Discussing
Torture: it's the American way

Nathan Bierma

Arshield
April 27, 2009

I don't watch 24 precicely because it glorifies torture and lies about how it is used in the real world.<br><br>Also I don't believe that I would ever say that Christ's death was bending the rules to save the world. He was actually following the rules to save the world. <br><br>There was yet another study that came out last week or the week before about how people that do good and see themselves as "good doers" actually are more likely to break rules (and break laws) because they think their good deeds justify their bad ones. This is the third or fourth similar study that I have seen over the past couple years. It has very important implications both for those that torture and for Christians. Our good deeds cannot save us. It is only Christ that can save us. And for those that believe in torture (with the goal to save people) the same thing. Bad action will never result in the long term with good results. Torture will always lead to more violence, serious implications to those that do the torturing, and loss of moral authority.

Ejr
April 27, 2009

I have a hard time taking a firm stance on this. While I believe (ever so slightly) that this is a necessary evil, or at the least a byproduct of living in a fallen world, I do not believe it should be sensationalized. Reporting this behavior from a news point of view is one thing, but when our society as a whole is having a harder time distinguishing between reality and the fictional world of the entertainment media, it only helps perpetuate the issue. <br><br>Arshield made a comment reminding us that our good deeds cannot save us, it is through Christ alone. More than that even, I think trying to help or save others is what truly blinds us from our own rule breaking.

Jonathan
April 27, 2009

Seems to miss some critical thinking regarding the breech of covenant by Man, and the Judge who rightly executes justice against the covenant breakers, and the State he has given to man to punish the unjust and reward the just. Claiming that "torture" is "bad" and "wicked" seems a VERY slippery slope: on what basis can imprisonment be justified. Is it just? What PUNISHMENT is just in order to protect society. Let's use our critical thinking, and expand the issue to its due extent. Torture is part of an argument for justice, and justice is given to Man by God. <br><br>But hey, you brought that part up ;)

John
April 27, 2009

My first one didn't get through and I'm pretty sure this one will not either. That's okay, because it's really for Nathan and not the others at this time. Have you ever met Mr. Cheney? Do you know him, his wife and children? Do you believe that all people are children of God. Let me tell you that Mr. Cheney is a good person. He loves this country and has on many occasions done without so that you may have the freedom you have. I can only assume that you received this bad attitude about Mr. Cheney from friends and the news media, but I have had personal experience and he is a fine American who loves this country and has done what was necessary to keep our freedoms. Now to the torture aspect of this. Have you ever been tortured even in training so that you know what you would be doing to the other person? Have you ever been placed in a metal wallocker buried in a whole, then have someone urinate on you (for training it was water), but in real life they urinate on you. Do you realize that if you are a Christian that in the Middle East you can't carry a bible out in the open. In some places it's a death sentence and in others just a beating then prison for a couple of decades. Do you realize that the Americans who fights to keep your freedom know first hand that if they are captured they will most likely die, but not before their appendages are cut off, all fingers and toes and maybe a leg or two, to extract information. They we are considered infidels and if your are a Christian then you deserve to die a horrable death, because you don't believe in Islam. Like I said before, I don't know you nor do I know how you grew up. But what you have said has and most likely will cause many to laugh at those who would fight to protect you. I can only hope that you understand that there is a fight going on between good and evil. Can we get information by giving them the same rights we have? Maybe, but most likely not, because they will not let you have any rights at all. You to them are the enemy of Alah and therefore not deserving to live. I don't know why you addressed this aspect of torture in this colum, except to say that you have on idea what you are talking about. Didn't God say to love all and to attempt to bring all to Christ Jesus, you can't do that by what you said in this colum. In God's Grace John

Arshield
April 27, 2009

Here is a good summary of US law on Torture. <br><br><a href="http://phronesisaical.blogspot.com/2009/04/quick-review-of-torture-law.html" rel="nofollow">http://phronesisaical.blogspot...</a><br><br>It makes it very clear that torture as practices by the US is illegal.

