Secretary of Defense Panetta said: “The real story was that in order to put the puzzle of intelligence together that led us to Bin Laden, there were a lot of pieces out there that were a part of that puzzle. Yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time, interrogation tactics that were used. But the fact is we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that.”
After much introspection and because of a discussion on the topic of torture I have come around full circle to my original position on enhanced interrogation techniques. Our government may have overused these techniques but I think that these enhanced interrogation techniques are a necessity. It may be necessary to use some of these techniques more frequently than others but I believe they are all needed to one degree or another in order to obtain and/or verify information from the terrorists. In addition I don’t see these techniques as constituting torture. Plus, there is no consensus or clear-cut definition of torture.
I know that the president takes an oath to defend and protect citizens from harm and in the discussion on a blog some of the commenters acknowledged this but, then they went onto to say that the president could authorize the use of what they call “torture”, the enhanced interrogation techniques, in order to save lives but then they continued the discussion by emphasizing that the president should have to accept the consequences. They suggested court-martial. It’s not possible to court-martial a president. It’s too late to impeach Bush, since that’s probably the president that they were referring to. I disagree with this vehemently. Either the president has the obligation to protect the American people or he doesn’t. Since he takes a pledge the president does have an obligation to protect us and he should have every reasonable type of interrogation technique available for his authorization so that those who carry out the interrogations – those responsible for getting information to stop attacks – are able to have the best possible ways to stop future terrorist attacks.
Then I read a superb article by Rev. Brian Harrison, O.S., M.A., S.T.D. where he explains the Church’s history on torture and Biblical references to torture which pertains to the torture debate today and the enhanced interrogation techniques used by our government.
The nasty subject of torture, not normally a headline-grabbing topic in the twentieth century, has recently been catapulted to a much higher level of prominence in public debate throughout the world in the heightened atmosphere of tension following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
What are we Catholics to think about this subject? While recent magisterial statements (none of them definitive and infallible) have reprobated torture, Catholic theologians and apologists still face a challenge. The overall testimony of our authorities — Scripture, Tradition and the magisterium — over three millennia is by no means very clear, or even obviously consistent, in regard to the morality of intentional infliction of pain.
Even deciding what exactly we mean by torture is not easy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it as “physical or moral violence” (CCC 2297); the definition given by the 1984 United Nations Convention on Torture is “the intentional infliction of severe pain.” The words violence and severe are themselves somewhat vague. Who draws the line — and where? — as to which specific practices are harsh enough to correspond to those words? What has become clear in the contemporary debate is that while many shudder-evoking practices (which needn’t be spelled out here) are recognized by everyone as meriting the name torture, there is no consensus about whether other less extreme interrogation techniques really count as torture: for instance, sleep deprivation, being kept under harsh temperatures or in uncomfortable positions, or “waterboarding” (which causes a brief, panic-inducing sensation of being about to drown but no pain or injury). Since no Catholic magisterial intervention so far offers any real guidance for resolving this controversy, the only methods we can be sure are included under “torture,” when that word appears in Church documents, are those in the former group. CONTINUED
Like I said in one of my comments where the discussion on torture took place, abortion much more clearly falls under the definitive description of torture than any of the interrogation techniques mentioned above. Abortion is an apt example of “physical and moral violence” taking place. So therefore IMO besides abortion being murder it also falls under the Church’s definition of torture. But these same people who are so outspoken on what they perceive to be torture are totally okay with abortion being legal. This is so sad especially because abortion involves the killing of an innocent human being who hasn’t done any harm to anyone while the other involves a person who is more dangerous than the average criminal, is threatening violence against innocents and is withholding information that is vital to stopping a terrorist attack. Some people are so backwards with their thinking and have a screwed up sense of morality.