Sarah Palin defends waterboarding stance in Facebook post

Discussion in 'Terrorism' started by Adagio, Apr 29, 2014.

  1. Adagio

    Adagio New Member

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    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took to Facebook on Monday to defend her stance on waterboarding and declare her intent not to apologize for the comments she made last weekend.

    “Darn right I’d do whatever it takes to foil [terrorists’] murderous jihadist plots – including waterboarding,” Palin, a Republican, wrote in her most recent Facebook post on Monday night.

    Whatever it takes?

    Palin is making a moral judgment here, which is of course, what the situation calls for. There are two ways in which we look to form our morality. One is consequentialist moral reasoning.

    1.The right thing to do, the moral thing to do depends on the consequences that will result from your action. It locates morality in the consequences of an act. That’s basic Utilitarianism – Jeremy Bentham. 18th Century English political philosopher.

    The other is

    2. Catagorical Moral Reasoning which locates morality in certain duties and rights. 18th Century German philosopher Emmanuel Kant.
    Palin takes the Utilitarian form of reasoning as her moral guide; at least with regards to this issue. She’s quite the religious zealot so, I’m sure on other issues she takes a different approach but on this issue she’s using utilitarian consequentialist moral reasoning.

    The Consequences of Utilitarianism are this:
    The right thing to do, the just thing to do, is to maximize utility.
    Utility = the balance of pleasure over pain, happiness over suffering. All of us are governed by two masters: Pain and Pleasure. We human beings like pleasure, and dislike pain. The right thing to do individually or collectively is to maximize the over-all level of happiness. “The greatest good for the greatest number”. And in this case the greatest good for the greatest number is to waterboard the suspected terrorist, for the sake of saving hundreds or maybe thousands of others.

    As a Cost/benefit analysis there are problems with this. Namely, Utilitarianism fails to respect individual or minority rights. It’s likely that nobody is concerned with anybody’s individual rights in this situation, so, what’s really involved here, is whether the position that she holds has any moral worth for a person (Palin) that likes to project her moral values.

    So, Is torture ever justifed?

    Her statement raises the question about whether torture is ever justifed in the interrogation of suspected terrorists. Consider the ticking time bomb scenario: Imagine that you are the head of the local CIA branch. You capture a terrorist suspect who you believe has information about a nuclear device set to go off in Manhattan later the same day. In fact, you have reason to suspect that he planted the bomb himself. As the clock ticks down, he refuses to admit to being a terrorist or to divulge the bomb’s location. Would it be right to torture him until he tells you where the bomb is and how to disarm it? Sarah Palin says, absolutely, and defends her position as morally justified.

    The argument for doing so begins with a utilitarian calculation. Torture inflicts pain on the suspect, greatly reducing his happiness or utility. But thousands of innocent lives will be lost if the bomb ex-plodes. So you might argue, on utilitarian grounds, that it’s morally justifie d to inflict intense pain on one person if doing so will prevent death and suffering on a massive scale. Former Vice President Richard Cheney’s argument that the use of harsh interrogation techniques against suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists helped avert another terrorist attack on the United States rests on this utilitarian logic.

    On the face of it, the ticking time bomb scenario seems to support Bentham’s and Palins side of the argument. So what if thousands of innocent lives are at stake, as in the ticking time bomb scenario? What if hundreds of thousands of lives were at risk? The utilitarian would argue that, at a certain point, even the most ardent advocate of human rights would have a hard time insisting it is morally preferable to let vast numbers of innocent people die than to torture a single terrorist suspect who may know where the bomb is hidden.

    As a test of utilitarian moral reasoning, however, the ticking time bomb case is misleading. It purports to prove that numbers count, so that if enough lives are at stake, we should be willing to override our scruples about dignity and rights. And if that is true, then morality is about calculating costs and benefits after all.

    But the torture scenario does not show that the prospect of saving many lives justifies inflicting severe pain on one innocent person. Re-call that the person being tortured to save all those lives is a suspected terrorist, in fact the person we believe may have planted the bomb. The moral force of the case for torturing him depends heavily on the assumption that he is in some way responsible for creating the danger we now seek to avert. Or if he is not responsible for this bomb, we assume he has committed other terrible acts that make him deserving of harsh treatment. The moral intuitions at work in the ticking time bomb case are not only about costs and benefits, but also about the non-utilitarian idea that terrorists are bad people who deserve to be punished.

