22 thoughts on “No Doubt About It

  1. Okay I am NOT a sadist by any means, but does it work? What are the alternatives? True this is not good public relations for the U.S. government but if you could find out pertinent information about a military attack on where your parents or other family members or friends lived, and one of the only ways to get the information was waterboarding or another coercive manner who and what would you choose to do? Do you allow your parents to die konwing that you could have stopped it? or do you do something that is unpleasant such as waterboarding? As I have said I am not into gratuitus acts of violence angainst another living person and hopefully there would be much consideration before going ahead with such drastic measures but again what are the alternatives? I have family in the military who have served and are getting ready to go back to Iraq at the end of this month. I would choose coercion any day to have them return alive. “War is hell” As for building a relationship with the suspected terrorist, somethings are time sensitive I would imagine. How about brainwashing or other psychological techniques? I think we are sometimes very naieve to the nature of what transpires in this world. So maybe not waterboarding professor but coersion is the only way I know that most people in such situations would work. I hope more peple chime in on this subject because it’s not as abstract to me as talking about change blindness. Sorry if the tone seems a little worked up. 🙂

  2. Professor Brown, CHRISSYNOW, let me just tell you- waterboarding IS torture. Some of my friends (Army, Navy and USMC veterans-some who have gone through waterboarding training- and people from a non-military background) and I had war games. I was “captured” and pushed to reveal information (where our “base” was and what our “weapons of mass destructions” were) and I was subject to waterboarding. It is NOT pleasant and you really are drowning. The only reason why I lasted like 5 seconds longer than any of the non-military guys was because I used to be into synchronized swimming and I was frequently on the verge of drowning. It really does work. I ended up spilling all sorts of secrets (some not even a part of the game) because I was so desperate for it to stop.

    CHRISSYNOW, I believe that you’re right about coercion because it does seem like the only thing that does work (to most people anyway). I figure the other sure-fire way is to beat them, continually and at regular intervals, as to break them. To the folks who have been exposed to the various methods of information extraction, this may not work and that’s where the more unorthodox techniques come in (waterboarding, electrocution, cutting off appendages, etc.)

    Although, I read somewhere about keeping someone locked in total darkness, with no sound coming in or going out is a method (long-term) to break someone, I’ve actually heard people lose their minds. Now that’s totally psychological- but is that torture?

  3. Sensory deprivation is considered to be a form of torture E.J., What do the ethicists say on necessary evils in the universe? not necessarily natural evils that is…Why should we be playing by a whole different set of rules and ethical codes than the enemy?

  4. That’s a good point, CHRISSYNOW, but then what about during birthday parties, where they would blindfold the kids to pin the tail on the donkey or whack the pinata? That’s sensory deprivation, so would a favorite birthday past time be considered torture and therefore, unethical?

    I’m not saying that sensory deprivation is not torture, I think it is- to an extent, anyway. But I totally understand and I’m totally behind you when you say that we play by a whole different set of rules and ethical codes than the enemy.

    You know what, though- I think it all comes down to money. Money rules the universe and I think that this goddamn country plays by its own rules just because we have more money and more physical power and more intelligence, etc etc, than the enemy. We hide behind this great big facade of “oh- you know, we’re the strongest, richest country alive and you can’t fuck with us.” I, honestly, think that the people to actually run the show has got some freakin’ problems. The funny thing is that the US is in some crazy debt. Haha. Hmm- I’ve never had a birthday party where I got to pin the tail on the donkey or whack a pinata. My childhood sucks.

  5. I would assume sensory deprivation would refer to the length of time that one is deprived E.J.
    So you’re saying it’s better to abuse and destroy someone’s mind as opposed to their body? what did prof.say? We did the right thing going in for the wrong reason, of course they have problems.

  6. Oh no, that’s not what I’m saying at all- I’m saying that sensory deprivation is okay to an extent (for example, pin the tail on the donkey). In my opinion, abusing one’s mind is 1000 times worse than abusing one’s body.

  7. siggghh! Okay e.j., professor, now that you have indicated my inadvertent evilness,:( How about you explain what kinds of coercion if any would be deemed acceptable in the military.

  8. This says it all…

    I concur strongly with the opinions of professional interrogators like Colonel Stewart Herrington, and victims of torture like Senator John McCain. If you want consistent, accurate and reliable intelligence, be inquisitive, analytical, patient but most of all professional, amiable and compassionate.

    EJ, that’s a good question…I don’t think that every desire should be indulged, so I am not sure that we ought to torture someone even if they want to be tortured (but I do think that it should be used as a training method as Nance pointed out in his article…)

  9. Aww- CHRISSYNOW, I had no intention of “indicating your inadvertent evilness” I agree with you, woman! 🙂

    But if worst comes to worst and being “inquisitive, analytical, patient, professional, amiable and compassionate” doesn’t work, what to do then? Even though I really think that mental torture is the absolutely worst way to get someone to talk (anything that can seriously fuck with the head) and if sometimes things like threatening and blackmail doesn’t work, and if it is REALLY important and it can fuck up the lives of MANY innocent people, you’d have to resort to ways that people can see as unethical. Like you said before CHRISSYNOW, if its down to the safety and the lives of my family, I would have to choose the methods of coercion to get whatever information to prevent whatever from happening.

    I suppose that at the end of the day, whatever (that doesn’t harm innocent people) works.. well, works. I mean like I said, if none of that (mentioned above) doesn’t work, you really would have to start implementing various methods that’s fucked up, as long as it gets the job done and can save the lives of people. I suppose that’s a really utilitarian look on it, yeah? It’s like Singer and his exception to equal consideration. If it benefits humanity, its okay to use animals as means. In my opinion, it’s the same here- if it benefits humanity, its okay to torture some people to get information that’ll save A LOT of lives.

    Professor, I suppose you’re right but what if wanting to be tortured was one of that person’s desires but his ONLY desire? Should that one and only desire not be indulged? Or what if all of that person’s life, he was tortured and for him it’s the way he lives and he needs to be tortured. Can he be tortured then?

  10. Sorry EJ, but I don’t agree. There is never an excuse to torture. Period.

    As made clear by Nance the reasons for this are many, but among the most important are A. Torture doesn’t work (i.e. it doesn’t produce reliable info) and B. by endorsing it you are endorsing the torutre of American prisoners of war.

    As for your hypothetical “person” I would say psychological counseling is the expedient course of action…I mean consider an analogy; a child who was raised by a pediphile and who was raped every day might come to desire being raped but does that mean that we should rape them? Hardly!!!

  11. Like you said before CHRISSYNOW, if its down to the safety and the lives of my family, I would have to choose the methods of coercion to get whatever information to prevent whatever from happening.

    This is a reason why one might be motivated/tempted to do something immoral, but it doesn’t turn an immoral act into a moral one…

  12. Why does it sound like you’re agreeing with me on this. Of course the ideal is that man wouldhave risen above the base needs of torture but like I said you do sound like you concur with my outlook on this matter overall.

  13. So I could not let this go being as obsessive as I am about certain things, and i called my dad. I just spoke to my dad and he definitely agrees with you professor. He says that once you cross the line of torturing a human being there may be no turning back and who is to say who can be tortured if you go this route. Also he pointed out to me that I would be no better than any other immoral person out there who chooses to turn off their mmoral compass whenever it suits them. He said other things but for now I stand sorely rebuffed, refuted and corrected. Must examine my compass. Toda. 🙂

  14. Hey Professor, sorry it’s a bit off topic but when will we get our grades? (And obviously it’ll be “when I [you, professor brown] finish grading” but like, you know, for real.)

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