Eric
April 27, 2009

Nathan, thanks for the commentary, however, your association of the CIA memos with the Military need to be corrected (and subsequently the lumping of all under the same banner). <br><br>The military has been reforming its treatment of terrorist prisoners since the Abu Ghraib "incident". Even with Abu, there is a difference between the policy of the DoD and the execution by commanders. Obviously, the commander of Abu Gharib broke the rules. As someone who works in the Air Force and in Intelligence, I feel it is important to correct your inaccuracies and mis-associations.<br><br>The Department of Defense and CIA exist under separate lines of command. Military intelligence and national intelligence (CIA, etc) are different. The CIA, and it's operatives, went to congress to determine its policy on certain "extreme" interrogation techniques, these are the memos that have recently been declassified and brought under public scrutiny. These letters are a discussion on CIA and it's activities, not the DoD.<br><br>As an example for further proof, it is known through these memos that the FBI chose not to participate in these activities precisely because of leadership had ethical qualms with the approach by the CIA. On the other hand, the FBI and DoD share a tighter relationship that has shown a lot of success in Iraq, and one that hasn't taken methods to the same extremes.<br><br>I also wanted to make sure that is well understood that the CIA WENT TO CONGRESS before conducting these activities and received approval by our elected officials to conduct these extreme methods. So when folks call for a witch-hunt on CIA operatives who put their life on the line day in and day out, remember where their authority came from.<br><br>As for 24, I don't agree that it glorifies torture, but rather it asks all the gray questions. I'll admit it seems to favor the side of torture as being effective, but downplays this by how you can tell it tortures Jack that he is who he is.<br><br>It's interesting that you say you are a pacifist. How does this belief gel with the fallen world in which we live? Don't you think that pacifism, while appearing noble, is ultimately a naive concept?

Nbierma
April 27, 2009

Eric, <br><br>Thanks for the clarifications and un-lumping!<br><br>I said I'm a "near pacifist." I can't take that last step; I can't answer the "what about Hitler?" question. <br><br>I would say that obsessive violence can also be more naive than wise sometimes, as the Bush Administration's foreign policy showed all too well. <br><br>And I would say that Christians, following a Lord who said "Put away the sword," should tend toward pacifism even when earthly empires call them impractical and naive for doing so.

Arshield
April 27, 2009

But is torture legal? Aren't we as Christians called to be more moral than those outside the church? What justification does the bible being illegal bring to the discussion? Does someone else's wrong ever allow us to commit a wrong? I know you will find these questions naive but I don't think they are either naive or irrelevant to the discussion. I don't care how good of a person that you think that Cheney or others that order torture are. It doesn't matter how good of a driver you are, if you speed you are violating the law. If our elected officials do not believe in the rule of law then what role do they play in upholding the constitution? These are really fundamental questions to our identity as a country. If we decide that rule of law means nothing then what is the purpose of having laws?<br>

Jonathan
April 27, 2009

I seriously question the exegesis of "putting away the sword." That same Christ who "put away the sword" is tempered greatly by 2 Thes 1, in which he comes executing judgment upon his enemies.<br><br>Nathan, your exegesis is badly flawed here. He put away the sword because "his time had not yet come", as the linguistic refrain constantly shows (e.g., John). He put away the sword, and had his disciples do so, because the sole purpose of the incarnation was to fulfill the Covenant of Redemption, that eternal archetype between Father and Son and Spirit in which the Son agreed to fulfill covenant obligations while yet upheld to do so by his Father, for the sake of his people, the New Israel. <br><br>He "put away the sword" because the Cross was the mission, and Easter the appointment of the Son to his Glory (Rom 1.4) that he had with the Father previously (John 17). He "put away the sword" because he had to have the Cross to have Easter, and we had to have both for the benefits of the 2nd Adam to be accrued and imputed to us. <br><br>He did NOT "put away the sword" because he was a Pacifist. Such exegesis seriously misconstrues the balance of the character of God.

