Rush Limbaugh and the Right’s Tortured Conscience

As readers in this space may have noticed, I have had a thing or two (or three) to say about the Bush/Cheney program of torture and the incredible lengths of sophistry to which spokesoids for the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism have gone on its behalf. My concerns have basically come down to this:
 
a) It’s a grave sin inviting the wrath of God (Veritatis Splendor 80), particularly when it is defended (as it has been) by Catholics who know better and who therefore face the grim warning of our Lord that “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required” (Lk 12:48);
 
b) it’s stupid because torture is counter-productive, both giving us lousy intel that sends us off on wild goose chases and mucking up the works by generating lots of “evidence” that is inadmissible in court, leading to acquittals of real Bad Guys on technicalities; and
 
c) it’s incredibly dangerous and foolish for Christians, of all people, to press into the hands of a rapidly de-Christianizing civilization of death tools that will come in very handy when Caesar realizes he no longer has to play by the rules that used to govern a Christian society.
 


A perusal of the comboxes following those articles makes clear that, at least as of the time they were posted, lots of conservative Catholics were still ready to defend this Faustian bargain rather than listen to the obvious teaching of Holy Church and treat prisoners humanely while gathering intel according to civilized standards, as we did when we fought weenies like Nazis and Commies. But in recent weeks, something has happened that is causing at least some leaders of the Thing that Used to Be the Conservative Movement to have something vaguely resembling second thoughts about their zeal for “enhanced interrogation.”
 
Take Rush Limbaugh, for instance. He’s none too happy about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civil court. Why? Various reasons, but among them is that Limbaugh is freaking out because the chickens of his own torture advocacy may start coming home to roost.
 
Here’s what he said on his November 18 broadcast:
 
If the president of the United States can tell the world that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured, and then did not get Mirandized, and was convicted, does that mean that the rest of us can then be waterboarded? If we’re going to convict anybody, despite being waterboarded, and they got their confession after that waterboarding, then is torture — as they define it — now permitted by officials? Even though these are military people that did it? This is why this doesn’t belong anywhere near a U.S. civilian court, ladies and gentlemen.
 
Note Limbaugh’s pretzel-like (one might even call it “tortured”) inability to call “waterboarding” by its right name of torture without the insertion of invisible sneer quotes. That’s because Limbaugh famously described Abu Ghraib as “having a good time,” “blowing off steam,” and “no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation.” Indeed, so committed is Limbaugh to the narrative of “Bush/Cheney never tortured; and besides, it works and the victims deserved it” that he has also espoused the preposterous logic that waterboarding somebody 183 times only proves that waterboarding is not torture. Why? Here he is in his own words:
 
[I]f somebody can be water-tortured six times a day, then it isn’t torture. Can we just establish that? If somebody can go through waterboarding for 183 times, six times a day — which is a little bit hard to believe anyway, but let’s acknowledge — let’s just say it’s true for the sake of it, because whatever the left-wing blogs print and publish, the drive-by media is going to say it is true anyway. Six times a day, it means you’re not afraid of it. It means you — it’s not torture. If you have — if you’ve found a way to withstand it, it can’t possibly be torture.
 
(One awaits his explanation that, “If gang rape were really rape, then the victim would not have allowed it to be done so many times.”)
 
In short, Limbaugh, ever since Abu Ghraib, has totally drunk the Bush/Cheney Kool-Aid of euphemism, denial, excuse-making, and celebration of the use of torture. He is, quite nakedly, an apologist for war crimes and folly, like a huge number of other media spokesoids for the Thing that Used to be Conservatism and, most shamefully, like many Catholics — in percentages even higher than among the average U.S. population.
 
And so, in his broadcast of November 18, Limbaugh’s commitment to upholding the Orwellian lies concerning our program of torture during the Bush years forces him to say KSM wasn’t tortured. He has to pretend that policies that resulted not only in waterboarding people 183 times, but in deaths from hypothermia, asphyxiation, and brutal beatings were only torture “as they [i.e., Limbaugh’s ideological enemies] define it.” He has to euphemize that this is all “enhanced interrogation” that Caesar may legitimately employ when faced with some threat to the civil order, and that opposition to it is merely evidence of the feminization of our namby-pamby culture. Like so many moderns, he routinely confuses brutality with manly courage and realism with the endless repetition of fantasy scenarios from suspense shows on TV.

Only he knows he’s lying to himself and the rest of us and is, in fact, scared by the possibility that he may have helped let the genie out of the bottle. How can we tell? By the fact that his fear is that if KSM is tried in civil court, it could mean trying him using evidence obtained by torture — and thereby setting a precedent for the rest of us.

 
Limbaugh is (rightfully) fearful that the Obama Administration is (whether willfully or stupidly) building a legal bridge that could allow Caesar to torture Americans and strip them of rights, should Caesar decide to declare Inconvenient Persons at Home to be “enemy combatants” as a quick way of dealing with Undesirables. That’s why this picture accompanies the Limbaugh Web site’s transcript of the monologue he gave on November 18. It is, at long last, dimly dawning on Limbaugh (and, please God, on others) that, in his folly, he has pressed into the hands of Caesar a tool that Caesar may very well make use of in the future — not merely to go after foreign bad guys from Central Casting with Arabic accents, but to go after any U.S. citizen whom Caesar decrees to be a danger to his power.

That fear is (and should be) all the more acute given the bizarre decision of the Obama Administration to make this a civil trial and not just accept KSM’s (untortured) confession to a military tribunal, find him guilty, lock him up, and throw away the key. Instead, the Obama Administration has weirdly demanded a civil “trial,” while simultaneously assuring us all that the outcome of the “trial” is fore-ordained and that KSM will be duly executed. As Limbaugh rightly points out, this strongly suggests that the Administration is sending the message that, if it likes, it can put you — Joe Blow American citizen — on trial without Miranda rights, use a confession tortured out of you, and then doom you to a fore-ordained death. One can be forgiven for thinking the takeaway from this is, “Why bother with trials?”

 
The lesson Limbaugh naturally draws from this is, “Obama is to blame for everything.” He’s paid to do that. And, to be sure, the stupidity (or willful contempt) of putting KSM on civil trial when a) he’s ready to offer an un-tortured confession to a military tribunal; b) we are dropping bombs on people just like him without any benefit of trial at all, due to the fact that they are enemy combatants and not criminals; and c) that civil trial poses a grave potential threat of assisting tyranny by setting some incredibly dangerous precedents — well, it does make the Amateur Administration look even more amateurish than usual. Not to mention much more sinister.
 
But — on the basic Catholic principle of the universality of original sin — let’s not forget, shall we, that the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism has toiled to make its own contribution to this mess for eight long years, ever since it enthusiastically embraced the legal thinking of John Yoo, who argued that you could crush a child’s testicles if George W. Bush said it was okay. It is the Bush/Cheney Administration whose policies of torture left us with gobs of worthless “evidence” that can’t be used in court against this and other very Bad Guys who really need to be locked up forever (unless, of course, the Administration manages to jerry-rig some way, per Limbaugh’s fears, of shoehorning info obtained under torture into evidence admissible in civil court).
 
 
So here’s the situation: Limbaugh has done nothing but cheerlead for torture, as have the bulk of spokesmen for the right. Most shameful and disgraceful of all, Catholics have led the charge for torture by percentages greater than the national average — thereby contributing mightily to our present mare’s nest. Sooner or later, it will be good if conservatives in general (and conservative Catholics in particular) woke up, smelled the repentance, and said, “I was a bloody fool to endlessly defend the Bush torture policies, and now look at the Pandora’s box I have been laboring to help open. Dear God, forgive me!”
 
Conservatism used to involve the notion of humble self-assessment and (perhaps some readers will recall this from Conservative rhetoric during the Clinton years) “personal responsibility.” The present-day Thing that Used to Be Conservatism? Not so much. That Thing primarily pursues the highly inadvisable tactic of attempting to bend reality for the sake of short-term political advantage. That’s because saying things like, “I have sinned through my own fault” puts a real crimp in the endless scrimmage for power.
 
And so, despite briefly touching on the incredibly dangerous state of affairs he has helped to create with his torture boosterism, Limbaugh does not, in the rest of his monologue, evince the slightest sense of remorse for his own part in this moral and legal farce. Rather, he demonstrates, after a fashion, what the old theologians used to call “worldly sorrow” for the grave sins that he has done so much to excuse and euphemize. He is worried, not because torture is wrong and a grave sin before God, but because it is possible, should the Administration get its way, that it could potentially lead somewhere down the road to people like Rush Limbaugh being strapped to that waterboard, should some future Caesar get aggressive about Domestic Undesirables with sharp ideological differences from the Will of the State. Such worldly sorrow is better than nothing, and way better than Limbaugh’s previous pig-headed defenses of evil. But it’s still got a long way to go before becoming the godly sorrow St. Paul speaks of (2 Cor 7:10). Limbaugh has the excuse of being ignorant of Catholic teaching on this point. Catholic torture defenders, not so much.
 
 

Mark P. Shea

By

Mark P. Shea is the author of Mary, Mother of the Son and other works. He is a senior editor at Catholic Exchange and a columnist for Crisis Magazine. Visit his blog at www.markshea.blogspot.com.

  • Stephen Wise

    Well said.

  • Linus

    Ron Paul 2012

  • Meinda M T

    Thanks for this very insightful rant[smiley=wink]- seriously though I have been laboring to find a phrase that successfully conveys how far conservatism has come from where it used to reside – which for me was on the side of moderation and preservation of a Gary Cooperesque type of ethos – the good guy of few words but much stoic integrity leaning solidly on tradition but not waving it in your face like a fist – and the “Thing That Used To Be Conservatism” sums it up nicely…that is why I take umbrage at folks who call Limbaugh a “conservative” because he has conserved nothing in his marathon run for ratings and has contributed mightily, along with his counterparts on the left side of the equation to the wholesale slaughter of reasonable and civil political discourse in America…

    That said I have only one bone to pick with your piece and that is the use of the term “stupid” to describe the Bush/ Cheney policy on torture – Torture is evil and the accurate word to describe such a policy is also – evil – calling it stupid lets the perpetrators off the hook.

    When Bush first came into office, I supported him, I liked his sort of “everyman” down to earth communication style [including his language gaffs], his apparent devotion to his religious convictions, his openness about his struggle with alcohol addiction, and his conservatism – however as time wore on what at first seemed could be a great presidency began to morph into a caricature of the Wiemar decade with Cheney as the puppet master – lies, obfuscation, patriot acts, homeland security, executive orders giving the presidency sweeping powers over American citizens, suspension of habeus corpus, pre-emptive war, wholesale spying on the American public, rendition and torture –

    The Bush/Cheney administration paved the way for the one we have now which by the way, has not done a single thing to reverse the trends and policies set in motion by its predecessor – that list of to-dos still stands unchallenged – and the left/center is deafeningly silent on these issues – so yes – I find this new and possible turn of events sinister…and it would not surprise me one bit to find that the upcoming trial of KSM to be precedent setting and not in the favor of “we the people”.

    I want to believe that our current POTUS is above board and “doing the best he can” and ” give him a chance he’s only been in office for ten months” – this is what I’m told whenever I raise the issues I have cited here with friends who support Obama – but the signs are not good – and I cannot make myself blind in the name of “hope”…

  • Melinda M T
  • B.T.
  • Mark Shea

    How about that! The same people who committed the war crimes assure us that committing war crimes “worked” and was good.

    Well then. The matter is clearly closed!

  • Carl

    If George Bush is so bad why did Pope Benedict honor him in both in the Vatican garden tour and at the Whitehouse on his birthday trip to the U.S.? The Current President got a lousy half hour with the Pope and was handed a few encyclicals to read—which Obama never commented on but I

  • Tom

    but I long for the days when Mark Shea confined himself simply to misrepresenting Church teaching, rather than both misrepresenting the Church teaching AND current events.

  • Phil Atley

    Mark Shea long ago transgressed against the principle of proportionality with regard to ius in blog-bello. He caricatures “what used to be Conservatism” and then then nukes his caricatures.

    It’s sad. He’s a superb writer and apologist. On politics he would be wise to take a sabbatical.

    Most of us Catholics who pay attention to the full spectrum of the Conservative movement are well aware of Rush Limbaugh’s failings from a Catholic perspective (exaggerated laissez-faire economics, defense of torture). We are fully aware of Glenn Beck’s sins against good taste.

    But in the desperate stages of the Culture Wars in which we presently find ourselves, we also know that a good part of the time Beck and Limbaugh get a lot of things right and they are gifted communicators with important segments of the public.

    The steam roller that is the Brave New World, against which C. S. Lewis and others warned us decades ago would long since have crushed all opposition had not Limbaugh set up shop 20 years ago and pioneered one of two or three of the most important means of communication available today.

    I don’t mind people pointing out Limbaugh’s flaws and errors and sins.

    But do it with some proportionality. And give some of us the benefit of the doubt that we just might already realize that Limbaugh’s flawed but still admire him for what he also gets right.

    It’s easy to sit in the Catholic Third Way throne and lob bombs at both sides.

    It’s an awful lot harder to get into the trenches and become a joiner and risk sinning against ius in bello.

  • Philadelphia Lawyer

    Mark writes: “b) it’s stupid because torture is counter-productive, both giving us lousy intel that sends us off on wild goose chases and mucking up the works by generating lots of “evidence” that is inadmissible in court, leading to acquittals of real Bad Guys on technicalities…”

    Mark, how do you know it gives “us lousy intel that sends us off on wild goose chases…?” When was the last time you had to get any information out of a detained terrorist so as to thwart further acts of terrorism? The guys who do this sort of thing know what they’re doing. There’s a bit of a science to the acquisition of reliable information. Terrorists aren’t just beaten until they say anything to make it stop. This is a leftist talking-point which is never backed up. Mark, our guys SHOT Nazis, in the field, on rare occasion. So I think a few were probably put in fear of their lives in order to save American lives.

    As for it “generating lots of ‘evidence’ that is inadmissible in court,” such alleged “torture” isn’t used for this purpose at all. It was done to thwart further acts of terrorism.

    Mark, you write some great stuff (elsewhere), but I’m sure glad I don’t have to rely upon you to defend my family.

  • Larry

    Mark,

    How wonderful it would be if Rush would adopt the Bishops position on torture. And how wonderful it would be if you would adopt the Bishops position on voting with regards to Prolife candidates.

  • Melinda M T

    but I long for the days when Mark Shea confined himself simply to misrepresenting Church teaching, rather than both misrepresenting the Church teaching AND current events.

    Please tell me where in the Scriptures or in the Catechism is torture endorsed??? I just want to be clear and make sure I haven’t missed something – a papal encyclical perhaps?? I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been covered in my RCIA class and ours is a traditonal parish[smiley=shock]

  • Austin

    Terrorists are not “Lawful combatants” under the Geneva Convention, thus should not be treated as normal POW’s, not are they entitled to a civilian Federal Trial.

    Terrorists should not be tortured, but they should be treated as pirates or spies in wartime, i.e. military court martial, then execution, via firing squad.

    At the Battle of the Bulge, the US Army captured some English speaking Germans in American uniforms, who were sent to create chaos in the US ranks. They were court martialed and shot. This is how they were handled. They were not tortured however.

    Bush and Cheney had a very difficult job, unfortunately, they crossed the line and did so on more than a few occassions.
    Curiously enough, the interrogator who got the most info from the captured terrorists was a middle aged Arab woman, who came on in a rather maternal manner to the captured terrorists. THey would talk to her, but not to the tough guy American interrogators.

    Are Bush and Cheney evil? I don’t think so, but I do think they could be very stupid.

  • TonyC

    Mr. Shea, still trying to justify your BHO vote in 2008 I see!

  • Peter

    Someone needs to makes sense. Thanks Carl!

  • Spencer

    Larry says: “How wonderful it would be if Rush would adopt the Bishops position on torture. And how wonderful it would be if you would adopt the Bishops position on voting with regards to Prolife candidates.”

    TonyC says: “Mr. Shea, still trying to justify your BHO vote in 2008 I see!”

    Anyone who reads Mark Shea’s blog knows that he didnt vote for Obama, and doesn’t like him at all. But I guess this is what you get from two guys who don’t have anything else to say. Kinda proves Mark’s point! [smiley=laugh]

  • face_in_croud

    More comments from the Catholic Keith Olbermann. Let us continue to beat the dead horse.

  • Mena

    I’m against torture yet in favor of waterboarding, which is merely a psychological trick and not physical torture at all. When journalists like Christopher Hitchens and others line up to partake in a waterboarding to make a point, you know we’re not talking about real torture. No human willingly can submit to real acts of torture, such as those detailed here in the Al Qaeda torture manual:

    Exhibit A – http://tinyurl.com/25x29g

    Exhibit B – http://tinyurl.com/yhmwaes

    Exhibit C – http://tinyurl.com/2feqre

    Simply put, Mr. Shea simply doesn’t know the difference between those acts of *actual torture* and mere psychological tricks. Shea conveniently forgets that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed saved the murder of thousands inside the Los Angeles Library Tower, the tallest building in the city.

    In Shea’s mind, all those thousands of people should have had to die a horrible death rather than use a psychological water trick on KSM. Catholics can use psychological tricks upon one or two so as to save the thousands from being slaughtered.

  • Jamie Hunt

    … He’s a superb writer and apologist. …

    Yes, he is. And he’s also occasionally a polemicist in the vein of urban critic James Howard Kunstler, who once described my beloved Baltimore as a “fly-blown carcass.” Bombast is a legitimate tool of rhetoric and both men deploy it with vigor to make their points.

    In this case, Mr. Shea’s polemical outburst draws attention but is not persuasive. Citing an equally bombastic radio commenter right off indicates that a thoughtful article of the sort we get when the author is discussing, for example, Mary, will not follow. And it doesn’t. Maybe next time.

  • Stephen

    Catholic social teaching develops as situations arise.

    Just as the RCC is having to formulate social teaching to deal with new realities like stem cell research and contraception, it will also have to come to grips with atomic weaponry.

    After the next one or two mass destructions by atomic weapons, the RCC will rapidly determine that it is just for a threatened country to make *a limited preemptive strike on a nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.*

    That’s an inevitable development of doctrine, but it will probably not come into use until after we lose a few million human beings in major cities in the West. Mark it down and if you live a few more decades you will see this come to pass.

  • R.C.

    Mark, or Anyone Else

    There’s much I agree with in your analysis; however, there is something by which I am troubled.

    As with many of my questions, this one requires some run-up, some preparatory groundwork….

