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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Torture Defined

An interesting article appears in today’s online addition of the Washington (com)Post about Torture and the Bush Administration’s attempts to define it, particularly in terms of the new threat of Terror within our own borders. I have to admit to being somewhat leery of wading into this topic, but I think that it is very important and worth some risk of reproach.

Torture is, as a rule, not a nice thing. Whether or not it should be allowed really needs to be determined by two factors: 1) It is necessary and 2) Does it hold the promise of yielding useful information.

To address #1, is torture ever necessary? The concept of necessity is a difficult one mostly because in order to label something necessary, one must determine that there is literally no other possible way to accomplish a goal (and, of course, the goal must also be necessary itself). With respect to torturing prisoners/detainees/whatever-you-want-to-call-them, I think that it is conceivable that torture may very well be necessary in some cases. We still, of course, have the opportunity to decide that although the torture is necessary, we cannot morally agree to it and therefore will accept any consequences resulting from not obtaining the information in question. So, ask yourself, are you willing to accept an increased risk of another 9/11 (or worse) for the sake of not hurting a person who is most likely one of the Bad Guys?

Issue 2 is somewhat nebulous, and has been the topic of debate for a long time. Torture, in theory, holds the promise of yielding highly useful information. Of course, given enough time an individual skilled in any number of distasteful techniques has the ability to get almost anyone to say almost anything. The (again, distasteful) ‘trick’ is to not ask leading questions and end up with self-fulfilling prophecies. In the end, torture can yield useful information…but it’s as imperfect as anything.

Many people seem to hold the opinion that we must ‘hold ourselves to a higher moral standard’ than our enemies. In other words, we should not film ourselves carrying out slow decapitations just because it has been done to one of us. I tire of these arguments because they’re all along the lines of ‘If we do ___ (fill in the blank), then the Terrorists have already won.’ I’ve got two letters for that sort of thing: BS.

Let me tell you when you’ll be able to say, ‘The Terrorists have already won.’ That will be the day you find yourself kneeling in your front yard at the feet of a Terrorist holding a sword and being given a choice: convert to Islam or die. That, my friends, is when ‘The Terrorists have won.’ Until then, we still have a shot. So, even if we started torturing anyone who ever lived in the same town with a known Terrorist, the bad guys have not yet won. Granted, we would not be in a great moral spot…but we would not have yet completely lost. You can argue all day about whether a society that condones such action is worth fighting for...but the fact is we'd still have a better shot than if we all died in a horrific nuclear attack.

So, should we be torturing Bad Guys? I draw my own conclusions based on the following facts (as I see them, anyway):

1) Terrorists are trying to kill me, personally, while I go about my daily life not bothering anyone.
2) Terrorists with information have been captured by Americans.
3) Captured Terrorists have information about planned future attacks.
[4) If the situation were reversed (i.e., Terrorists had captured Americans) I have no doubt they would be mercilessly tortured and killed.]
5) Captured Terrorists are not willing to turn in their friends.
6) Tortured, Captured Terrorists might be willing to turn in their friends.
7) T-C-Terrorists turning in their friends might save me and my friends.

Even with all this, you might still not want to condone any form of torture under any conditions whatsoever. If that is the case, then at least admit that you are willing to trade the lives of fellow Americans for the sake of not harming confirmed Bad Guys.

Given all that…

What would you do?


John Ashcroft went to Capitol Hill yesterday to have a friendly discussion with some members of Congress concerning the Justice Department's stance on torture. I caught a heated exchange between Ashcroft and Sen. Biden on Fox News last night (alluded to here). For more articles on this topic see here, here and here.

Well, well, well. It looks like Mr. Biden might have exaggerated a bit when he invoked his son's name while berating Mr. Aschroft the other day. Michelle Malkin points out that:

Biden's son, Beau, has been serving in the Delaware Army National Guard since last August, when he was commissioned a first lieutenant doing legal work as a judge advocate. He is serving honorably--and according to this article, he would be doing so without fanfare if not for his braying, exploitative stage dad.

Interesting. I too hope that Beau Biden (and anyone else in the military) is never used for blantant political advantage. Truly disgraceful of Senator Biden. For those you thinking that I should cut the Senator some slack because his point still stands, I don't see why. After all, the Left cuts the Right zero slack any time one of us has even the slightest verbal tumble let alone being caught red-handed exaggerating the truth. Proof? Anyone remember Trent Lott?

Update 2:

The Command Post altered me to the fact that NPR apparently has the torture memo posted.

Update 3:

Join me for more discussion about the Torture Memo.


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