co-author of this blog!

None of which comes anywhere close to the issues I raised.

Nowhere do I assert that war is without its excesses. The discussion is about institutionalized, bureaucratized torture. FDR's actions were illegal and unnecessary and did nothing to improve the war effort, which makes them unlikely justification for current policy.

The issue of the firebombing of Dresden -- and what was called "terror bombing" of other German and Japanese cities -- is an interesting one, and difficult. Total War is like that, and I believe that the bombing of Germany and Japan were justified in order to dismantle our enemies' ability to wage war. It is also completely legal under national and international law, an accepted (if terrible) aspect of modern warfare. And, I should remind you, we are nowhere near a state of Total War and our current enemies are a fraction as threatening as Nazi Germany.

Nowhere do I make a moral argument against torture. Though I believe torture to be inherently immoral, I argued only that it was tactically counterproductive. Your whole "beheading = stress positions" cascade is utterly irrelevant, and for the record I don't consider what we do to our detainees to be as vile as, for example, videotaped beheadings. Nonetheless, torture is vile.

You seem to be parrying imaginary arguments, while ignoring completely what I actually said. Call my arguments childish -- though they're arguments made by, among others, George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower -- but what seems childish to me is your response. Irrelevant, condescending, and utterly free of facts, it's the rhetorical equivalent of monkeys flinging feces.

So far, my facts stand without contradiction; you offered nothing but emotional justification for your own advocacy of counterproductive torture. I accept that torture is emotionally justified. I assert nonetheless that it's tactically counterproductive, and you've said nothing that refutes either that or my arguments about the application of torture to people who have done nothing to merit it and the conservative acceptance of an illegal activity.

I assert nonetheless that it's [waterboarding] tactically counterproductive.

Khalid Sheik Mohammaed reportedly sang like a bird after a minute or two of waterboarding, giving out all sorts of names and connections of the Al Qaeda network.

This was back when we had practically no human intelligence on the network. Since then, no attacks.

Of course I have to use 'reportedly' to modify my statement, because I wasn't there and any official reports on what was divulged won't be out for a very long while.

But your assertion is just that, an assertion.

You don't know for sure, but would you take that risk if you were responsible for the lives of potentially thousands of others.

In a ticking bomb situation, would you?

Leon Panetta, Obama's pick to head the CIA, has dismayed some on the left by his confirmation testimony today on this very subject.

He, let us say, says he wouldn't, but makes sure to leave his options open.

In a ticking bomb situation (if something like that actually ever happens is certainly debatable, I would claim the probability for that to be low) I might be ready to allow torture. But after that I nevertheless should go to prison for allowing torture. That’s the only way to escape the dilemma.

Analogous: If the president ever allows torture in a ticking bomb situation he should resign immediately after and hand himself over to the authorities. I cannot see how else you could preserve the rule of law.

Michael's point is what I was saying in the other thread. Accepting that torture may save lives while accepting the responsibility that it is wrong in every sense.

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