Bush’s Tortured Morality

It may seem contradictory to many that President Bush thinks America’s moral standing in the world has not been harmed … Continued

It may seem contradictory to many that President Bush thinks America’s moral standing in the world has not been harmed during his tenure. He believes this despite a widespread practice of torture and systemic civil rights violations of “enemy combatants” during his administration. But if you adopt the President’s definition of morality, the contradiction disappears. President Bush has a very specific notion of what he means by America’s moral standing.

One of the biggest obstacles America faces in confronting the ugly facts of the renditions to “black ops” sites and the practice of waterboarding is the high moral tone that the Bush administration has taken regarding the conduct of our nation’s foreign policy. As Bob Woodward documented in his book, Plan of Attack, President Bush’s particular kind of Christian faith has given him an extremely high degree of moral certainty that the actions he has undertaken to protect the United States from terror are by definition justified. We are fighting the “axis of evil” and so we must be the agents of the good.

President Bush’s rigid moral certainty has left him no room to see the contradictions between torture and goodness. This rigid moral certainty made it possible for this man, who claims to be a serious person of faith, to have as his legacy the sustained and deliberate policy to torture prisoners and to render them to “black ops” sites outside the United States for horrific maltreatment.

The world has a different definition of America’s moral standing. On May 4, 2004, the graphic pictures of prisoners being tortured at the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison raced around the world. What the world saw was the face of the United States, not as the symbol of freedom and democracy, but as a nation turned rogue state like Argentina under its military junta, South Africa under Apartheid, or Germany in the Nazi era.

What has subsequently been determined is that the administration, in the persons of its President, Vice President, and legal counsel, had decided that this country did not have to abide by the terms of the Geneva Conventions. Through a series of confidential legal memos, a spurious line of legal argument was developed to “prove” that the U.S. did not have to follow the Conventions in the case of “enemy combatants.”

Jane Mayer, who, as a journalist and writer for The New Yorker, doggedly pursued these memos and through extensive interviews with principals documented that the torture was, from the beginning, not the work of a ‘few bad apples,’ but administration policy at the highest levels.

Every major world religion and civilized nation condemns torture and forbids it. There were those individuals in this country who struggled against this wholesale gutting of the bedrock of American principles such as Joe Margulies, a lawyer who eventually succeeded in representing Mamdouh Habib. Habib was one of the many who were rendered and tortured without any hard evidence of guilt. Mayer quotes Marguilies in her book The Dark Side . He said, “I got the sense that America had lost its moral bearings.”

But now that the evidence of torture is out, the President and the Vice President are recruiting the practice of torture into their definition of morality. The argument goes like this: Yes, we tortured. There have been no more domestic terror attacks like 9/11. The practice of torture must have worked to keep America safe. Therefore torture is good because it has kept America safe. Of course, that’s a complete logical fallacy. Every student learns that in a basic Humanities course. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. In other words, just because we tortured and no domestic terror attacks followed, that doesn’t prove torture is the cause. Just because you put on your hat this morning and then it rained doesn’t mean putting on your hat caused the rain.

Many experienced military and clandestine services operators also don’t think torture works to get good information and thus keep the nation safer. In fact, some of the clearest condemnation of torture comes from those who have interrogated and who have seen what torture does, and not just to the tortured. Daniel Coleman, an ex-FBI agent who worked closely with the CIA, argued in vain for traditional methods of interrogation including gaining the subject’s trust and affording them due process. The latter was especially effective, argued Coleman. “The lawyer’s show these guys there’s a way out…It’s human nature. People don’t’ cooperate with you unless they have some reason to.” But after 9/11 Coleman saw that everything, including legality, had changed and that whatever they did, including extraordinary brutality, was not only legal, it was alright. Coleman knew differently. “Brutalization doesn’t work. We know that. Besides, you lose your soul.”

President Bush’s definition of what it means for the country to act morally needs to be thoroughly rejected along with the shameful practices of rendition and torture. Candidate Barack Obama promised the country change and the country agreed. One of the biggest things President Obama and the country need to change in the next four years is the definition of what it means for this country to act morally.

  • veroman

    nice article but fwiw, bush et al do not actually have the concept of morality in their worldview imo. as politicians and in order to get thru life they have merely used the ‘speech’ to further their interests. lacking a moral compass is not as rare as we think perhaps. bush et al do what they do and sleep soundly, oblivious to what seems such obvious atrocious treatment of humans. this team has done a super job for ultra wealthy power brokers. ethicds and morality are not on their radar.

  • wyne

    Prof. Thistlethwaite, you said it very well. Now let us expand the horizon a little bit more to include the Taliban and Osama bin Laden corporation. Both of these entities work and execute exactly in the same manner.. they claim to begin with the divine guidance, their supporters then work secretly to put religious justification wrappers around their twisted logic and then they execute feeling comfortable that their approach has divine support…In other words, the entire package becomes a self contained entity where actions are thought of, justified and executed according to a persons own understanding of the divine guidance he/she believes to have received.That said, I can understand this approach coming out of man living in the caves but not from someone who lives in the Whitehouse and that brings me to an interesting conclusion. For Mr. Bush, this belief in faith etc etc was more of a facade to cover whatever he wanted to do and he sucked the entire nation into it – Which ironically is the same approach that Taliban and Osma took and sucked up the entire Islamic population.

  • dj333

    DONMAC1 : I wonder if the Rev would feel the same if she could save New York by waterboarding a terrorist? She of course would go on principle and get millions murdered to save a madman from a little discomfort!Let’s follow your (and Krauthammer’s) reasoning out: if it’s OK to torture a known terrorist to stop a known attack from happening (the “24” situation), is it OK to torture a known terrorist about a suspected plot? How about a suspected terrorist? How about people who, while not “terrorists” themselves, are harboring them? How about those you simply suspect of harboring them? What should your criteria be for suspicion of harboring suspected terrorists who may be plotting to kill Americans? What if your only information is a name – maybe even the ethnic equivalent of “John Smith”? Would that be enough to go on? There is a rendition case that suggests that just that happened to a perfectly law-abiding and innocent Canadian citizen, who was shipped off to Syria to be tortured for the CIA. Is THAT acceptable? If so, how many civilian bystanders are too many? Is there such a thing as “too many” when the safety of a nation is at stake? If not, why not simply arrest and torture random people, under the theory that if we do this enough, the Wrongdoers will get caught in the drag-net?Now, I’m perfectly willing to concede that you have a point on this line you don’t think we should cross, but if that point is subjective, it could find itself moved in the heat of the moment. Remember that we generally know neither who the “terrorists” are, nor if an attack is about to occur, so the “24” case occurs only in fiction. Krauthammer said that if you were willing to accept the first step in the chain, you accepted the whole thing – of course he was defending what Bush had done, and assuming that most people would accept the first step as “moral”, which is simply not the case. If you reject even the first step as immoral, the straight and narrow path remains clear.Morality is difficult – it forces you to avoid actions that seem to make sense in the short run, even if they are ultimately harmful. The Devil will always insist that morality is unaffordable – that if you do not respond right now by any means necessary there won’t BE a “long run” – but true morality requires the strong faith that that Devil is lying.

  • mhoust

    First of all, 99% of the people in Gitmo had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. So they aren’t the 9/11 murderers of Americans. In fact, the ones that actually caused the deaths all died in the attacks.Second, G.W. set the tone and approved the methods. Cheney and his cabal of lawyers came up with all the legalese to let them do it. And various people in the military and the intelligence services carried out the reign of terror on captured prisoners; as well as innocent civilians. There is absolutely no difference betweent their actions and those approved by Adolph Hitler and his band of merry Nazis. They did it for themselves in the name of the Fatherland. Bush, et. al. did it for themselves in the name of the Homeland.I did NOT spend 22 years in the military to support and defend the right of the president and his stooges to engage in torture and suspension of human rights. The Constitution applies to everyone, not just white, anglo-saxon, protestant males in the Republican party with annual incomes of over $250,000.

