Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Got Torture?

I found another site that lays out what the Bible says about torture. It is pretty comprehensive.

Like all moral questions of great importance, it is not easy. We must, I'm afraid, wrestle with God on the deeper and tougher questions about right and wrong.

We are correct in trying to define torture properly. I remember when I was in high school and I watched a local news story one evening describing an inmate at a local prison that was suing the prison system for "cruel and unusual punishment". The crime? They wouldn't give him peanut butter. The clever 'investigative journalist' on task, started snooping around and found out that another inmate was chained to a post outside for 30 minutes due to an urgent matter that needed attending to for security reasons.

Now this place was in the desert of the Southwestern U.S. and it was probably 110 degrees outside, but he was in the shade and he had water and he had spent time outside every day during exercise periods. It wasn't like he shackled to a whipping post out in the desert for a couple of days with no provisions. I remember feeling disgusted at the 'journalist' for exaggerating the story for drama and obfuscating the truth.

I feel we are in the same pickle now. I can honestly say that my fraternity hazing was worse than some of the things done to the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. There is no honesty in this debate and it is vitally important that we have some.

These Islamicists are evil men by any standard that can be applied by a sane, and civil society. They attacked our soldiers on the battlefield in a just war against the people directly responsible for killing 3000 people on U.S. soil on September 11th, 2001. They are not uniformed soldiers from a nation-state, for which the Geneva Convention was convened. They do not fit our current paradigms. This is asymmetrical warfare and it requires assymetrical thinking to address it properly.

Having said that, we have a moral duty as Christians to make decisions with Christ in our minds and hearts.

I think that torture is too big of a word. It can mean too many things. Usually, when we think of torture, we imagine Torquemada, or the Nazi's "medical experiments" at Auschwitz, or Japanese at Bataan. This kind of torture was sadistic, damaging, and many times lethal. It served no higher purpose other than exacting revenge, or dominance on those in the hands of wicked men, or giving those wicked men some sadistic pleasure - or all of the above.

No moral person would condone or approve such a thing, and no one in the Bush Administration did any such thing. The implication that he did is dishonest and disgusting and has no place in civil discourse. I still hold out that it is possible that what they approved was wrong, but I believe they made a good faith effort to do what they thought was right at the time.

Obama is free to change the policy, but it is outrageous that he would try to punish criminally any Bush staff that developed or carried out the interrogation techniques that everyone is talking about.

I put my faith on the Bible, and it clearly says that a government's moral duty is to protect its citizens and punish evil men. We can debate how we do that as a free society but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it needs to be done, or that these are evil men we are dealing with.

If we don't face evil and defeat it, evil wins, and we are complicit in its victory.

1 comment:

  1. Here's what I think about detaining and torturing these turkeys:

    Pentagon: Ex-Gitmo detainees turning to terrorism on rise
    From Mike Mount
    CNN Pentagon Producer

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Mohammed Ismail was released from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in early 2004 and sent back to Afghanistan to be set free.

    Within four months, the U.S. military said, he was recaptured in Afghanistan attacking U.S. troops there, with paperwork on him that said he was a Taliban in good standing.

    Another is Abdullah Gulam Rasoul, who was released from Guantanamo in December 2007 and set free in Afghanistan. Rasoul has become a powerful Taliban military commander in southern Afghanistan, the military said, and the United States suspects he is responsible for several attacks on U.S. forces there.

    A senior U.S. military official said he believes Rasoul is using his former Guantanamo experience to build on his "rock star status" among the Taliban.

    ...The report shows that of the more than 530 detainees released from the prison, 27 have been confirmed to have engaged in terrorist activities and 47 are suspected of participating in some kind of terrorist act.

    In January, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said 62 former Guantanamo detainees may have gone on to participate in terrorism or military activity. That number included 18 who had been directly tied to an attack or attacks and 43 who were suspected of such action, Pentagon officials said at the time.

    "What's clear is we are not seeing recidivism on the decline," according to a defense official who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    ...Yousef Muhammed Yaaqoub was released from Guantanamo and sent back to Afghanistan to be freed in 2003. The Pentagon documents show that he rejoined the Taliban as a commander in southern Afghanistan, and planned a jailbreak in Kandahar and a "nearly successful capture of the town of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan."

    Yaaqoub was killed fighting U.S. troops on May 7, 2004, according to the Pentagon data, and his memorial service in Pakistan drew a number of wanted Taliban leaders.

    Other examples released by the Pentagon show men sent home to Morocco who were later captured and accused of recruiting people to train with and fight for al Qaeda in Iraq, two men freed in Saudi Arabia who became leaders in a new al Qaeda organization there, and a Russian sent home who later was arrested for playing a role in a gas line bombing.

    As a comparison, among prisoners in the United States, about 62 percent of violent offenders examined in a 1994 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics were rearrested within three years of being released.
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