Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why Torture?

May 6, 2009

I have hesitated to enter into the fray on the issue of "enhanced interrogations" because it seems to me to be a very difficult, complicated issue. However, even though I think I understand the rationales behind the use of such harsh methods, I have a very hard time deciphering why any person who considers him or herself moral, would have a problem with someone who opposed such mistreatment of other human beings.

I think too many people have been watching 24, and other dramatic television series, and they think those things happen in real life. While there are those who say information gleaned from enhanced methods may have saved lives, I would question with all of my intuitive resourcefulness that there has
ever been a time when a terrorist had his hand on the button of a detonator, and has made demands and threats to the United States; otherwise, he would blow up a city.

I thought it was pretty obvious that the plot was far-fetched since Jack Bauer still somehow hasn't died in seven seasons. But I honestly think people believe there are bad guys who are out to get us, and the only way to stop them is by torturing people.

If they want to believe that, fine. If they want to believe that President Obama is putting our nation at risk by eliminating such treatment of prisoners, that's their choice.

I am saying, if we are strictly speaking on moral grounds, I don't really understand how someone who thinks he is moral can have a problem with the position Obama has taken on this issue. Aren't principles and morals supposed to be held more sacred than life itself? Is it acceptable for a supposedly moral person to betray those morals, supposedly to save lives? Hence, even if it's true that lives were saved, we had saved them at the cost of coming down to the level of our reprehensible enemies.

Yet we have voices like Bill O'Reilly out there saying if you diagree with those who choose to torture enemy combatants, and you disagree with God's self-appointed "mouthpiece," that you somehow are unpatriotic, and hate america. People who feel very strongly that we should treat everyone with dignity, enemy or otherwise, are treated like weak and spineless individuals.

I am not declaring definitively that I know the answer. But there is a case to be made for harsh interrogations, in that they possibly keep us safer from threats about which we are unaware. And there is a case to be made that being the great nation we are, we ought to somehow rise above the behavior of animals, and act like civil human beings, brutal enemy notwithstanding.

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