  • mansour112

    A good article,but what are the consequences. Is the US which claims to be a democracy, is able to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes? If not then one can forget everything about democracy, morality and human rights and in this case the same things most probably shall appear again and again.

  • Paganplace

    ” agolembe You hit it right on the head, there, I think. Bush’s attempts to justify what he’s done in a recent speech were… Well, pathetic. Showed just how removed from sense he always was, I think. Also showed up the arrogance that was always there for anyone to see under his ‘folksy’ manners. If history has anything good to say about him, it’ll be for breaking an untenable system by driving it into the ground* out of sheer greed, self-righteousness, and incompetence. He said he’d run the government like a corporation: this is what he’s done to every corporation he was handed: looted it for the benefit of the rich and oil sheiks… He said he’d be a ‘uniter, not a divider,’ then set about doing the *exact opposite.* I’d like to be there when he exits the White House: with a sign that says, “Nice going. You broke it.” That is, if his Orwellian ‘Free Speech Zones’ aren’t in force. Ah well. I suppose I may be looking back in anger for a while. But as long as it’d be looking *back.* It’s time to look ahead.

  • ptltd1

    Thistlethwaite wrote: ” In other words, just because we tortured and no domestic terror attacks followed, that doesn’t prove torture is the cause. Just because you put on your hat this morning and then it rained doesn’t mean putting on your hat caused the rain.”This is a very poor and unfair analogy. It oversimplifies the nature of trying to prevent terror attacks. It also implies that there is absolutely no connection between the government’s use of torture and national security. This is a bad way to introduce a topic for discussion.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Donmac1 I don’t think you understand the concept of ethics and morality. If, by torturing a single person, you could save millions of people, then that would have to be your choice; that would be your personal, moral delimma, and then deal with the consequences, later. But on the baiss of this imaginary and unlikely scenerio, don’t ask for the legalizaiton of torture.

  • jimarush

    Blaming Bush for all that went wrong during his administration fails to address an important fact. There are many cruel heartless American’s that agree with what Bush did. These neo-cons believe in torture. They believe in the dampening of American values. Don’t forget, many of the allegations of the Bush administrations blatant disregard for human values was known prior to his second election.A majority of Americans agreed with this guy enough to elect him for a second term. The fabric of American was torn far before Bush took office. Bush was just a conduit used to place into action the evilness that the likes of Hannity and Limbaugh have been screeching daily for years.America has become a dark country and I fear that Bush is just the tip of the iceberg of the evilness that is to come from our country. I cry for our country.

  • Paganplace

    Policies of torture, PTL, not to mention all the weaseling and redefining Bush and Cheney did to try and make it sound OK, in a word, dishonored the nation.Torture’s not an effective means of intelligence-gathering. Only of breaking people. And then they aren’t really an intelligence asset anymore, are they? It doesn’t make us safer.

  • kurthunt

    In other words, Bush believes that the ends justify the means. Which is ridiculous, because we never arrive at the “ends”. The world keeps on turning after you’re done torturing.

  • pcpatterson

    Did we really expect anything more from a man whose response to the question of how the WMD intel’s spectacular fallacy impacted his view of whether we should have invaded Iraq was “Yeah. So what?”

  • Tailgate

    I think torture is unethical. What I not sure about is the common sense of sending your “enemies” to countries like Syria, who are also your supposive “enemies”, to be tortured for valuable and secret information. Call me naive, but that just seems stupid.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    President Bush has served us up a big stinking mess, and it is not going away any time soon.God bless President Obama.

  • dgblues

    Normally, when one surrenders accountability for their own actions to a voice in their head, we medicate them so they don’t harm themselves or anyone else.Looking back on the Bush administration must be like like looking back when a seemingly nice individual we all know goes on a shooting spree, all wondering if we could have picked up a hint and intervened in time to stop it.The man is certifiably mad.

  • ethanquern

    I think the author does her own cause injustice by casting too narrow a net. Torture was only one of a myriad of instances in which Bush’s faith lead American down a deep hole.However, in all fairness, it is unjust to single Bush out for this situation as it is endimic to the entirety of Christians to which he subscribes. And the fault is undeniably at the feet of idea that FAITH supercedes ACTIONS. It never matters what you do, but what you believe. As long as you have Jesus in your heart, all else is forgiven.And THAT is the heart of Christian cruelty. A heart that has bled more blood and caused more human inhumanity than any deity in all conscience could allow.

  • johnnybeam

    This article is well nnowritten and further itterates corruption and ill advised practices within our outgoing administration. Please define terror…..having spent my first 23 years in NY, I feel, but still cannot comprehend the extent of the damage terrorists inflicte that day, it is infinite and cannot be undone. Why would any American believe that these people are fighting terror, when they are inflicting more terror in the hearts and homes with their policy, robbing the hard working middle class of tax dollars that they can’t afford and “bailing out” a corrupt economy by putting the money back into the hands of those corrupted. Watch the look in a mother’s eyes when she moves her family out of their fraudulantly financed home into a motel, that is also terror. 700 million dollars could have fixed a lot of homes. Rather than allocate money to help, how about letting Americans keep more of what they earn, oh yeah, then politicians would not get paid.

  • astorg

    Let’s not forget the fact that the U.S. got involved in an illegal and immoral war by invading Iraq in the first place which cost the lives of 1.5 million Iraqis. Most Americans don’t know this. Most Americans seem to be indifferent to this. It’s no wonder Israel is taking a page out of our book and going ahead with it’s invasion of Gaza and slaughtering (by now over a thousand) Palestinians with no care as to what the rest of the world is thinking. Why should they care if we don’t care? If we think we can just do what we want regardless of what the rest of the world thinks. It’s times like this that I hope that the U.S. spends itself into oblivion like all the other superpowers before. After all, how many times have we used our superpower status for the good of humanity? Oh, besides just throwing some money and men at the messes we have made and making an apology or two. We have been a nation of great abuses and we have the gall to cloak behind fake piety.It makes you want to cry if it weren’t so laughably absurd.

  • djmolter

    Anybody else here think that Saddam Hussein’s God was telling him he was doing the right thing, too?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    PaganPlaceYES! Hail to the Dawn. On January 20, 2009, I don’t care what the weather is like; it could be a blizzard with gail force winds, and temps below zero. But no matter what, I know I will look out the window and say, “ain’t it a beautiful day!”

  • lufrank1

    Excellent commentary, Susan. Thanks!

  • EarlC

    Susan has hit the proverbial nail on the head. There is real danger in the thinking of people like Bush and Cheney. This danger is no less real when one considers the future of this great land of ours. You have heard it said that “the end does not justify the means.” So it is with torture. Those who believe that “the end justifies the means” are on a moral low road.

  • Paganplace

    Just so, Earl. When people get over this notion of ‘justifying ends’ …Well, we’ll realize that ends never come, and means is all we are. No good end can come from dishonest means. Even in the names of Gods. People oughtta know that by now.

  • dlgreene

    You are exactly right.

  • DwightHCollins

    President Bush did what he had to do…

  • jeangerard

    Part of the problem of getting rid of torture is that most people are not well enough educated to understand more than the simplest judgments and answers. We are right, they think, and they are wrong. Shades of gray — more or less right, more or less wrong — are too complex and uncertain. It’s too much trouble to look at causes and effects. Therefore history (which is one long record of causes and effects) does not change habitual ignorance and cultures refuse to change old patterns. One answer is: More people must learn to understand causes and effects as rapidly as possible.

