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McNerney Voted to Ban Waterboarding...Which We Now Know Was Instrumental in Capturing OBL
Original post made
by Dana, Amador Estates,
on May 3, 2011
McNerney...You owe us an apology. Your leftist ideology weakens our country. If this waterboarding ban had been in effect before we waterboarded KSM, Osama Bin Laden would likely still be alive and other terror plots may have been successful.
You voted in favor of H.R. 2082 which in effect bans the use of waterboarding.
Would you like to just forget your vote and hope your constituents forget as well?
I haven't forgotten...here is a record of your vote on this issue...
>>> Web Link
For more info >>> Web Link
Your constituents will be waiting for your apology.
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Posted by Call Me Nuts
a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2011 at 11:29 pm
I think you are quite wrong about me being alone in my conviction, Sam. I think most of the civilized world agrees with me. I'm more than half-serious when I suggest maybe you've been hanging on these PW sites a bit too much. Most of the posters on PW Forum would not sign nor abide by the Geneva Convention. When you say I am a minority of one, I think you may inadvertantly be reflecting the biases of a community of posters who, by and large, I think you'll agree, aren't really readers. They have opinions, but rarely are books cited, or philosophical positions staked out; rather, its my opinion vs. your opinion without much substance.
Yes, I am surprised, almost astonished, that you'd seem to be siding with Dan, WW and so many other of the yokels who hang out on these sites. Just to be clear. I am a parent. I would attempt to move heaven and earth to protect my family. But that precludes murdering someone in cold blood, and it precludes torture. I understand the sentiment. But that's why we have laws and treaties that advance reason and right over sentiment.
I don't want to trivialize your argument. But you don't seem to offer much beyond the same scenario you presented a few posts ago. When I hear your argument, which isn't far from Dan's and the others, I think of Tony Soprano, or Scarface, or the Godfather. What is so interesting about the Sicilian-mafia movies (and nonfictional accounts as well) is their uncompromising willingness to protect their families. They will kill, maim, torture, all for the sake of their families. This is a deeply rooted human sentiment; it also is a sentiment that forms a cornerstone of fascist ideology. Surely you don't deny that most of the right-wingers on these posts are fascists, voicing fascist sentiments, under the protections of democracy? Were we not in 21st century America, say instead Apartheid S. Africa, they'd be tripping all over themselves volunteering to torture innocents or intimidate the frail and weak. They can barely contain themselves in their glee at the prospects of America becoming a torturing nation.
Forgive my analogy; I suspect you will chafe at it. I am not calling you a fascist. But the arguement you are advancing is the very argument Nazis used to rationalize their heinous practices; so too South Africans felt they had to torture ANC members in order to protect their families, to protect their (white) citizenry.
The hallmark of modern liberal thought -- Mill, Rawls, Habermas -- at its very best, takes us beyond family or state as 'highest' principle. Rather, it is the sanctity of the individual that 'trumps' family or 'the collective'. We ALL have sentiments, like the American fascist-mafia Tony Soprano, to do whatever it takes to protect one's family; but we have come to realize that there are higher principles. There can be no justification for intentionally harming a SUSPECTED terrorist. And after he's found guilty, we have laws -- good laws -- against cruel and unusual punishment. In the movies, of course, the bad guy is the bad guy and the vigilantes -- whether Batman or Arnold S or Clint Eastwood -- are always right and don't need to obey the law. In real life, however, we MUST abide by the law: arrest for suspicion, read rights, respect right of habeus corpus, grand jury, defense attorneys, jury by peers, etc. These kinds of laws, rights and reasoning are what distinguishes us from the fascists. When we turn to 'well-intentioned' vigilante justice and its practices such as torture, we cannot claim to be better than the fascists.
I love my family more than anything. But my rational faculties tell me torture in inhuman. I will not go down that path to fascism.
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Posted by Call Me Nuts
a resident of Birdland
on May 9, 2011 at 2:27 am
I'm puzzled by your response. Let's be clear. By torturing someone, it likely will entail destroying part of their being; they will never be the same again; they may be physically maimed or emotionally so scarred as to never again function as a normal human being. You seem willing to torture the suspected terrorist, and his sons and daughters, on the STRONG POSSIBILITY that it will help save your family; but of course you MIGHT be wrong. This doesn't seem to bother you, unless I've misread you. Then you state an unwillingness to torture a suspected terrorist, and his sons and daughters, because there is only a WEAK POSSIBILITY that it will help save your family; but you MIGHT be wrong here too. I'm wondering what would be the line that separates the first from the second for you. 90% vs. 10%? So, for example, you'd torture the guy you think is 90% likely to be guilty but not the guy you think is only 10%? See why I'm confused? I think the question I raise is pretty important because since you or I won't be in the interrogation room, it is important that our standards (your standard) be used to guide the torturers. So, when is it permissible and when not? Is it a matter of percent likelihood of guilt? Or is it some nonquantifiable criterion?