Eric
April 27, 2009

Thanks for the response. At the risk of getting way-off topic:<br><br>I think there is a lot of continued animosity by the public (read: MEDIA), and even the new administration of the Bush administration. Thankfully I've heard President Obama question the value of all this 20/20 hindsight and investigation, and I truly hope puts an authoritative foot down to stop the formation of special committees and the likes to obsess over the mistakes of the past administration (to include all 3 branches). We do not need witch hunts. Congress establishes the law, and they "legalized" extreme interrogation methods for the CIA. If they believe this was a mistake now, and in direct conflict with other legal precedent, then well the fault lies with the lawmakers, not the executing agency.<br><br>I seriously question the "obsessive violence" that you indicate was the earmark of the Bush presidency. There have been many lives lost in the OIF/OEF wars, but these pale in comparison to the sacrifice of previous generations. Every life lost in a war is terrible, and there is no war that is not "overtly violent" - for thus is the earmark of conflict and war. Consider that, there has never been an empire or nation in the history of the earth with as much military might at its disposable as the US, that hasn't used this kind of power to their advantage for imperialistic purposes (that of actually seizing new land). Please don't say that we are practicing ideological imperialism as if that is somehow the same thing! Even if this was the case, I feel that "ideological imperialism" is actually something that God calls us to do in a way (READ: not saying the US ideology is 100% Christian).<br><br>I know that, for certain, we did not see another 9/11 style attack on US soil during the Bush presidency. Some may think that OIF and OEF is US super-agression, and that our "preemptive strike" actually fueled an increase in ideological extremism, well this is simply not the case either. Islam is in direct conflict with Judaism, and has been for thousands of years. 9/11 occured during a time when the US was not in direct conflict in the Muslim world, what caused such extremist hate then? It was already there! A lot of this all ties back to Israel, but I'm way off topic now.

Arshield
April 27, 2009

2 Thes 1 is not about us as humans being judges or taking up the sword to condemn anyone. It is about Christ having authority to judge. That judgment may be current or it may be future, but it is not based on human exigency. To suggest that we are currently judging the Muslim world according to a 2 Thes 1 style judgment is just flat wrong. The point of that passage is the exact opposite. It is instructing those Christians to NOT seek revenge against those that are opposing them. It is saying that Christ has reserved judgment for himself.<br><br>By your own admission the sword was put away because his time is not here. What would cause us to think that sometime after his resurrection he instructed his disciples to pick up the sword and act as his judgment? This is turning the gospel upside down.<br><br>Maybe I am just wildly mis-understanding you. And if I am I apologize.

Nbierma
April 27, 2009

Of course, but was that Christ's ONLY purpose for saying that? I think the healing of the soldier's ear is a profound act of triumph over violence--a victory of an unarmed prophet over troops armed to the teeth. Jesus was about to be killed in the place of a bloodthirsty zealot, and this scene shows us whose methods are superior. The scene would be of great comfort--and challenge--to early Christians who faced gruesome death as the ultimate witness rather than fight back, which was the way of the world.

Jonathan
April 27, 2009

I think assuming that Christ has multiple layers for saying what he did in this passage other than was was explicitly stated via redemptive-historical interpretation is too much. It might be possible to argue for pacifism from other Scriptures, but taking an act of healing one man in a tense situation and elevating it to an argument for pacificism, near-pacifism, or anything else, is simply a bad way to do exegesis. That's my point. :)<br><br>What you "think" it means is a bit irrelevant, don't you think? ;) Perhaps it isn't pointing the way to example for a Christian socio-political theory. Rather, pointing to the purpose for which Christ came: it was an armed conflict with the regime of the Day, but the regime in rebellion from long before our Creation. His armed conflict was with the principalities over this present darkness. The Garden Healing, if we may call it this, pointed to the reason he came: a greater healing than an ear. Expanding it further is risky exegesis. Again, your case can probably be made elsewhere, but not from this passage :)<br><br>Further, assuming Christ was unarmed is a bit of a stretch. The very act of replacing a lopped-off ear reminds us this was God. As the soldiers came, he was, in his role as Sustainer, holding up their very atomic structure in mysterious ways we cannot fathom. How does the God-man do this? At a thought, they could have "poofed" into nothing. As Van Til might put it, here come these soldiers and brigands to slap their father in the face. The irony of it all is that they are being held up by the Father's lap, and without his support, they could never reach his face to slap him. <br><br>The Garden Healing shows the grace inherent in the acts of that night all the more. It's a preamble to the great event about to unfold, not for Christian Pacifism.