    The Run-Up, Part 1
    Terrorists are not soldiers, but are at the opposite end of the combatant spectrum from “soldier.”

    A soldier wears a recognizable uniform, bears arms openly, reports to a structured chain of command, which in turn is topped by the lawfully-selected government of a nation-state, which in turn is a signatory to the Geneva conventions or to equivalent treaties indicating compliance with the so-called “laws of war.” (The phrase “so-called” does not indicate disregard in the preceding sentence; rather, it reflects the truth that there is no elected representative governing body for the world which could plausibly enact and enforce actual “laws of war” and that the phrase is merely a term of art referring to the sum total of relevant treaty obligations.) A soldier also does not target non-combatants, nor hide behind non-combatants, but instead conducts warfare in the manner that has the highest probability of minimizing harm to non-combatants while remaining practical.

    The above descriptors are not arbitrary; they’re exactly what the Geneva conventions spell out as the model behavior for a lawful combatant. A “soldier,” or “lawful combatant,” is the paragon of virtue on this scale: The paladin, not the assassin.

    At the other end of the scale are “terrorists,” the ultimate “unlawful combatant.” These wear no recognizable uniform and bear arms secretly, who blend into the civilian population in order to ensure that any counterattack against them results in needless civilian deaths. In this group the combatants are not directed by a chain-of-command; what organization they have is not topped by the government of a nation-state; what nation-states they receive support from are generally not governed by a lawfully-selected representative government, and the bloody dictators they have instead are usually non-signatories or multiple violators of “laws of war” treaties. They explicitly target civilians, they capture non-combatants and saw their heads off on videotape shouting Allahu Akbar, and….

    Well, you get the idea. To sum up Part 1, The “terrorist” is diametrically opposite to the “soldier.”

    The Run-Up, Part 2
    The distinction between “totally lawful” and “totally unlawful” combatants; that is, between soldiers and terrorists, is an important one in the “laws of war”; the treaties do distinguish between the two in assigning levels of protection to those which are captured.

    This is only prudent, because the purpose of the “laws of war” treaties is to reduce, not increase, the barbarity of warfare. In order to do so, those laws encourage nation-states to conduct warfare with minimal harm to non-combatants. In order to do that, the laws envision a form of feedback, an enforcement mechanism, to wit: Combatants which conduct themselves lawfully are treated well, receive medical attention, continue to receive pay and report to their chain of command after capture, and may only be asked minimal questions (the proverbial name, rank, and serial number), sans brutal interrogation. But combatants which do not conduct themselves lawfully are denied some or all of these protections.

    This reality seeped its way into American popular culture with the old Mission Impossible show. (I make no comment on the movies of the same name.) Remember that bit “should you, or any of your IM Force, be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of the matter?” Why disavowed? Well, because spies and saboteurs don’t bear arms openly and wear a uniform, and might be destroying civilian infrastructure or even killing civilian persons. A government which fields them doesn’t want any members of its regular military to be subject to reduced protections because they were part of a force which included less-than-lawful combatants. Therefore “the Secretary” would say of the captured unlawful combatants, “they’re none of ours.”

    So, to sum up Part 2, a differentiation in protections for captured combatants, according to their “lawfulness,” is the means by which the “laws of war” encourage lawful warfare.

    …continued…

  • R.C.

    …continuing…

    The Question

    Here’s the question: How far does Catholic teaching allow the treatment of soldiers (that is, of lawful combatants) to vary from the treatment of terrorists (that is, of unlawful combatants)? If waterboarding crosses the line, fine, does the “false wall” routine also cross the line? Blowing smoke in the face?

    And if you tell me that X crosses the line but Y does not, I’ll want to know: What is the underlying moral principle by which one can judge which inventive new way to make prisoners uncomfortable is verboten, and which isn’t?

    I ask this question because I’m concerned that perhaps Catholic teaching requires us to treat terrorists exactly as well as soldiers. That would have two consequences:

    (1.) It would be inconsistent with the logic of denying criminals their rights — actually, of acknowledging that they had voluntarily renounced those rights by committing certain crimes — in proportion to the heinousness of their crimes; and,

    (2.) It would prevent the “laws of war” treaties from serving as a meaningful deterrent against nation-states adopting unlawful modes of warfare. After all, if it doesn’t make much difference either way what you do, why not make use of the far cheaper and sometimes more effective means which terrorism offers?

    That’s a rhetorical question coming from me, of course! I know why not. But nation-states will be tempted to use the “Sword of Gideon” approach when conventional warfare seems too costly, and when there’s no apparent cost to doing so.

    Now, I don’t want the streets to flow with the blood of the innocent. The Guantanamo Bay folks seem to think that several thousands of lives have been saved already through “enhanced interrogation” — fine, but let’s acknowledge that you can’t do an immoral thing to achieve a good end, so, sorry: Those folks ought to be dead.

    Having said that, in the long run, we need a distinction between lawful and unlawful warfare, to encourage the former and discourage the latter.

    My question is: How much distinction does Catholic teaching allow us? How pronounced, while being faithful to the Church’s teaching, can we make the difference in protections between lawful and unlawful combatants.

    Because if there isn’t much difference, then of course that encourages unlawful warfare in the end.

    I’ll be faithful to the Church’s teaching, come hell or high water…but would you give me a sense of what kind of nasty world I’m signing up for? I mean, does Church teaching on this, while encouraging voluntary compliance with the laws of war, basically emasculate the enforcement mechanism?

  • R.C.

    Some of you folks are saying Mark Shea voted for Obama.

    Do you know that for a fact? Did he state as much on some occasion?

    Because I seriously, seriously doubt it. Sure, he’s bombastic to the point of bad taste, sometimes forgoing actual argument in favor of invective…but he’s no shill for Obama! (Look for “Analyst,” who sometimes posts around here, if you want someone from that category.)

  • Eric Pavlat

    I wish I had a date or a source for what I’m about to write. I know it had to be within the past month or so.

    Anyway, listening to Sean Hannity a few weeks ago (which I did to balance out my reading the Washington Post), I heard him say that the terrists being interrogated at Guantanamo Bay were “no longer human beings.”

    It’s the same things over and over. African slaves in the Americas, Jews during the Shoah, fetuses in the womb, accident victims in a “persistent vegetative state,” and now terrorists who have done heinous crimes–we classify them as not human, and then we do with them as we will.

    And that was the last time I’ve listened to Hannity.

  • Christopher Manion

    Whether it

  • Larry

    I am not infering that Mark voted for President Obama. Marks fall article

  • R.C.

    Eric:

    Hannity was wrong to say that. (Let me state that unequivocally, first.)

    But there is a distinction which makes your list not entirely fair.

    African slaves hadn’t previously butchered scores of defenseless European ship captains; the Jews were never known for roaming Europe in gangs massacring helpless non-Jewish villagers; accident victims in a “persistent vegetative state” are not generally also known homicidal maniacs; fetuses have usually not tried to murder their mothers or local doctors before the mothers or doctors try to murder them.

    When a criminal commits a crime, we lock them up, and in extreme cases we end their lives. In minor cases, we merely fine them; that is, deprive them of some property.

    What about their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property (provided it’s not ill-gotten)? Well, when they commit a crime, they thereby voluntarily renounce some of those rights. Don’t do the crime if you aren’t willing to do the time: Steal a car, and you thereby state “I renounce my right to liberty for five to ten.”

    Now, terrorists are worse than criminals; they are in an entirely different category in some ways (that of “unlawful combatant”). But it is no insult to logic to suggest that if a lawful combatant can expect to be deprived of his right to liberty upon capture, an unlawful combatant can expect to be deprived of more. He has, through unlawful warfare, voluntarily renounced many of the rights which we normally accord to all human beings.

    Note, I say “many.” Not “all.”

    Which ones? To what degree? For how long?

    I don’t know. Hannity, I suppose, believes “all,” and “forever”: That, I suspect, was the meaning of his statement that the terrorists were not human: They had renounced their human rights through barbarity.

    I don’t say “all” or “forever,” since the Church apparently rules those two options out.

    But which rights, and to what degree, and for how long?

    Well, that’s much of what this thread is about.

  • Blake Helgoth

    Mark,

    Come on, Jack Bauer gets results! The end justifies the means! Cheney got results! We all know your hot buttons. But seriously, why is it morally justified for the state to kill a person (death penalty) and not moral for them to torture a person? Am I torturing my kids if I spank them in order to find out “Who did this?” Where does the principle of double effect fit in? Can you place a man in solitary confinement? These are real questions that a faithful Catholic may raise, but you do not care about them and will never give an answer to them. I think your emotions have gotten the better of you on this one. Better to do intellectual work with the mind rather than the emotions.

  • Austin

    Morality aside, it would be interesting to see how much “useful” information was obtained via torture. I have read, that yes, they did get some information of value, but for the most part, they did not get the informaiton that they thought that they could get.

    I suspect that Cheney & Company perhaps exaggeraed the amount of useful intel obtained via torture in order to justify it. Given the ticking bomb scenario, there are perhaps a few, rare instances where it may be justified, but….it would have to be the exception, not the rule. Also, it’s a slipperly slope. Once you start, it’s easy to do more and more of it.

    Terrorists are nasty characters, not lawful combatants. They deserve to be treated like the Royal Navy used to treat pirates.
    Court martial and execution, but not torture.

  • Rich

    Mark is absolutely right with respect to the current climate among a number of Catholics who self identify as “conservative.” Many, sadly, far too many, defend our country’s actions when it comes to the use of torture. Again, I want to thank Mark for his work here and continuing to be a prophetic voice that obviously hits home more than some seem to want to admit.

    I cannot for a minute believe that the Holy Father, our Blessed Mother, nor Jesus himself would advocate that someone be interrogated in a way that demeans their dignity.

    Ever.

    That is the only argument needed.

    I know a lot of folks here like to bash people they “think” voted for Obama, thinking that bolsters their argument somehow. It does not.

    We are not automatons, we are people of conscience. Again I ask for more good faith from all of us as we should treat each other with more respect than I am witnessing from some quarters.

    Abortion is wrong and torture is wrong. Both are immoral, and neither should be defended.

  • Bob

    The Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial that the Inspector General, after a lengthy inquiry, concluded 1) that what occurred at Gismo was not torture, and 2) it did produce significant information about terrorists. Whether or not it was torture, what is clear is that the left (apparently including Shea) does not take the terrorist threat seriously. When a nuke goes off in downtown NYC the torture debate will go on the back burner as fast as acceptance of pedophilia did after the Catholic sex scandals.

  • Chris

    Mark – what you are doing by setting up this strawman and nuking it is analogous to the fire bombings in Dresden and Japan – i.e., “there’s some bad stuff somewhere in there – so I’m wiping out the whole area…”

    Think about what Phil is saying.

    Thank you Phil for paying a little more attention.

  • SC Phelan

    It’s a shame when someone who has so much to offer in the way of a diffrent perspective on serious moral questions gets carried away by vindictiveness and the sound of his own voice.

    Shea’s unnuanced takedown of Limbaugh is hurt by the sloppy reasoning and irresponsible exaggerations therein.

    Exaggerations? “Limbaugh has done nothing but cheerlead for torture, as have the bulk of spokesmen for the right.” this and saying that “torture” and actual torture have yielded no actionable intelligence, etc.

    Sloppy thinking? Ignoring the distinctions between torture as such and practices which simply make a detainee believed (with good reason) to have relevant knowledge very, very uncomfortable. To treat all “enhanced interrogation techniques” as torture is just intellectually lazy, and a particularly common laziness among anti-‘torture’ enthusiasts.

    Not to mention the irresponsibility of inferring that Dubya approves of crushing children’s testicles.

    I make no defense for torture or “torture” here, but a responsible and more careful argument such as Shea’s should make necessary distinctions, avoid the idiotic caricatures of Bush and co., and still present honestly the position of the Church on torture.

    It’s a pity that Shea didn’t do that here, but chose instead to indulge a preference for exaggeration, hyperbole, poor thinking and self-righteousness. Aren’t these the reasons that so many people dismiss Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and co. in the first place?

  • Bryan

    What I don’t get is why Mark keeps coming back to this topic. His writing on this question has been marked by horrible logic and by imputing bad faith on the part of those who hold a different opinion.

    And now this. Who, exactly, is Rush Limbaugh that his viewpoint belongs in a discussion amongst serious Catholics about a serious issue? Well, he’s nobody; except that he provides a handy cudgel to smack around those whom Mark disagrees.

    It has become impossible to read Mark about this topic because — and I say this with all charity — Mark lies about it. When a man as smart as Mark refuses to engage the debate in good faith, there can be no other description.

    Thus, I ask — again in all charity — please shut up. I can’t explain why a site to which I come regularly feels the need to allow Mark a platform for his low and dishonest attacks on a matter of serious moral weight. I expect better than this.

  • Anne

    To me, torture is getting your head cut off while you’re screaming for your life.

    Evidently, pouring water up someone’s nose to avoid another 9/11 qualifies? I think not.

    If our government ever tortures us for political reasons
    it will be because they don’t like our religion, views, etc.
    It won’t be to gain intelligence IT WILL ONLY BE BECAUSE WE HAVE SOME! Mr Shea is on target here. The liberals and the homosexual fascists are increasingly intolerant of Catholic fundamentalism.

    Keep up the good fight, Rush!

  • Marie

    Bryan and Carl are right.
    Mark Shea, please rethink your position.

  • Brian English

    I am always perplexed after reading one of these diatribes by Mark. How can he write with such clarity and thoughtfulness on so many issues, but then produce this morass of undefined terms, strawmen, and name-calling?

    This is a serious issue that deserves serious discussion. Lumping together the brutal behavior at Abu Ghraib, the deaths at Bagram Air Force, and other completely unauthorized actions (for which charges have been brought and convictions obtained) with the waterboarding of three admitted al-Qaeda leaders is intellectually lazy and promotes dangerous passivity in our intelligence agencies.

    The interrogation of those al-Qaeda leaders obtained information that saved lives, and it is just not the Bush Administration that says so. Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama’s NSA Director, confirmed that in an internal memo. The admission that lives were saved based on the information was redacted from the memo released to the press, but the unredacted version was obtained by that right-wing rag, The New York Times.

    Turning to the waterboarding itself, over 25,000 of our own troops have been waterboarded as part of their SERE training. It is used in that training precisely because it causes great distress without causing permanent physical or mental harm.

    We waterboarded three known al-Qaeda leaders. We were not just grabbing guys off the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and waterboarding them. These men had carried out plans that had caused the deaths of thousands and had made additional plans that were intended to cause the deaths of thousands more. Does Mark really believe that it is the Church’s position that absolutely nothing can be done to these men to foil their murderous plans? Is name, rank (which they don’t have) and serial number (which they don’t have) all that we can expect from them? We should not, and do not need to, resort to torture (removal of body parts, electrodes attached to various body parts, etc.)in order to obtain information to save lives, but we need to do more than send terrorist leaders to the nightly movie with no popcorn if they refuse to divulge where they intend to strike next.

    Catholicism has never been a religion for pacifists (even before the time of Constantine, there were Catholics in the Roman Army). We do not sit by passively and watch the innocent be destroyed by the evil. Read Niccolo Capponi’s excellent book on Lepanto, Triumph of the West, to see how a Catholic Saint (Pope Pius V) was the catalyst behind the creation of a military force to destroy those that sought to destroy us.

    Although I am sure Mark did not vote for Obama, articles like this are actually far more damaging than a single vote. Articles like this give cover to Catholics for Obama types who look to excuse their votes for pro-abortion candidates. Waterboarding KSM and his henchmen is not the moral equivalent of the 1.2 million abortions that take place each year in this country.

  • Mark P. Shea

    I did not vote for Obama. I voted for some doomed Third Party guy who did not ask me to endorse grave evil.

    As to the bulk of this thread. Thanks for proving my point.

    RC: re: your question:

    “How far does Catholic teaching allow the treatment of soldiers (that is, of lawful combatants) to vary from the treatment of terrorists (that is, of unlawful combatants)?”

    I’m skeptical Catholic moral teaching frames the issue in this way. The teaching of the Catechism is basically “treat prisoners humanely.” We knew how to do this up until Bush/Cheney started torturing them. (And, by the way, I notice that the bulk of the torture defenders here simply ignore the documentation I provide on prisoners murdered by asphyxia, beatings, and hypothermia and focus on quibbling about waterboarding and forms of torment that did not happen to kill prisoner, just as they overlook the question of the innocence of people like Dilawar and Maher Arar). As far as I can tell the Church had no complaints about our policies qua policies of prisoner treatment before Bush/Cheney decided to ditch Geneva and order up torture. Now the bishops have some rather pointed things to say: http://tiny.cc/27ujg

    My point has, for years, been “If you simply set out to obey the Church here, you won’t have to ask wicked and dangerous questions like “How close can I get to committing the grave sin of torture without being technically, precisely, you know guilty?” This is much like asking how far you can go with the secretary before it’s technically, you know, adultery. If you aim to treat prisoners humanely (as we did when fighting Nazis and Commies) you won’t accidently torture them, much less accidently murder them.

    That doesn’t mean (as torture defenders love to say) that we should give them cookies and milk and a kiss on the nose. Just abide by the same norms and standards that applied on Septembeer 10, 2001. What has changed is not the fact that our enemy is way eviller than pantywaists like Nazis. What has changed is that Baby Boomers tend to confuse brutality with courage and realism with Jack Bauer television fantasies.

  • Mark

    What do you when people on the “right” start to
    climb in popularity? Palin, Glen Beck, Doug Hoffman, and
    so on? If you are on the left and a member of the
    mainstream media, you take advantage of the trails to remind
    people of how bad things were under Bush. Be happy with
    Obama and all the things he brings or be reminded of
    the big evil “W” and all the thing he did.

  • Charles Miller

    I have been responding to each posting by Mark on this topic with the same message. It defies understanding why we keep re-hashing this. Mark does such a nice job with other topics. There must be some agenda here, but it’s so difficult to figure out…or maybe just chronic BDS? (Bush Derangement Syndrome)

    Say, I have a better idea. Let’s put KSM on trial in NYC so that he can explain to a receptive and naive audience “why they did it.” Good grief.

    Oh, and by the way, Rush Limbaugh is not the voice of the Republican Party. The voters are.

  • Mena

    “You won’t have to ask wicked and dangerous questions like “How close can I get to committing the grave sin of torture without being technically, precisely, you know guilty?”

    I’d rather ask that question daily than to see three thousand or more of my fellow American citizens brutally murdered in a terror attack.