John, thanks again for the slippery slope reminder. I personally believe that the United States, for all its shortcomings -- e.g., slavery, eradication of Native Americans, incarceration of Japanese Americans, treatment of illegal immigrants, imperialist expansionism and unjust wars, social class exploitation and control -- has created something magnificently extraordinary that is ongoing: A concept of democracy founded on an abstract idea of human liberty. For all its shortcomings, there is still this. It separates us from most, perhaps all, other democratic experiments. Ours is not a form of democracy founded on folk, or geist, or folkgeist, or race, or religion; rather, it is founded on the idea of the free individual who is guaranteed inalienable rights. I personally believe, and I think I have much support -- perhaps more so from NYTimes readers than PW readers (admitting some overlap) -- that the idea of the free individual with inalienable rights precludes such things as being assumed and treated guilty without trial, and/or being tortured, or wiretapped without a warrant, or being extraordinarily renditioned, to name but a few. If we take these rights away, I fear there is nothing left of America beyond a large number of t.v. sets per capita and a lot of Howard Johnsons and McDonalds to patronize. I believe inalienable rights is worth fighting and dying for. And on an "abstract level," (see below) I place it higher than the survival of my family or yours. I believe this value -- the one I've just expressed -- has been embraced by all signatories of the Geneva Convention. It was not at all a hollow excercise; which is why the U.S. is one of the few countries NOT to sign the Declaration of Human Rights which came a few years later. A nation does not decide lightly to enter into treaties or conventions that hold its citizens and future citizens to standards of action and behavior.
Qualifier: 'abstract level'. But what about the concrete -- not the hypothetical 'whether to torture because in 20 minutes 100,000 people are going to die', but rather real cases? I asked Sam about concrete instances because of course I thought he'd have a difficult time finding any. (Dan, I think there have been enough whistleblowers over the decades such that WERE the U.S. to have engaged in torture pre-GW Bush, we'd have heard about it. I agree, however, that the practice isn't something a nation would want to boast about. I think you know why.) Beyond the question of morality, I think we've developed better ways of interrogating than that of torture, which is notoriously unreliable as a means of eliciting information. Again, its uses through history have been primarily -- almost exclusively -- to extract FALSE confessions from political prisoners. I think the guy we nabbed in Pakistan and who we waterboarded 84 times is a case in point. It's possible the torture SLOWED DOWN the interrogation. Because the victim of torture is so utterly beaten down, that he's in a poor situation to tell truth from falsity. He is far more likely to state what the torturer wants him to state than to state the truth. That is way, not surprisingly, it seems the guy gave out an inadvertant CLUE well after the waterboardings, as a result of careful, methodical, discursive questioning.
The hypothetical originally posed contains flaws. First, the scenario itself is very highly unlikely. But even were it to present itself, my strong hunch is that whatever 'information' extracted from the tortured victim would NOT be enough to save the 100,000. Further, I believe, sincerely, that the best chance of getting the sought after 100,000-saving piece of information would come not from torture but from skillful interrogation. Again, the hypothetical is so unlikely as to be almost preposterous; but even were it to be, there are BETTER, more EFFECTIVE MEANS that would not involve violating an individual's inalienable rights. [posting without re-reading -- time constraints, sorry]
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Posted by Call Me Nuts
a resident of Birdland
on May 9, 2011 at 3:03 am
I've been thinking about your harsh assessment of my argumentative style. Well taken. It gave me pause, and made me reflect on the interesting kind(s) of communication that take(s) place on these threads.
First, I don't think there are many people posting here that are bowing to communication-in-order-to-produce-knowledge-and/or-consensus. I'm referring to dialogue, say, between scientists or philosophers, or even between professor and students. In these, the presumption is that both parties enter the enter for purposes of broadening, deepening, refining, or even changing their positions. I ask you about the results of your experiment not to play "got ya" or to "one-up ya" but because your experiment's results may well determine how I assess/believe in my own experiment's results. The aim is to collaborate in order to gain shared (scientific) knowledge or understanding. We assume, to cite another example, that students ask questions not to trip up a teacher but because they are desirous of knowledge.
I don't think consensus-producing dialogue is what usually occurs on these posts. I liken it more to forensic communication. People stake out sides and then attempt to rhetorically embellish their own side (by means of reasoned argument and validity claims, or by lies, exaggerations, and other forms of deception). Part of defending one's turf may involve tearing down the credibility of one's 'witness' or one's 'legal' opponent. I've noticed very little effort to learn, but only to convince others ... and quite unlike the scientists who are in pursuit of truth, anything seems to go. (That is why I so disrespect Dr. Bill Watenberg on KGO: he is a (former)scientist and he should know better; but instead he routinely lies and deceives as part of a systematic disinformation agenda that serves his political purposes.)
I plead 'guilty' to having stepped into these 'forensic' pits, where one would seem to have little chance of finding serious engagement with reasonable interlocutors. The norm, rather, is that of strategic victory by means of cleverness, deceit, discrediting of other, etc.
When you ask me whether you being able to produce evidence of the effectiveness of torture would change my thinking on this matter, I think you were implying that I was incapable of engaging in consensus-oriented dialogue. Combined with your harsh assessment of my 'rigid' ways of thinking, I'm thinking perhaps those comments indicate that you too have difficulty engaging in consensus-oriented discourse -- at least on these posts, and perhaps not as much as me.
Speaking for myself, I'm a novice to the kind of communicative embattlement that takes place here. It has lead to much confusion, reflection, and trying out of various rhetorical strategems in hopes of learning more about some of the issues, myself, and discourse in its varied forms and shades. Trained in dialectical thought, I've attempted to pose arguments in black/white terms; the rigidity you mention, I would like to believe, is less my standard way of thinking about things and more my attempt to apply it within an environment where 'stylistic' and immediate battlefield victories begin to seem more important than the overall war itself. (I'm not real happy with this analogy, but I'll let it suffice.)
So, you weren't able to think of any examples where torture saved lives? In answer to your question, I think were you to present one or more, it certainly would make my position less tenable and, minimally, I'd have to go back to the drawing board. But isn't that what consensus-oriented dialogue is meant to do? I'm spending time arguing this matter, in this way, because I hope I can change your thinking; but also to change my own, and mine already has, though probably not in a way that brings me closer to your position. I'd like to believe that were you to present a strong set of arguments that I'm capable of changing my mind.
Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.