    We can see this more clearly if we alter the scenario to remove any element of presumed guilt. Suppose the only way to induce the terrorist suspect to talk is to torture his young daughter (who has no knowledge of her father’s supposed nefarious activities) and doing it in front of him. Would it be morally permissible to do so? I suspect that even a hardened utilitarian would flinch at the notion. But this version of the torture scenario offers a truer test of the utilitarian principle. It sets aside the intuition that the terrorist deserves to be punished anyhow (regardless of the valuable information we hope to extract), and forces us to assess the utilitarian calculus on its own. If torturing somebody would prevent a bomb from going off, then who gets tortured is irrelevant as long as the bomb is found before it goes off and kills others. So what possible difference can it make who gets tortured as long as the use of torture prevents the killing of others. Torturing a hardened terrorist may not prevent the bomb from going off, but torturing his young daughter in front of him might be more effective in getting him to talk.

    If the logic of Sarah Palins position holds as a moral justification for torture, then it would make no difference who gets tortured, as long as the bomb is stopped. Or, would she object to torturing an innocent young girl to save the lives of hundreds or maybe thousands of others?

    I suspect that Sara has never actually considered this in her reasoning process. If she believes in her position as she says, “Darn right I’d do whatever it takes to foil [terrorists’] murderous jihadist plots – including waterboarding,” Palin, a Republican, wrote in her most recent Facebook post on Monday night.”

    Whatever it takes? Would she agree to torturing an innocent young girl to stop the bomb? Maybe she would. I’d like to know just how far she’s willing to go and how consistent she is with her moral reasoning. .
     
  2. Phoebe Bump

    Phoebe Bump New Member

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    "Whatever it takes" is the operative phrase here. Glad you caught that. "Including waterboarding" is another operative phrase, meaning Sarah might use any torture technique known to man. Why not just kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out. Pre-emptively nuking Kandahar would probably foil several plots. A whole bunch of radiation burns and a little sandpaper would probably get more than one jihadi to open up.
     
  3. Adagio

    Adagio New Member

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    Yeah...she seems to feel everything is on the table regarding torture, "including waterboarding". So, the methods aren't excluding anything. So if that's the case, then it wouldn't matter who gets tortured, as long as the information is gotten to stop the bomb from going off. "Whatever it takes". Sarah never actually thinks about what she says. She just spouts a lot of crap which goes over with other people that don't bother to think.
     
  4. Phoebe Bump

    Phoebe Bump New Member

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    I don't think getting information is even a requirement for Sarah. Sounds like she wants to torture on the off-chance there might be some information. Gotta remember, Bush tortured a lot of people AFTER the planes hit the buildings so there was no "foiling plots" by that time.
     
  5. Giftedone

    Giftedone Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    This is no surprise coming from Palin. She is a member of a very extremist Christian groups who teach that anyone who agrees with her Church Leaders doctrine is good and those who disagree are evil. Typical Good vs Evil, God vs Devil stuff that cults use to control the minds of adherents.

    Anything becomes justified in the name of God to fight the evil Satan.
     
  6. FreshAir

    FreshAir Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    the Inquisition reborn... Palin style
     
  7. Panzerkampfwagen

    Panzerkampfwagen New Member

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    Remember when the US executed people for waterboarding US soldiers?
     
  8. Germania

    Germania Member

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    The US does other degrading things, at least in the past, to the detainees. It was wrong and inhumane. Angela Merkel agrees with me. Remember these things don't happen anymore, Obama banned it. It's sick. See, we acknowledge them as military combantants, hence we use our military on them, and try them in military courts. We try them in military courts, admitting we're at war with them, but deny them protection as they dont fight for a formal army.
     
  9. AlpinLuke

    AlpinLuke Well-Known Member

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    Pragmatism ...

    Politicians should not be moralist idealists and they should apply a particular "extended" ethics.

    What I mean is that the behavior has to be corresponding [suitable for] the "opponent" or the "threat" at the horizon.

    Now, about terrorism, we [all Western security organisms are involved in this] are dealing with individuals who cannot be defined gentlemen [useless to remind the videos available on the net of these philosophers beheading Western citizens ...]. So that every person who has got some connection with such an environment is at least not above suspicion [if a friend of yours is a terrorist, a security Agency has got the duty to suspect that you are not a saint].

    From these mundane considerations come that "special treatments" are acceptable [also ethically]. At the end, US Senate hasn't closed Guantanamo prison [despite the Presidential order ... wonder why ...].

