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John
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Originally Posted by Athanasius The L
John:

Would share your opinion as to when waterboarding is legitimate and when it becomes torture?
Sure, once there are a few more answers from others on the table I will post a more detailed definition. So far there is general agreement that torture should not be used. But no one has put forth a good definition of what constitutes torture (no big fault here since our government has issues with it, and there are certainly political aspects to it).

As a hint of where I place a line I'll say it comes at a point far less then where irreparable harm is done (physical or mental) but far more then just simple discomfort. And the line will be different with different individuals since each individual man is going to be different physically and mentally.

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I could not add much to what you said, but that I would focus on the intentions of the person applying the technique; that they have a reasonable belief that the subject is withholding valuable information and that they intend no permanent physical or psychological harm. I would also focus on whether that person is applying the techniques while in a clear state of mind, or if that person is angry. An angry person in that situation who is unsupervised with no safeguards can easily trip that line--I think that this would be extraordinary considering the procedures which are in place.

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This morning I posted Our Lord's words referring to how one is to treat others. With all due respect, John, this discussion certainly IS about how we treat our enemies. I will grant that it is about how we treat our enemies when we are trying to extract information from them, but that does not change the dynamic: we still have one person treating another, made in the image of God, in whom we are told to see Christ, in a manner that defiles that image. "I was waterboarded and you poured more water into my lungs" is a good paraphrase of what is taking place.

I tremble that Our Lord's words were ignored and the conversation just went on..

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If one does not want to call "enhanced interrogation techniques" torture, one can with certainty say these techniques are used to coerce information from the "detainees". (The fact that these "detainees" have not been brought to trial is another offense, but that's another issue) "It is not licit to do evil that good may come of it." (cf Rom. 3:8) We would do well to recall the teaching found in Veritatis Splendor, article 80:

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Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature "incapable of being ordered" to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church's moral tradition, have been termed "intrinsically evil" (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that "there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object". The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: "Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator".
(emphasis added)


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Originally Posted by iconophile
With all due respect, John, this discussion certainly IS about how we treat our enemies. I will grant that it is about how we treat our enemies when we are trying to extract information from them....
It is good that you recognize that the discussion is about the specific topic of how we extract information from our enemies (those who seek to kill us) when that information will save lives. No one here is suggesting ignoring the Lord's commands.

As to your reference about filling lungs, that was part of the water boarding torture used by the Japanese in WWII. For the Japanese at that time water boarding included the forced ingestion of water to the point of distending the stomach together with severe beating. The current form of water boarding used by the United States does not involve such things and the three terrorists it was used on were at no time in danger of physical harm.

I would invite Daniel to offer his specific ideas on what type of enhanced interrogation he believes can be used that does not cross into torture, one that ties in the fact that we use water board our own military as part of training. Sorry but a generic call to treat one's enemies well is too much of a cop out. Specifics are needed.

There are those who say that a true Christian should be a pacifist and accept death rather then defend his family from those seeking to kill them. That is certainly a possibility, in this case that we let the jihadists over run us. But the Church allows nations to extract information from the enemy so long as torture is not used. The question remains as to where to draw the line between (inflicted) discomfort and torture. I hope Daniel will give us his specific thoughts.

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Originally Posted by Deacon John Montalvo
If one does not want to call "enhanced interrogation techniques" torture, one can with certainty say these techniques are used to coerce information from the "detainees".
A good and appropriate quote from "Veritatis Splendor". It again underscores the need to discern between "enhanced interrogation" and "torture", and to clearly note the line between the two, and to always avoid coming near the line where torture begins. More then simple discomfort would be allowed. But one could never cross that line that "violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit."

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Originally Posted by Terry Bohannon
I could not add much to what you said, but that I would focus on the intentions of the person applying the technique; that they have a reasonable belief that the subject is withholding valuable information and that they intend no permanent physical or psychological harm. I would also focus on whether that person is applying the techniques while in a clear state of mind, or if that person is angry. An angry person in that situation who is unsupervised with no safeguards can easily trip that line--I think that this would be extraordinary considering the procedures which are in place.

Terry
Terry,

Reasonable points. Though I would always advise extra care regarding the intentions of the person responsible for applying the technique. All enhanced interrogations today are fully monitored by doctors and experts in that field, and they are video recorded. That helps keeps the interrogator from moving past valid enhanced interrogation towards something that starts to approach torture.

Great care is required even in law regarding intention. I would tend to use intent to possibly determine an equivalent of a charge of manslaughter or first degree (as we do in a crime like murder) but I would not allow intent to be used as a cop out for when torture has occurred. This would avoid the equivalent silliness of the hate crime statues where murdering someone might not be a hate crime unless that person happened to be black (or a woman or whatever) and their being black (or a woman or whatever) was the reason for the murder. All murder is a hate crime. On this I disagree with the Obama Administration (and specifically Atty Gen Holder who last week tried to reduce the definition of torture down to intent).

This will always remain a difficult issue since – like the Just War Theory – the Church speaks in terms of general teaching and then expects the civil authorities to apply the general teaching in specific situations. I am expecting that the definition I offered earlier is going to be one that most agree upon, and is probably the one that comes closest to what the past and current presidential administrations, Congress, and the CIA have all agreed upon.