  • crewsin

    I get so sick of this liberal chant about torture. What about the 3000 souls who were murdered by these killers? Would any rational human being have objected if a little water up the nose led to the discovery and capture of these murderers. The liberal mind set cannot accept the fact that Muslim fanatics are killers and their aim is to murder so-called infidels. As for Bush and his Christianity I doubt his convictions when he says all roads lead to God. Clearly Jesus Christ did not say that. So one wonders about both his conversion and convictions.

  • WestTexan2008

    Dr. Thistlewaite is again speaking in an area for which she has strong feelings,but little knowledge. This opinion piece, like her one on military chaplains, shows that she writes well on subjects that she hasn’t researched well. Paris Hilton is famous for being famous, Susan Brooks Thistlewaite is an expert at being an expert.

  • WestTexan2008

    Dr. Thistlewaite is again speaking in an area for which she has strong feelings,but little knowledge. This opinion piece, like her one on military chaplains, shows that she writes well on subjects that she hasn’t researched well. Paris Hilton is famous for being famous, Susan Brooks Thistlewaite is an expert at being an expert.

  • DoTheRightThing

    Thistlethwaite wrote, “…a widespread practice of torture and systemic civil rights violations of “enemy combatants” during his administration…” If one begins with false premises, all subsequent natterings are negated. I’d like Thistlethwaite to state her definition of where, in her humble opinion, “discomfort” ends and “torture” begins. I’d also like her to state under what law non-state-related, international enemy combatants have “civil rights.” Thistlethwaite’s “touchy-feely” ethics and morality – rooted in illogic and her personal view of the worldd – are myopic and childish. As such they are a waste of any intelligent person’s time.

  • Paganplace

    Hey, I’m sure that all good Christians who decry the ‘moral relativism’ of not sufficiently hurting queer folks using govenrnment power…..can surely be cut some slack on the ‘grey areas’ of when and how it’s OK to torture helpless human beings… All in the name of Christianity’s superior mercy and forgiveness, of course.

  • infantry11b4faus

    cookies and ice cream is what the left wants for policy with talking with terrorists.

  • outlawtorn103

    infantry11b4faus,So let me get this straight:Our enemies do all of this despicable sh*t and are really really bad people…so you want America to follow in their footsteps and jump on the same path??!!The best way to solve our problems is to drag the American flag thru the sh*t and mud and rip it to shreds??!!You sicken me.Thank god we voted you sick f*ckers out of office. It’s a shame we didn’t do it 4 years ago.

  • garethharris

    One of the greatest weapons America used in the past was a no torture policy instituted by George Washington. Others would more readily surrender to us, knowing the American reputation for fair treatment and that they would not be tortured as was the case with the British, etc.In fact, experienced interrogators will tell you that torture is counter productive in obtaining reliable information. Although the adolescent right needs to fight and swagger to feel big – the reality is that to be successful today we must win hearts and minds of others.Despite hypocrites like W, the reality is that we cannot rule the world. We need some friends. We sold our virtue for nothing.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    WestTexan2008 : I don’t get your point. Presiednt Bush is a dull-witted person in just about every way. Are you saying that any critic of his must be a more intelligent than he is, and a more compentent expert on everything than he is? That doesn’t make any sense. Torture is wrong. It is immoral. It is for no good purpose. It is against all Christian teaching. There is no excuse for it, none. Now we are done with “W” and hopefully soon, with torture, too.

  • whenwilltheworldbebalanced

    Both sides are at the wrong. America, and the militants that are in our prisons. The people that blame Bush’s religion for the torture incident is wrong also. We are acting like little children so when the extremists attack America, we hit back. The UN wants to put us in our own little timeout corners, but we (the world) will never have peace. People hate each other, and it is not just religion. Why do atheist people kill other people? Every can and may kill. We can look at the war between Israel and the Hamas and ask who is right? Israel bombing civilian areas? Or Hamas Militants who have been firing rockets into Israel for years? They are both wrong. We are all wrong.

  • infantry11b4faus

    hey outlaw – you did not read what we do.

  • Flabergasted

    The righties can complain and try to argue how great torture is, but the country and the world have flatly rejected them. They are now the minority and will have to get used to it. Elections have consequences. We learned that the hard way in 2000 and 2004. Now the Bush apologists and those in favor of torture, will also learn that elections have consequences. Their way is over. So they can complain here, in these forums, but that’s just about all they can do. They will see their immoral, illegal methods done away with. It will make them sad…it may make them cry, but the bottom line is “IT’S OVER JOHNNY…OVER!”. The country has finally matured beyond the mentality of “dumb as I wanna be”. It must be hard, because the last 8 years have been pretty dumb, but we’re moving on…with or without the bushies.

  • momj47

    George Bush’s so called morality is nothing more than the arrogance of power, and the tattered reputation of the US demonstrates just how corrupt and immoral Bush has become. The “conversion” that Bush claims to have had is at the root of his immoral behavior. He came into a religion that claims to have God’s ear, and has given him an extremely high degree of moral certainty that the actions he has undertaken are being undertaken on God’s behalf because, he believes, America is a Christian county. I think this moral certainty also shows that Bush had no moral or ethical beliefs before his conversion, so he had no way to intelligently analyze these new truths, he just internalized them, as intolerant, small-minded people are wont to do. This is just what Christianity wants it’s adherents to do. Since he has apparently never seriously considered any other beliefs, he can’t imagine that he could be wrong. After all, they told him this is God’s truth, and he believes it.He believes that any decision he makes is the right decision, because he, George Bush, POTUS, is speaking for God. Most of us believe that torture is wrong, but, since Bush is a “Christian”, and The Decider, he has decided that it isn’t wrong for “Christian” America to torture people who disagree with us. It’s a circular argument so there’s no way he can see beyond his (and Cheney’s) narrow world view. We are all poorer for his decisions.

  • NoahJM

    Thank you CREWSIN, DTRT and ‘infantry’ for providing wonderful examples of the kind of simple-minded bleating fear-driven foolishness that has brought this country to its knees over the last eight years. In both cases your facility with childlike oversimplification and jingoistic double-speak reminds me that Bush may be departing, but his minions unfortunately are not.A few points you might take under consideration:This country is at war with fundamentalist religious extremists who want to destroy our way of life; some are Islamic and some are Christian, but the faith-based (rather than reality-based) worldview is essentially the same.ethicsbob88 has it exactly right, the end of religion is the hope of the world.

  • jbuettner2

    I do not disagree with the condemnation of torture, I just wish that Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite’s version of Christianity was as equally passionate about protecting the rights of the unborn from violent and cruel abortion procedures as much as it is about protecting the rights of those who have commited violent and cruel action against others. Ms. Thistelwaite and her compatriots must deal with their own issues of moral and religious hypocrisy as much as they demand that others do. Some parable about “casting the first stone” seems to come to mind here…

  • jondt1

    This article would have been relevant a year or two ago, but does nothing to advance the discussioPr

  • hrayovac

    There was never anything “faith based” or “religious” about the policies of the fascist cell known as the Bush presidency. The historic use of Christianity as a prop in the National Socialist party in America and Germany of the thirties was a temporary cloak to hide its true goals: a corporate state designed to soak the middle class and accumulate wealth into the hands of the few. To suggest that Bush is a serious, practicing religious man who implemented the teachings of Christ is to completely ignore the meaning of those teachings.

  • chirp1

    I’m very happy to see this important discussion. Such a discussion is necessary to reign in our own extremists and preserve the American way of life and it’s values.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Jbuettner2 Until the Conservative Born-Again Christian Evangelicals and their political Republican allies call off their drum-beat of anti-gay propaganda which seeks to destroy families and ruin lives, you can just shut up about hypocrisy.