    Waterboarding?

    It's a common experience for units of special forces [they have to know what drowning means ,,,], so it's not that great torture. It's a simulated death, really persuading for who has never had experience of it.
     
  10. Csareo

    Csareo New Member

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    Good unbiased analysis. Usually people don't dedicate this much time into a post, unless its a unbiased OP

    - - - Updated - - -

    Good unbiased analysis. Usually people don't dedicate this much time into a post, unless its a unbiased OP

    - - - Updated - - -

    Good unbiased analysis. Usually people don't dedicate this much time into a post, unless its a unbiased OP
     
  11. Casper

    Casper Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    Honorable men and women do not torture their prisoners. I see that leaves Palin out.
     
  12. AlpinLuke

    AlpinLuke Well-Known Member

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    It's a banal matter of perspective ...

    You talk about "prisoners", well to private an individual of freedom can be considered a rather heavy form of torture [and it can last for many years, when not until death], so ...

    Is it honorable to deny freedom to persons? [Even before of a definitive condemnation by a court, let's note this].
     
  13. Casper

    Casper Banned at Members Request Past Donor

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    Prison for a prisoner is not torture it is the price they pay for committing crimes. Thing is when it comes to prisoners of war, unless they have been convicted in a court of law they are not criminals, that is why those we are holding due to the war on terror should all be put on trial and either sentenced or released. Torture and being sentenced are not the same, especially since the person being tortured has not been convicted of anything, many of those we tortured in Iraq were later released because their was no evidence that that had done any wrong. We as a Nation are supposed to be all about the rule of law and fair play, we cannot claim the higher ground while torturing others for no other reason than that we Might get some usefull information. Oh and just so you know torture rarely produces any usefull information, even those that have participated in it will tell you that.
     
  14. AlpinLuke

    AlpinLuke Well-Known Member

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    If we want to enlarge our perspective ...

    I can remind to myself that just Texas is well known around the world for death penalty [capital punishment] which is considered substantially a method of punishment against human rights in almost all European countries. For example Italian Constitution says that the punishment of a criminal has to be intended to try and recover the criminal [so the capital punishment wouldn't be exactly in agreement with our Constitution, I don't know with US Constitution].

    Even Russia has abolished it in 2009 [but I think that they have kept a way to use it ... you know Russians!].

    This said, moral lessons from US about punishment of criminals are quite curious ...

    [A part that, being conservative, I'm not totally against death penalty, in some cases I can accept it].

    So, back to the consideration about torture, you are not totally correct about imprisonment, it exists also BEFORE of a judgment about the crime [it's when the suspect remains in jail because there isn't enough money for the caution ... that's kidnapping asking for a ransom!

    So, there is something to be reconsidered in your base reasoning, I suppose.
     
  15. Adagio

    Adagio New Member

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    My son is in the Special Forces. He's a Green Beret. He underwent waterboarding in SERE school. According to him, it IS torture. Also, according to him, it's ineffective. You simply cannot know if the information you get is true, or the result of the prisoner willing to say anything to make it stop. The reasoning is pretty simple. We must submit our own people to this kind of treatment to prepare them for the worst. Anything less is shortchanging their training and Special Forces is NOT a playground sandbox. Since SF is a voluntary group, all candidates know ahead of time that they'll be subjected to the worst conditions as a real situation necessary to their training. All torture is physical coercion, and that's exactly what waterboarding is. We executed those that used it against our own troops in WWII. We court martialed a soldier in Viet Nam for using it on a prisoner. President Reagan saw to it that a sheriff in Texas was sent to prison for 10 years for using it on a prisoner. We cannot claim that it's torture against our troops, but not torture when we employ it on others. That's simply the hypocrisy of the double-standard and there's no way around that.
     
  16. Adagio

    Adagio New Member

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    Thanks for that comment. I was trying to point out the dilemma that Palin creates with her statement. She's not really known for thinking things through, and this was one more example. If she is going to be consistent in her view, then she would have to acknowledge that torturing the suspects young daughter in front of him would be acceptable, as long is it would stop the bomb from going off.
     
  17. AlpinLuke

    AlpinLuke Well-Known Member

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    Where am I sustaining that waterboarding is not torture?

    I've said that it's not that great torture [it's a training ...].

    I'm not playing with words here, I'm clear when I say that torture is acceptable withing certain limits and the example of how a state punishes criminals [up to kill them] and of how the justice system treats with suspects [putting them in jail before of a proper trial about the crime] ... just to mention, are examples telling us that our ethics is quite variable.