    In time, as Islamic terrorism continues to force this issue upon us, the Catholic Church will embrace the view that it is okay to use limited coercion methods so as to save thousands if not millions. It will be precisely defined and limited so as to be ethical from Christian ideals.

    But your position, Mr. Shea, would rather have the thousands and millions slaughtered than to disturb a terrorist. I think that says more about your own warped-if-well-meaning logic.

    To treat a plotting mass murderer kindly is to allow the murder of thousands if not millions of innocents. That’s the real wickedness. Irresistible Christian reason informs us of this.

  • Mercyknight

    I removed Mark’s blog link from my site.

  • Andy

    There’s not a single new argument against Mark’s approach here, whether it’s euphemism to minimize the reality of torture (see “disturbing a terrorist” in the previous comment), calling Mark a liberal (which is laughable if you’ve ever read anything else by him), or the age-old “but you’re just so mean and uncharitable about it all.

    I say good. It’s about time someone called the actions of our government by their proper names. You have all the right enemies, Mark, whether it’s torture apologists or pro-aborts. Keep it up.

  • meg

    Were Bush/Cheney really the first since 1949 to “ditch Geneva and order up torture”? Somehow this doesn’t sound plausible.

    I would like to see this piece re-written with no mention of Bush or Limbaugh – there are probably some good points to be made here but they are overshadowed by invective.

  • Rich

    In time, as Islamic terrorism continues to force this issue upon us, the Catholic Church will embrace the view that it is okay to use limited coercion methods so as to save thousands if not millions. It will be precisely defined and limited so as to be ethical from Christian ideals.

    But your position, Mr. Shea, would rather have the thousands and millions slaughtered than to disturb a terrorist. I think that says more about your own warped-if-well-meaning logic.

    To treat a plotting mass murderer kindly is to allow the murder of thousands if not millions of innocents. That’s the real wickedness. Irresistible Christian reason informs us of this.

    Things like this make me think I am living in an alternate universe. I mean, if I wrote this:

    In time, as pro embryonic stem cell advocates continue to force this issue upon us, the Catholic Church will embrace the view that it is okay to use limited stem cell methods so as to save thousands if not millions. It will be precisely defined and limited so as to be ethical from Christian ideals.

    Didn’t Jesus say to love one’s enemies? How is kindness shown to someone, regardless of what they have done allowing the murder of “thousands if not millions” ?

  • Mena

    Andy says: “It’s about time someone called the actions of our government by their proper names”

    Yes, like “citizen defense” and “interrogation to save the lives of thousands.”

    If you think we must call the West’s strategic interrogation “torture,” then we must call your overly gentle treatment of terrorist conspirators “collusion in a mass murder,” “aiding and abetting,” and “collaborative genocide.”

    Are you prepared to wear those labels, Andy? I’d rather wrongly be accused of “torture” than to be any one of those labels that appropriately define your position.

  • Francis Wippel

    What I don’t get is why Mark keeps coming back to this topic. His writing on this question has been marked by horrible logic and by imputing bad faith on the part of those who hold a different opinion.

    And now this. Who, exactly, is Rush Limbaugh that his viewpoint belongs in a discussion amongst serious Catholics about a serious issue? Well, he’s nobody; except that he provides a handy cudgel to smack around those whom Mark disagrees.

    It has become impossible to read Mark about this topic because — and I say this with all charity — Mark lies about it. When a man as smart as Mark refuses to engage the debate in good faith, there can be no other description.

    Thus, I ask — again in all charity — please shut up. I can’t explain why a site to which I come regularly feels the need to allow Mark a platform for his low and dishonest attacks on a matter of serious moral weight. I expect better than this.

    Amen. Why Mark Shea keeps coming back to this is beyond me. I

  • Brian English

    “I provide on prisoners murdered by asphyxia, beatings, and hypothermia and focus on quibbling about waterboarding and forms of torment that did not happen to kill prisoner, just as they overlook the question of the innocence of people like
    Dilawar and Maher Arar).”

    Differentiating between unauthorized and illegal actions and the waterboarding of three al-Qaeda leaders is not “quibbling.” It is differentiating between very different acts involving very different parties.

    “If you aim to treat prisoners humanely (as we did when fighting Nazis and Commies) you won’t accidently torture them, much less accidently murder them.”

    You actually believe that KSM and his cohorts should be accorded the same type of treatment that was accorded a terrified 15-year old German boy who had a rifle shoved in his hands in April of 1945 and was told to march towards the sound of the guns? You really believe those situations are comparable?

    “That doesn’t mean (as torture defenders love to say) that we should give them cookies and milk and a kiss on the nose. Just abide by the same norms and standards that applied on Septembeer 10, 2001.”

    How would you have handled KSM and his two friends? You really appear to believe that civil authorities have no duty to try to protect the innocent. That has never been the Church’s position.

    “I say good. It’s about time someone called the actions of our government by their proper names. You have all the right enemies, Mark, whether it’s torture apologists or pro-aborts. Keep it up.”

    Thank you, Andy, for proving my point that articles like this provide wonderful support for the equivalency argument so loved by Catholics for Obama.

  • Rich

    Good grief? Really? It is in the news. It is timely. Eric Holder will at some point have to deal with the John Yoos et. al. of the previous administration.

    I am glad it comes up. Sometimes the only thing that appears to matter to the majority of commenters here is abortion abortion abortion.

    There are many things we need to be vigilant about and prophetic toward. Our baptism calls us to be like priests, prophets and kings. And, a good prophet comforts the afflicted, but afflicts the comfortable. My feeling is that some did not the discomfort his words created.

    I am challenged quite often by what I read here at IC. It appears to me that there might be some who feel they are above being challenged and instead attack the way the words are delivered, rather than deal with the real subject matter.

    I know I can chafe at times over delivery in the same way, but I appreciate the challenge and tenacity a number of charitable commenters have shown me when I disagreed with style over form. I am hoping that others will be receptive to some challenge as well.

    THe argument that it does not need to be discussed, when it is obvious there are some really deep feelings involved here only demonstrates that more discussion is certainly needed.

  • JC

    1) Elementary school level Catholic morality:the ends do not justify the means. Torturing a human being-who has not even been given due process to determine whether he or she is guilty of *anything*–just to get information or a concfession.
    2) Until the era of Bush–a president for whom pro-lifers voted in spite of his promise to not overturn _Roe v. Wade_–it was fairly conventional wisdom taht torture does not gather useful information. The main purpose of torture is to brainwash the victim into telling you waht you want to hear.
    3) The point of Mark’s article is something that struck me, as well. I heard the same show he did, and the same quotes he did, and was shocked. I’ve been accused of being a “liberal” for the exact same reasoning:
    a) Clinton said pro-lifers were the #1 terrorist threat
    b) Bush comes in, says, “We’re going to eliminate terrorism,” appoints a pro-abortionist to run his department of Homeland Security, and establishes a torture policy.
    c) Obama comes in and re-introduces the idea that pro-lifers are the #1 terorist threat.
    As far as whether one is a Republican/conservative, almost everyone running for president in the past election opposed waterboarding. The only exceptions were, I think, Romney and Thompson, maybe Giuliani, IIRC. Most of the second tier Republicans, McCain, and third party candidates Barr and Baldwin opposed it.

    And now Blackwater, which is responsible for some of the worst of the torture, has taken over the police in a local Montana town.: http://www.newswithviews.com/B…ing168.htm

  • Mark

    “I cannot for a minute believe that the Holy Father, our Blessed Mother, nor Jesus himself would advocate that someone be interrogated in a way that demeans their dignity.

    Ever.

    That is the only argument needed.” – Rich

    Not so fast there Rich. The Miracle of Lepanto teaches us that our Blessed Mother guided the Church to do a lot more than just “demean the dignity” of the enemy:

    “At dawn on October 7, 1571–as Vatican Archives later revealed–Pope Pius V, accompanied by many faithful, was praying the Rosary in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. From dawn to dusk the prayers continued in Rome as the Christians and the Moslems battled at Lepanto. When it was all over the Moslems had been defeated. Of some 270 Moslem ships, at least 200 were destroyed. The Turks also lost 30,000 men while Christian casualties numbered between 4,000 and 5,000.

    The Rosary had won a great military victory.”

    Also, since honest and mature people can agree that flogging (to beat severely with a whip or rod) is far more extreme than water boarding, please read the following from the New Advent online Catholic Encycpopedia:

    “In the course of time, through the influence of the Church, the lot of prisoners was greatly improved…

    …The influence of the Papacy also was very great, and the prison system at Rome became a model. Popes Eugenius IV (1435), Paul V (1611), and Innocent X (1655) passed regulations improving the conditions of prisoners, until finally Clement XI (1703), by constructing St. Michael’s prison, introduced the most essential change needed to ameliorate the penal system:

    Each prisoner had his cell at night, but all worked in common during the day. A religious confraternity supervised them and undertook their education. Each one was taught a trade, and was encouraged by a system of rewards. The punishments consisted in bread and water diet, work in their cells, black holes, and flogging.”

    Mr. Shea, did you see that last word? Flogging. Church sactioned flogging. Much worse than waterboarding.

    It’s obvious that you believe in verbally flogging those who disagree with you, but what I’d like to know is your real motivation behind writing such feminized nonsense.

  • Rich

    Mark, your comments are not logical and appear intellectually lazy. Battle and what happens to prisoners after a battle are two very different things. Regardless, war is to be avoided at every possible turn, and the number of Lepanto champions that post grows by the week. The fact of that battle does not give liscence to the Bush doctrine of war to prevent terrorism. War is terrorism to those who receive the brunt end of the violence, the most sever form.

    Advocates of this kind of behavior are making the point very well that some real soul searching needs to go on in this area.

    Mark, the church sanctioned public executions by fire and all kinds of terrible things at various times in the past.

    My point still stands…Jesus did not pick up a sword, and while we may have to from time to time, it appears there are some self styled “conservative” Catholics who want to carry one all the time as though it is standard equipment.

    Sorry to say, folks, violence and its tools are not standard equipment for Christians.

  • Mena

    Question: How is kindness shown to someone, regardless of what they have done allowing the murder of “thousands if not millions” ?

    Answer: Showing kindness to a conspirator of a mass terror plot, when one should instead be interrogating him harshly to get plot-disrupting life-saving information, enables the murder of thousands if not millions to proceed undisrupted. That’s evil incarnate, and it’s stupid, too. Thousands die horrible deaths, and one terrorism conspirator is treated nicely. Seem moral to you?

    The people who waterboarded KSM disturbed the man but saved thousands from death in an attack on the tallest building in Los Angeles. The interrogators were *absolute Christian heroes* for this courageous rough interrogation. All Americans (especially citizens of Los Angeles) owe a debt of gratitude to the people who waterboarded KSM. Thank you, law enforcement people!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Thanks for that word of moral wisdom from “Catholics for Flogging”, Mark. Too bad the weenines in charge of our penal system no longer permit racking, drawing and quartering either.

    And don’t get me started on the glories of burning people at the stake, thumbscrews, and disembowelment. So *much* has been lost since Catholic teaching abandoned these time-tested methods. If we could only return to the 15th century and just freeze time. Surely the Holy Spirit stopped guiding the Church after that.

  • Christine

    I had the H1N1 – terrible stuff…

    Regardless of who you voted for (I did not vote for Obama) or what your political leanings are, the question I believe that Mark posed to us was that of the effects of sin. To break it down:

    Torture, or hurting people, or whatever you call it, is usually sinful (refer to CCoCC for further insight)

    We received little to no benefit for hurting these people in regards to the saving of lives. Statistically you do not receive reliable information from torture (or hurting others).

    By hurting these individuals, we may have, instead given others with more nefarious agendas ample opportunity to capitalize on our sinfulness through their own sinfulness.

    I too have been frightened by the fact that the Patriot Act somehow became “un-evil” when the Democrats came into power, but was considered by them so evil when they weren’t. I also don’t trust this president who has asked the American people to tell the White House when someone is speaking poorly about his prospective policies (which he routinely lies about).

    Sorry people, but 1+1=2, unless you are in an Orwellian nightmare, which we just may be…

    It’s sad when someone I don’t mind too much (Limbaugh) agrees with the 1+1=3 crowd. He doesn’t come to 3 as often as other media folk, but should be questioned when he does.

  • Rich

    For Mena:

    I don’t know what you have been reading, but from everything I have read, KSM provided actionable intel BEFORE he was waterboarded, and nothing useful afterward. Please let me know of any link I can head to that shows otherwise?

    It seems to me I must be in the twilight zone.

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    I had the H1N1 – terrible stuff…

    Yes, we did miss you! Glad to have you back, and sorry to hear you had swine flu. Ugh.

  • Austin

    I could possibly go along with great reluctance, waterboarding a terrorist on the “ticking bomb” scenario, but this would be the rare exception. One very disturbing thing though is that some of the posters actually seem to be enthusiastic about water
    boarding people, like it was all great fun. There is no regret, nor attitude that this would be the exception rather than the rule. Indeed, some seem to think it should be the “normal” mode of operations when dealing with detainees.

    Their enthusiasm for this “procedure” gives me pause.

  • Mena

    Rich says: “from everything I have read, KSM provided actionable intel BEFORE he was waterboarded”

    I give you this from the Washington Post. Enjoy!

    “How a Detainee Became An Asset – Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding”
    By Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate
    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Link: http://tinyurl.com/mrcc4u

    You are the one putting me through the Twilight Zone.
    : )

  • Rob H.

    Note Limbaugh’s pretzel-like (one might even call it “tortured”) inability to call “waterboarding” by its right name of torture…

    Nice! [smiley=laugh]

  • Brian English

    I have yet to see anyone give a rational explanation why:

    (1) a procedure we performed on over 25,000 of our own troops qualifies as torture;

    (2) using that procedure on three admitted al-Qaeda leaders (there was no question about who they were) was a crime against humanity (Austin, waterboarding was not used on random detainees and I must have missed the comments in this thread advocating such an approach).

    Also, no one has explained how they would have dealt with KSM and his two friends. What would you have done?

  • Mark

    “There is no regret, nor attitude that this (waterboarding would be the exception rather than the rule.” – Austin

    It’s been my experience that most people understand that waterboarding is only used in very, very rare exceptions. If there is any exaggeration in these debates, it comes from the folks who try to make it sound as though torture in general and waterboarding in particular are used on a daily basis.

    “the number of Lepanto champions that post grows by the week.”- Rich

    And what’s your point? Church history that doesn’t comfortably fit into your modern feminized box isn’t allowed to be mentioned?

    “The fact of that battle does not give liscence to the Bush doctrine of war to prevent terrorism.” – Rich

    Now who’s being intellectually lazy? Not even implied. By the way, would you please explain how the Obama Doctrine will keep us safe now that George W. Bush is no longer president?

    “It seems to me I must be in the twilight zone.” – Rich

    If you are the only person who didn’t read how terrorist attacks were thwarted only after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, then yes, you probably are in the twilight zone.

    “Surely the Holy Spirit stopped guiding the Church after that.” – Mark P. Shea

    Ah, sarcasm. Don’t get me wrong, I oppose flogging prisoners. I am just pointing out that one is being disingenuous if one chooses to hide behind historic Church practices in order to “prove” that violence has “never” been tolerated. It has.

    You also forgot to answer my sincere question. What is your real motivation for writing an article like this? I trust that you will be honest.

    Also, to all who get worked up over waterboarding a handful of known muslim terrorists, have you seen the Daniel Pearl beheading video?

  • Andy

    I have yet to see anyone give a rational explanation why:

    (1) a procedure we performed on over 25,000 of our own troops qualifies as torture;

    Can we please put this canard to bed already? Ask yourself why we perform it on our own troops. Answer: so they can withstand it when the enemy does it. The practice does nothing one way or the other to “prove” it is or is not torture.

    Although the fact you need training to get through it successfully definitely speaks to its bearing on the victim’s state of mind.

  • Brian English

    “Can we please put this canard to bed already? Ask yourself why we perform it on our own troops. Answer: so they can withstand it when the enemy does it. The practice does nothing one way or the other to “prove” it is or is not torture.”

    Unfortunately, waterboarding would be a huge step-up in treatment for our troops who have the misfortune of being captured by the enemy. Instead, they are mutilated and then beheaded. THAT is torture.

    As I indicated in an earlier comment, the reason we use waterboarding is because it causes a high degree of distress without causing permanent harm. Explain to me why that is torture. You could also explain how you would have handled the interrogations of KSM and his two friends.

  • Rich

    Mena, I direct you to Glenn Greenwald:

    http://tinyurl.com/yed932z

    That Washington Post article has been criticized six ways to sunday. Even the Politico called it out. Read the entire Greenwald piece.

    The 2004 report that article is based on is so heavily redacted that it is impossible to know preceisly what intelligence was gathered when and by what means. There is no causation at all between the enhanced techniques and KSM’s cooperation. Greg Sargent from the Washington Post disagreed with the article you sourced.

    Mark,

    Your characterizations of writing by anyone who disagrees with you as feminist strikes me as immature. Regardless, we will have to agree to disagree.

    I am not championing some “Obama Doctrine” just because I happen to have a problem with the Bush idea of preventative war. That was my point about Lepanto. One instance where the case of preventative war might have been just does not give license to every other instance. And yet that specific case is trotted out at every conversation about war/torture.

    Finally, no specific “doctrine” is going to “keep us safe.” Security is an illusion and simply cannot be attained for every member of our society. The fear mongerin that goes on that tries to imply that any president can provide security is pathetic.

    The idea that we, as Christians, should be sacrificing our principles about the dignity of the human person for a concept like security makes me think that I am in an alternate reality when there are so many self styled “good Catholics” saying that maltreatment and preventative war are good things astounds me.

    Brian,

    I suppose the difference in your example would be that the troops who had this happen to them did it voluntarily. Were they sleep deprived for 7 days straight in shackels and a diaper in darkness and then waterboarded 183 times in 7 days?

    If you do not think that the above is torture, then we simply disagree and can move on with our lives.

    Peace!

  • Rick

    Thank God Mark isn’t President. We would all be muslim by 2012.

  • Andy

    Thank God Mark isn’t President. We would all be muslim by 2012.

    Hardly. There are many a good Christian who would die before denying Christ, thanks be to God. Your blunder is assuming that the Christian mission merely requires us to be “not Muslim,” and not followers of the Gospel.

