Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Waterboarding - And Other 'Sports'

With the forthcoming serialisation of Dubya's 'memoirs' and the 'teasers' that have been released, it would seem there is much condemnation of 'waterboarding' as an inhuman practice.

Question: Was not the act of flying two passenger planes, with civilian passengers on board, into skyscrapers filled with civilian workers, not an inhuman practice?

Point to ponder: Should not those that 'kill be the sword', expect to 'die by the sword'?

Not condoning 'tit-for-tat' retribution you understand - just asking what is a logical question, or two......

And your opinion(s) is/are - and please justify your comments? Each one will, I promise, be answered....


john in cheshire said...

When George Bush first came to power, I remember saying - on some website or other - thank God for George. I have no reason to revise my opinion.

Witterings From Witney said...

As you may have surmised jic, tend to agree.

Trooper Thompson said...

So I guess you both love Obama, who is continuing all those policies?

e.g. Patriot Act, Guantalamo Bay, torture, hideously futile wars, massive bail-outs to crony capitalists etc etc.

Witterings From Witney said...

No,TT, methinks you misunderstand.....

I cannot answer for jic, but I do not condone futile wars or bailing out bankers (to use your examples). And no, I am no fan of Obama, either - far from it!

All I asked was if an 'opponent' rewrites the rules of the game,are you not entitled to do likewise? Something you have not answered......?

BTS said...

WFW, are you saying that you condone torture?

It is fair enough that one doesn't have to hold an absolute line, but I think it might be fair to state your own position in relation to the question.

Also, if these people are being tortured (in one form or another) without trial, were again is the line drawn?

Is it okay if someone tells you they're certain that the person has done 'something'? What proof is required, if one is to ignore due process, that the person is even guilty of anything at all?

Forgive me for being rather trite, but there's the old slippery slope argument..

Would you have trusted Gordon Brown with such powers? Or Mugabe? Or.. you get the idea.

And what about the wimps like me who happily confess to anything just to avoid having to watch an episode of Eastenders? Aside from all the obvious arguments your still left with the possible w3aste of resources hunting down the pizza delivery guy who pissed me off last week.

And then him ratting out the perfectly innocent bloke who 'looked at him a bit funny' in the pub last week, etc..

And besides, whose word do we have to rely on about the whole thing at the end of day? George Dubya's. Who is (although quite possibly perfectly honest, the reverse is also quite plausible if one bears in mind that he is) a politician.

All we have to go on is his word for all the hideous things his decisions have saved us from. And he got his info from the guys who failed to stop those planes hitting those particular tower blocks.

No-one would surely have anything to gain from lying about, well, anything. At all. Have they..?

Trooper Thompson said...

The answer is; no you are not entitled to rewrite the rules.

Torture is a crime. Those who do it, and those who order it, should be prosecuted. Starting unnecessary, avoidable wars of aggression is an even bigger crime, and should be treated as such.

Trooper Thompson said...

"Nearly 130 influential U.S. jurists, including twelve former federal judges and a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), have signed a statement denouncing Bush administration memoranda regarding the treatment of Iraqi and other detainees and accusing their authors of unprofessional conduct.

The statement, in the form of an open letter sent Wednesday to President George W. Bush, other top administration officials and members of Congress, declares that the memoranda, which were drafted by political appointees in the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the White House, "seek to circumvent long established and universally acknowledged principles of law and common decency."


andy5759 said...

Torture is a barbaric act. Sadly sometimes a necessary one. In the face of threats to the civilian population from covert combatants torture is most certainly justified.

We seem to forget that very little time has elapsed since the middle ages with the Spanish Inquisition and other such 'barbarism', we view history through a telescope the 'wrong way round'. So-called modern man regards himself as civilised, above these things, when in fact we are little changed over the last 500 years.

Trooper Thompson said...


I wonder how much torture it would take to get you to admit to being a terrorist?

I find your attitude disgraceful.

Witterings From Witney said...

andy5759, thanks, I can see from whence you are coming.

TT, agreed - torture is a barbaric act, but at what point would you resort to it if it meant your survival? Principles are all very well, in a civilised world, but when has 'war' been civilised?

