Monday, November 05, 2007

The Ends Do NOT Justify The Means

Apparently Sun Media columnist Rachel Marsden thinks that where torture is concerned, waterboarding as an interrogation technique does.

Waterboarding, for those less than familiar with the vileness that is the torturer's mindset, is a technique where you basically convince the victim to talk by almost, but not quite, drowning them. I won't go into the grisly details of this technique - it is every bit as damaging as the various tortures used in the Middle Ages.

According to Ms. Marsden, waterboarding is no worse than the techniques used by competitive swimming coaches:

I suppose that those who object to terror suspects getting water up the nose would say that, as a young competitive swimmer, I was also tortured. It was called "hypoxic training" -- swimming underwater and holding our breath until we passed out. Our coaches didn't call it torture, just an exercise in "mental toughness." So think of it this way -- terror suspects are getting some free mental toughness training courtesy of the U.S. government.

No Rachel, you dumb twit - there's a damn big difference between what a young swimmer contends with and being strapped down to a board and having ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL over what is being DONE TO YOU!

Intelligence saves lives.

Why yes it does. But just how reliable do you think intelligence gathered by physical coercion is, Rachel? Someone being tortured will say whatever they think their captors want to hear - whether it has any grounding in reality is irrelevant.

Now consider the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind who ultimately claimed to have been involved in dozens of terrorist plots. He was found dressed like a slob, naturally, and also apparently in possession of a letter from Osama bin Laden. Think he might have known a thing or two?

I'm not sure how folks who are critical of the CIA's interrogation techniques would suggest eliciting intelligence from guys like this. Perhaps by offering him some tasty snacks and the love and understanding that he lacked as a child?

And why do you think torture is going to get you anything useful? If you get something "useful", you still have to corroborate it through other more reliable sources - so why aren't you using those reliable sources properly in the first place?

The examples of spies like Aldrich Ames in fact underscores my point. Ames was not coerced to provide information to the Soviet Union through force - he was recruited and paid. The information he provided to the Soviets was undoubtedly of a high grade and useful.

Marsden might think that torture is justified because someone is a suspect in a terrorism investigation. Then again, we only have to look at the case of Maher Arar as an example of just how effective torture actually is in extracting information. Or perhaps, she'd like a little sample of CIA-sponsored "swimming lessons" as she so dismissively puts it?

No, Rachel, the ends do not justify the means. Just as the evil that is perpetrated by terrorists is impossible to square with the political goals behind it, descending into acts of evil ourselves is not justified either. Desperate times may beget desperate measures, but you better be goddamn sure it's that desperate before you sink to depths of torturing someone to find out what you think they know.


Anonymous said...

Ms Marsden really should read some of the medieval texts from various church records concerning witchcraft trials. That way she can get a better idea of what she can expect when she goes a round or three of interrogation; of course they didn't use the 'civilized' method of waterboarding then, just brutality, fire, sleep deprivation, the rack,... you get the idea. And the only crime those victims were guilty of were that they were women, had some knowledge and may or may not have spoken up against a man. And if Ms. Marsden were in this situation and were to complain or worse to say she was innocent then she would only prove herself to be guilty, she should instead 'accept her fate' as decreed by her superiors, in the name of God of course.

So, tell me what the difference is between the above scenario and what is happening in Guantanamo?

The only purpose of torture is to break a person, humiliate them. Even if the methods leave no physical scars, the psychological ones are worse; only the victim experiences them but no one else will see them. Any information gained would be suspect and just an excuse for the perps to just add another name to the list of potential victims. Nazi Germany is a prime example, and in the end their methods only added to their list of crimes after the war.

As for 'mental toughness' one volunteers for this 'training' method; one is not just conscripted into the 'team' and then subjected to 'training' for the good of the team and individual. Maybe she should go and 'volunteer' by saying she's an Al Quaeda operative using the western media to subvert the War on Terror. She can then come back and report firsthand on how waterboarding isn't a cruel torture method and enlighten us ignorant grunts on how 'well' treated the prisoners are.


Anonymous said...

There is no point trying to "debate" Rachel Mengele Marsden. She is shat bit crazy, as they say. One is tempted to suggest that Ms Mengele Marsden is down in the gutter, but the only way that could happen is if the sewers backed up. No, the problem with this kind of bilious, "banality of evil" nastiness is the people who PUBLISH her.
Rob Granatstein is his name, comment editor of the Toronto Sun.

Grog said...

I don't particularly want to debate her - I suspect that would be like mud wrestling with a pig.

If a few readers here pick up on the fact that Sun Media publishes the ravings of lunatics, that's a start.

Niles said...

This is a woman who talks approvingly of holding her breath underwater until passing out as apparently part of a positive training. Given her well documented stalking history at university while involved with the swim team, is this erstwhile sport claim even true? What coach doing hypoxic/anoxic training leaves swimmers to go unconcious underwater?

It sounds more like RM's personal oxygen deprivation brain injury, which might explain a lot of her behaviour since the swim team.