  • jp2feminist

    What a pathetic rant that was. Sorry, but if our government becomes aware of a terrorist who has credible information about a plan to set off nuclear suitcase bombs in major metropolitan areas, and waterboarding would lead to the capture of said terrorists, I’m quite sure that Mr. Shea would no longer call it torture. I am quite fed up with this whole discussion. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

  • Mark

    Christine, sorry to hear you were sick, glad to hear you are feeling better.

    “Thank God Mark isn’t President. We would all be muslim by 2012.” – Rick

    ?

  • Chace

    Is water boarding torture/inhumane? Is subjecting a suspect to simple questioning for several hours torture/inhumane? Is a prison sentence torture/inhumane? Is spanking a child torture/inhumane? What is the definition of torture/inhumane? What is the obvious teaching of the Church (CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH; Legitimate defense_2263-2267)? People in prison get beat up, raped, killed, and isolated. Water boarding creates the feeling of drowning. Interrogation for several hours can deprive sleep and cause frustration. What’s worse? Cannot all of these be considered inhumane? Have not all forms of interrogation resulted in lousy, and life-saving, intel. We do know water boarding saved lives. Despite what the Obama spokesoids say.

    The question I grapple with is where does the Church draw the line? Where does my Catholic conscience lead me? Are we to save lives or handle a jihadist with kid gloves? Jihad is a holy war. In this instance all non-muslims must die. If my daughter is missing and I have the prime suspect in my house would I water board that person to save my child’s life? Would I water board that person to save thousands of Catholics? I’m only creating the illusion that the person is drowning. He walks away at the end of the day, no pain, no scars, not happy, I get information to save a life. Is that inhumane? I honestly don’t know what the Church would condone.

    What is the definition of consevatism? It’s a philosophy based on fundamental beliefs that haven’t changed. What is there to change? Limbaugh was making a point relative to the power grab of the anti-Catholic Obama administration and what could happen if Obama became Ceasar. All of this predicated on the evidence that Obama IS moving toward becoming Ceasar. Ceasar had total control over the people and government. Our government has checks and balances with three branches, elected by the people for the people – for now. Point made; when Obama becomes Ceasar then we can be water boarded. The correct evaluation of Limbaugh’s comments is that Obama is attempting to grab more power by trying, and embarassing, the U.S. government in federal court under the guise of trying a jihadist. What Limbaugh failed to say was that Catholics will be first-in-line to be tortured when Obama becomes Ceasar.

  • Brian English

    Rich:

    The claims of an FBI agent that KSM cooperated before he was waterboarded have been refuted by both his partner and documents that show the cooperation only took place after the waterboarding.

    KSM also had water poured on him 183 times, he was not waterboarded on 183 separate occasions.

    Agreeing to disagree on this issue is fine (I assume that means that you think reasonable people can disagree on the issue), but the view that doing anything to a terrorist beyond giving him a nasty look is torture has real-world consequences. No one in the CIA wants to interrogate prisoners anymore because they cannot rely on apparently valid authorizations. I do not see any way that does not cause immense harm at some point.

  • Christine

    Thanks for the kind words. I pray for all of your health, because being sick is the pits.

    As for the other issue, lets just all agree to disagree and call it an end to the thread. Thanks for making us all think about a difficult topic, Mark.

  • Arkyump

    Mark, stick to church things and leave the torture of your supposed readers to others. For one thing, life is torture. I was in the service and we were “tortured” every day. Torture for information does indeed work if the torture does not cause a lot of pain, then the tortchee will tell you anything. If the torture is “uncomfortable” then they will be more than likely to spill the beans and tell the truth. It works every time. After all the police use ‘torture” to get information from the crook and crooks. This is not a perfect world Mark. Maybe you need to sign up with Eric Holder and stop gnashing your teeth at the Right Wing. We don’t need your help, we have the whole democratic party on our butts.

  • Andrea

    I used to think highly of Mark Shea. After reading this particular rant and his responses to commentors, he has lost credibility with me. I’ll be bypassing his articles in the future.

  • Pammie

    Did anyone bother to read Mr. Mannion’s essay? It explains quite well why it is a mistake to align oneself as a Catholic with any political party’s platform. Perhaps Americans are afraid to know that they really DON’T have much of a voice in government and that there is in fact not a lot of difference in republican and democrat governance when all is said and done. When the results are always the same and nothing ever changes, how does one come to a different conclusion? According to the standards of American conservatives, Rush doesn’t qualify as being one in good standing.

  • Brian English

    Andrea and Others:

    As my comments above make clear, I strongly disagree with Mark on this issue, on a few different levels.

    However, do not deprive yourselves of his writing on spiritual matters. He has very valuable insights and has a gift for conveying complicated theological concepts in an understandable fashion.

    In the future, just avoid articles with “Torture,” “Rubber-Hose Right,” or similar phrases in the titles.

  • Mark

    I agree with Brian English. Much more important than waterboarding, Mr. Shea is a sincere Catholic and a gifted writer.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Brian and Mark:

    Thanks for your defense. I appreciate your willingness to overlook your anger at me and say something ghenerous and kind. However, I must say that, of all the things said in these comboxes (and in others in the past at other sites), the thing I find the most mysterious and impenetrable is the strange suggestion that my views on torture and prisoner abuse have nothing whatsoever to do with my Catholic faith. I have no idea how readers could conceivably arrive at such a strange notion. My views on torture are rooted in the fact that we worship a God who was tortured to death and who said “inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.” My opposition to torture is theological first; political, practical, social and cultural a distant second.

  • Richard

    I personally don’t believe in torture, but I don’t believe there is any church teaching that forbids flogging, isolation, harrassment or other actions that some would consider torture. As a former soldier, I would never have participated in the torture of enemy soldiers. These terrorists, however, murder innocent women and children. Although against torture,I believe the death penalty-not against church teaching-should be used.
    As an aside, in the choice between a politician who favors waterboarding terrorists and one who is fervently pro-abortion, I think I’ll take the waterboarder.

  • Mena

    Rich says: The idea that we, as Christians, should be sacrificing our principles about the dignity of the human person for a concept like security

    Catholicism teaches the proper justice of self-defense. God does not require that whole nations lay down and be slaughtered by militant aggressors. In fact, defending the innocent from aggressors is virtuous.

  • Mena

    Mark says: “My views on torture are rooted in the fact that we worship a God who was tortured to death and who said “inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”

    Yes, and I would say that when a terror attack proceeds to kill hundreds whilst you hold the conspirators safe and sound in a prison means “you did it to all of those hundreds or thousands.” Their blood is on your hands, and to use your analogy, it’s Christ’s blood.

    Does that sound like the right decision to you? You refuse to threaten the one to get information, and in the process you knowingly allow the hundreds to die. That’s sick.

  • Mark P. Shea

    You do realize, don’t you, that you are living in 24-created fantasy world? You seem to believe that torture would have prevented 9/11. What would have prevented 9/11 was for the state to have paid attention to the warning signs it was getting from the conspirators and the people who noticed they were doing weird things like learning how to fly without takeoff or landing training and scoping out cross country flights.

    You also seem to believe that it is impossible to get information without torturing people. In fact, however, we got useful intel from jihadi detainees without torture. Indeed, in at leat one instance we actually got all our useful intel from a prisoner by conventional means–but then the Bush/Cheney Administration ordered he be tortured anyway. Result: he predictably told his torturers whatever he thought they might want to hear, loeading to a massive waste of time, manpower and resources chasing a huge wild goose chase.

    As I say, one of the weirdest things about zealous torture defenders is the strange conviction they have that repeating Jack Bauer fantasies is “realism” and sneering at the obvious teaching of the Church is Faithful Conservative Catholicism. The Church doesn’t teach the cartoons you keep repeating ad nauseam, Mena. Nor do I. It teaches, whether you like it or not:

    2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.”

    2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.

    Your rejection of this and your proud statement that you’d rather be found guilty of torture is not an argument with me, but with the Catechism. Nobody’s saying “Don’t interrogate”. We did it for decades under the humane requirements demanded by the Church. We still can. And it will still work.

  • Analyst

    Some of you folks are saying Mark Shea voted for Obama.

    Do you know that for a fact? Did he state as much on some occasion?

    Because I seriously, seriously doubt it. Sure, he’s bombastic to the point of bad taste, sometimes forgoing actual argument in favor of invective…but he’s no shill for Obama! (Look for “Analyst,” who sometimes posts around here, if you want someone from that category.)

    Hi, R.C.!

  • Chris C.

    It is not clear why in neither Mark’s article or any of the commnents, has anyone cited what would appear to be the most relevant portion the CCC; paragraph 2297. In it we find a very clear, and unequivocal condemnation of kidnapping, hostage taking and terrorism. However the treatment of torture seems to my mind far more nuanced. It is clearly condemned if the purpose is to extract confessions, punish the guilty, or frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred.
    Other uses of physical coercion for other purposes(saving innocent lives perhaps) are not specifically addressed.
    In the case of KSM et al.,their discomforture was not intended to assist in the prosecution of a criminal case,it was not for punishment,nor unlike the Daniel Pearl beheading and subsequent internet video, was it intended to create fear in others; at least in so far as we know.
    I am not saying what was done was necessarily right, just that our principal teaching document The Catechism, seems to leave some room for one to make a credible moral case.

  • Bob

    Mark isn’t in charge of banning commenters from InsideCatholic.com

  • Mark P. Shea

    If you click on the second and third links in my article, you will see my indepth critique of the attempt to get around the obvious language of the Catechism (and, more importantly, the papal and conciliar documents) which condemn torture as intrinsically immoral.

    The basic problem of the “Torture is okay when its done to obtain information and not to punish” excuse is this: if you are going to embrace this, then you are going to be meeting efficiency experts who will immmediately tell you that it is more efficient to follow John Yoo’s lead and threaten to crush the testicles of KSM’s nine year old son than to threaten KSM himself.

    If you reply, “We would never threaten a child!” you are a bit behind the curve. We already have, according to CIA spooks quoted in Ron Susskind’s One Percent Doctrine. We threatened to harm KSM’s kids.

    “But” it will be replied, “that’s wrong! Because children are innocent!” Yes, they are. But the “We’re just getting information” pain technician doesn’t care about guilt or innocence. You said it yourself: torture to punish the guilty is wrong. And, being a good Catholic pain technician, he will tell you: he’s not *punishing* anybody. He’s just responding to Mena’s demand for brave souls who are willing to commit the so-called “grave evil” of torture in order to save innocent lives. So, says the efficient pain technician who has carefully studied Fr. Harrison’s casuistry, let’s get to work on that suspected terrorist’s little girl because her screams will have her father begging for mercy and singing like a canary far more quickly than if we did him. Nothing personal. Just doing what it takes in an ends-justify the-means world. And besides, as everybody here agrees, there are all sorts of things you can do to little girls that aren’t even torture! Waterboarding, for instance. Or forced nudity. A little embarrassing, but hey! No harm, no foul!

    That’s the Faustian bargain we make whenever we try to pretend that something the Church calls gravely and intrinsically evil can be massaged into acceptability in the eyes of God.

  • I am not Spartacus

    Men Break Silence on WWII

    Interrogators Fought ‘Battle of Wits’

    By Petula Dvorak
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, October 6, 2007

    For six decades, they held their silence.

    The group of World War II veterans kept a military code and the decorum of their generation, telling virtually no one of their top-secret work interrogating Nazi prisoners of war at Fort Hunt.

    When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.

    Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners’ cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

    “We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.

    Blunt criticism of modern enemy interrogations was a common refrain at the ceremonies held beside the Potomac River near Alexandria. Across the river, President Bush defended his administration’s methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects during an Oval Office appearance.

    Several of the veterans, all men in their 80s and 90s, denounced the controversial techniques. And when the time came for them to accept honors from the Army’s Freedom Team Salute, one veteran refused, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

    “I feel like the military is using us to say, ‘We did spooky stuff then, so it’s okay to do it now,’ ” said Arno Mayer, 81, a professor of European history at Princeton University.
    When Peter Weiss, 82, went up to receive his award, he commandeered the microphone and gave his piece.

    “I am deeply honored to be here, but I want to make it clear that my presence here is not in support of the current war,” said Weiss, chairman of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and a human rights and trademark lawyer in New York City.

    The veterans of P.O. Box 1142, a top-secret installation in Fairfax County that went only by its postal code name, were brought back to Fort Hunt by park rangers who are piecing together a portrait of what happened there during the war.
    Nearly 4,000 prisoners of war, most of them German scientists and submariners, were brought in for questioning for days, even weeks, before their presence was reported to the Red Cross, a process that did not comply with the Geneva Conventions. Many of the interrogators were refugees from the Third Reich.

    “We did it with a certain amount of respect and justice,” said John Gunther Dean, 81, who became a career Foreign Service officer and ambassador to Denmark.

    The interrogators had standards that remain a source of pride and honor.

    “During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone,” said George Frenkel, 87, of Kensington. “We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

    Exactly what went on behind the barbed-wire fences of Fort Hunt has been a mystery that has lured amateur historians and curious neighbors for decades.

    During the war, nearby residents watched buses with darkened windows roar toward the fort day and night. They couldn’t have imagined that groundbreaking secrets in rocketry, microwave technology and submarine tactics were being peeled apart right on the grounds that are now a popular picnic area where moonbounces mushroom every weekend.

    When Vincent Santucci arrived at the National Park Service’s George Washington Memorial Parkway office as chief ranger four years ago, he asked his cultural resource specialist, Brandon Bies, to do some research so they could post signs throughout the park, explaining its history and giving it a bit more dignity.

    That assignment changed dramatically when ranger Dana Dierkes was leading a tour of the park one day and someone told her about a rumored Fort Hunt veteran.

    It was Fred Michel, who worked in engineering in Alexandria for 65 years, never telling his neighbors that he once faced off with prisoners and pried wartime secrets from them.
    Michel directed them to other vets, and they remembered others.

    Bies went from being a ranger researching mountains of topics in stacks of papers to flying across the country, camera and klieg lights in tow, to document the fading memories of veterans.

    He, Santucci and others have spent hours trying to sharpen the focus of gauzy memories, coaxing complex details from men who swore on their generation’s honor to never speak of the work they did at P.O. Box 1142.

    “The National Park Service is committed to telling your story, and now it belongs to the nation,” said David Vela, superintendent of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
    There is a deadline. Each day, about 1,100 World War II veterans die, said Jean Davis, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army’s Freedom Team Salute program, which recognizes veterans and the parents, spouses and employers who provide support for active-duty soldiers.

    By gathering at Fort Hunt yesterday, the quiet men could be saluted for the work they did so long ago.

    Voting for a pro-abortion politician changes you. It makes you one who willingly compromises with and succors evil.

    Torturing others changes you. It dehumanises you.

    Opposing the clear Doctrine of Holy Mother Church changes you.

    The Catholic Church teaches with the authority of Christ. Christ is saying, “No torture.” Those of you who do support have become ones who turn a deaf ear to Jesus. Those of you who do support torture have turned your backs on Jesus.

  • Blake Helgoth

    Mark,

    Still no answer to the double effect question? Why can I cause extreme harm, even mortal harm to a person attacking either me or someone else if the intended end of my action is to stop the attack, but I cannot cause physical harm to someone when the intended end is stopping an attack?

  • I am not Spartacus

    My first instinct (as was obvious) was to come out swinging on Mr. Shea’s behalf. Then, while I was looking-up some background info about torture online, I found the info at Against The Grain. (man, can I speed read when necessary).

    So, I retract both my statement and my support for Mr. Shea and especially do I retract my words about those turning their backs on Jesus etc.

    I was writing about others who change themselves when they do thus and such.

    I am going to change myself by shutting-up. http://tinyurl.com/yedxlya

  • Just another nameless terrorist

    It is clear that people will never back off of their deeply held belief that once a person is labelled a terrorist they have been dehumanized to the point that we need no longer be concerned with finer details like torture, due process, or justice. It is good to know that everyone agrees and I look forward to joining my fellow Catholic defenders of the unlimited prerogatives of leviathan in the dock awaiting our mutual fate of torture and martyrdom in the face of the coming tsunami of anti-Catholic rage that is building in this nation. Or perhaps they may exempt themselves from that fate as they embrace the government in favor of their faith and spit on me as I go to my fate without my beloved brethren. Ah, to be labelled a terrorist.

  • V

    If the Bush policy on waterboarding is wrong then it was wrong under the Clinton Administration which initiated the policy of “extraordinary rendition.”

    Mr. Shea you need to do your research on the policies put in place by the Clinton administration – the polices in which the Bush administration used to justify waterboarding. Otherwise your essay reads like a rant against conservatives and reveals your unchristian hatred of Bush/Cheney.

    I like your title:
    *Rush Limbaugh and the Right’s Tortured Conscience*
    Too bad the Left doesn’t have a conscience to torture.

  • Turzovka

    I believe his comments are more to the heart of the matter than Mark Shea’s. It is so easy to take the “high road” and condemn any act of torture, violence, et al. “All war is evil” says the bumper stickers. Yeah, we get it. I bet you wish your countrymen would start firing rifles and killing when Hitler started invading your neighborhood. Jesus expects us to use prudence, discretion, honor and courage when faced with an apparent evil attacking us. This is not a black and white world and only a fool would boldly make such claims…….. Carl also makes good points about Humana Vitae [sic?] but I do not believe it was fair to make that a counter argument against Mark Shea in particular. Nevertheless, very good commentary Carl.

  • Lori Lett

    I cannot believe this was linked from Spirit Daily. (I’m gonna write them next).
    HOGWASH to all of it, Mark Shea. Torture? Torture? Listening to rap music for hours on end? Oh, that IS brutal. Waterboarding? Do you even know what it is? I’m sure you’d say my dad tortured me, then, in his method of teaching me to swim when I was 8.
    There’s more at stake by giving this war criminal Rights that only U.S. Citizens are entitled to. (I must be quite a bit older than you, because I remember learning in Catholic school about the Rights that (adult) C-I-T-I-Z-E-N-S have.
    Trying this war criminal with all of OUR rights will mean releasing so much intelligence that our CIA acquires! Might as well disband the CIA when this is over.
    Obama has national suicide in mind, and he’s racing there like someone taking his vehicle over a cliff.
    Thanks, Mark, for sitting in the back seat and be one to yell, “Whoo-hooo! What a Ride! Faster, Faster…!!!!”

  • Mena

    Mark, it is no fantasy that our enforcement agents are routinely intercepting plots to attack and kill hundreds of our citizens. (Do I really need to document the ones from this year alone?) What we do when we capture one or more of the conspirators to the plot makes the difference between whether our people live or die. Sadly, you have sided with the brutal murderers by your “kindness to mass murderers policy.” In this, you have sentenced the many to death and lost your soul.