  • ravitchn

    Evngelicals believe that they are saved by a one-time decision for Christ. Hence they lack any need in their view for repentence and repair. They are given a carte blanche by their faith to do anything they want and still do to heaven. What folly!

  • infantry11b4faus

    hey rayovac – “facist based” if that were true you would be dead and not be posting here. you know nothing about facists.

  • dz4law

    Dear Ms Thistlethwaite:

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Torture does not produce any valid results. It is more about gratifying sadism and the administation of personal retallliation for alleged crimes.An interest in tortue is a feature of a psychopathic personality. The fact that so many people do not see anything wrong with it, and even support it, is a bad sign.If it is such a great policy, then why don’t we just let the mafia run the government? They are just the psycopaths we are looking for; they have no qualms; they have no conscience; nothing will make them queasy; they have the nerve and grit to carry on.

  • georgepwebster

    Small hearts, smaller minds. Read “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.” Quibble about the details, but the larger picture is true. The USA is responsible for the assassination of elected leaders, toppling of elected governments. We have supported and funded brutal dictators in the oppression of their own people. The citizens of these countries are not so ignorant as the average American of world events. American collective memory may not extend past two Super Bowls,but those we call collateral damage, need only recall the sixty years since WWII, and the depth and breadth of American treachery under the guise of fomenting democracy. If our government had been overthrown, whether through covert funding of opposition parties, or the funding of death squads, or the electronic manipulation of votes; our memories would not be so short.If you don’t believe in the rule of law, or the U.S. Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, you are free to leave, for another country, ruled by religious fundamentalists, or a cadre of colonels, or one of our democratic allies, like Saudi Arabia.Our military excursions are always directed at those “off-white” humans who have the misfortune to live on top of some You are “good Germans” all, committing atrocities for the higher ideal. Americans perhaps, in the worst connotation of the term.Al Quaeda has succeeded. America is destroying itself, by acting contrary to its basic beliefs. George W. Bush will become the first ex-president to drink himself to death, hiding from the brutal truth of his appointed regime.Thank God, the Supremes affirmed the Second Amendment. How else does a Liberal defend himself and his family, against the home-grown fundamentalist terrorists and their fascist home-land flag waving?

  • Grandblvd03

    Thank you for a terrific analysis of Bush’s twisted morality.

  • jbuettner2

    DanielintheLionsDen,Sorry, Daniel, but you are wrong–and perhaps a bit unhinged, too, given your tone. I am not a Christian Evangelical Born-Aaginer. Don’t need to be to know that killing of innocent life is wrong. Nor is it illegitimate to point out that Thistlewaite is a strong abortion-rights advocate and that it seems to contradict her views that the willful inducing of physical and mental pain on human beings, no matter how debased (or innocent!)they are, is wrong. I agree with her point about torture, and I only ask that she reflect on her morally inconsistent views and pronoucements.

  • PQSully

    To infantry11b4faus: I ask you this. If an Islamic fundamentalist–or anyone else for that matter–waterboarded or performed any of the other acts that were performed at Abu Graib on American soldiers, would you think that was acceptable? If your son or daughter was the object of those actions, would you still say that’s not torture? Even though up until now, your own government agreed those actions WERE torture? Are you saying that these methods are only considered torture if the victim is on your side?

  • collacch

    I agree that this is a backward looking rehash of morality and terrorism whose discussion is the usual one.The only point I would like to make is the ingeniousness of positioning an administration which presided over 9-11, (and Katrina and the financial crash) as being so responsive that none of these happened again!I think Ms. Thistlethwaite is so anxious to use the fancy Latin from her logic classes that she takes the head fake and rebuts the claim that since 9-11 did not re-occur, Bush must have got the policy right.For those who were never alcoholics, the functional belief is that an administration has a forward looking duty to prevent such calamities, and the fact that they happened the first time is evidence of failure and widespread incompetence.Hence, the Bush administration presided over more deaths from terrorist acts against the homeland than any other administration in US history, and, therefore, was the least effective in keeping us safe from that type of threat.It’s not and has never been a question of getting it right after the fact.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Infantry11, you said:”they are commanded by the koran not to make friends of jews, christians, hindu’s or anyone else not islamic. that has been their call since 520 ad, and they have not stopped unless they were stopped by force.”But that is just a stereotype, you know, when you take the attributes of a single individual whom you may have encountered, and then project those attributes onto every single person of the group which that person may belong to.I know your statement is not true because I have been friends with Islamic people, and I am not Islamic. You do not have to rely on hearsay to prove or disprove such stereotypes; there are alot of Islamic people in the Untied States; if you would meet some and be friends with them, then you would see. Otherwise, your credibility is pretty nil, on these things which you do not know anything about.Somehow, you need to get some courage and learn to live in the world with other people who are different than you.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Jbuettner2 I am not unhinged. There was nothing wrong with my tone. You dodged my point, entirely.

  • TmH1

    Thistlethwaite wrote, “…a widespread practice of torture and systemic civil rights violations of “enemy combatants” during his administration…” If one begins with false premises, all subsequent natterings are negated. I’d like Thistlethwaite to state her definition of where, in her humble opinion, “discomfort” ends and “torture” begins. So, now religious based citizens will determine definitions of torture and what is or isn’t a false premise. What exactly is she specifically calling “torture”? Stress positions, waterboarding, what? In the future what do the libnuts like her want us to do? Lay a cross in front of Muslim mass murderers and ask them to repent and confess publicly. More liberal nonsense that will handcuff our intel and military communities into uselessness relative to time sensitive intel gathering. BTW – unrelated but what seminary or religion is Thistlethwaite affiliated with? I see no designation and since she apparently supports abortion (a pretty non Christian opinion) I’d like to know what gives her standing to position herself as a judge on the moral standing of anyone…

  • luckytn

    For all of you who are people of the Book, here’s a little something upon which to ponder.

  • Paganplace

    “Al Quaeda has succeeded. America is destroying itself, by acting contrary to its basic beliefs.”I say… No. What that attack proved was how much time and effort it *took* to get Americans to act against our basic beliefs, and how disastrous the results of such are. Some ideologies think less of us than they ever deserved to say. This, I lived. We’re better than the recent BS. Time to make good on it. This is America, too. Slow to wake, but, hopefully, in the end, not such a fool as the neocons and terrorists both liked to believe.There is more to us than this nonsense. Or I would not have been here.

  • codfish_27

    Re:INFANTRY11B4FAUS – Thanks for your posts. Much of what you say makes sense to me, although you would probably call me a lefty – I’d beat your ass!Ha, ha. Anyway, the problem is proportionality. Everything you describe about Islam is about the Islam of desperation. Ever since the beginning of Islam, as long as muslims have had something better to do, there have been long periods of peace and harmony in the world. Jews and Arabs lived side by side in peace before bad actors, bad times and bad solutions were forced on people.The fact of the matter is that torture has not kept us safe. At least there is no proof of this. And our more recent history in the World Wars and in Vietnam show that it is in our military’s best interest to not torture, lest we choose to be tortured ourselves.The professionals know that new methods of interrogation work better than brutality (the traditional method) – but the Bush Administration consists of a large number of bad actors that have set us back enormously.Jesus said love your enemy, not kill him and his family with cluster bombs.We need to be vigilant against terrorism, and in some cases that will mean innocent casualties due to overblown responses. But, that shouldn’t be our policy. We need martyrs on our side, too. So when you ask about the 3,000 dead in New York City, there was a powerful story there that has now been cheapened and robbed of all potential value. There is no story to the 3,000 anymore, because now the number on the other side is like freakin’ 300,000 or more! And we’ve killed and maimed more of our young soldiers than died on that day in 2001. For what? Don’t try to make the argument that we are now better off somehow. Too many dead, too many crippled, too many new enemies, too uncertain is our future.