John

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Sleep deprivation, waterboarding, noise and light pollution, and sexual and psychological harassment are all legitimate means of enhanced interrogation.

Sexual harassment is too dangerous a game to play to be ever legitimate. The manipulation of another's sexual faculty is never justifiable outside of the procreative and unitive act of husband and wife. This is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church.

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Originally Posted by asianpilgrim
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Sleep deprivation, waterboarding, noise and light pollution, and sexual and psychological harassment are all legitimate means of enhanced interrogation.
Sexual harassment is too dangerous a game to play to be ever legitimate. The manipulation of another's sexual faculty is never justifiable outside of the procreative and unitive act of husband and wife. This is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church.
In this case sexual harassment was not in the manipulation of another's sexual faculty but mostly the use of woman interrogators (it drives Muslim terrorists nuts). One must be careful to be accurate in stating what does occur. The New York Times lost face back in April when it reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded six times a day, 183 times. Turns out their source was a blogger, and the report was not true (just like the claim of flushing the Koran down a toilet was false). The Red Cross reported 5 incidents of water boarding with under 10 "applications" for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The number 183 came from "pours" which lasted no more then a few seconds each with all occuring within the 5 incidents. The discussion is serious enough without inventing fictitious events.

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Originally Posted by Administrator
Originally Posted by Deacon John Montalvo
If one does not want to call "enhanced interrogation techniques" torture, one can with certainty say these techniques are used to coerce information from the "detainees".
A good and appropriate quote from "Veritatis Splendor". It again underscores the need to discern between "enhanced interrogation" and "torture", and to clearly note the line between the two, and to always avoid coming near the line where torture begins. More then simple discomfort would be allowed. But one could never cross that line that "violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit."

You misundertand the teaching.

The Holy Father, JP II, was quoting article 27 from Gaudium et Spes, which enumerates 3 examples of acts "such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body and mind, attempts to coerce the will itself," which violate the integrity of the human person and "are infamies in deed."

Waterboarding, as an "enhanced interrogation technique", if not, stricly speaking, torment or torture, "violates the integrity of the human person" because it is an attempt to coerce the will.


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Originally Posted by Deacon John Montalvo
You misundertand the teaching.

The Holy Father, JP II, was quoting article 27 from Gaudium et Spes, which enumerates 3 examples of acts "such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body and mind, attempts to coerce the will itself," which violate the integrity of the human person and "are infamies in deed."

Waterboarding, as an "enhanced interrogation technique", if not, stricly speaking, torment or torture, "violates the integrity of the human person" because it is an attempt to coerce the will.
I disagree. According to that interpretation all interrogation would be a violation of the human person because it would be an attempt to coerce the will. That's just not true.

I invite to you respond specifically to the question I raised on the earlier page. Your 16 year old daughter or niece has been kidnapped by a jihadist who was transferred from Gitmo to a Texas prison and then escaped. You caught him and he admits his crime but she is tied up somewhere and left to die, and will die in a day if not found. Your relatives drag this terrorist out to the pool and start dunking him to make him speak. How far do you let them go? You are her father or uncle. Dunking him until he breaks will save her life. Not dunking him will almost certainly result in the death of your daughter. What do you do and how far to you take it? According to what you have suggested you can do nothing (and by extension the police must do nothing beyond gentle questioning). How do you handle the situation? Where is the line between acceptable enhanced interrogation and torture?

As an extra I came across The Church and Torture [catholic.com]. I reject torture and we are not talking about torture, but what type of enhanced interrogation can be used to extract information that will save lives. In the article Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S. notes that the Church Teaching is not so exacting on torture. That provides food for thought for the lesser use of enhanced interrogation.

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Look up the definition of coerce. Take the conciliar teaching on its face value.

Given the circumstances you outline, I would undertake the "interrogation" myself, but I am still violating teaching, though the circumstances would mitigate.

Just because an act is legal does not make it good.

Lying is an intrinsic evil. However, there is a great difference between lying about the location of a ticking bomb and lying about the location of a ticking clock.




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Father Deacon,

I do take the teaching at its face value. But it does need to be applied to a specific situation. There is no intrinsic evil (and here where the Church does not consider capital punishment an intrinsic evil it would not consider enhanced interrogation which does not approach torture an intrinsic evil) since we are not talking about torture.

I do not know where you draw the line between simple interrogation, enhanced interrogation, and torture. But there is such a line. Something more then discomfort but which does not approach torture would be moral. You seem to come down with the idea that all interrogation is a form of coercion and is wrong but that you would do it it save a life. So long as the enhanced interrogation methods do not come close to torture I do not see a violation of teaching. There are plenty of like minded folk in good standing in the Church who justly hold this view. One may argue a pacifist view (as discussed earlier) is better, but enhanced interrogation that does not approach torture does not violate Veritatis Splendor. I suspect will have to agree to disagree on this.

John

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One may argue a pacifist view . . .


I'm not so sure that pacifism is not itself something that can become evil if it refuses the legitimate defense of one's family or others for whom one has a lawful duty to defend.

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18 USC Chapter 113C, in the defs. sec. 2340

...(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and ...

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