Arshield
April 27, 2009

I personally think that we need investigations, but more of the "truth and reconciliation" style that are more about truth than prosecution. I am not interested in prosecuting a CIA staff that was following directions. I really am not interested in seeing Bush in a war crimes tribunal. But as the link that I put in above indicates. Torture as was done by CIA and in some cases the military was and is currently illegal. Treaties that we are signatures to are not suggestions they are constitutional level obligations. We cannot choose to simply ignore them as we did in not only the torture cases but in other much simpler cases. For instance the US has stopped following the border treaty with Canada that obligates us to maintain a free and clear border with Canada. This willful negect of treaties has many serious implications to the future of law in the US. Ignoring the fact that it happened, or how it happened will not solve the "problem."

Eric
April 27, 2009

Nathan,<br><br>I would like you to consider editing or removing the following from your post:<br><br>I don’t know whether the U.S. military gets inspired by 24 to do inhumane things to prisoners, as critics charge. It wouldn’t surprise me. But even if not, last week’s CIA memos show us the problem when the military—and the American public—buys at face value the claim that torture can be both justified and effective.<br><br>In light of the information above. I think the comment that it "wouldn't surpise you" if US military were "inspired by 24" is a poor choice as well. Military interrogators and military police are professionally trained, not just foot-soldiers who've watched too much TV or seen too many movies.

Bethanykj
April 27, 2009

John, I don't think the abuses in the middle east justify similar abuses here. Did you know that the romans killed the early christians? fed them to lions for entertainment? crucified Jesus? However, nowhere in the bible does it tell them to fight this evil with more evil. What makes you think we are entitled to inflict this kind of evil on another human, no matter who it is?

John
April 27, 2009

Here we go again, in the bible we are to love one another and to do for one another as much as possible. I have been around those who would do us harm just because who we are, you all included. Never have I seen anything done to those we capture that would injure them or cause any type of injury. They are scared and they become scared because of the unknown. When they realize that nothing will be done to hurt them they then turn on you. It's like the bully in the schoolyard. He will bully you as long as you let him, he only stops when he thinks you will hurt him. When he realizes you won't or can't hurt him, he reverts back to being a bully. None of the prisoners were executed or tortured so bad as to need immediate medical treatment. I'm sure there feeling were hurt and were in fear of their lives before all of this came out. Now that they know what will happen we can only hope that kindness will accomplish what fear did. They don't care what you think or what you believe, they want to run the world themselves. In God's Grace John

Rick
April 27, 2009

Jesus said to put away the sword because “My kingdom is not of this earth”. Our citizenship is in heaven. Unfortunately America’s kingdom IS of this earth and we have dual citizenship. That’s why we vote and pay taxes and go to war if necessary. Just as Germany’s kingdom in WW2 was of this earth. We have an obligation to protect our country, stop genocide in other countries and prevent madmen from wielding weapons of mass destruction. <br><br>Jesus never corrected the Centurion in the Roman legion as any good pacifist today would. Instead he declared he had never seen this kind of exemplary faith. Later, Paul said Roman soldiers were “God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” That’s pretty strong, supportive language. David said in the Psalms that God “Trains my hands for war”.<br><br>Jesus is not a pacifist and not against violence. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” So the question was not whether to wield a sword or not in Jesus behalf, but simply when. Remember, every time in the Old Testament that God commanded the Israelites to go to war and wipe out a city, that was Jesus speaking. He is God, part of the trinity. He is loving but he is just.<br><br>There will come a time when Jesus’ Kingdom is of this earth. And he will return with an army, a sword and garments stained in blood.<br><br>“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations.”<br><br>Pure pacifism really is alien to the Bible.