  • sonny2

    I find it interesting that so many who post in defense of the policies of the Bush administration reflexively use the term “liberal” to describe those of us who oppose Bush administration policies. It’s as if these people are in denial of the fact that huge numbers of moderates and conservatives also stand in opposition to the failed policies of the Bush administration. It’s no coincidence then, that many of these same people defend waterboarding as merely, “making someone uncomfortable,” in clear denial of the fact that waterboarding has been considered torture, and that U.S. military personnel have been convicted of and punished for engaging in waterboarding, as far back as 1901. There are numerous reasons that enlightened societies outlawed torture decades ago. Those who now advocate a return to these old, discredited, and immoral methods are ignorant and backwards; like people from the Dark Ages, recently rescued from a cave somewhere, who give lip service to but have no real understanding of the advances society has made, or of the lessons we’ve learned from the mistakes of the past.

  • bruce18

    I could not even finish your article. I believe that your statement comparing the Abu Ghraib incident to “…nation turned rogue state like Argentina under its military junta, South Africa under Apartheid, or Germany in the Nazi era” is on its face untrue, inflammatory and entirely unchristian. Its journalistic excess and lack of proportionality are appalling to me.

  • analyst72

    According to Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite “Bush has a very specific notion of what he means by America’s moral standing”, and so did Hitler.

  • TmH1

    I’ve searched can’t find anything on her. Perhaps she has a University of Chicago Theology degree??? But what it really says about her is that she is an ubberliberal dressed in mock Theology robes. She is the typical non biblical, neo modern, appease everyone, type. She typically claims Christianity as a banner but then doesn’t support or adhere to the biblical teachings of Christianity. She is a false prophet that the masses will accept because she is all about making everything acceptable – everything that fits her persoanl agenda. Despicable!

  • CCNL

    Maybe Paganplace paused to mutual masturbate with her sweetie while she should have been either putting the hex/curse/spell on Bush?? But hey it all worked out well. She and her sweetie got sexually relieved and GB and our troops kept OBL under a rock in western Pakistan. Lets hope BO is as successful!!! One wonders when Iran the Third Axis of Evil will test his metal with their soon to be built nuclear weapons.

  • arty2

    People who advocate torture know that it would work on them. They would sell out their country to avoid being waterboarded.

  • jbuettner2

    Daniel,No point was dodged. The discussion is torture and Bush’s religious hypocrisy, not gay marriage. Abortion results in physical pain and death through horrible means of chemical burning or physical dismemberment; torture results in physical pain and possibly death, if not outright death, through horrible means. Being opposed to both is Christian and upholding the right to life from conception through natural death without fear or threat of physical harm and reasonable efforts to protect others from these harms logically follows.

  • clamb1

    “Religion has been, and continues to be the greatest source of death and destruction on the plant.If you want to beleive in Jesus, Zeus or Thor or the Sun God or whatever, fine. But “Crossing the line” is imposing or attempting to impose your views on others or making faith-based decisions. -“Crossing the line goes for any ideology, it’s not solely confined to religion. Acts of inspeakable cruelty, death and destruction occur in systems where religion is banned just as much, if not more, then in systems based on religioun. This notion that only religion is the root of all evil is the foley of athiests.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    TmH1, and what is your personal agenda? Only Republicans can be Christian? Stamp out the gays? Everyone who disagrees with the new Right-Wing-Christianity is a lefty-liberal?I will tell you what is “despicable;” YOUR hypocrisy!

  • coloradodog

    Thank God America finally woke up and didn’t continue to support the unprecedented executive power grab of Cheney, Bush and their delusional, intolerant “Orthodox Christian” ilk.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Jbuettner2 The subject is torture, not abortion. Your insistence on widening it to abortion and comparing tortue to abortion minimizes the discussion of torture.I brought up the subject of gay marriage, just as you brought up the subject of sbortion. You have continued to dodge my point; it is transparently clear why. Therefore, I don’t suppose there is any further point to this.

  • coloradodog

    Notice how evangelicals and neocons can only call people name like “liberals” or “unchristian” Their mentality is to stereotype or label anyone or anything they disagree with into one of their “bad” categories. This is the mentality of the Nazis and the “religious” right as well.Examples:”liberal chant about torture””‘touchy-feely’ ethics and morality””cookies and ice cream is what the left wants””she is an ubberliberal dressed in mock Theology robes. She is the typical non biblical, neo modern, appease everyone, type”These are from Lltle small-minded parrots who can’t think of anything else to say other than to call people names. A sad, disgusting legacy of Cheney’s Jesuslandia that once was America.

  • dnfree

    Coloradodog, please don’t confuse “Orthodox Christians” with the religious right. Orthodox Christians trace their origins to the beginning of Christianity, before the pope and Catholics split with them. You know them mostly as Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc. They are far from liberal, but they don’t believe the same things as the religious right.

  • donmac1

    I guess a little water up the nose is torture. So is getting tickled! Ban tickleing!! I wonder what Obama will do if he captures Bin Laden? Maybe a stern talking to with a little cousleing will work? There wont be a GITMO so maybe the Lincoln bedroom would work?

  • ans15

    My daughter and her husband voted for George W Bush in 2004. She knew at the time my extremely negative feelings about the man and his policies. After the election I talked to her on the phone and she told me how they had voted, largely based on their reaction to the events of 9/11 and their feeling that President Bush would be the better person to keep the country safe. I remember telling her at the time that at the end of his term it could well turn out that the President had done more to damage the nation than the terrorists.

  • kengelhart

    As Dawkins and others have pointed out, our morals do not come from religion. They come from a much more collective world view that may be called zeitgeist. Any claim that one’s morals come from religion must be to avoid accountability to the larger society for one’s actions. This would mean that any attempt to attribute one’s morals to one’s religion would be an immoral act.

  • roysecondchance

    Congratulations to the Professor for summarising what all America’s disappointed- most would say appalled- worldwide friends have felt, in watching America’s descent into the human rights abuse sewer under Bush.Torquemada was also convinced he was doing “God’s” work and protecting The State at the same time.He also could slep soundly at night.America, the colussus, that saved the civilised world in two world wars and protected us all against the Russian menace until it failed and melted away-has sunk so low under Bush and the neocons.It will be many years before America regains it’s moral standing within the world.Obama is a great start!The Professor

  • geronimog

    TmH1 though you probably can’t deal with it, but you are WRONG!. It is people like George Bush, who just like Hitler did, claim to be Christian and “don’t adhere to the biblical teachings of Christianity”. They are the despicable hypocrites and false prophets that you talk about. Jesus message is and always will be about love, forgiveness, and serving others. In fact he mandated that we love and pray for our enemies. Show me where Jesus taught to invade other countries, brutalize and torture other human beings, and/or violate ethics and laws. If you can’t understand the difference, then don’t call yourself a Christian… you give true believers a bad name.

  • samantas

    I respect those who discuss about water-boarding and morality. That diverts attention from the math that the terrorist OBL made a decision and less than 20 of his men and less than 3000 foreigners died. No dog was reportedly hurt. President of the free world made a decision about 5000 of his own people (including allied nations’) and a couple of hundred thousand foreigners died. It is not reported but difficult to imagine no dog was killed or hurt in shock and awe and other aerial bombing campaigns.Who is a terrorist? Certainly OBL. Who is a moral person? Not sure if it is the President!

  • obx2004

    “I see no designation and since she apparently supports abortion (a pretty non Christian opinion) I’d like to know what gives her standing to position herself as a judge on the moral standing of anyone…”Apparently, the same standing radical Christians use to inflict their opinions and judgments on everyone else. She’s entitled to write her opinions on matters involving morality without having to be affiliated with a religious sect. We do not live in a theocracy.