    Your position to allow the mass murder of many innocents, so as to preserve the happiness of one terror conspirator, is blatantly wicked and diabolical. It is sympathy for the devil, with grisly consequences for the innocent.

    The “ticking time bomb” scenario is precisely the limited usage we are discussing in our current dialogue, and you would rather allow mass murder instead of using water-based psychological trickery to extract life-saving information. You are a bad man, Mr. Shea. May the families of all future terror-strike victims stand at your judgment to hear you plead, “Jesus, we were kind to the terrorist even though we knew his cell was about to kill a hundred innocent people, which subsequently occurred.” That’s warped twisted stuff there, Mr. Shea.

    Finally, if I am a “zealous torture defender,” you are a “zealous terror-attack defender” and a “mass murder accomplice.” Watch how you use your words, my Catholic brother. I know you mean well to the terrorists, but you mean evil to the innocent victims.

  • Mena

    And one more thing about waterboarding that again proves it’s not “torture” but a mere psychological trick: waterboarding works only if you’ve never heard of the procedure. Once a person like you or me or a terrorist or Christopher Hitchens knows the details on how it is applied–that there is no threat of real harm–the subject is easily able to resist it. It’s even fun to try for yourself. One journalist said he was able to undergo long sessions once he understood that the method lacked any *real* harm or danger. It was simply a mental battle, and one easily winnable once the person understood no harm could come of it.

    In contrast, torture methods are those methods that cause actual carnage to the physical body. I again list these links for your review and comment:

    Exhibit A – http://tinyurl.com/25x29g
    Exhibit B – http://tinyurl.com/yhmwaes
    Exhibit C – http://tinyurl.com/2feqre

  • Lori

    thanks for saying what I couldn’t get out.[smiley=tongue]

  • Brian English

    “Thanks for your defense. I appreciate your willingness to overlook your anger at me and say something generous and kind.”

    I am not angry with you Mark, I just disagree with you that: (a) the waterboarding of KSM and his partners in evil was torture; and (b) regardless of how you characterize it, the waterboarding constituted an intrinsic evil that is the moral equivalent of the 1.2 million abortions that take place in this country each year.

    I think you are wrong, but I do not think you are evil. I think reasonable people can reach different conclusions on this issue. I do not think our disagreement makes you a “terrorist apologist.” You, on the other hand, regard anyone who disagrees with you is a wanna-be Gestapo agent. I do not think the issue is so clear-cut.

    “However, I must say that, of all the things said in these comboxes (and in others in the past at other sites), the thing I find the most mysterious and impenetrable is the strange suggestion that my views on torture and prisoner abuse have nothing whatsoever to do with my Catholic faith. I have no idea how readers could conceivably arrive at such a strange notion.”

    You cite the Church as an appeal to authority in support of your position, but other than referring to a couple of general statments in the Catechism that do not apply to the type of enemy we are facing and the war we are fighting, you fail to explain why the waterboarding of these three men was indisputably an act of intrinsic evil in the Church’s view. It was because you say it was, and anyone who disagrees with you is an apostate.

    “My views on torture are rooted in the fact that we worship a God who was tortured to death and who said “inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.” My opposition to torture is theological first; political, practical, social and cultural a distant second.”

    You actually believe the waterboarding of KSM and his confederates was the moral equivalent of the agony Christ endured?

    Where do KSM’s actual and potential victims fit in your moral calculus? Do they qualify as “the least of these?” Do we owe them nothing but a funeral?

    You also seem very concerned about KSM’s bodily integrity, but do not appear very concerned about the state of his soul. The waterboarding prevented thousands of additional murders being added to his already black soul. Does that have any relevance to your view?

  • R.C.

    Two Red Herrings
    One thing I notice in this thread, which is obscuring the debate, is that people seem to be citing different sources on two items:

    1. Whether torture actually produces valuable intel; and,

    2. Whether anything that occurred under Bush/Cheney as a matter of policy constituted a change from U.S. policy re: unlawful combatants prior to the Bush 43 administration.

    On Item #1, it appears that those in favor of “enhanced interrogation” have sources claiming that several thousand lives have been saved through the thwarting of various plots. Those against pooh-pooh this, claiming that the advocates are lying about that to try to justify themselves, and that everyone has always known that torture produces bad intel.

    On Item #2, it is acknowledged by all that the U.S. did not torture captured German soldiers in World War II. But this, of course, is not the category of combatant at issue; the question is, what form of interrogation has the U.S. used up until now with combatants who violated all the “laws of war” and who were likely to be able to provide life-saving information if coerced? The analogous situation in WWII would be if the Nazis had gotten the atomic bomb and secretly planted on in an American city, but we didn’t know where, and we’d gotten our hands on the plainclothes saboteur who did the planting, and happened incidentally to know that the same guy used to be in charge of “population management” at Auchwitz.

    So far as I know, no such scenario occurred in WWII. Maybe nothing similar occurred in the years between WWII and Bush 43 (or, maybe it did).

    The most likely thing in my estimation is that we had captured unlawful combatants in the years prior to Bush 43, and either…
    (a.) shot them out-of-hand, which probably would have been entirely lawful with an utterly unlawful combatant; or,
    (b.) traded them in prisoner exchanges for our own captured soldiers or spies.
    But I suspect that we never needed to interrogate them because they weren’t the type of folk who had useful information.

    If this is correct, it would make the situation confronted by Bush et alia a new one, without relevant law or practice.

    In any event, I see no grounds to argue that the Bush policy represented a departure from pre-Bush norms. On this topic, there were no pre-Bush practices with which to compare.

    (Or, if there were, the public doesn’t know about them, which may suggest that if unlawful combatants with valuable intel were interrogated under earlier administrations, the practices were…ungentle.)

    The Debate Obscured
    I described the two items above as red herrings obscuring the debate.

    They are that, because if the debate is about whether waterboarding et alia are never morally licit, why then: It doesn’t matter whether they produced valuable intel or not, and it doesn’t matter whether they represented a change in policy or not!

    Let us, then, stipulate that several thousand lives have been saved by KSM’s 180-plus dunkings. (I personally believe this likely, because those arguing it are stating it as a fact whereas those arguing otherwise are merely asserting a principle of faith that “it never works.”)

    And let us stipulate that unlawful combatants were, when caught, waterboarded by the administration of James Earl Carter the Merciless.

    So?

    If it’s wrong to do that kind of thing, then it’s wrong with or without (a.) success or (b.) precedent. If it’s permissible, then we can talk about whether it works later. (And that will be a purely empirical, not a moral, debate.)

    The debate remains, for the moment, about a question of moral principle, to wit:

    “When a combatant engages in the uttermost extreme of unlawful warfare, and is captured, what protections have they voluntarily renounced by the manner in which they conducted war? Put another way: What protections does the Church teach that they are incapable of renouncing through their behavior, no matter how unlawful their conduct of warfare?”

    Let’s nail that down. Only after that, does the empirical or historical debate matter a whit.

  • R.C.
  • Brian English

    Nazi sabatouers were actually captured in the U.S. during World War II. The were given quick military trials and executed. I am not aware of any protests from the Vatican.

    I guess based on that precedent, we could have tried KSM and company before a military tribunal and then executed them, as long as we did nothing to them beforehand.

    The result would be: KSM and his partners in evil dead, along with thousands of Americans killed in their undetected plots.

    I think waterboarding the three, leaving them alive for their upcoming New York extravaganza, while also leaving thousands of innocent Americans alive, is a better result, but that’s just me.

  • Mark

    I remember reading an article by a German interrogator.
    His method to the captured Americans was kind talk, and
    a bottle of wine. I don’t recall if he shared it with his
    captor or the captor drank it all. But the prisoners often
    gave him the information he was looking for.
    I will continue to defend the Bush administration:
    innocent until proven guilty. I do not know what happened,
    if the pictures or info on torture are genuine or manu-
    factured, or exaggerated. I am also aware that some of
    the tortured were common criminals who were dealt with
    harshly; are these among the torture stories?
    I can only guess that in the spur of the moment decisions
    to defend Americans first after 9/11 and attacks up to that
    time, Bush and his own decided to take no chances and
    dropped the kid gloves. Hopefully we will do better and
    more honorably if there is a next time.

  • John
  • Chace

    Mark,

    Where does the Church define what is and is not torture? You give me 2312-2313 and I am conflicted with what 2265-2267 says. WHAT IS NOT torture and an acceptable form of interrogation? Jail, level of discomfort, water boarding, isolation, questioning, threats, physical harm? Could all of these techniques be considered inhumane and a violation of human dignity per 2312-2313? Could some of these be considered acceptable and not indignant and necessary per 2265-2267? Caging someone in jail so you can question them daily is arguably indignant. I don’t think we should get their phone number and let them go. Is there not a legitimate argument for a technique that does no permanent harm to someone to save lives per 2256-2267? Especially with no definition by the Church. It’s confusing to me. So I must follow my conscience.

    I choose water boarding as the maximum penalty for their crimes against humanity because of the “…grave duty (of) one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good (requiring) that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm (2265)”. Because “The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense…(2266)”

    Mark, it does seem to me that you are massaging an ideology into the Church’s teachings because of how you only bash conservatives, and because of the inferences of your support for Obama. I would really like to know if you voted for Obama. It would help us all understand what teachings of the Church you are faithful to, and what tradeoffs you are willing to accept when voting. You may need to take the log out of your eye.

  • JohnMcG

    Nazi sabatouers were actually captured in the U.S. during World War II. The were given quick military trials and executed. I am not aware of any protests from the Vatican.

    I guess based on that precedent, we could have tried KSM and company before a military tribunal and then executed them, as long as we did nothing to them beforehand.

    The result would be: KSM and his partners in evil dead, along with thousands of Americans killed in their undetected plots.

    On what basis do you draw this conclusion? Is it also possible that the stories of how they were waterboarded inspired more plots?

    It is also true that the Allies won World War II within four years of the U.S.’s involvement, such that the Nazis were no longer a threat. Yet, notwthstanding this development in how captured enemies are treated, al Qaueda remains a threat 8+ years into the War on Terror. Obviously, there are a number of other differences between the two conflicts, but it is far from clear that waterboarding => Victory.

    As you might put it, I think having a clean conscience, not inspiring future attacks, while also achieving victory of the aggressors, is a better result, but that’s just me.

  • Laurie

    I think it is alittle unfair for this “Monday morning quarterbacking” approach on the things that the Bush Administration did in a dire situation. They had reliable info on KSM inregards to a future terriost attack. What honestly would one do in that situation? The responsibility for 300 million lives is what Bush faced each and every day. 3000 plus people had already died on his watch. I am not saying his record should not be reviewed, but where is the charity in looking at the heavy burden that this man was under? To waterboard 3 terrorist does not compute with terror to me.
    In a perfect world, where one has all the time to reflect before making a crucial decision possibly even discussing a theological approach with Christian leaders, than I say criticize the person if he makes the wrong decision. But otherwise, I think it is highly uncharitable to condemn a man who tried very hard to do the right thing. The Bush Adminstration made mistakes like all of us humans do. They were never malicious or evil. Walk in the man’s shoes for one day before you condemn him.

  • JohnMcG

    I would really like to know if you voted for Obama. It would help us all understand what teachings of the Church you are faithful to, and what tradeoffs you are willing to accept when voting. You may need to take the log out of your eye.

    As a reader of Mark’s blog for the past eight years, I would be willing to bet my next paycheck that Mark did not vote for Obama. You could probably determine that for yourself by perusing his archives.

    But nevertheless, can you point to the specific passages in Mark’s article that would not apply if he voted for Obama? Or would it just make it easier for you to dismiss him?

  • Mark

    AMERICAN THINKER:

    November 25, 2009
    Navy Seals capture most wanted terrorist – arrested for assault
    James Simpson

    “First we had Congressman John Murtha accusing US Marines of atrocities in Haditha, Iraq – a blatant lie based on false information supplied by the enemy. Those Marines had to face an arduous multi-year trial despite the obvious fabrication of evidence, and it is still not over for some.

    Next we have the Obama administration seeking to soothe Muslim fears about “backlash” after a Muslim Major commits the first successful act of terrorism on our soil since 9/11, while they withhold evidence about the case from Congress and do more to suppress than investigate the nature of the attack.

    Now we have the spectre of seeing three U.S. Navy SEALs arrested because the terrorist they captured claims he was punched!

    Who is the enemy here? Four SEALs captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, codenamed “Objective Amber” on September 3rd. Abed was the ringleader of the group who ambushed four security contractors in Fallujah in 2004, and hung their burned bodies on a bridge. One of the four, Scott Helvenston, had been a Navy SEAL himself for twelve years.

    But now Abed is claiming he got a bloody lip. And the Navy is prosecuting. These people are insane! Give the SEALs a medal for a dangerous, thankless job well done, and suggest that Abed get on his knees and thank God he wasn’t captured by someone else.

    What I want to see is an investigation of the Navy legal team and the chain of command that ordered and condoned this arrest. This aggressive prosecution of battlefield events, where enemy terrorists are treated as “witnesses” to a “crime” has always looked more like a deliberate strategy to hamstring warriors and thwart battlefield success rather than merely the misguided application of political correctness.

    At best these should be considered vindictive prosecutions, but I believe something much more malevolent is at work. I believe the person or persons who find cause here seek to sow doubt, demoralization and bring unbearable stress to bear on front line forces.

    Outrage doesn’t begin to describe this travesty.”

    How ironic that during the week which we should be giving “thanks” we instead are arresting the Navy Seals who make our embarrassingly comfortable lives possible.

    Celebrate lefties, you are winning!

    And please all of you “torture” obsessed, do not lie to yourselves for one moment. Even if you are right (which I don’t believe), you are absolutely aiding and abetting the enemy by being so vocal about these exceptional situations. Some things are better understood and not promoted… but that requires humility, prudence and maturity, therefore, it’s not surprising that the left once again, simply doesn’t get it.

  • JT

    I don’t know who Mark Shea is, but this article is utter nonsense. The author doesn’t have the slighest idea what he’s talking about and clearly has an agenda to push–a liberal one. “Torture” is a most difficult matter to discuss and has ample nuance to argue about, but this author comes at the subject from a simplistic, black and white point of view. The matter simply can’t be discussed this way. Let’s get serious here.

  • JohnMcG

    Where do KSM’s actual and potential victims fit in your moral calculus? Do they qualify as “the least of these?” Do we owe them nothing but a funeral?

    As I recall the passage (http://bit.ly/2EK94S), our duties to the “least of these” include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and burying the dead.

    I do not see anything that implies that we are compelled to engage in any interrogational tactics to protect people from harm. Indeed, the admonition to visit the sick, while not directly addressing these techiniques, would seem to go against it.

    You also seem very concerned about KSM’s bodily integrity, but do not appear very concerned about the state of his soul. The waterboarding prevented thousands of additional murders being added to his already black soul. Does that have any relevance to your view?

    Is this really your view of divine justice works? “Well, you would have been allowed a murderous plot to take place, in which case you would be damned, but fortunately, you were waterboarding into confessing the details of it, so it looks like you get in.”

    If concern for the terrorist’s soul is really your concern, wouldn’t you want to use less effective techniques that do not compel the will and would enable him to make a true conversion?

    As JPII, has written, the body and soul are connected and integrated. Having concern for his bodily integrity == having concern for his soul.

  • JohnMcG

    And one more thing about waterboarding that again proves it’s not “torture” but a mere psychological trick: waterboarding works only if you’ve never heard of the procedure. Once a person like you or me or a terrorist or Christopher Hitchens knows the details on how it is applied–that there is no threat of real harm–the subject is easily able to resist it. It’s even fun to try for yourself.

    I notice that you provide links to the cruelty al Qaeda’s practices (which has not been disputed), but no links to support these more controversial claims.

    For example, Christopher Hitchens emerged from his waterboarding experience with a quite different impression than you give here. (http://bit.ly/OMkQ) Title of the piece: “Believe me, It’s Torture.” It’s also worth noting that Sean Hannity has not responded to Keith Olbermann’s waterboarding challenge (http://bit.ly/JSbkp). And yes, I know Olbermann’s a blowhard.

    Maybe you’ve seen something I had not, but I have not read anything from someone who has been through waterboarding that indicates anyting other than that it is an experience to be avoided at all costs.

  • Administrator

    Mark, it does seem to me that you are massaging an ideology into the Church’s teachings because of how you only bash conservatives, and because of the inferences of your support for Obama. I would really like to know if you voted for Obama. It would help us all understand what teachings of the Church you are faithful to, and what tradeoffs you are willing to accept when voting. You may need to take the log out of your eye.

    Mark only “bashes” conservatives? You obviously don’t know much about Mark. And as he pointed out in comment #37 — and all over the place on his personal blog — he didn’t vote for Obama.

  • JohnMcG

    Still no answer to the double effect question? Why can I cause extreme harm, even mortal harm to a person attacking either me or someone else if the intended end of my action is to stop the attack, but I cannot cause physical harm to someone when the intended end is stopping an attack?

    Because, in the case of harming an aggressor, the good result and the evil side effect are achieved by the same atomic act. You cannot divide the two.

    In the case of interrogation, there are two separate acts, performing the techinique, and then acting on the intelligence. If the technique is torturous, which I belive waterboarding to be, then it is intrinsically evil, and we can’t do it.

  • JohnMcG

    Agreeing to disagree on this issue is fine (I assume that means that you think reasonable people can disagree on the issue), but the view that doing anything to a terrorist beyond giving him a nasty look is torture has real-world consequences. No one in the CIA wants to interrogate prisoners anymore because they cannot rely on apparently valid authorizations. I do not see any way that does not cause immense harm at some point.

    Thanks to the abuse scandals, priests and all those working with children in the Church today have to be particularly careful in how they work with children to avoid even the appearance of inappropriate contact. It is likely that the babies/bathwater ratio of what we have lost is quite high.

    Whom is the proper target for frustration at this?

      Those who called attention to the abuse scandals and for accountability from bishoips
      The priests who abused their authority and the bishops who let them get away with it

    It is true that there have been political opportunists for both the torture debate and the Catholic sexual abuse scandals. It is also true that the result may be the loss of perfectly acceptable practices that are now deemed to risky.

    The blame for this does not go to those who called out the abusive practices and held leaders accountable, but to those who abused their authority and those who knew about it and encouraged it or did nothing to stop it.