Arshield
April 27, 2009

Jonathan you don't address the main point of my above statement, that is that it is far different for you to assume that we have the authority or responsibility to assume judgment. You don't have to be a pacifist to reject that we have the responsibility for judgment. <br><br>This is exactly the case where Jesus did not use power he had at his authority and ability because he was doing something else that had a higher purpose. <br><br>I would suggest that holding a high view of human rights, even or especially those humans that have hurt us, does far more to show the rest of the world what we believe than using torture or other violence to protect ourselves. <br><br>I am not a hard pacifist. I don't think that every response should be non-violent. But I do think that most should be. Because when we chose violence, the result is the destruction of a life that was created in the image of God. That person may become a Christian as some point time, but if their life is ended then they will not.

Arshield
April 27, 2009

The point John is not that you have not witnessed torture, but that torture has occurred, and with the authority and blessing of elected officials. That was a violation of both US and International law. It was a violation of our Christian moral law, which both US and International laws on this matter are at least partially based.<br><br>What the bible says is to love your enemy and pray for them. Not hurt them so they can't hurt you back.

Richard
April 27, 2009

Part of the confusion for many people in this kind of debate is not being able to separate a biblical role for the church from the one for the state/government. This leads to difficulties in other debates, as well. Even though there is a separation in the roles, there are Creation Laws in effect that should govern any government. These laws have to do with respect for life and liberty. How they are applied in a time of war and/or threat to national security is where the rub is. Ultimately it comes down to someone weighing out the value of many lives of a nation's own citizens vs. the rights of life and liberty of someone intent on or complicit in a potential plan to take those lives. Of course, if one could get the information that would save lives without infringing on those rights, then the debate is over, but what about situations where the information is not forthcoming? Of course, the other side of the argument is that this potentially leads to serious abuse on the part of our own government. This is a legitimate concern. No matter the safeguards in place, there is always the possibility of a breakdown in the security structure. We generally trust that in most situations, we see more justice done here in the US than in most other judicial systems. Still, the risk is there. But the risk on the other side is also there and it is real, the "war on terror" is not imagined as some would have us believe. There are real people who live to kill as many innocent people as they can for the sake of creating terror and loss of will in their chosen enemies.<br><br>

Arshield
April 27, 2009

Have you followed some of the polling on this Eric. More than 1/3 of military (serving in Iraq) polled believe that torture was ok. The question that was asked was not, do you believe in "enhanced interagation" but do you think that "torture" is at times appropriate. Torture is by definition illegal for all military by US law, international treaty and military guidelines. These are professionals that have been trained in the Geneva Convention, but still are claiming to believe in torture. About 2/3 would not report a comrade in arms (also a violation) and more than 10 percent said they had mistreated a civilian while in Iraq (not tortured, just mistreated.<br><br><a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/world/stories/050507dnintethics.372ee0d.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.dallasnews.com/shar...</a><br>

Jonathan
April 27, 2009

Actually, arsheild, I wasn't addressing your point at all. I was addressing the original post by Bierma, and his subsequent comments about my comment. <br><br>Sorry, but comments about comments upon comments gets convoluted. But your response to me, was as you put it, not reading what I wrote properly.

Arshield
April 27, 2009

The head of the FBI has said no information was obtained that could not have been obtained through other means that did not involve torture.<br><br>The head of Military interegation in Iraq said he has not interviewed any foreign combatants that were not motivated in part to come to fight in Iraq by Abu Grab and that by his estimate US torture there has been the direct result in hundreds if not thousands of additional lost lives.

Arshield
April 27, 2009

I just got an email requesting me to sign a petition to release a Christian journalist in China. He has been held for 83 days and is believed to be tortured. What can the US do, when we are admitting that we are both torturing and using religion as a tool in our torture?

