Tortured Logic

Torture is back in the news, thanks in large part to President Barack Obama’s recent speech attacking the national security policies of the Bush Administration (despite reserving for himself the right to authorize torture) and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech setting the record straight.

Among those outraged by Bush, Cheney and company is Alonzo Fyfe, who argues:

Every political speech describing what the American government may do to foreign captives should be viewed as a speech on what the speaker would allow foreign governments to do to Americans.

Of course, nobody is talking about what the government can do to “foreign captives” or “foreign nationals.”  We’re talking about what it can do to “terrorists,” meaning “foreign nationals whose goal is to kill civilians.”  Advocacy of torturing foreign terrorists cannot be interpreted as moral permission for another country to torture any Americans aside from those engaged in terrorist activities against that country.  And frankly, if a foreign government finds itself in that situation, I certainly wouldn’t object to their torturing an American-born terrorist to obtain information necessary to save lives.

As for the scenario of unjust governments or terrorist groups torturing captive US soldiers or civilians, then pointing to American waterboarding as justification, it’s preposterous.  If our enemies’ actions were only, or even primarily, motivated by a desire to retaliate for comparable grievances, 9/11 never would have happened.  Neither would the USS Cole bombing, the Khobar Towers, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing…you get the point.

Personally, I’ll take saving innocent lives over trying to psychoanalyze what might lead monsters to violate senses of moral restraint they don’t even have.


I’ve never thought too highly of Wisconsin blogger and frequent Boots & Sabers commenter Scott Feldstein, but now he’s hit a new low. On December 19 he wrote an irate post about how morally inferior those of us who support torture of terrorists in certain circumstances are. The (censored) highlights:

When the f*** did we start condoning state sanctioned torture? Raise your hand right now if you’re for torture. I’ll make a list of people whom I would not let walk my dog, let alone have any position of responsibility or judgement. A list of moral retards…Anyone who wants to trade their souls for some perceived security is a chickens*** motherf***er who should be kept far away from small children and sharp objects.

Of course, we know waterboarding
has worked, and a lot of innocent American civilians could very well be dead today if Feldstein had his way. Oh, and this guy’s concern about human rights, compassion, and the US’s moral credibility is wholly selective—predictably, he supports killing innocent babies. Phony.

As pathetic as all this is, it isn’t what spurred me to write this post. In the comments section, we see the following exchange:

MIKE: being a fomer us marine if it saves only one of my brothers im all for it,fight fire with fire. it is clear to me none of you have ever been to a combat zone or have ever served this great nation! its called war for a reason.suck it up butter cups!

SCOTT: It’s clear to me, Mike, that you don’t really understand what makes our nation great in the first place.

MIKE: Your telling a us marine he doesnt understand what makes his nation great ! its people like me that went to somolia ,the gulf .i earned my f***ing stay, what the f*** have you done? just keep running your sewer we all need a breeze

SCOTT: I stand by what I said, Mike. One of the things that makes our nation great is the fact that we have respect for individual liberty and human rights. One of the chief manifestations of this value is the fact that we don’t torture people. I won’t give up my values for safety (real or perceived). How about you? Thanks for your service, by the way. As for what I’ve done, I earn the money that pays your salary.

Where does this twerp get off thinking he can tell an American serviceman he doesn’t understand his country’s greatness? The arrogance, the sense of innate superiority, is stunning. What a pathetic, disgusting hypocrite.

Amen, John Podhoretz!

One Advantage to Andrew Sullivan’s Pompous, Hysterical Nonsense…is that he’s frightening away similarly pompous and hysterical would-be tourists who fear they may be arrested, belly-slapped, waterboarded, and sent to Gitmo. That’s a good thing, as one can imagine what a pain such people are to the hotel staff wherever they do travel.

This Campaign’s Gone to the Dogs

This is the worst skeleton in Mitt Romney’s closet? Actually, that would be a refreshing change (hint hint, fellow right-wingers…). By the way, Andrew Sullivan’s horrified reaction to the story is a pretty good barometer to his sensibilities on his pet issue, the eeeevil of how America treats terrorist prisoners.