Friday, December 16, 2005

Sweet! The Senate denies reauthorization of the Patriot Act!

Festivus takes place this Saturday. May God have mercy on our souls.

Also, Bush and McCain have finally come to terms on an agreement to limit torture. This seems to kind of signal a big change in Bush's policy, but Steanso's not going to spend too much time asking questions about the president's change of heart. I'm just glad that we're living in a country that limits torture. It just makes me feel better about who we are as a people and the kind of country that we're living in. It might sound like an overly simplified argument, but I just don't want to live in a place which lowers itself to the same moral standards as wicked people in order to fight the bad things that they're doing in the world. Some people will say that it's impossible to bring bad people to justice without getting your hands dirty, but I just can't accept that line of thinking. I just don't accept any line of reasoning which supports the abuse of human beings as a means to an end. Human beings are ends in themselves (to paraphrase Kant, among others), and to lose sight of this fact is to start down a very slippery slope.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blog fans are expecting some nice Festivus pictures. By "nice" I mean limited, drunken nudity pictures.

Well, guess I'm out of the pictures...but hope to see others posted. Seriously, more pictures!

Elf

Anonymous said...

So to play devil's advocate Steanso, if there is a sleeper cell in New York City right now (highly possible) and they had acquired thru rich muslim supporters, radiological waste byproduct from Korea (somewhat possible) and managed to use those same funders to pay someone to construct a dirty bomb (again, possible), and they croseed the border with Mexico into the US(highly possible) and are just waiting for the right time and place, and we happen to capture one of the cell who knows everything and who thru sleep deprivation and isolation techniques and other secret Israeli interrogation methods that you dare not speak of would give us a name, an address, something that would help save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who are completely innocent......you would much rather take the 'high road' of philosophical and ethical conscious in order so you can lay your head down at night and feel good about yourself and the way you feel about your government and the way other countries look at our government.

That when you are staring at the burning rubble and ash and death of a 100,000 INNOCENT dead men, women and childred, although hurting and sad, can at least say "well at least we didn't resort to torture, so we have the moral high road."

Interesting take. But to be honest, I believe if you were confronted with the brutal cruelty and coldness and death on such a large scale and could see that as not just a Tom Clancy fantastic fiction of a possibility, but a real threat and a real danger,......if you were to have to actually visit those thousands of funerals and scarred lives, and broken families, you may just think there is a need for immoral actions against such an immoral foe.

Of course, who am I to say that that kind of death and destruction could ever happen here. I mean as long as the tens of thousands of people dying at the hand of such terror are Iraqis, or Kuwaitis, or Sudanese, or Bosnian, than really we should try and take the moral high ground. It's not like we need to worry about another holocaust. Surely no leader in the 21st century would call for the wiping out of a people or country off the earth just because he/she disagreed with their politics or religion. It's not like a 21st century leader in the free world would contemplate another holocaust knowing and not denying one just happened not even 100 years ago. We are so much more civilized than that.

Looks like somebody studied Philosophy in college. Looks like somebody needs to leave his couch and take a world tour to see that evil you can't even fathom is real and torturing and killing and raping and disfiguring and dismembering INNOCENT PEOPLE every day. It's just not in your backyard. And these demons could care less if you sign a feel good piece of paper promising to not stoop to their level, because they will do it in your face, to your friends, and family, and they will broadcast it on t.v. and mock you with it. And you very well could have somebody in captivity right now that has information that is accessible only through such unspeakable acts that that very same captive would gladly perform on thousands or millions and bring death, not torture, DEATH to as many as he possibly could. You could save thousands of innocents. Or you could let evil lie, protected in your philosophy, and let his secrets sit tucked away with him. We're not talking about randomly detained people, we are talking about the ones caught in the act, caught with the evidence, the ones we know are involved, who are found plotting, found with the bomb making materials in their house, found with paperwork and plans and maps and messages. Not suspects, men with a knife at your throat.

Thanks goodness we are so nice and good. Surely terrorists and rapists and mass murderers will now see our goodness and kindly respond in kind.

Steanso said...

I response, I absolutely rject the idea that our only two options are to use torture or become the victims of terrorists. Torture is NOT our only means of gaining intelligence- instead it is a lazy, ineffective tool used by people who are incapable or unwilling to engage in more effective and serious methods of intelligence gathering, security, and police work. If we are serious about stopping terrorism we need to get better at controlling our borders, monitoring the sale and flow of weapons and weapon making items, and we need to get much more aggressive and effective in counter-intelligence, surveillance, and more involved within the disenfranchised segments of our population within which terrrorism breeds. I do not accept the argument that the only way to gain information is through torture, and I would say that the people who make that argument are not trying hard enough to employ other methods. I do not make my statements naively or flippantly, and I fully understand that taking torture off of the table in dealing with terrorists will make homeland security a more difficult job, but I still think that ending torture is part of maintaining a civilized society. I've worked in the criminal justice community for 7 years, so I'm pretty sure I've seen my fair share of the evil in the world from a point blank vantage point (despite that philosophy degree, not all of my knowledge comes from textbooks), but I'm still not willing to demean myself or my country by reducing myself to using terrorist tactics in the attempt to fight them. It may be more difficult to fight terror without torture, but it's an additional burden that we need to take on if we want to be able to righteously claim that we're any different than the people who resort to beheadings in order to further their own political agenda. To do otherwise is not only lazy, but it simply turns us into terrorists with a different political agenda than that of the people we are hunting.

Anonymous said...

I always just wonder, would Jesus torture people? I think he would. Jesus would probably clamp a car battery to someone's testicles to get them to talk.

Jesus wouldn't let any liberal hippy shit get in his way.