Jonathan
April 27, 2009

Arshield, one more time just to be clear: What I'm trying to do is what Richard was also doing (so it seemed to me): move the conversation away from "torture" micro-cosmically to the macro-cosmic issue. Do you truly want to take the stand that one must witness a sin to speak against it, or for it? <br><br>What I'm trying to say is, torture is part of the larger issue: what role is the STATE given, and what means may it use to punish the wicked and unjust? Key word: punish. It is mandated by God to punish the earth.<br><br>I'd also like to offer a slight correction to an earlier post by way of question, "Is the earth CURRENTLY the Kingdom of Christ?" I dare say it is, through the Body of Christ, the church. In Ephesians 1:20-22 Paul alludes to Psalm 110L:1 and proclaims that the royal inauguration for Christ’s rule actually took place at the time of his resurrection. So Christ is already ruling…but his Kingdom is not yet fully here.<br><br>Paul glues the truth of Jesus as the Supreme King of Genesis 3 and Psalm 110 to Romans 16, basically saying to the people in Romans 1620, “Remember how the True King will crush his enemies? He does it through us, his body, as they live out the Gospel message in covenant-keeping obedience. He will crush his enemies through your proclamation of the Gospel in word and deed!” He will come in judgment and crush all remaining rebellion, but until that time and<br>leading up to it, Jesus uses us to fulfill this prophecy because we are his Body. <br>After all, Jesus is still in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. But he has sent his Spirit to make his presence a reality in his people. That same Spirit is destroying enemy fortified strongholds and front-line positions (cf. 2 Cor 10).<br><br>So I'm not so much arguing with anyone here about this "smaller" issues of torture, but about the larger issues. And it seems here we're quickly moving beyond the bounds of the original, and excellent, post by Bierma into issues of Church/State. But we do all need to remember that Christ is presently ruling and destroying opposition to him in seed form via his Body, the Church, and that ultimately, we do not need to smoke a cigar to know it will make us cough: we can call torture wrong without witnessing it. But I think the argument for or against is set in the broader context of the State's rights given it by God to punish the wicked and reward the just. And that latter bit of reward is often done by punishing the wicked. <br><br>To remove punishment is not loving.

Rob
April 28, 2009

I think possibly we should focus on CHRIST not T.V.

Arshield
April 28, 2009

Ok let's go there. But keep torture as a component of the discussion. First, torture is not punishment. If torture was punishment, then it would violate the prohibitions in our US constitution against cruel and unusual punishment. I agree the state has been given the rights to punishment under scripture. But torture for the purpose of interrogation has nothing to do with punishment. <br><br>In fact, the central point of the Geneva Convention is that prisoner cannot be punished. They can be held, they can be interrogated, but they cannot be punished. I think that is where shows like 24 muddy the water. States can use their authority, they have the role of bringing justice, but no where has anyone claimed that what we are doing is bringing justice. The problem with detainees is that there has not been a trial. If there were a trial then the state could claim punishment. No where in scripture does punishment occur without some sort of trial and witnesses against the accused. Part of the issue with detainees is that we know at least some of them really are innocent. Even US government has admitted that. The group of Chinese detainees continue to be held after everyone agrees that they are innocent. (I know one of the reasons that they are being held is that we are afraid that they will be tortured or killed if we give them back to the Chinese.)<br><br>So I believe the discussion of the role of the state in punishment has nothing to do with torture. That is why I keep coming back to the "small" issue of torture.