  • robfield

    Right on Ciambi. Couldn’t agree more.

  • dj333

    Conservatives like to see themselves as representing strength, but these practices – and their defense – come entirely from weakness, both a moral weakness (ie, acting from fear), and from operational weakness.Case in point: the VP justified the waterboarding of KSM because it provided us with over 50% of our intelligence about al Qeada. What he is actually saying is that at least half of what our government is convinced it knows about this group is of questionable value, as we have no second source to back it up with. The so-called “American Taliban” went from conversion to Islam to sitting in on OBL’s in-person lectures in less than four years, so why couldn’t we get our own people in there? In other words, our reliance on torture is a direct result of our operational weakness.Strong people are moral actors – they have faith that Right Action will eventually lead to Right Results. They never argue that the ends justify the means, if only because they understand that the means shape the ends. America needs to reject the politics of Fear, and to reject fearful politicians. Fortunately, we have started to do just that. In this regard, it was good to hear Obama echo FDR’s spirit. FDR’s moral bravery was manifest in insisting that the dangers of the world were fully within our power to overcome, rather than trying to point out at every turn how scary the world was, and how “brave” he must therefore be to stand up to it. He wasn’t a saint, but he left the world a better place than he found it: I don’t think the same can be said for the current crop of incompetent cowards.

  • Chagasman

    Bush and Cheney and their minions are completely and utterly immoral creatures without conscience, untroubled by any human feelings. Let us pray that they are condemned to the seventh level of hell for all time.

  • Chaotician

    Let’s accept a basic fact: Religion has as a deliberate or perhaps accidental effect of giving its members a self-selecting organization that is essentially a tribe. These tribes then exclude everyone not in their particular “cult” as other; and then allow its members to treat these others as less than human…which leads to inhumane acts of barbaric destruction including murder, rape, genocide, slavery, and other debauchery! History is largely made from the “charismatic” leaders using their cult as a springboard to tribal barbarism, from the 100 year wars of Europe, the inquisition, the crusades, third Reich, caliphates, etc.. Of course you have the current examples of George’s Christian crusades and the abomination of the Zionist genocidal actions in Palestine. The latter is a very evil combination of Religious, Nationalism, and Heritage tribalism that creates an entity inherently incapable of any coexistance as by definition their is no identification with anyone but themselves….everyone and everything is other, the enemy! Hence the endless barnaric atrocities which can never create safety or comfort!

  • agolembe

    It is my personal opinion that Prosperity Christianity along with a Calvanistic tradition is responsible for this flood of self-righteous ideological individuals who never question their own actions.We have a version of Christianity that teaches us that if you ask God you will be successful. Have faith and you will be wealthy. Believe and all you desire will come to you. In other words, wealth and prosperity are proof of God’s blessing and grace. Ann Coulter shared with us that Christians do not have to follow laws because they, unlike Jews and probably everyone else, are perfected and have the “FedEx” religion. Express delivery to heaven.Put them together and you have an ideology that says that wealth is proof God favors you or your country. Since we have the FedEx Christianity and are perfect, we can do whatever we like to attain the wealth that is proof of God’s grace. We can torture, we can lie, we can invade, we can cheat, we can label “them” as evil and us as good, we can conspicuously consume, we can destroy our environment, we can do it all and are still graced and perfected as proved by our successful invasion of Iraq and our great wealth. George W. Bush has done nothing to consider a mistake because he is perfect. He is successful and wealthy and the beneficiary of God’s grace. How can he be wrong? Why should he be remorseful or introspective? He has that old-timey FedEx religion in his heart. American Prosperity Christianity teaches might over right because winning proves God loves you.

  • Chaotician

    I would like to challange the notion of abortion being non christian! What possible Christian teaching leads you to that conclusion?Your God does not let a single sparrow fall without his permission! Your God has more than once killed the first born of nations for some petty spite! Your God lets millions die every year before birth, millions more before that are one year of age, and millions more from starvation, disease, and murder. Many more millions are aborted, with your God’s awareness? Millions are killed in wars in his name! Your God killed everything not sequestered in Noah’s Ark, destoyed cities because of petty concerns that no one properly worshiped his majesty, his Jewish testament is an endless tale of debauchery, incest, murder, genocide, slavery in his name!This God has an opinion about abortion?

  • chatard

    This idiot doesn’t have the foggiest notion about anything she is writing about. She is “widespread”edly and “horrifically” ignorant and uninformed. Chicago Theological Seminary, Center for American Progress and sixties radical chic “I make it MY business to be the arbiter of YOUR morality” juvenile refusing to grow up fake REVEREND.

  • patmatthews

    George W. Bush is an obvious example of religious beliefs not conforming to acceptable ethical behavior, indicating religious beliefs do not control moral directions. When a “good” person does “Bad’ things they are a bad person, period!George W. Bush authorized torture, easedropping on American’s without warrants, signing statements, etc, that all indicate an individual without a moral compas working.yes our moral position in the world is at question as we do not torture majority people just minority people, a form of institutional racism.Patrick

  • CCNL

    Paganplace, Paganplace, Paganplace,No one said you and your sweetie did not have the civil right to mutually masterbate. Enjoy this ritual in all its yuckiness!!!

  • marcedward1

    Minor points for those of you who support tortureSo keep up with your irrational, emotionally based, anti-American arguments for torturing innocent people – it reveals a lot about your character you’d otherwise want hidden.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Torture is a tool of sniveling cowards. That is EXACTLY what Bush and Cheney are: snivelning cowards. And the rest of his supporters, too. What about courage? Doesn’t that count for anything?

  • writinron

    chadwick 1776: “Just what will you Liberals do when he is gone and there’s no one left to excoriate?”celebrate!

  • eric_andresen

    Bully for you PaganPlace…let me see, rational thought and logic the invention of pagans, democracy the invention of pagans, knowing the beauty of THIS Earth the hope of pagans…every thing good in mankind was the realization of pagans. I am getting real sick tired of these paternalistic religions. These Christians are so GOOD at torture, don’t ya think?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    You can always count on convicted felons and politicions to be suddenly “born again” and converted to “Christ.”

  • SpanishInquisitor

    “A little torture vs. stopping more of the following:…”{snip list of terrorist accomplishments}CCNLDid you actually read the original article? Did you miss this, for instance:?”The argument goes like this: Yes, we tortured. There have been no more domestic terror attacks like 9/11. The practice of torture must have worked to keep America safe. Therefore torture is good because it has kept America safe. Of course, that’s a complete logical fallacy. Every student learns that in a basic Humanities course. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. In other words, just because we tortured and no domestic terror attacks followed, that doesn’t prove torture is the cause. Just because you put on your hat this morning and then it rained doesn’t mean putting on your hat caused the rain.”And perhaps you could define “a little torture”. Exactly where’s the line between a little torture and a lot of torture? Does the torturee have a say in what is an acceptable amount of torture? And how do you show the causation between the torture and the lack of terrorism?I must say, your dichotomy seems a bit cruel.