  • Michael

    How is it that Mark’s piece about Rush Limbaugh’s reaction and concern about what the precedent being set by trying KSM in a criminal court could mean for Americans who might someday find themselves accused of being terrorists by their own government (and subsequently tortured, tried, found guilty, and executed) could be diverted into yet another tedious discussion about the morality of torture itself. Did anyone actually read what he wrote or did their blood pressures go up so fast all they could see was a pinkish hue through their reddened eyes?

  • JohnMcG

    I am not infering that Mark voted for President Obama. Marks fall article

  • JohnMcG

    I have yet to see anyone give a rational explanation why:

    (1) a procedure we performed on over 25,000 of our own troops qualifies as torture;

    For the same reason that a sexual act that married man has performed any number of times with his wife qualifies as a mortal sin when performed with any another woman.

    The trainer-trainee relationship is fundamentally different from a captor-captive relationship, such that actions that may be licit in one context are illicit in the other context.

    (2) using that procedure on three admitted al-Qaeda leaders (there was no question about who they were) was a crime against humanity

    As I see it there are two possible concerns behind this questions.

    1. It is impossible to commit a crime against humanity against al-Queda leaders.

    This is clearly false — there are any number of things that could have been done to KSM that most of us would agree are crimes against humanity.

    2.)It is impossible that the committing the same act that is licit when done to an American soldier is illicit when done to a terrorist.

    See #1. Even if a man’s wife is a paragon of virtue, and he cheats on her with a prostitute, it’s still adultery.

  • Matthew from Texas

    Is there not room for debate among Catholics on what is exactly a “just” war?

    Is there not room for debate on how the Catholic understanding of the death penalty is properly applied?

    Is there not room for debate as to what is the proper and moral thing to do with frozen embryos?

    These questions lead me to the next question:

    Is there not room for debate as to what actually constitutes torture?

    Many of the above arguments assume we all agree about what torture is. The general tone from most is that torture is immoral, but I honestly don’t know the dividing line between correction, discipline, and the revocation of civil rights.

    Since water boarding is the main example in these discussions, the question to me is “is water boarding truly torture?”

    What if I sincerely believe that it is not? I am not aware of a Catholic source of teaching that can help clarify and thus we find ourselves with the question “what constitutes torture?”

    The gray area for me is not whether torture is morally permissible (it is not, as stated in the catechism) but what defines torture. This is a sincere question, is not as black and white as some argue, and I believe this allows for authentic debate.

  • JohnMcG

    The gray area for me is not whether torture is morally permissible (it is not, as stated in the catechism) but what defines torture. This is a sincere question, is not as black and white as some argue, and I believe this allows for authentic debate.

    Which is what’s going on and been happening. As far as I know, the Inquisitors have not arrived to shut down this thread on the grounds that debate is not allowed, and nobody has been denied communion for expressing the opinion that waterboarding is not torture, so I’m not clear on why the reminder that this is a debatable issue is necessary.

    The point of a debate is not to repeat the same arguments over and over again, but to arrive at truth. My suspicion is not that you are unhappy that this issue is not being debated, but that the conclusion this debate seems to be driving us toward.

    For example, I find it very difficult to believe that after five years of debate on this topic, some who profess to take Catholic teaching seriously are generally flummoxed at how waterboarding captives is illicit while waterboarding trainees may be licit.

    And I am aware that those arguing for the approval of some techniques have noble goals, but if your spouse were to continuously “debate” with you exactly what exeact acts constitute adultery, and when the discussion leads to a more restrictive definition, I complain that there ought to be room for debate, I doubt your response would be a patient exploration of the truth.

  • Matthew from Texas

    In responding to JohnMcG, I think you missed my point. I am not defending the right to debate this topic, but I am bringing to the debate the question of “what constitutes torture?” I do not ask this flippantly, as others in this thread have supported it, but is water boarding torture? This is the corollary question to “what constitutes torture?” I honestly don’t know as many others have argued that it is not torture. This leads to the question “who defines what torture is?” I am not supporting water boarding but I am hoping to gain clarity for other situations that involve correction of behavior, disciplinary actions, or the revocation of certain rights. Where should we draw the line? Your arguments are from the point that water boarding is torture. All I am asking is how do we know what torture is.

    You state,

    “And I am aware that those arguing for the approval of some techniques have noble goals, but if your spouse were to continuously “debate” with you exactly what exact acts constitute adultery, and when the discussion leads to a more restrictive definition, I complain that there ought to be room for debate, I doubt your response would be a patient exploration of the truth.”

    Unfortunately, your example does not fit the question of what constitutes torture. The Church clearly, unequivocally, and authoritatively defines what adultery is. I can debate all I want, but the Catholic position is quite clear as it can point to Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, papal encyclicals, etc. In regards to torture, has the Church clearly, unequivocally, and authoritatively defined what constitutes torture? This is the point I was making and it is truly an “exploration of the truth” as you quote.

  • JohnMcG

    The Church clearly, unequivocally, and authoritatively defines what adultery is.

    So if I avoid the Church’s clear, unequivocal, and authoritative definition of what adultery is, then I have discharged my duty to live the virtue of chastity, and nobody should have a problem with that.

    So if my wife catches me going to a strip club, all I have to do is point out that my behavior does not fit within the clear, unequivocal, authoritative definition of adultery, and I should be fine, right?

    As Catholics, whether an act fits into the lines of a well-defined sinful act is not the critical question. The critical question is whether we are acting virtuously.

    In any instance, this misses the point of the article. Mark’s whole point is that Limbaugh’s rant effectively admits that waterboarding is torture, saving him the trouble of having to do so. If you do not believe it is torture, than the possibility of it being used on Americans should not be the problem he is making it out to be.

  • Mark P. Shea

    in the Mark Shea is Evil, Insane, Has Lost is His Very Soul and Hates America Crowd: A website to warm the cockles of your hearts:

    http://tiny.cc/UDjLT

    smilies/smiley.gif

  • Greg

    Maybe conservatism has gone where it has because liberalism has gone where it has gone?

  • Phil Atley

    Mark,

    Where does the Church define what is and is not torture? You give me 2312-2313 and I am conflicted with what 2265-2267 says. WHAT IS NOT torture and an acceptable form of interrogation?

    Chace, you are apparently newcomer to the Shavian world. Anyone who asks Mark Shea about a precise definition of torture only reveals that he’s an apologist for the neo-Con-Catholics who are trying to casuistically get around the Church’s clear denunciation of torture. Only Mark does it with a flair and colorful vocabulary that will take your breath away.

    I’m afraid that in Mark Shea’s world, there’s only one possible reason to ask for a definition: to see how much torture one can get away with.

  • Matthew from Texas

    JohnMcG:

    I concur with you that the critical question is about whether we are living virtuously. To live a virtuous life, one must know Truth. As a Catholic, I look to the Church to guide me to the Truth. But as I posted earlier, there are situations that are difficult to define such as just war, application of the death penalty, and the fate of frozen embryos. Again, I ask the question “what defines torture?” I am not asking this question in the hopes that I can use it to support water boarding (for the record I don’t support it) but I ask so that I may live a virtuous life that is pleasing to God.

    This is off the topic, but your analogy of the strip club and adultery leaves me wanting. Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be making the point the going to a strip club does not fall into the sin of adultery, and technically is ok. Is the strip club visit none other than adultery of the mind and heart? But I digress.

    In a sense, you are right that my post is off the point Mark Shea is making about Rush Limbaugh, but if the topic of the article is about torture, and we can not adequately define what constitutes torture, then how can I adequately read the article to begin with? Again, I am not advocating torture or water boarding; I am just looking for clarity.

  • Chace

    I need to appologize:
    I was only asking the question because I couldn’t find any confirmation of his vote. Maybe I’m not adept enough with Google. I totally missed #37 and my heart sank when I read it. I am glad you brought it up so I could get my facts straight. I honestly thought I had read all of Mark’s posts before I made up my mind to comment. I did attempt to read everyone of his posts. I am in the wrong, embarassed, and apologize to Mark, the Administrator, and everybody else. I feel horrible. My argument of hypocracy has no standing with the revelation of this fact. Please try to frame my comments within the brutally misinformed and ignorant assumptions I made before judging me. I honestly thought I had read all of Mark’s posts. I tried to be careful. I’m really sorry.

    I need to clarify:
    You assumed I was commenting on something more than this particular blog. I was not. You are correct, I don’t know Mr. Shea very well. Again, I was commenting on this particular blog and the comments that followed. I didn’t go through the extra effort to read his other blogs.

  • Administrator

    I need to appologize:
    I was only asking the question because I couldn’t find any confirmation of his vote. Maybe I’m not adept enough with Google. I totally missed #37 and my heart sank when I read it. I am glad you brought it up so I could get my facts straight. I honestly thought I had read all of Mark’s posts before I made up my mind to comment. I did attempt to read everyone of his posts. I am in the wrong, embarassed, and apologize to Mark, the Administrator, and everybody else. I feel horrible. My argument of hypocracy has no standing with the revelation of this fact. Please try to frame my comments within the brutally misinformed and ignorant assumptions I made before judging me. I honestly thought I had read all of Mark’s posts. I tried to be careful. I’m really sorry..

    Thanks Chace. It was just an error — no big deal. We all make them.

    Back to the discussion.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Chace:

    Don’t worry about it.

    How is it that Mark’s piece about Rush Limbaugh’s reaction and concern about what the precedent being set by trying KSM in a criminal court could mean for Americans who might someday find themselves accused of being terrorists by their own government (and subsequently tortured, tried, found guilty, and executed) could be diverted into yet another tedious discussion about the morality of torture itself. Did anyone actually read what he wrote or did their blood pressures go up so fast all they could see was a pinkish hue through their reddened eyes?

    That appears to be exactly the case.

    In any instance, this misses the point of the article. Mark’s whole point is that Limbaugh’s rant effectively admits that waterboarding is torture, saving him the trouble of having to do so. If you do not believe it is torture, than the possibility of it being used on Americans should not be the problem he is making it out to be.

    Exactamundo. The first thing to conclude from all the kneejerk defenses of “enhanced interrogation” offered here is that all the techniques being defended here should become part of our domestic law enforcement interrogation arsenal. And please note that Charles Krauthammer is way ahead of Mena when he declares that torture is justifiable if you have the “slightest belief” that even *one* life may be saved. Hey! Makes sense! If we are going admit Mena’s logic that “The interrogators were *absolute Christian heroes* for this courageous rough interrogation” since it allegedly saved thousands of lives (at least, according to the people who stand to lose the most if they are found guilty of war crimes), then why should it be any different with saving *one* innocent life? And why should it be any different if that one life might be threatened by an American citizen? Should a mere piece of paper protect vile scum (or at any rate, people we are pretty sure are vile scum) from the absolute Chirstian righteousness of Mena and her fellow True Americans? Let’s infict these techniques on American suspects too!

    But wait! Why stop there? Let me go one further and say that–since none of what we did was torture, then why reserve it just for hunches about murder? I say, “Let’s employ so-called ‘torture’ against Americans for a wide range of suspected crimes. Not every heel is in Afghanistan and Iraq, you know. There are plenty of evil people right here at home too! I should know! I’m one of them, according to Mena. Who knows what kind of information you could get from me about my pro-Obama voting record and Communist sympathies with the proper enhanced interrogation techniques brought to bear? And who knows what webs of ACORN crime they could help expose? As so many here are eager to point out, we know for sure that such techniques are not torture and we have Mena & Company’s assurance that it really works. So what could it hurt? Let’s use these weapons to stop evil at home as well as abroad! Or are you guys gonna go all ACLU pantywaist about “civil rights” just cuz a black-souled man like me, whose suspected Obammunist-sympathies have been clearly documented right here in these comboxes, happens to have been born on US soil? How can you just turn a blind eye to that in this moment of extreme national peril?! After all, I’m widely read! I could poison a lot of minds with my well-documented hatred of America and my unreasoning desire to kill millions. Isn’t you safety too precious to risk not ‘torturing’ me to find out who and what I know?

    I’m afraid that in Mark Shea’s world, there’s only one possible reason to ask for a definition: to see how much torture one can get away with.

    The only two explanations for a statement like this are rank ignorance or a deliberate choice to lie:

    Here is one off the many, many, many times I have offered definitions of “torture” to torture defenders who feign an interest in the question: http://tiny.cc/Q4PQL

    For more detail on the Army Field Manual and it traitorous refusal to comply with the Mena’s of the world, go here:

    http://tiny.cc/4fhC1

  • Brian English

    “On what basis do you draw this conclusion? Is it also possible that the stories of how they were waterboarded inspired more plots?”

    I was waiting for this to show up. Yes, the waterboarding, which both Obama’s NSA Director and an August 2009 Washington Post article admits provided valuable information and saved lives, didn’t actually have any benefits. In fact, it caused otherwise peace-loving jihadists to begin plotting against us.

  • JohnMcG

    Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be making the point the going to a strip club does not fall into the sin of adultery, and technically is ok. Is the strip club visit none other than adultery of the mind and heart?

    My point is that if we approach morality from the perspective of precise definitions of various sins, we get to a place where the strip club is OK. Because, I didn’t technically have intercourse with a woman who is not my wife, I’m innocent.

    Except we all know that I’m not. And if I approach my marriage vows by emphasizing how critical it is to have precise definitions of the various sins I am promising to avoid, I am not positioning myself for success.

    That’s how I feel about torture. Whether a particular act falls into a definition of the word “torture” is not a terribly interesting question to me. I am inclined to believe that waterboarding does meet the requirements for most reasonable definitions, but I’m not positive. I am positive that it is inconsistent with a virtuous treatment of enemy captives. But we continue to grapple with definitions because, “Waterboarding has no place in a virtuous treatment of enemy captives” doesn’t pack the rhetorical force of, “Waterboarding is torture!”

  • Brian English

    “For the same reason that a sexual act that married man has performed any number of times with his wife qualifies as a mortal sin when performed with any another woman.

    The trainer-trainee relationship is fundamentally different from a captor-captive relationship, such that actions that may be licit in one context are illicit in the other context.”

    So the trainer-trainee is the equivalent of a husband and wife, while KSM is the hooker the husband ends up with.

    You are missing the point. Why is the procedure itself torture if it is used as part of our training?

  • Mark P. Shea

    Ok. Here is the actual tiny URL for my discussion of torture definitions:

    http://tiny.cc/4Gt64

  • JohnMcG

    “otherwise peace-loving jihadists “

    This is such a poor paraphrase of my point that it is difficult to believe it was made in good-faith. What place does this have in a search for truth?

    Not all jihadists started their life as jihadists. They have to be recruited. And it’s true that those doing the recruiting will lie and manipulate in order to do so.

    But there job is a lot easier when they don’t have to lie and manipulate. And when we waterboard captives, we give them material to use.

  • Brian English

    “As I recall the passage (http://bit.ly/2EK94S), our duties to the “least of these” include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, and burying the dead.

    I do not see anything that implies that we are compelled to engage in any interrogational tactics to protect people from harm. Indeed, the admonition to visit the sick, while not directly addressing these techiniques, would seem to go against it.”

    This is approaching paody level. So I take it your answer is we owe them a funeral? It appears you don’t understand that the Church has long recognized that civilian authorities have responsilities to protect their citizens from unlawful aggression.

  • JohnMcG

    You are missing the point. Why is the procedure itself torture if it is used as part of our training?

    How can the act of sexual intercourse vary from the positive good of marital union down to fornication, adultery, or even rape?

    “The procedure itself” is not torture. If there is nobody on the board, it is not torture. If it is a dead body on the board, it is not torture. If the person on the board is a thrill seeker who hired people to do this, it is not torture. If the person has on SCUBA gear, so he can breathe it is not torture.

    And if the person on the board is a trainee in a program designed to train him or her to withstand this tactic, it is not torture.

    But if it is a captive being held by a captor, and the captive has no reason to believe that the captor would not kill him, then it is torture.

  • Brian English

    “That’s how I feel about torture. Whether a particular act falls into a definition of the word “torture” is not a terribly interesting question to me. I am inclined to believe that waterboarding does meet the requirements for most reasonable definitions, but I’m not positive. I am positive that it is inconsistent with a virtuous treatment of enemy captives. But we continue to grapple with definitions because, “Waterboarding has no place in a virtuous treatment of enemy captives” doesn’t pack the rhetorical force of, “Waterboarding is torture!”

    This is irresponsible nonsense. The Church has a 2,000 year history of using intellect to reach logical conclusions with regard to moral issues. The definition of torture is the critical question here.

    We are also not dealing with simple “enemy captives.” These are three admitted al-Qaeda leaders, not three teenagers grabbed on the battlefield.

  • JohnMcG

    This is approaching paody level. So I take it your answer is we owe them a funeral? It appears you don’t understand that the Church has long recognized that civilian authorities have responsilities to protect their citizens from unlawful aggression.

    The specific context of your comment was that Mark said captives should be treated humanely because of our duties to the “least of these,” in reference to Matthew 25. You responded with a challenge about victims and potential victims of violence. My response is that performing those techniques is not covered.

    I am aware that authorities have responsibilites to protect their people. This is separate from, and IMO less fundamental than, from our responsibilities to “the least of these.” Christ Himself enumerated various specific things we need to do for the least of these. Neither Christ nor the Church has said how we must interrogate suspects in order to protect the public.

    So, if our responsibilities to the least of these come into tension with our responsibilities of protection come into tension, I am inclined to side with our responsibilities to the least of these.

  • Brian English

    “But if it is a captive being held by a captor, and the captive has no reason to believe that the captor would not kill him, then it is torture.”

    Red Cross documents confirm that KSM was expressly told he would not die, and there were doctors present to monitor the sessions. He was told he would not die precisely because leading a detainee to believe he was going to be killed would have constituted torture.

    So he was told he was not going to die, so it was not torture. I am glad we settled that.

  • Brian English

    “So, if our responsibilities to the least of these come into tension with our responsibilities of protection come into tension, I am inclined to side with our responsibilities to the least of these.”

    So you view KSM and his death cult enthusiasts as the least of us, while the people who would have been incinerated if their plans had to come to fruition are basically non-entities in your view? Good grief.

  • Mark P. Shea

    It appears you don’t understand that the Church has long recognized that civilian authorities have responsilities to protect their citizens from unlawful aggression.

    He gets that. It’s in the Church’s teaching on just war–teaching which includes this elementary principle which so many here are engaged in shouting down:

    2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.”109

    2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.

    When numerous prisoners die during interrogation, that’s your first clue that it’s torture and not “humane treatment”. When the deaths occur all over the place and not in one isolated location and short space of time, that’s your clue it was Administration policy and not “a few bad apples” nor limited to three victims as our lying ex-Veep has fed to Talk Radio for repetition to the Faithful as part of his CYA program.