John
April 28, 2009

I know that you think that any type of torture is wrong, which I assume is not just the physical, but mental and emotional aspects of torture. We do to our own worse than we do to the enemy. We put our own through the same things for various reasons, one is physical, but most important is the mental and emotional aspects of this. I personally have a hard time with the fact that they and it's not all muslims. There are some very fine and wonderful people out there who are muslim. It's the radical who uses his/her faith and twists that faith to do what they want. Just yesterday a couple were shot in the head in Pakistan for showing effection to each other and someone saw it. They want a world where only they rule, nothing else matters. Yes we have those also in our different religions, but on the most part they follow the teachings in the bible, except a few as we all know. Torture, unless you have been a victim of it as Mr. McCain, should reserve to understand that it is not used as something to do to the bad guy. It was used to ascertain if and when another strike would occur. I only hope that some of us today are alive because they told of another strike. We are all sinners and fall short of what God wants for us. We do however try to protect what is ours and there are times when men are most extremely cruel because of the circumstances. Don't let it drive you to distraction and have you turn away from your own country. In God's Grace John

Nbierma
April 28, 2009

I reject the premise that talking about one has nothing to do with talking about the other. <br><br>An interesting footnote is that on last night's episode, Jack was forbidden by the President to torture Hodges, and he restrained himself (though Olivia was less agreeable). As it turns out, torture wouldn't have done any good anyway, since Hodges' co-conspirators communicated anonymously with each other, using technology to disguise their voices on conference calls. Not exactly a rebuke of torture, but an indirect ambivalence toward it.

coolmom9
April 28, 2009

Jesus also said, I come not to bring peace, but a sword. How do you reconcile that with your "near pacifism"? <br><br>Jesus was not a pacifist. You need to study his sayings in light of Jewish culture of the time.

coolmom9
April 28, 2009

Water boarding and putting underwear on people's heads is not torture. Get a grip here people!

Arshield
April 28, 2009

Actually you are wrong. Waterboarding has been defined legally both nationally and internationally as torture for many years. The US has put to death its own soldiers and foreign soldiers for using waterboarding as torture. There is no credible legal scholar that can conclude that waterboarding is not torture based on legal precedent. <br><br>That is one of the significant problems with the legal memos. They specifically referenced waterboarding but did not reference any of the cases where the US has defined water boarding as torture. US and international case law is very clear on this point.<br><br>This is a case where shows like 24 talk about torture as if it does not have a legal history behind it. So people watch the show and assume that the shows are legally correct. They are not. What is torture is legally defined and we know what that is. What the US has done is torture.

Arshield
April 28, 2009

I still point back to the point that even if torture is not morally wrong as you assert it is legally wrong and the case law is very clear.

Hoebexl
April 29, 2009

arshield, while torture is clearly illegal, the problem is with the definition surrounding interrogation methods and which ones are to be labeled "torture" and which ones are "enhanced." This definition issue always eventually bites us where we are vulnerable - we can't even agree on what "is" means. <br><br>This is an easily remedied situation for any government, however, if you are suggesting that moving the debate from the moral ground to the legal ground is the issue. We just put the people in power whose view on torture is the one we prefer and they change the law - there may even be sufficient leeway for this to be done by executive order. So then, every four or eight years we can go back and forth and we can even retro-fit the laws so that no matter what the last president did it was illegal and he can be prosecuted criminally.<br><br>For me, the primary issue is that the government's number one directive is the protection of its own citizens. That does not mean that any means is justifiable to that end, but it does mean that other objectives are subordinate to this one. Additionally, the government cannot ever be Christian. People can be Christ-followers, the government itself can behave morally but cannot, in so doing, become a Christian government.<br><br>Note that this objective (i.e., to protect citizens) is NOT the objective of the church. So, when the church becomes embroiled in politics, she loses her identity and purpose and place.

Arshield
April 29, 2009

I think there are debates that can be held about the morality of torture. And I think that we should do that. But what is not debatable is whether the US has tortured detainees under its care. What has happened according to US documents, not just outside reporting, is torture. It was and is illegal.<br><br>I fundamentally disagree with your assertion that the number one directive is to protect its citizens. The first directive according to the oath of office and the constitution is to protect the constitution and follow the laws of the land. If you disagree with the laws you change them. If we go back and forth several times then we go back and forth several times. That is called being a democracy. <br><br>I agree with you about the last couple points, the government is not Christian and the objectives of government are not the objectives of the church. And when the church becomes embroiled in politics it does lose focus of it purpose.

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