    Torture is statistically useless ...

    Yes. Statistically.

    This means that there is a residual possibility that using it the investigators can get some real useful information.

    Now, in an extreme situation, dealing with individuals who will never be free again [so we are talking about subjects who carry the label "terrorist" with a reason, not by case or by mistake], torture becomes an opportunity.

    Not a duty.
    And in the doubt, it's clear it's better to avoid it.

    Then, about hypocrisy ...

    Since I am in favor of a limited usage of the capital punishment, I cannot see how I could be against a limited and controlled usage of torture in special structure an with reference to special prisoners.
     
  18. Adagio

    Adagio New Member

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    Perhaps I've misread you. Is English your native language? "It's not that great torture" doesn't make any sense. I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. And to then claim that it's "a training" begs the question...training for who? Our SF people...yes, but does the prisoner being waterboarded understand that what he's going through is some kind of "training"?

    Really?

    Alright...how is torture morally acceptable under any circumstances? Criminals go to jail. That's not torture. As for the Death Penalty...I'm opposed to that. But lets be clear...sending a person to jail is not the moral equivalent of torturing them. They are removed from society, but that is hardly the same thing as torture.

    Statistically? What are you talking about? You seem to be qualifying this as a matter of statistics? "Sadistically" it serves a purpose but that's it. If I torture you, you're going to tell me anything I want to hear, just to get me to stop. You'll say anything. I could get you to say that you sunk the Titanic or you shot Kennedy.

    But you can't know that what you're getting is genuine. It's being obtained under the most extreme forms of coercion. What that leaves you with is the moral question of whether the ends justify the means. And...again if torture works to get the information that you want, WHO gets tortured is irrelevant as long as the information is obtained. We don't have to torture the suspect...we can torture the suspects wife, or child, or mother. The only thing that matters is stopping the bomb from going off. The only thing that matters in the logic of using torture, is whether or not the necessary information can be obtained to prevent the damage. Who gets tortured is a secondary consideration. If you are going to get squeamish about who the victim is, then you can't really justify using torture to get the information you want.

    An opportunity for what? Torture as an opportunity?? Sounds pretty Machiavellian to me. So you think that torture serves a useful purpose. I would say that you're living in the wrong century.

    Not a duty? Who would claim that torture was a "duty". I really don't follow your sentence construction.

    Capital punishment has a singular purpose. It's designed to kill a person. Torture is not meant to kill. It's meant to inflict excruciating pain and extract information through coercive means. They aren't the same thing. A person could be tortured and still not be killed. A person that's executed is meant to die. I'm sorry, but there is no justification for torture in the 21st century.
     
  19. AlpinLuke

    AlpinLuke Well-Known Member

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    I had lost this thread.

    First of all, why are you sorry? Mah ....

    Let's go on with our discussion.

    No, English is not my mother tongue [this comment could even make me think to a certain racist attitude on your side and this would be quite surprising from a "Progressive" with so high humanitarian values].

    "training" ... well, a direct testimony in this thread explains it: a training for special units [and not only in US], if the prisoner knows it or not is not irrelevant: it's better the prisoner doesn't know, so that he [or she] will be afraid to die for real.

    Again, you interpret what other say [licit rhetoric trick, but you should respect more what the others, at least I would expect this from who expresses similar values].

    I'm not saying it's "justified", I'm saying it can be necessary [like to drop a couple of atomic bombs over two cities in Japan, have you ever noted that the only country to have used nukes for real - and on civil targets - hasn't been a rough dictatorship, but the American democracy?]. "it can be" doesn't mean that it's always necessary.

    Behavioral psychology can allow investigators to detect in good part what's real and what's invented [are you familiar with this?]

    Did 9/11 terrorists wonder the same? Struggling in moral doubts before of killing thousands of civilians making entire skyscrapers fall down?

    You will never believe me, but this would be possible ONLY if suspect's relatives are suspected of terrorism too [but I know you don't believe me, so why I'm posting this? Mah ...]

    May be, I would like to live in 23th century ...

    Are your comments about my usage of English a kind of "intellectual torture"?

    I here the sound of your nails on the glass. You live in a country which justifies [legally!] death penalty. Do you know that many EU countries don't allow extradition to US [when in your country the punishment for the committed crime can be death], just because our governments consider Death Penalty something not humanitarian?
     

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