As I said to BTS, sorry to answer your questions with my questions, however not one of you has actually responded to my questions, posed in my post.

I can but repeat, when 'push comes to shove', does not one inhuman act justify and, of necessity, demand a likewise response? If not, why not?

Can any of you say that, where your life and family relied on your principles, you would not disregard your principles? That you would not take whatever action was necessary to save them?

I ask again, when considering your replies, consider who actually attacked defenceless civilians, thereby breaking the rules? And what exactly are the rules, where terrorism is concerned? How and whose rules does one use when fighting an enemy who recognises 'no rules'? One who considers that a 'non-believer', regardless of status - ie, combatant or non-combatant is a fair target. What exactly are your 'rules' in such a situation?

Over to you, chaps..........

Trooper Thompson said...

"at what point would you resort to it if it meant your survival?"

There isn't any example I can think of where this applies. I suppose you're thinking of the 'classic' ticking time bomb and the terrorist who won't say where it is? This is not what torture is used for. The people getting beaten to death and raped in jail cells across the world are not having this done to them because of ticking time bombs.

What about the defenceless civilians who are the victims of torture? As for 'rules', one long-established rule is: "don't invade Afghanistan". We've already been there longer than WWI and WWII combined, and we're no closer to winning, whatever the hell that even means.

BTS said...

WFW, fair enough, you asked a question which I didn't answer. That was because you implied your own view without really giving the justification which you asked of your readers (as a side note though, you responded to Trooper Thompson, not myself - I believe we actually cross-posted, with my comments coming after your response to TT's).

So, to be brief, the answer is no, as a general principle.

But, before I elaborate as briefly as possible (and bearing in mind that a full response would really be the work of months or even years, which many have already done so and hence our current ban on torture as a means of obtaining evidence) I feel I ought to iterate TT's view that your original question conflates two different ideas - that of the 'ticking time-bomb' and that of retribution.

Whilst in one sentence you say "Should not those that 'kill be the sword', expect to 'die by the sword'?", in the next you state that you don't condone "'tit-for-tat' retribution". Those that hijacked the planes to commit the 9/11 atrocities (for that is what they are) did 'die by the sword'. Any intelligence-gathering attempts after the fact were not to prevent the act, they were to provide information on those who assisted in the conspiracy and to further the aims of justice* (which is retribution by any other name, depending upon one's perspective).

*It's worth a big note at this point that that is where the 'war on terror' originated from.

So, the 'bomb' had already gone off.

There is a distinct contradiction and therefore the argument (or question) is flawed.

Now, if one is posing the question as a rephrasing, for that is essentially what it is, of the old philosophical conundrum of who does one save - the drowning scientist who knows the cure to cancer (ie 'society' ie 'the greater good') aginst the life of one's loved one or an innocent child (ie one's love or one's personal essential beliefs which strike to their core) then it's worth mentioning that this philosophical question is also always flawed in that not only does it have to be tailored to the person and their individual circumstances and relationships, but also that it was designed solely for the purpose of testing that individual's views of their own beliefs, not for reaching any true insight into 'the condition of man' as, not being under those specific circumstances at the time of asking, it can only answer how they would pass judgement on others and not how they might act in those circumstances themselves.

My response was in keeping with the question in that my views were implicit.

However, the truth is that we all do have a line which we believe others should not cross IMHO.

But we all probably would feel compelled to cross under certain theoretical circumstances. It is, however, impossible to know these lines lie for ourselves until such an event occurs.

So yes, under certain (undefined) circumstances, I believe that we would all (or rather, may) accept/pardon/condone/forgive such acts but only if we felt that we could honestly justify them before our peers.

And also that we should have to justify them before our peers, whilst being open to censure and punishment if we are deemed to be guilty of whatever crimes we may be accused of.

And those victims of torture should be able to make such claims so that we may be judged and either exonerated or punished by our peers accordingly, not hidden away.

Exceptional circumstances may justify exceptional methods, but they really do need to be exceptional and justifiable.

And for us all to decide.

Then, perhaps, my previous comments could be taken in context and those questions in response be answered.