    And (more to the point here) when fools in the crosshairs of a rapidily dechristianizing postmodern state go on defending this as “not torture” even as the current Administration is preparing to take them at their word and admit these techniques as legitimate tools for use against Domestic Undesirables such as, oh, the fools themselves (remember that Extremist Watch list a few months back?)…

    well, don’t say I didn’t warn you and don’t moan that you didn’t ask for it.

  • Brian English

    “This is such a poor paraphrase of my point that it is difficult to believe it was made in good-faith. What place does this have in a search for truth?

    Not all jihadists started their life as jihadists. They have to be recruited. And it’s true that those doing the recruiting will lie and manipulate in order to do so.

    But there job is a lot easier when they don’t have to lie and manipulate. And when we waterboard captives, we give them material to use.”

    It was a completely accurate paraphrase. If we are not nice to their jihadist heroes, they will get mad and there will be more jihadists. I have heard it many times before.

    Pursuant to your approach, I suppose we shouldn’t kill any of them either. If waterboarding is a good recruiting tool, killing them must get them really upset.

    Maybe if we sent them weapons that would make them like us?

  • Brian English

    “When numerous prisoners die during interrogation, that’s your first clue that it’s torture and not “humane treatment”. When the deaths occur all over the place and not in one isolated location and short space of time, that’s your clue it was Administration policy and not “a few bad apples” nor limited to three victims as our lying ex-Veep has fed to Talk Radio for repetition to the Faithful as part of his CYA program.”

    This is your approach in a nutshell. I am talking about the waterboarding of three admitted al-Qaeda leaders. Deaths during interrogations at other locations are irrelevant to the issue of whether that constituted torture.

    Basically, your approach is that if there was any improper interrogation, then all interrogation was improper.

    “2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.”

    So let me get this straight. It is your opinion that the Catechism protects from any type of duress during interrogation terrorists who specifically target civilians, who refuse to wear uniforms and hide among civilians to cause even more casualties, and the future victims of plans formulated by those terrorists are just out of luck. I think you are misreading the Catechism.

    I ask you once again, where do those who would be victims of KSM’s plans fit in your moral calculus?

    “And (more to the point here) when fools in the crosshairs of a rapidily dechristianizing postmodern state go on defending this as “not torture” even as the current Administration is preparing to take them at their word and admit these techniques as legitimate tools for use against Domestic Undesirables such as, oh, the fools themselves (remember that Extremist Watch list a few months back?)…

    well, don’t say I didn’t warn you and don’t moan that you didn’t ask for it.”

    Spare me the paranoid conspiracies. I am as critical of President Obama as anyone, but I do not believe for a second that he, either intentionally or unintentionally, is planning to waterboard Americans. You and Rush Limbaugh both sound ridiculous.

  • R.C.

    Mark:

    When the deaths occur all over the place and not in one isolated location and short space of time, that’s your clue it was Administration policy and not “a few bad apples” nor limited to three victims as our lying ex-Veep has fed to Talk Radio for repetition to the Faithful as part of his CYA program.

    This is documented where?

    I have been reading up on the topic for years now, from mixed sources (ideologically speaking). And I have not seen this asserted.

    Maybe I misunderstood your assertion. Are you saying that during the “enhanced interrogations” a substantial number — say, 1 in 20? 1 in 30? — of the prisoners being interrogated died? And that these occurred when the interrogator had not abandoned the planned and approved interrogation tactics?

    Where’s that documented? I’m looking right now at the Justice Department reports off the ACLU website, and I’m not seeing it. Not saying it isn’t there; I just can’t find it….

  • LV

    Exactamundo. The first thing to conclude from all the kneejerk defenses of “enhanced interrogation” offered here is that all the techniques being defended here should become part of our domestic law enforcement interrogation arsenal.

    Mark, with all due respect, you’re either drastically misunderstanding or deliberately inverting the meaning of what people are saying. Going back to the Rush Limbaugh rant that inspired this article, the whole point was that “enhanced interrogation” shouldn’t become part of our domestic law enforcement interrogation arsenal, because the standards for military and domestic interrogations are different, and should not be intermixed.

    If the powers and leeway granted to military intelligence are extended to domestic law enforcement, then we’re living in a police state–full stop.

    Whether certain interrogation methods are a legitimate part of said military intelligence practices has nothing to do with it, because the practices of military intelligence should have nothing to do with domestic law enforcement in any case.

  • Chace

    I read the link. I appreciate the discussion very much. It seems like Mr. Shea likes discussion also. I am not smarter than anyone. I am not playing gotcha. I don’t want to sound flippant. I am not looking for the bright line. I am a passionate guy who is trying to learn more about my faith to align myself with Church’s teaching.

    Maybe the only means of interrogation that would not be torture are when the coercion techniques produce a voluntary, and willful response from the bad guy. Keeping a guy caged up is not really humane. Again, how does 2263-2267 apply? Would torture ever be considered a proportionate punishment for the gravity of the crime? Death would be in some instances I think??

  • Brian English

    R.C.

    I am aware of two deaths at Bagram Air Force Base.

    It appears that higher totals are arrived at by including detainee suicides. That is certainly a valid approach since we know jihadists never commit suicide, so they must have been driven to it.

  • Mark P. Shea

    just to the meme of “we only waterboarded three guys”:. It’s the meme Cheney established and it’s a favorite refuge for those attempting to justify his policies.

    Basically, your approach is that if there was any improper interrogation, then all interrogation was improper.

    False. But thanks for playing.

    Meanwhile back in reality, the fact remains that numerous prisoners died during the infliction of tortures approved by the Bush Administration.

    So let me get this straight. It is your opinion that the Catechism protects from any type of duress during interrogation terrorists

    No. If by “duress” you mean “the normal techniques approved by the Army Field Manual for treatment of prisoners.” These have passed muster with the Church for decades. Really, you should read the links I supplied above. I’m not misreading the Catechism. Humane is a word you can look up in the dictionary yourself. The problem is not my misreading of the Catechism. It’s that you seem to dislike what the Catechism says.

    I am as critical of President Obama as anyone, but I do not believe for a second that he, either intentionally or unintentionally, is planning to waterboard Americans.

    I’m skeptical that Obama is the man for that job. Not brutal or ruthless enough, I think. But I also know how our culture has been heading for forty years. “Contraception will never lead to abortion on demand! That’s pure paranoia!” “Abortion will never lead to euthanasia! That’s pure paranoia!” “No fault divorce will never lead to redefining the family! That’s pure paranoia!” “Redefining the family will never lead to gay marriage! That’s pure paranoia!” “Gay marriage will never lead to acceptance of incest or polygamy! That’s pure paranoia!” And, of course, the jittery fears of a security state on edge about shadowy enemies at work in the very heart of the Republic could never lead to the entirely predictable decision to use torture domestically, as well as abroad. Since when has a modern state ever done *that*?

    What Obama *could* end up doing is not inaugurating legal torture, but simply laying the legal precedent groundwork for making testimony obtained by waterboarding admissible in civil court. I know. That’s as crazy as supposing gay marriage or abortion on demand could become settle law in the US. but if he does, then we will have (among other people) all the goo little footsoldiers here who argue so strenuously that “enhanced interrogation techniques are not torture” to thank for helping to achieve that great moral victory that keeps us all safe from Evil. Caesar will have shiney new tools to prevent ever so much evil from all sorts of Undesirables! And that’s just what the Framers had in mind! Like abortion on demand and gay marriage!

  • R.C.

    Brian:

    I’m just skimming some of this increasingly lengthy thread at this point, but if I correctly understand this quote from you:

    I ask you once again, where do those who would be victims of KSM’s plans fit in your moral calculus?

    …you are arguing that the saving of the lives of KSM’s victims might be sufficient justification for the waterboarding. Is that right?

    If so, isn’t that question already subject to the question I previously raised, as to whether waterboarding was intrinsically wrong? After all, the Church teaches we may not “do evil that good may result.”

    If waterboarding is always and everywhere wrong, why then, there is, by the Church’s logic, simply no justification adequate for it. Ever. Under those circumstances, KSM could have had a ticking doomsday bomb capable of killing the entire human race at a stroke, and the Church would still tell us that “we may not do evil that good may result.”

    Of course, if waterboarding is not an intrinsic evil, then those using that argument will have to climb off their moral high horse and clearly state the criteria which cause it to be evil at some times, and not-evil at others…and still show how its use on KSM falls in the former, not the latter, category.

    It seems to me, honestly, that waterboarding must not intrinsically evil, but evil beyond a certain threshold or in certain circumstances.

    (I still wouldn’t allow it to be used, for reasons of precedent; I’m a big believer, when it comes to government, in “putting a fence around Torah.”)

    But maybe I’m wrong about this. If so, there must be a moral principle which can tell us, in a manner which contradicts neither itself nor the other teachings of the Church, why this is so.

    But nobody seems willing to provide one.

    Granted, the Magisterial documents come close, talking about “demeaning to human dignity” …which is good, but, again, includes within its definition things like loss of liberty. Since I’m certain the Church doesn’t construe jail time for, say, auto thieves, as being cruel and unusual punishment, this indicates that there is some threshold which must be exceeded before harsh treatment becomes entirely impermissible. This would presumably allow short waterboarding as easily as short prison terms. It’s all very unsatisfying for someone seeking a clear moral principle which can be applied.

    The only other principle I’ve found was articulated earlier by Mark: He said he couldn’t imagine the Pope or Mother Teresa ordering such treatment, or words to that effect.

    That’s as it may be. I, myself, can imagine Saint Louis IX ordering such treatment. Which particular saint do we need to work with, here? Hard to be sure.

    Again, it’s very unsatisfying.

  • Brian English

    Mark:

    You keep referring to a terrorist who was “tortured” after providing information under FBI interrogation techniques.

    I assume you are referring to the claims by FBI Agent Ali Soufan regarding the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.

    You are apparently unaware of the Justice Department Inspector General Report released on October 30 that establishes that Agent Soufan was, how should I put this, “mistaken.” Documents and Soufan’s own partner refute his contentions.

    The information Zubaydah supplied on Jose Padilla and planned attacks on New York landmarks was provided during CIA questioning, after enhanced interrogation techniques were used.

  • Brian English

    Mark:

    “just to the meme of “we only waterboarded three guys”:. It’s the meme Cheney established and it’s a favorite refuge for those attempting to justify his policies.”

    No, I want you to explain why waterboarding three al-Qaeda leaders constituted the intrinsic evil of torture. And please stop raising the Cheney talisman to try to justify your position. I know you think he is one of the most evil people ever, I get that.

    Deaths at other locations (I am only aware of two at Bagram Air Force Base) do not tell us anything about the waterboarding at Gitmo. And please do not tell me that you count the the detainee suicides in custody in your death total. I think these guys have firmly established that they are willing to kill themselves to strike a blow against the Great Satan, so I don’t think you can attribute those deaths to us “driving them to it.”

    “No. If by “duress” you mean “the normal techniques approved by the Army Field Manual for treatment of prisoners.” These have passed muster with the Church for decades. Really, you should read the links I supplied above. I’m not misreading the Catechism. Humane is a word you can look up in the dictionary yourself. The problem is not my misreading of the Catechism. It’s that you seem to dislike what the Catechism says.”

    I read the links you supplied. Very unpersuasive.

    So it is your belief that al-Qaeda leaders = common soldiers picked up on the battlefield, to whom the Army Field Manual would apply? You have absolutely no appreciation for the fact that terrorists purposely place themselves in a different category by targeting civilians and refusing to wear uniforms.

    Please point me to the citation where the Church issued approval of the Army Field Manual for the interrogation of terrorist leaders. I would love to read it.

    The Catechism does not specifically address this issue, no matter how hard you try to wedge it in there.

    This is an issue, like the War in Iraq itself, where reasonable people can reach different conclusions. As then Cardinal Ratzinger explained in both a Zenit interview and his 2004 letter to the U.S. Bishops, JPII’s opposition to the War in Iraq was not Church Doctrine, but JPII’s personal opinion, that devout Catholics could disagree with. If I can disagree with two Popes and still be a Catholic in good standing, I can certainly disagree with you.

  • Mark P. Shea

    RC:

    Glenn Greenwald seems to me to have done lots of work on this. http://tiny.cc/8jMrU

    Brian:

    Given that we hanged Japanese and sentenced our own troops to ten years hard labor for waterboarding captives, I think the burden of proof is on the apologist for waterboarding.

    http://tiny.cc/JGHwQ

    If you are looking for guidance on this matter from the Church’s shepherds, I recommend this: http://tiny.cc/QbwWQ

    The bishops don’t even bother with the BS term “waterboarding” (which they dismiss as the euphemism it is). They call it its proper name: simulated drowning.

  • Brian English

    “…you are arguing that the saving of the lives of KSM’s victims might be sufficient justification for the waterboarding. Is that right?”

    I do not think the act of waterboarding itself is torture. Its use would certainly be immoral if we were just grabbing random prisoners and waterboarding them for fun. That is not what happened here.

    I think my statement you refer to was prompted by seeing people referring to KSM’s humanity, but the humanity of the people who would have been incinerated if KSM had not talked seemed to be irrelevant.

  • Phil Atley

    Chace:

    Here is one off the many, many, many times I have offered definitions of “torture” to torture defenders who feign an interest in the question: http://tiny.cc/Q4PQL

    Mark, here’s your problem: “who feign and interest in the question.”

    This is what burns me. You can’t be satisfied to argue content. You have to impugn motives. And you did it to many of us who, like Chace, did indeed find themselves in the middle, asking real questions about real issues, definitions, news sources etc. You flippantly, again and again, wrote us off as arguing in bad faith, as apologists for Dick Cheney, as not caring about Catholic magisterium, as fools, ignorant, dishonest.

    That’s what’s wrong with your original column for this thread, as I pointed out in my first response. You assume that because some conservative Catholics find Limbaugh an ally in the culture wars, therefore all Catholics who have anything positive to say about Limbaugh also endorse his defense of torture. Otherwise, why does Limbaugh matter to a Catholic discussion of torture in Inside Catholic?

    But some of us are intelligent consumers of news. We take some of Limbaugh and dismiss other parts. We know he’s flawed and that he’s not Catholic. He doesn’t speak for us on torture but he does on other matters. You have been hammering at Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh on your blog. You seem to think that those Catholics who might read your blog are stupid enough to be blind followers of Limbaugh and Beck. That some of us are discriminating consumers of Limbaugh, Beck, CAEI, Inside Catholic, First Things and the mainstream and alternate media in general doesn’t seem to register with you.

    On this thread alone you have called your opponents “knee-jerk” apologists for torture and dismissed Fr. Brian Harrison as a casuist (using casuist as pure pejorative).

    That there could be intelligent Catholics who agree that torture is wrong but have real and good faith questions about just what happened at Guantanamo, just when and where torture was employed, what the motives of different levels within the Bush administration were, who know that Limbaugh is wrong to defend torture but do not thereby demonize him as you do, you will not admit.

    You have indeed on more than one occasions dismissed those who asked for a definition of torture as operating in bad faith, seeking to figure out what they could get away with. I know because you have done it to me. Before that I saw you doing it to others. And you just did it here by insisting that your interlocutors “feign interest.”

    I disagree with several of your opponents on this thread. I would not make the arguments some of them make. Your opponents are not monolithic. Yet you treat anyone who disagree with you with the same vitriol.

    That’s what initially turned me off, years ago–this facile, casual willingness to judge your opponents’ motives. I am not the first to point it out to you. But you have not changed in the slightest over the two or three years I’ve followed this. Some of your opponents may indeed be merely feigning interest. But how do you know–from what they write–which ones are feigning?

  • Mark P. Shea

    Did you actually read the link I provided? Because it makes abundantly clear what I mean by “feigning interest”. I have been told more times than I can count that I “won’t define torture” by people who have rejected multiple definitions I have provided while not lifting a finger to provide one of their own. It’s pretty obvious they don’t want a definition.

    I have also provided definitions to serious inquirers who, because they were serious, were either satisfied with the normal definition of the word or made some effort to find their own–because they really wanted to know.

    So: did you read the link? Or are you just going to sit there believing the lie that “in Mark Shea’s world, there’s only one possible reason to ask for a definition: to see how much torture one can get away with.” As the link makes clear, I have provided definitions to honest inquirers on multiple occasions and honest inquirers are typically satisfied. Dishonest inquirers pretend to seek definition but really seek to reject all definitions while offering none of their own so as to keep the whole matter shrouded in fog which gives cover for the fact that we tortured. Then they tell lies like “Mark Shea won’t define torture”. If that’s not “feigning interest” I don’t know what is. Here is the link again, in case you are interested: http://tiny.cc/Q4PQL

  • Chace

    Mr. Shea,
    I certainly hope that you do not feel that I am feigning interest. It doesn’t matter to me any more though. Probably like it never mattered to you. I am tired of providing qualifiers hoping to prove my intent and worthiness to post on your blog. You do seem quite flippant with your responses which is something I am not used to coming from an apologist. I came back to the Church about 3 years ago because of the knowledge I gained from apologists. Their seemingly tireless willingness to listen to the same questions over and over, accept passionate opinions with open arms, and finally provide responses so a lay person could better understand the teachings of the Church whether the “knee jerkers” were willing to accept it or not. I don’t know your intent or approach to dealing with posters. You do what you do I guess. You may want to keep in mind that not everybody has read every one of your blogs, not everyone has full knowledge of Church teaching, you come across as self righteous, impatient, and annoyed. Just my thoughts. I will quit wasting your time. Chace.

  • Paul Bergeron

    RC:

    Glenn Greenwald seems to me to have done lots of work on this. http://tiny.cc/8jMrU

    Brian:

    Given that we hanged Japanese and sentenced our own troops to ten years hard labor for waterboarding captives, I think the burden of proof is on the apologist for waterboarding.

    http://tiny.cc/JGHwQ

    If you are looking for guidance on this matter from the Church’s shepherds, I recommend this: http://tiny.cc/QbwWQ

    The bishops don’t even bother with the BS term “waterboarding” (which they dismiss as the euphemism it is). They call it its proper name: simulated drowning.

    Let’s not stop with the Japanese: I am looking forward to the article Mark Shea writes on the Lincoln Administration’s tactics during the War on Seceding States and, of course, the critical reviews.

  • Rebecca

    When a nuke goes off in downtown NYC the torture debate will go on the back burner as fast as acceptance of pedophilia did after the Catholic sex scandals.

    Bob

    You see their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped like a hat at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these civilized people will eat each other.

