The Efficacy and Morality of Brutal Interrogations and Use of Deadly Force

PAY ATTENTION! TAKE A POSITION! SPEAK UP!4th of July Essense of America

I believe we are at a moral crossroad. And we must think carefully before we decide which road to take. Since out founding the values of America were embodies in grand and lofty documents including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, especially the Preamble and the Bill of Rights.All of us who see ourselves as good moral people have a duty to pay attention and take a position on issues that challenge and will ultimately define our nation’s values.

The truth is, as a nation, we have not always lived up to our highest values or validated our self image. There has always been a gap between our ideals and our actions (we declared that all men are created equal and for quite a period tolerated slavery and counted slaves as less than a person for purposes of the U.S. census). After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, our government took the property and liberty of Japanese-American citizens based entirely on their ethnicity.

Yet despite this shortfalls we have continually moved in the direction of our ideals and we have reason to be proud of the example we have set with our approach to civil liberties, our criminal justice system and our struggle to bring national policies in closer alignment with our rhetoric by making continuous progress in our struggle to eliminate bigotry, racism, sexism and every other form of unseemly prejudice.

I am not saying what position you have to take but neutrality and apathy are not acceptable when we are confronted with evidence and arguments concerning the use of brutal, cruel and inhumane methods of getting information to either stop or apprehend terrorists (please, let’s avoid the demeaning game of euphemisms and labeling – enhanced interrogation techniques or torture and focus on the conduct) and with the use of deadly force in apprehending or controlling criminals and criminal suspects. These are complicated moral questions made much more so by the ambiguity of facts and and subtle questions of degree, but let there be no doubt that how we deal with them will shape our national character and reputation and, perhaps our self image.

What is your position on the use of cruel and brutal interrogation techniques? Do you think police use excessive force too often? Do you think they are more likely to use excessive force with black men?

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. -Albert Einstein. He also said, “those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” This has been said many ways: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”-Edmund Burke.

Comments 1

  1. Unfortunately for all of us the world is not always filled with black or white answers to the questions we often have to deal with. Is deadly force always justified – no, but nor is it always non-acceptable. There are times that deadly force is necessary to preserve life – either that of innocent bystanders or that of the person applying the deadly force. However, in all those instances where it is used, society must always have to ascertain for certain that it was indeed necessary as it is easy for those with the ability to use deadly force to rely on deadly force as the first option rather than the last option when time does allow for such a choice. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I do believe that some, but by no means all, police have developed the tendency to use deadly force as their primary choice, especially when they lack an bond to the community they in charge of protection. Given the very real dangers of their jobs this is a natural trap to fall into.

    I would also submit that many in these communities have also lost any recognition of these very real dangers the police face every day in their jobs. Yes, you may feel harassed but becoming antagonist only ups the perception of potential threat in the officer(s) leading to an escalation that might turn deadly. Striking an officer in the face when he asks you a question, especially when you considerably outweigh him, is asking for him to consider you a potential deadly threat even when you may not be.

    As far as torture – are there times when it might be justified? For normal intelligent gathering – no. First it does violate the moral codes upon which this country is based and, secondly, it often leads to unreliable information from the individual being interrogated, especially when that individual does not know the information being sought. However, there might indeed be times when it might be indeed necessary in a time-critical situation where there is no doubt that the person being interrogated has pertinent information on an ongoing operation that, if not stopped, will result in innocent lives being lost. A classic but fictional example would be in “Guarding Tess” when Nicolas Cage shoots off the toe of the chauffeur, who assisted in the kidnapping of Shirley MacLaine, in order to extract information of her location. His justification – without that information, the kidnappers were going to kill her anyway since she would have been able to identify them.

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