Steanso said...

Also, don't give in to the hype, anonymous. There are bad people in the world doing bad things, but when you give in fear people will use it to control you. Be afraid. Vote Republican. Fear your neighbors. Give away your civil rights. Buy more insurance. Don't trust foreigners.

They want to turn us into a nation of scared consumers trapped in tiny little boxes who won't make trouble for anyone. Here's a little secret. There's always going to be chaos in the world and we're never going to be 100% safe. After a point, security is an illusion.

"Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death. I will not fear." -Dune

The League said...

"if there is a sleeper cell in New York City right now (highly possible) and they had acquired thru rich muslim supporters, radiological waste byproduct from Korea (somewhat possible) and managed to use those same funders to pay someone to construct a dirty bomb (again, possible), and they croseed the border with Mexico into the US(highly possible) and are just waiting for the right time and place, and we happen to capture one of the cell who knows everything and who thru sleep deprivation and isolation techniques"

and later:

"I believe if you were confronted with the brutal cruelty and coldness and death on such a large scale and could see that as not just a Tom Clancy fantastic fiction of a possibility,"

I'm sorry, isn't this the plot to Team America mixed with that "Sum of All Fears"?

weedo said...

I just wanted to respond to the Devil's advocate that you naively assume that our government doesn't make mistakes when identifying and detaining people. That our government doesn't lie to it's citizens, and to the world. That people who may or may not be guilty haven't just disappeared. Here's the first problem with your argument - we are talking about randomly detained people. Do a google search on the name "Moazzam Begg", and see what comes up. Here is a brief summary:

He along with four other British citizens were released earlier this year without charge from Guanatanmo after 3 years in captivity. He was detained in Pakistan in 2001 and was imprisoned without charge or trial in Guanatanmo after being transferred there from a base in Afghanistan. For nearly two years, he had no contact with fellow prisoners, denied access to daylight and kept in seclusion

In a 25-page testimony written while in solitary confinement, Begg accuses the US of threatening his family, killing his fellow detainees and interrogating him more than 250 times. The testimony was obtained by the London Independent. Begg said his interrogation included being shackled and dragged, having a "suffocating hood" placed on his head and being struck on the head several times.

I think torture only works in Hollywood. I look at it this way: if someone is willing to blow themselves up, or fly a plane into a skyscraper then what makes us think that torturing them is suddenly going to make them "sing like a canary". I think you underestimate the enemy.

Looks like somebody watches 24. Looks like somebody believes whatever Fox News reports. Looks like somebody needs to leave his couch and take a world tour to see that the US government is not always truthful, does not always operate in ethical, honorable ways, and went into Iraq for the wrong reasons. The people behind 9/11 are still running free. That's what burns me the most.

Yeah. Thank goodness we are so nice and good. We have killed over 100,000 INNOCENT women and children in Iraq. Our government doesn't like to report this, but the information is out there. Our brave, young men and women who are supposedly fighting for freedom in Iraq are dying for the wrong reasons while we continue to have our government take our rights away here in this country.

I think if you were confronted with an invading military force in this country who killed your family just because your next door neighbor was an insurgent, you might think that there is a need for keeping governments in check. If you had to visit Iraq and attend the 1000s of funerals, scarred lives, and broken families because our bombs are only so "smart" you might see why torture, the Patriot Act, and an unchecked government can be a dangerous and bad thing. Just like you told Steanso, I'm telling you, it's not in your backyard. And I'll also tell you that if some government kills my daughter just because she's in the wrong place at the wrong time then I'll be an insurgent too. This is why I'm not surprised by the number of insurgents in Iraq. These aren't al Qaeda terrorists that are fighting in Iraq. It's Iraqis who are tired of our government killing their people.

The way that our government now operates, they could care less about whether you or guilty or innocent. How can we accuse China and other countries of human rights violations when we do the very same thing. By us admitting to torture, it only gives more reason for the enemy to torture our own troops (that's one of John McCain's arguments), and makes us the biggest hypocrites in the world.

What we really need to examine is why do they hate us (or more appropriately our government so much). And as Steanso said if we are to get serious on terrorism we need to control our borders, sale and manufacture of weapons, coutner intelligence, etc. Homeland security is a joke, and a money pit. We also need to stop bending backwards over for Israel. That would probably help our cause in the Middle East, but we've already destroyed what little credibility we had in this world by this war.

I'm not against war, but I agree with this quote from Hemmingway (who did fight in WWII):

For a war to be just three conditions are necessary - public authority, just
cause, right motive.
Ernest Hemingway

This war is not just.

I did laugh at your Jesus comments. I think I read Karl Rove wrote a similar thing about Jesus and the war. That must have been where you got it from.

This post sounds a lot like Chris Alexander again. If it is, I'm sorry I haven't contacted you since the last time you stirred up the pot on this blog. I've been busy. If it's not, then oh well...

One last thing. I think you will find that mass murderers are psychopaths, and show no remorse. So torturing them is not going to do much other than waste time and effort. You might as well just kill them and get it over with.

lee said...

Here's the thing about torture: it doesn't work. This is not surprising. Put aside the morality arguments on both sides of the coin and think practically for a moment: a man who has his finger nails pulled off will tell his tormentor anything to make it stop. Where did I learn this crazy notion? The United States Marine Corps.

Steanso said...

And before everyone comes down too hard on Anonymous, let me say that I'm not unsympathetic to his/her position (it's hard to know what to do with people who are willing to fly planes into buildings just to kill you), but I just can't accept that it's a good thing for our country to torture people. It's bad for the guys getting tortured, and equally importantly, it's bad for the torturers. I think it leads to us losing our humanity, and I hate it.