I have resisted writing on this subject. I’ve resisted writing on this subject because it’s black and white to me. As a matter of course you treat innocent people (people not convicted of a crime) as if they haven’t done anything wrong. People are in the wrong place at the wrong time even when you’re fighting a battle in a third world country.
This view puts me at odds with most law enforcement, even in the US, where any visit to the holding cells for people recently arrested will result in horrified outrage at the treatment of people awaiting processing. But depraved conditions in the local holding pen because of the tight-fistedness of local government is nothing compared to intentionally causing physical and emotional pain to people simply because we can, because we are in charge and want to assert our authority.
There is an excellent essay up on Stonekettle Station right now on this subject. Jim Wright has the experience to back up what he says when it comes to the subject of taking prisoners in a time of war, of just how hard it is to take a high moral road when you really are in the thick of it.
I, me personally? I would do whatever it took, including torture, if that was the only way to save the city, if that was the only way to save my family, if that was the only way to save you. As a military officer, yes, I would. Absolutely. I wouldn’t order my men to do it, I’d do it myself. I shove a hose up the bastard’s nose and turn on the water. I’d shoot out his knees. I’d cut off his balls. You bet. If that’s what it took. I’d do it without hesitation.Stonekettle Station
And I’d do it knowing I was breaking the law, and I would expect to be tried for the crime and sent to prison.
Because even if I saved the day, I’d be wrong.
Good intentions do not justify evil.
A just cause does not justify injustice. No more than if I donned a cape and tights and drove around Gotham in the night killing criminals without trial or due process.
It’s worth noting, in our depraved current era, that not even Batman killed the subjects he pursued in the original comic books. The same is true for all the heroes of previous generations. They didn’t kill, they didn’t torment, they didn’t torture. That was what the villains did. That was why the Punisher was a villain when introduced in the comic sphere. Because he killed, he tortured. He was evil.
Nowadays our heroes are not heroic in any sense of the word. Sports stars pummel their wives unconscious on video and go unpunished. Beat their children to the point that they need medical attention, and expect to be let off without suffering consequences. Police officers are filmed strangling and shooting unarmed men, and remain unprosecuted. Politicians don’t even flinch at being caught in hypocrisy any longer. They just explain it away as some thing they said but didn’t really mean.
I only have one response for people who think we should be subjecting prisoners to torture, which is what enhanced interrogation techniques are. You can be seen as free of hypocrisy, supporting the systematic use of torture, if you willingly undergo it yourself. I mean, if innocent people can be subjected to this kind of treatment, then anyone should be able to undergo the treatment without ill effects.
Christopher Hitchens thought waterboarding was no big deal, until he allowed himself to be waterboarded. here’s the video of it.
I expect Dick Cheney to submit himself to waterboarding, or to the Hague for prosecution for war crimes. He should do so within the week. Unlike someone subject to waterboarding, I wouldn’t suggest you hold your breath waiting for that.