  • FH123

    marcedward1 wrote: This is a joke…it’s like belief in Santa…if it didn’t work, we would not be having this discussion because nobody would use it. Well, nobody but the terrorists…they like to do it because they think it’s fun before they lop off your head with a rusty knife.”2) Torture is illegal under international law and our own laws in the USA, including in our constitution. If you support torture, you are anti-American, period.”When I was in basic training someone snuck a pizza in the barracks, so the DI made us go in the PT pit in our undies in January…we low-crawled around for about 30 – 60 minutes before we could go back to sleep that night. uncofortable…yes…torture…no.3) Many of the people we have taken into custody are 100% innocent – not ‘jihadists’ in any way. If you are for torture, you are for torturing innocent people.First…nobody is 100% innocent…secondly…you are certain of their innocence because…maybe they just like hanging out by the terrorist training ground with an AK-47 because its hip. “4) It doesn’t matter how ‘nice’ a prion is if you are being held illegally without charge or legal representation. If GITMO were so ‘nice’ why would 30+ men have to be forcefed (which is also torture) to keep them from starving themselves to death?”If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. They don’t like being held by Americans…they would rather be killing us. I was not aware that “prison” was supposed to be a “nice place”.I’m not sure where religion has any relevance to this discussion. As a leader you make decisions…you need info…you ask the intelligence community to get it for you…they ask how far do we go…you say, as far as you need to to get the information. If torture does not work, don’t use it. If aggressive tactics work, do what is necassary.If Obama wants to restrain the intelligence community, he will have to live with the consequences…be they good or bad. I’m not sure what the religious component is in this discussion.

  • jasinvermont

    Not only is the theology of Bushology immoral, but it’s also illogical. It falls within the certainty of “whatever I say and think to be right, is right.” This view is not unlike Bush’s reported childishness of changing of the rules in sporting competition so that he can win, similar to the way Bill Clinton keeps track of his golf strokes. Certainly, morals and scruples are better off seen separate from politics and geopolitical strategy since the ends of the latter are rarely consistent with the humanity of the former. Perhaps, those who lecture on this subject have too much faith in the morality of Americans in general. Many Americans, perhaps nearly half, have no problem with the torture of “terrorists,” and most of that half are religious in the form and manner of George Bush. Indeed, the greater the faith in the divine word, whatever the religion, the greater the capacity to be inhumane to non-believers. The better argument, as made by the Professor, is to forget the debate about morals and focus on the fact that torture does not work. Fortunately, Barack Obama knows that investigating the illegality and immorality of the Bush regime is divisive given the support that the lumpenreligionteriat has for smiting its enemies to save the homeland. Why go there if it’s going to prevent any form of non-partisan progress on things like health care, decent jobs with real wages, regulatory reform and tax fairness? There’s probably a link between a society’s willingness to attach electrodes to testicles and its general feeling of well being, which is more material than spiritual, notwithstanding your best efforts.Good thing Thistlethwaite is in academia and expressing beliefs on paper and through the internet because it would be considered un-American in many communities and churches.

  • digby2

    Bush and Cheney thought no one would notice their spurious logic.

  • youngj1

    Ms. Thistlethwaite while we don’t always agree I do look forward to your writing and this piece is no different. I have a bit of different perspective on this; President Bush’s morality is no different than that of many other presidents and government officials over the lasts two plus centuries of the republic. Thomas Jefferson wrote so eloquently of the freedoms of man as he oversaw his slaves tending his plantation. Woodrow Wilson championed the League of Nations and the basic human rights of all people as he presided over Jim Crow, lynching and the KKK. And let us not forget all of those patriotic, pious upstanding men who enacted laws to rob the Natives of this land of their culture, their land and lives if need be all in the name of God and country – Manifest destiny.

  • WestTexan2008

    Reply to DanielintheLionsDen:He stated: “I don’t get your point.”My point is threefold.

  • zamani1

    Yes, he deserves the pair of shoes thrown at him in Bsghdad.

  • timm3

    I agree with and appreciate Rev. Thistlethwaite’s analysis of the effects of Bush’s rigid Christian moral code where the justification of torture is concerned. It would be very interesting to me to see a more detailed analysis of the moral code itself. It sounds a lot like what, in my tradition, is sometimes called Jesuitical casuistry, which would make a lot less simpleminded than Bush is often seen as being.

  • FH123

    “It’s considered ineffective because it provides much more false information than reliable information.”Nonsense…you are really like a child, aren’t you. First, you are not an intelligence expert, so you don’t know. Second, again, an intelligence expert is not going to use a technique that does not work, so your argument creates some bizarre circular reasoning. Either it works, but you don’t think it should be used because you want to place moral constraints on our intelligence services, or it does not work, so it would be a bafoonish intelligence expert who continues to use it. You want to have it both ways, but that’s not really possible, is it.”I don’t think there is a single instance where torture has prevented one terrorist attack, but feel free to show that it has.”That would have been done by covert ops, who generally try and stay out of the limelight. Also, not too many news stories about attacks that “didn’t happen”. “Your answer has nothing to do with the assertion. Torture is illegal, and if you don’t like the idea of ‘rule of law’ feel free to move to Liberia.”The abuse that is documented in the paper is no worse than basic training or a frat-boy would go through…it’s not torture.”Many people were sent to GITMO because they were ‘turned in’ by people looking for ‘rewards for terrorists’. As you are pretty ignorant about the recent history of our country, maybe you ought to not post.”Speaking of documentation…why don’t you provide some. As for not posting…you’re not the boss of me…child.

  • whocares666

    George Walker Bush’s moral standing should be tested during his trial and his faith relied upon upon during his service in Fort Leavenworth.

  • Arminius

    FH123 -So torture is effective, huh? Damned funny, then, that several FBI agents, including the director, Mueller, have testified against it. So the FBI is a bunch of weenies, huh? If you believe that, and believe torture is useful, well, then, that is great, because boy do I have a deal for you on beach front property in Nebraska.

  • geo1671

    FYI: CREWSIN,no Arabs did 911 attacks.You silly fool. Inside Job :^(Now let me get this straight–Cop pulls you over and suspects you of a minor crime and on the spot pistol wipes you several times across your face and knees you in the groan,until you talk. I guess to many obtuse Americans that is just A.O.K when the CIA/military does it.

  • marquesa1793

    Whatever moral certainty he displays [none really] it is always frought with his utterly sickening persona for which no words in the lexicon serve to describe my revulsion.”Please help me” mocked the psychopath as Governor of, where else but Texas, whilst mocking the upcoming execution of Karla Faye Tucker.

  • hyjanks

    Perhaps–no, make that I’m certain–Bush and Cheney’s “moral” code comes from the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus. You know, that version of the Bible that most Christians tend to treat like a crazy uncle in the attic that they want to keep sequestered from the general public.

  • hyjanks

    Perhaps–no, make that I’m certain–Bush and Cheney’s “moral” code comes from the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus. You know, that version of the Bible that most Christians tend to treat like a crazy uncle in the attic that they want to keep sequestered from the general public.

  • hyjanks

    Perhaps–no, make that I’m certain–Bush and Cheney’s “moral” code comes from the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus. You know, that version of the Bible that most Christians tend to treat like a crazy uncle in the attic that they want to keep sequestered from the general public.

  • djmolter

    A lot of “what ifs” here:Speculate all you want, but we have to deal with the facts. No one knows what would have happened in any of these cases because, um, we didn’t make those decisions. Are we safer now than on 9/10 because of Bush policies? What if we’re not?

  • chadwick1776

    It is sad to see such an article included in the “Faith” section of the Post when it would be more appropriate in the Op-Ed section as an attack on President Bush. Just what will you Liberals do when he is gone and there’s no one left to excoriate?As for this essay, there are too many holes to address in this space.”Every major world religion and civilized nation condemns torture and forbids it.” Really? What’s the basis for such an outlandish ignorant statement other than to prop up your argument? Do Chinese group executions in public venues count as torture? Or China’s Laogai prisons where over 10 million political prisoners are torured and rot to death? Or Saudi beheadings and the chopping off of limbs? Or North Korea’s Death Camps? Or the infamous torture chambers of Morocco’s prisons? Have you read the State Department’s annual human rights reports lately? Of course not, facts would undermine your leftist scree against President Bush. Or, I guess these are not “civilized” countries. And I guess the Saudi role as the spiritual leader of Islam should be ignored. Or maybe, to fit your argument, Islam is not a “major world religion.””Evidence of torture is out.” Really? Where? All that has been presented in today’s Post and elsewhere in the leftist press is a rehash of known opinions from the last several years. Certainly there are opinions that clash concerning what exactly torture is, and whether the U.S., as a matter of policy, committed it. But again, old news, old arguments unresolved.Next time please don’t pepper your essay with such drivel and try to adhere to an intellectually honest approach to the subject.

