Thursday, May 05, 2011

Did Waterboarding Help Us Get Bin Laden?

Peter King, of New York, claims that bin Laden's capture was partially due to waterboarding. But where is the hard evidence for this?

John McCain is skeptical.

10 comments:

B. Prokop said...

The answer to this debate hinges, unfortunately, on one of those hypotheticals which can never be proven or disproven, because it didn't happen. Those of us who find the use of torture morally repugnant and constitutionally impermissible might counter that, had we confined ourselves to legal (and, by the way, far more reliable) interrogation methods, we would have gotten the needed information far earlier than we did, and would have been able to take out Bin Laden years ago.

I am obviously in that camp. The use of torture crosses a very bright line that makes us no better than our enemies, as well as degrading the accuracy of our intelligence. (And please spare me the "ticking time bomb" scenario. That is a purely fictional plot device that simply does not occur in real life.)

I worked in US Intelligence for 34 years, and in this regard can recall an instance where one of my superiors cut short a colleage who was advocating blurring a particular legal line in one project with the following words: "Never forget that we are not the Good Guys simply by being us, we are the Good Guys by doing the right thing. The moment we depart from that, we have become ourselves the Bad Guys.")

Blue Devil Knight said...

Even if it did help, that wouldn't justify its use.

One Brow said...

I agree with the previous two posters. The damage we do to ourselves as torturers, and the general decreased effectiveness of torture compared to civilized interrogation techniques, make it a process with no upside or advantage. One case where it may have helped is an outlier, not a justification.

BenYachov said...

Some advice to anti-torturer advocates.

Don't get bogged down arguing whether or not torture is effective. Indeed disarm your foe by conceding it is effective. Rather argue it's immoral & it's effectiveness is not relevant.

I believe direct Abortion is immoral murder. I'm certainly not going to argue it's not effective in keeping you childless.

But if you are a moral consequentialist who opposes torture you are going to have a hard time of it.

The Church teaches Torture is intrinsically immoral. Thought there might be some ambiguity as to what constitutes torture.

Personally I'm not sure waterboarding KSM under the circumstances was torture. But report I hear they threatened is young child to get him to talk that is clearly torture and clearly immoral.

I await the Church to clear up the ambiguities for me.

The rest of you non-Catholics are on your own. Sorry about that but what can you do?

GREV said...

Sorry Ben -- but I couldn't resist --

"I await the Church to clear up the ambiguities for me.

The rest of you non-Catholics are on your own. Sorry about that but what can you do?"

Totally off comment but I think Calvin, Luther and a few of the rest of us would say when the Church has lost its way you challenge and try to point things in a reformed direction.

Sorry I couldn't resist. Now I shall go repent.

I did like this sentence -- "Rather argue it's immoral & it's effectiveness is not relevant."

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

I also am a Catholic, but you are constantly embarrassing me on this website.

People, please don't take Ben's postings here as expressions of mainline Catholicism. Catholics are definitely NOT like Mormons, who have a so-called prophet in Salt Lake City, and await his next revelation direct from God's mouth to his ear, to "clear up ambiguities" for them.

On the contrary, Orthodox Catholicism has from the beginning (33 AD) maintained that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church AS A WHOLE, to include the entirety of the laity, all of the clergy, and finally the hierarchy. We are the most democratic body in human history - even our deceased have a vote, through Church Tradition!

So Ben, if you have an ambiguity that needs clearing up, get to work on it. Don't wait for some mythical church "Decider" to do your work for you. That's not what Aquinas did, nor did Augustine, St. Benedict, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Dante, or (literally) billions of others.

And yes, yes, yes, the Church does exercise ultimate authority through the Magisterium, but rarely does she ever do so - generally in the context of a General Council, e.g., Nicea, Trent, or Vatican II. But seldom if ever more than once in any given person's lifetime. So don't hold your breath!

Anonymous said...

Even if it did help, that wouldn't justify its use.

That's silly: It could absolutely help to justify its use, especially if one of the arguments against torture was that it doesn't help. And sure enough, that's one of the popular claims: That if you torture someone they'll tell you whatever you want to hear, or make things up.

BenYachov said...

B. Prokop,

So what is the bug up your arse that's vexing you?

You have made a bunch of emotive statements and a personal attack but nothing intelligent to respond too.

I can't work with that.

BenYachov said...

>Totally off comment but I think Calvin, Luther and a few of the rest of us would say when the Church has lost its way you challenge and try to point things in a reformed direction.

GREV the moral difference between a Protestant and a whimpy liberal dissident "Catholic" is simply this.

The Protestant has integrity.

God bless em.

Cheers!:-)

awatkins69 said...

On the contrary B, I've noticed that Ben represents the orthodox Catholic position for more closely than you do.

"Don't wait for some mythical church "Decider" to do your work for you. That's not what Aquinas did..."

No, they built on the tradition which was handed to them from the Apostles, and submitted to Church authority when she made pronouncements.

"On the contrary, Orthodox Catholicism has from the beginning (33 AD) maintained that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church AS A WHOLE, to include the entirety of the laity, all of the clergy, and finally the hierarchy. We are the most democratic body in human history - even our deceased have a vote, through Church Tradition!"

- Would like to see you point to a council or official document which says this. On the contrary, the Church is quite undemocratic. Laity have no say in Church Councils, and they are in no way part of the ordinary Magisterium. Ordinary magisterium is exercised by the bishops in union with the Holy Father. Which brings us to this gem:

"And yes, yes, yes, the Church does exercise ultimate authority through the Magisterium, but rarely does she ever do so..."

On the contrary, she *always* does so. This is the ordinary Magisterium.

Sorry to de-rail, but just felt obligated to point all of this out. Ben is spot on; Catholics are free to agree or disagree that waterboarding constitutes torture, but when the Church speaks the Church is the last word. (Personally, I think it is, and hence constitutes grave matter)