    You have all these rules and you think they’ll save you. The only sane way to live in this world is without rules.

    See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.

    The Joker

  • Jitpring

    The steam roller that is the Brave New World

    Hey Phil, did you get that line from my page here:

    http://tinyurl.com/63eyo3

    Wild!

  • Brian English

    “Given that we hanged Japanese and sentenced our own troops to ten years hard labor for waterboarding captives, I think the burden of proof is on the apologist for waterboarding.

    http://tiny.cc/JGHwQ

    The Japanese officer you are referring to was not executed. He was sentenced to 15 years for various offenses, including beating and burning prisoners with cigarettes. There was also an incident where he poured water directly into the the mouth and nose of a prisoner, which was not what was done here.

    With regard to the incidents in the Phillipines and Vietnam, I will have to look into them, but I am sure neither involved terrorist leaders and the saving of innocent lives. Even the procedures in your beloved Army Field Manual (which obviously applies to prisoners on the battlefield, not terrorist leaders captured off of it) could be considered immoral if used on an innocent purpose for an improper purpose.

    “If you are looking for guidance on this matter from the Church’s shepherds, I recommend this: http://tiny.cc/QbwWQ

    The bishops don’t even bother with the BS term “waterboarding” (which they dismiss as the euphemism it is). They call it its proper name: simulated drowning.”

    This is your Magesterial authority? A study guide from the USCCB Office of International Justice and Peace? And the only references I see to waterboarding are indications that there is a debate over whether it constitutes torture.

    Where is the direct statement that the waterboarding of three terrorist leaders constituted the intrinsic evil of torture? Where is the direct statement that the waterboarding of those three terrorist leaders was the moral equivalent of the 1.2 million abortions that occur in this country each year?

    What you should do is apply the Just War factors listed on page 17 of the guide, which justify LETHAL force, to the waterboarding of KSM and his two partners in evil. Those criteria are clearly satisfied.

  • Melinda MT

    How is it that Mark’s piece about Rush Limbaugh’s reaction and concern about what the precedent being set by trying KSM in a criminal court could mean for Americans who might someday find themselves accused of being terrorists by their own government (and subsequently tortured, tried, found guilty, and executed) could be diverted into yet another tedious discussion about the morality of torture itself. Did anyone actually read what he wrote or did their blood pressures go up so fast all they could see was a pinkish hue through their reddened eyes?

    Thank you so much for saying what needed to be said – I started to write on it the other night and gave up in disgust and weariness at the over the top non-Christian and non-Catholic approach to dialog on Mark’s position – the meanness of spirit which flows through the criticism here by some of the commentators is truly discouraging – especially to a new Catholic like myself but fortunately I did not come into the church because of the “perfection” of her members but because of the teaching of Holy Mother Church and those teachings are clear –

    The point of Marks piece is the precedent setting possibilities of this upcoming trial of KSM and that should trouble all of us who have been watching as our freedoms are whittled away by each subsequent administration regardless of whether right or left – yet it is now the conservatives who are speaking out and the left which is deafeningly silent…please wake up and get the point people – your hardheartedness and defensiveness solves nothing and teaches nothing…

    Christ was clear – Love your enemy and do good to them that hate you – there are no caveats in that instruction – it is radical in its simplicity – and his Mother told us “Do whatever He tells you”…no caveats in that instruction either..there it is – could’nt be any clearer than that..

  • Phil Atley

    For Mark P. Shea:

    You are convinced that you can distinguish between those who merely feign interest and those who ask for definitions in good faith. You apparently are easy in conscience that you have only ever dismissed or denounced those who truly were feigners and fakers.

    I was wrong to write that you dismissed everyone who asks for a definition as feigning. I see that you do discuss definitions with those whom you adjudge to be sincere seekers.

    I do, however, recall seeing commenters who to me seemed to be in the middle on this issue, eager to follow the Magisterium but wanting to discuss definitions. I read these comments and thought, I’ll be interested to see Shea’s response. You responded by telling them they were only asking for a definition because they wanted to find a way to justify the Bush administration, to see how close they could come to the Magisterial line without crossing it.

    It is, of course, possible that your judgment of their motives was more accurate than mine. I may have been mistaken in reading what they wrote as seeming honest and sincere.

    Except in one instance, a number of years ago–I forget exactly, but soon after I became aware that this debate was raging on CAEI and elsewhere. In that instance the person asking for a definition was me. And I do know what my motives were. And I do know you were wrong about them.

    But rest easy now. This is the last time I will attempt to point out to you where you might have misjudged the motives of those who disagree with you on this issue.

    I have come to the judgment that you are impermeable to persuasion.

  • Phil Atley

    From Catholic and Enjoying It. I was not the only one who thought The Deuce was asking in good faith. So did Scott E. But Mark Shea knew better.

    Friday, April 17, 2009
    As This Cartoon Scientifically Demonstrates…

    ……………….

    Okay, I’ve withheld judgment on this whole torture thing until now, not having enough solid evidence either way to reach a sound conclusion. At first, I was solidly in the pro-“enhanced techniques” camp, and automatically discounted the claims of torture as hysteria. After reading Mark’s blog (and a few others) for a while, though, and reflecting, I decided that I really couldn’t be sure that my party wasn’t doing some really bad things (sin is universal after all), and that I should wait until I knew more.

    Well, now I know more, and… I’m back in the pro-“enhanced techniques” camp. Sorry, I just can’t call this stuff torture. It rises at worst to the level of “fairly unpleasant”. I can’t imagine that this stuff would’ve *ever* been considered torture by a significant number of people in a society that wasn’t totally sissified and sheltered in a comfortable bubble. You can read the memos directly here:

    http://documents.nytimes.com/jus…- techniques#p=1

    For one example, this is apparently what the Washington Post reports as “slamming people into walls”:

    “For walling, a flexible false wall will be constructed. The individual is placed with his heels touching the wall: The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall. It is the individual’s shoulder blades that hit the wall. During this motion, the head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a c-collar effect to help prevent whiplash.”

    Yes, can’t have whiplash. That would make it “torture”, of the sort I experienced last time I went to King’s Dominion.
    The Deuce | 04.17.09 – 1:59 pm | #

    Deuce:

    It is with great relief that I discover from your assessment that this man

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlanti…44fc2970b- 800wi

    died from unpleasantness and not torture. I’m sure the people the Bush Administration shielded from prosecution for this unpleasantness will be relieved too.

    Enjoy the bubble!
    Mark P. Shea | 04.17.09 – 2:30 pm | #

    Mark:
    Yes, I was already aware of the killing of al-Jamadi and the other abuses at Abu Ghraib. The people in these cases ought to be punished (there have been punishments, but not severe enough, imo).

    However that, and the methods in these recently released memos, are two different things. What you seem to be trying to show is that Abu Ghraib-like abuse was just SOP, fully authorized at all levels of government with full knowledge and approval of the administration.

    But, these memos really don’t support that. And unless there are more damning memos that Obama has withheld (and if so, I can’t imagine why he’d release these and not those) I have to conclude that there isn’t support for it.

    To be honest, what’s in these memos is a lot tamer than I had been primed to expect, based on what people have been saying for months now. Prior to this, I didn’t write or talk much about the subject, because my thoughts on it were very similar to Ross Douthat’s as expressed here, and I was just sort of uneasy with the subject. However, these memos give me a clearer picture, and to the best of my perception, it just doesn’t match up with what you’ve been saying.
    The Deuce | 04.17.09 – 3:13 pm | #

    Deuce:

    As I say, enjoy your bubble. Hopefully, you or yours will not find yourselves deemed an enemy of the State in some dystopic future and subjected to enhanced interrogation for Catholic ungoodthink. However, now that you are a potential right wing extremist in the eyes of Caesar, you never know, do you?

    Tom Kreitzberg really summed up all such apologetics by the Rubber Hose Right:

    Anyone who knows what the sentence, “Waterboarding is torture,” means, and says they don’t know it is true, is a liar, a fool, or both.
    Mark P. Shea | 04.17.09 – 3:54 pm | #

    Mark,

    Why aren’t you addressing the point that Deuce is making?

    I read what he said and I thought, “wow, that’s a good point, I wonder how Mark will answer that”, and then I read your response and it was like you were answering something completely different.

    He is talking about specific memos outlining specific techniques, and you are arguing about torture in general. Can’t you at least acknowledge the validity of what he is saying?
    Scott E | 04.17.09 – 4:34 pm | #

    Scott E:

    The memos outline a variety of “techniques”. A standard method for people who wish to ignore the fact that the Bushies authorized torture is to point to those techniques which look the least like torture to the popular imagination, to say “Haw haw!” real loud, and to imagine that your have now told off a bunch of bedwetters. What is ignored is that the memos are pointing to a *range* of “techniques”. Fine. Deuce doesn’t see a big deal about putting somebody with an insect phobia in a box. Haw haw! Still and all, there is that whole thing about waterboarding and murdering people with stress positions to consider. There’s also disappearing people. Freezing them so that they require hypothermia treatment and other things. The memos don’t tell us too much we didn’t know already about what was being done. What they tell us is that this was very carefully constructed policy on the part of liars who said, “We do not torture.”

    Now, willing fools like Deuce are getting fresh talking point from the Hewitts and Krauthammers and Malkins in order to maximize attention on those forms of prisoner abuse that will get a laugh from FOX news consumers and divert attention away from those forms of torture that got people killed, not just at Abu Ghraib, but at Bagram. I repeat: Anyone who knows what the sentence, “Waterboarding is torture,” means, and says they don’t know it is true, is a liar, a fool, or both.
    Mark P. Shea | 04.17.09 – 5:06 pm | #

  • Melinda M T

    Phil and others – you know who you are[smiley=tongue] are the champions of the caveat approach to Christs teachings – congratulations – you win the “do good to those that hate you but..” award and “love your enemy…except in certain circumstances” award….the “enhanced” interrogation technique team gets the overall high score for complete avoidance of wisdom and spitting in the face of world war two veterans who actually had extensive experience with un-enhanced interrogation techniques that saved hundreds of thousands of lives – but they don’t count in our winning teams greatly cataract-ed sight because terrorists are so .. well… new – even though scripture clearly states, ” there is nothing new under the sun”….but our winning team has wisdom greater than Solomon and apparently Christ himself….wow…someone should inform the Pope…he’ll want to step aside for these guys I’m sure…

    Okay I’m probably the pot calling the kettle black regarding how folk should speak to each other as I complained in my other post but that last post pushed me over the edge – so sue me, I’ll pay up..

  • Phil Atley

    Melinda T.

    You accuse me falsely. I have defended only those who were asking in good faith reasonable questions, defended them against precisely the sort of blanket and unchristian dismissal that you gave to me here and Mark gave to The Deuce in April. You accuse me here of bad faith, of seeking to justify torture because the ends justify means. I did no such thing. And the fact that you cannot distinguish between the two only proves my point.

    Honest Catholics seeking to abide by magisterial teachings can disagree IN GOOD FAITH about exactly what happened during the Bush administration, can disagree over exactly which actions were unjust and abusive. That’s the point I was making. Assess the sins of the Bush administration as you will, but be Christian enough to argue with content, not character assassination.

    I think much of Mark Shea’s initial assessment of the torture policy was colored by his earlier opposition to the Iraq War in general. In my view the prudential just war arguments on the war itself were a very close call. In the end I thought, despite a just cause, it was imprudent to go to war because I doubted success on the criterion of successful outcome (because I expected the Left, as they did in Vietnam, to undermine the outcome, which is what in fact happened; a successful outcome was also undermined by inexcusable Bush administration planning for nation-building).

    To those who saw the question of whether the war itself was justified as a slam-dunk negative, it is understandable that they would be inclined to put the worse possible construction on any associated actions and policies by the Bush administration and to assess the character of those involved as utterly reprehensible.

    To those who saw the arguments on the morality of the war itself as much more of a toss-up, even if coming down in the end on the negative, the character of those who made the decision to go to war could reasonably be assessed as much more mixed.

    It is this prior strong difference in character assessment of the principals that I think has colored these three or four or more years of the Shea Torture Debate. I see errors made by the Bush Administration but do not wholesale dismiss either President Bush or Vice-President Cheney or their advisors as utterly reprehensible. I believe they were acting in good faith even if some of their decisions were erroneous. Other Catholics, equally eager to abide by the Magisterium may well assess the character of these actors differently.

    But what I have never understood is why one’s very negative assessment of the character of Bush or Cheny or Yoo should be extended to one’s Catholic interlocutors so as to accuse them of arguing in bad faith or out of ignorance or as “willing fools.”

    I am utterly opposed to torture. I am not as convinced as Mark is that torture took place in all the instances he believes it took place. Brian English has made significant distinctions and pointed out competing interpretations and news reports regarding some of the events that Mark and others believe can only be read in one way.

    And that’s the point. Our judgments on what happened are necessarily based on accounts from others. None of us are eyewitnesses. Some of us have concluded there is enough contradictory evidence being reported as to have to suspend judgment about exactly what happened when and where. We also disagree in our interpretation of the policy memos and of the motives of those who drew the up and approved them.

    Others are absolutely sure the worst happened and that their worst case interpretation of the policy memos and the intentions behind them are beyond question. At this point, many years out, those absolute convictions are colored by years of character assessments about the principals.

    Fine. Why can Catholics not disagree on these specifics without accusing each other of being dishonest, fools, consequentialists, or magisterium-weaselers?

    Do some investigative reporting and refute the specifics. Or if you don’t wish to do that, then reassert your position. But I’ve had it already with the insinuations about my character and that of those who disagree with you on this issue.

  • Phil Atley

    Melinda T.: For clarification. I believe some of the defenders of the Bush administration policy on this thread are simply wrong. Some of them used consequentialist arguments. That is bad and uncatholic reasoning. But in your response to me you lumped me in with them.

    Others have not used consequentialist reasoning but have raised specific questions of fact and information (notably Brian English).

    It is this kind of refusal to take note of the differences among those who disagree with you, refusal to see that not everyone who disagrees with you disagrees for the same reasons or employs the same kind of argumentation, that annoys me. And Mark’s tendency to describe all his opponents on this issue as consequentialists is what first turned me off.

    The entire premise of his article on Limbaugh seems to have been that Limbaugh’s consequentialist justification of torture applies to all Catholic “conservatives” who do not join in complete and total condemnation of the Bush Administration’s policies on this issue. I hold no brief for Limbaugh on this issue. He’s wrong. I think he’s right about a whole host of other things. Because I agree with him on some things doesn’t mean I agree with him on this. Yet the article seemed to assume just that–that Limbaugh somehow speaks for all Catholic conservatives who take anything short of a Shavian position on the Bush administration’s interrogation policies and actions.

    It’s simply not the case that all of us who find ourselves somewhere in the middle–neither absolutely condemning nor giving blanket approval–do so because we take our cues from Limbaugh or because we operate out of ends justifies the means reasoning. Most of us simply have real questions about which sources of information to trust and how to interpret the actual policy memos.

  • Philadelphia Lawyer

    Thanks for this very insightful rant[smiley=wink]- seriously though I have been laboring to find a phrase that successfully conveys how far conservatism has come from where it used to reside – which for me was on the side of moderation and preservation of a Gary Cooperesque type of ethos – the good guy of few words but much stoic integrity leaning solidly on tradition but not waving it in your face like a fist – and the “Thing That Used To Be Conservatism” sums it up nicely…that is why I take umbrage at folks who call Limbaugh a “conservative” because he has conserved nothing in his marathon run for ratings and has contributed mightily, along with his counterparts on the left side of the equation to the wholesale slaughter of reasonable and civil political discourse in America…

    1. Conservatives wave tradition in people’s faces like a fist? Really? We’ve had permissive abortion laws forced on all of the states since 1973, although abortion is not a constitutional right. It looks like we’ll soon have the Supreme Court magically find a constitutional “right” to same-sex “marriage” in the same manner. Thereafter, churches which refuse to “marry” homosexuals will lose their tax exempt status, a public benefit. The bogus fundamental right to gay marriage will trump the fundamental right to the free exercise of religion (found years ago to not be absolute), which really is in the constitution. If loss of tax exempt status isn’t enough to bring churches into line, the activists will move on to other methods of coercion. And you think conservatives are too aggressive in defending themselves against people who are relentless in their efforts to push America ever leftward? You lament that conservatism used to stand for moderation. Today’s conservatives face political foes which are not at all interested in moderation.

    2. Rush Limbaugh has contributed “to the wholesale slaughter of reasonable and civil political discourse in America.” The left has been smearing political opponents for decades. A thousand Limbaughs wouldn’t begin to compare. In Philadelphia in the 1980’s, many people had a problem with the Section 8 housing voucher program. Do you know what they were called by people who didn’t even know them? “Racist.” If you opposed affirmative action you were called a racist. If you want our immigration laws enforced you are called a racist. If you oppose “gay marriage” you are called a “homophobe.” Notice the “phobe” part. A phobia is a psychiatric condition. Slick. Dennis Prager once observed that “Conservatives think liberal are wrong. Liberals think conservatives are evil.” That difference has been reflected in political discourse, if you can call it that, for a very long time.

  • Lynne

    Thank you, Mark, for tackling this important topic. You are a brave man.

    I’m rendered speechless by the number of people defending torture here. It makes me remember that line about how the best argument against Christianity is Christians.

  • Steve Berg

    I keep Mark’s Blog on my list of regulars because he manages to prod my catholic conscience when I sometimes get too caught up in my “righteous” anger in the wonderful world of right wing blogs.
    I don’t always agree with him but I do trust that he’s way more in touch with the church’s teachings than I am most days.
    The comments on this article show me that I’m not alone,
    I think that it’s pretty obvious that the standards Our Lord would hold his people to go way beyond Right or Left wing- Jesus had a knack for defusing questions of who’s right or wrong with one liners that took the whole issue to a much deeper level.
    So thanks Mark for trying to keep our eye on the ball, as it were…

  • GW

    Thanks, Melinda! I wouldn’t add a thing to your post.

  • Don L

    Stephen said:

    “After the next one or two mass destructions by atomic weapons, the RCC will rapidly determine that it is just for a threatened country to make *a limited preemptive strike on a nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.*”

    Stephen, I have long thought that Aquinas’Just War positions were constructed before the advent of armageddon type weaponry and need to be updated – in view of the obligation Christians have to protect innocent life. When radicals such as Iran openly threaten to anihilate other nations and are on the brink of creating the means – fearing not, perhaps even desiring their own demise as a consequence, ancient constructs need rapid re-examination.

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