  • mharwick

    It is in the nature of these Jihadist fanatics to kill anyone not part of their group and even those who are. We could be much smarter on how we interrogate these people. The definitions of what constitutes torture are vague and one judge may see it differently from another. Those who have to deal with the jihadist butchers may overstep in their zeal to protect America. Better a tortured jihadist then another 9/11 or worse.

  • hyjanks

    Perhaps–no, make that I’m certain–Bush and Cheney’s “moral” code comes from the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus. You know, that version of the Bible that most Christians tend to treat like a crazy uncle in the attic that they want to keep sequestered from the general public.

  • chopin224

    All of you GOP fascists who despite proclaiming to be patriots but never served in the military should realize that someone being tortured will say anything to stop it. I doubt any useful information was ever gained by torture. Even if it did, it means that everything we grew up believing about how noble the allies were in WWII turns out to be BS. To quote Walt Kelly’s Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

  • PQSully

    I’d like to reiterate my earlier comment: If an Islamic fundamentalist–or anyone else for that matter–waterboarded or performed any of the other acts that were performed at Abu Graib on American soldiers, would you call that torture? If your son or daughter was the object of those actions, would you call THAT torture? Even though up until now, your own government agreed those actions WERE torture? Are you saying that these methods are only considered torture if the victim shares YOUR beliefs?

  • SpanishInquisitor

    What I find obvious is the ability of people with a religious mindset to be able to rationalize anything, usually through the use of very common logical fallacies. Religion itself, based on faith and not logic, is a wonderful starting point for people to engage in rationalization. The ends then justify the means. If you can read the Bible, and somehow convince yourself that the God of the Bible, the spiteful, jealous, demanding, genocidal god, is at the same time omni-beneficent, then you can convince yourself that torture is moral. Take the religious mindset away from the equation, and morality is exactly what Thistlethwaite says it is. She claims that “Every major world religion and civilized nation condemns torture and forbids it.” But ask yourself why that is. Is it because god given morality demands it, or because the originators of those religions, and the writers of those scriptures, figured out that torture was bad, and added it to their religions? I say it’s the latter, and that your can take religion out of the argument, and still have a perfectly viable, supportable argument against torture.

  • CCNL

    Hey, Muslims live and die for a little torture. And if they squeal they go to hell but first their squealing is checked out. Then and only then does the imam make out the ticket for hell. Then there is the degree of interrogation and what constitutes torture. Some might say sleep deprivation is torture. For those US troops out there whose basic training included escape and evasion courses, sleep deprivation was the part of their training. Even some forms of water boarding were/are used/threatened. Got to see a number of new second lieutenants break just from the threat. Would you approve water boarding for OBL?? Of course you would!!!

  • PQSully

    “I’d like to reiterate my earlier comment: If an Islamic fundamentalist–or anyone else for that matter–waterboarded or performed any of the other acts that were performed at Abu Graib on American soldiers, would you call that torture? If your son or daughter was the object of those actions, would you call THAT torture? Even though up until now, your own government agreed those actions WERE torture? Are you saying that these methods are only considered torture if the victim shares YOUR beliefs? “And to add to my previous comment, what about holding citizens of this or any other country in secret custody, with no charges, no access to a lawyer, no access to family, and secret trials? Is that okay if the prisoner is a U.S. citizen in an enemy country?

  • zenwriter

    From today’s Washington Post:“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.That’s why many decent Americans and legal scholars consider Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice to be war criminals. That’s why when Bush says he never compromised his principles as president, you have to wonder about his connection to reality.That he has consistently lied, to the American people and perhaps to himself, that “we do not torture,” will be an enduring legacy of his administration.

  • Paganplace

    I’m a big believer in democracy, but is there any possibilty we could arrange some kind of aptitude test where people would have to ne able to distinguish their United States citizenship from their own penis, if applicable, before voting?

  • route7192
  • Paganplace

    Seriously, Concerned Christian: If you believe in a God that watches you wank, that’s your business. I’d feel better as a citizen of our great Republic if you kep that to yourself, though. Particularly when it comes to my civil rights.

  • samsingleton

    Again Brother Sam finds nothing so flexible, so relative, as the moral absolutism of believers. An exception, custom crafted on the spot to suit the terrain, is always within easy reach anytime the ground between right and wrong becomes too uneven to negotiate with certainty.

  • FH123

    “Arminius Wrote: I am not for torture, I am for success. I think we should use whatever method available to gain the best intelligence possible for our leaders. Continuing to use a method that does not produce results is not immoral, it’s incompetent. I said: Second, again, an intelligence expert is not going to use a technique that does not work’marcedward1 wrote: “They will if ordered to by nitwits.”So the admin. ordered intelligence officers to use a method that clearly provides no benefit, because they are just mean and nasty people…huh? Do you expect to be taken seriously???

  • Arminius

    FH123,So, then, you think the FBI agents are dumba**es at interrogation? I repeat my great deal for beachfront property in Nebraska.The FBI folks made two points: one, torture is most probably illegal; and two, it doesn’t work. There are methods that do work well, which the FBI uses, all of them humane and legal. So when are you joining the CIA?

  • FH123

    “Arminius : So, then, you think the FBI agents are dumba**es at interrogation? I repeat my great deal for beachfront property in Nebraska.”Again, I want interrogations that produce results. If torture or the threat of torture do not work, I would not use them. I mean either you get information or you don’t…it’s pretty simple. If the more covert arm of our intelligence service is using a method that is not working, obviously you need to change the method. Your argument, as best as I can understand it, is that we are using a technique that never produces actionable intelligence, and that we should therefore change our approach. My question to you is: do you think the members of the CIA and other counter-terrorist orgs. in our country are morons? Do you think that they continually use methods that have been adapted over the last 50 years that never produce results, and do you then think that they continue to be employed in the industry of counter-intelligence?

  • CCNL

    Speaking from experience which apparently not many of you have:Then there is the degree of interrogation and what constitutes torture. Some might say sleep deprivation is torture. For those current and former US troops out there (like myself) whose training included escape and evasion courses, sleep deprivation was the part of their/my training. Even some forms of water boarding were/are used/threatened. Got to see a number of new second lieutenants break just from the threat. And again would you approve water boarding for OBL?? Of course you would!!!

  • Arminius

    FH123,Perhaps you should take some remedial reading lessons, or maybe you are just dumb as a post. Which part of ‘TORTURE DOES NOT WORK’ don’t you understand? Or does the idea of torture somehow appeal to you, even if you will not admit it?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    People who engage in torture, or who even entertain its use, are seriously disturbed psycopathic freaks. And people who actually administer the torture are, in my opinion, permenantly damaged, and can never really be expected to adjust to civillian life in normal society.Whatever happened to courage? Why must we sink to the level of reptiles to defend our hmanity? The main people who seem to like torture are the very religious people and Conservative Christians. Don’t they have even an ounce of courae from their religius beliefs? If not, shouldn’t they review their religious beliefs, to see what is wrong, and why they are so afraid, and so lacking in courage?

  • FH123

    “ArminiusDo you think if you keep saying it…it’s gonna come true…there’s no place like home…torture does not work.If it does not work…covert ops won’t use it. If it does…even you can figure out the rest.