Crossing Protective Lines

During President George W. Bush’s time in office, Mark Shea was perhaps the blogosphere’s leading politically conservative Roman Catholic speaking out against enhanced interrogation and other practices. Frankly, I ceased my daily visits to his site because he drew a stark line across which he saw questionable intentions and evil rhetoric, and even a desire to discuss whether the disagreement was more a matter of degree and interpretation quickly led to a commenter’s association with some of the worst regimes in the world’s history. In religious, military, and civic terms, there’s a great deal of intellectual meat to be found in the torture debates, and it’s difficult to get at it when even its pursuit is purported to reveal a desire to torture for fun.
That assessment is why I’m not as enthusiastic as I might otherwise have been now that Mark has turned the same weapons on the Obama administration, in reaction to its authorization of the CIA to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen:

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords of these United States no longer requires things like trials, sentences, the rule of law or all that other crap that slows things down with stuff like “arrests” and “gathering evidence” and “actually knowing whether the intended victim is guilty of something”. If the President thinks you are guilty or wills you to be guilty of somehow being a threat to the US in the Great and Unending War on Terror, that’s all it takes: you, an American citizen, can now be murdered in cold blood by the state. Of course, the Lord Most High Who Dwelleth in DC naturally assures us that this power to… what’s the word? murder… will only be used against The Really Bad Guys and you can take that to the bank. I mean, since *when* has a man with unchecked and unquestioned power to kill anybody he likes without trial or appeal and with the full cooperation of a supine media *ever* misused such power? And surely, no future President will ever allow such power to be corrupted as a tool for terrorizing his enemies and accruing despotic power for himself. Just as Bush’s accrual of power for the Executive is not being misused by Obama, so no future President will misuse the brand new Presidential Power to Murder People He’s Pretty Sure are Guilty of Threats Against National Security. All is well.

Judging by their public statements, just about all supporters of enhanced interrogation not only saw distinctions for American citizens, but also kept techniques that caused permanent physical damage well beyond the unapproachable line of illegal and immoral torture. Clearly assassination represents a shift not just of degree, but of kind, inasmuch as death must be treated as pretty decisively permanent physical damage for the purposes of a secular government.

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BobN
BobN
11 years ago

When will these moral relativists learn that the world is not all rainbows and unicorns, and that it takes real force to defend ourselves from aggressive, violent enemies?
Awlaki lost his claim to citizenship rights when he became a traitor and joined al-Qaeda to wage terrorist war against his former country. He is now based in Yemen and has mentored several terrorists who attacked Americans, including Nidal Hasan(BTW, why is he still alive?) and the knicker-bomber.
And the libs who take the side of these guys don’t understand why they are described as “anti-American”?

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

When is it going to be realized that we are at war. Let me select an example where few would defend the “victim”. If Roosevelt had an opportunity to assassinate Hitler, would he have been cheered for forbearance?
I do not see where Awlaki’s former allegiance to the United States bears on the issue.
“Enhanced interrogation” seems to comprehensible because it involves small numbers. While we “regret” Hiroshima in retrospect, little is heard of the “firebombing of Dresden” with equal civilan casualties. Could it be that Dresden does not represent “racial conflict”?

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

“Judging by their public statements, just about all supporters of enhanced interrogation not only saw distinctions for American citizens, but also kept techniques that caused permanent physical damage well beyond the unapproachable line of illegal and immoral torture.”
Judging by BobN’s, when will “moral relativists learn that the world is not all rainbows and unicorns, and that it takes real force to defend ourselves from aggressive, violent enemies?” and Warrington Faust’s “When is it going to be realized that we are at war. Let me select an example where few would defend the “victim”. If Roosevelt had an opportunity to assassinate Hitler, would he have been cheered for forbearance?” I would say that the two, along with the author of this thread are the moral relativists.
These two would seem to cheer on President Obama’s fatwa against a U.S. citizen, joining Holy Warriors – “Christian” or “Muslim” everywhere in condoning what they consider justifiable preemptive murder of a vicious, unfeeling enemy.
Personally, I opposed Bush’s running rough shod over the constitution, and I oppose Obama doing the same. Who’s the moral relativist here?
What’s the point, that Obama’s doing something that you three approve of and that it brings to question the idea that he is too soft and incapable of exercising the cruelty you demand from our chief executive in “a time of war”?
If Obama acts one way he’s Mr. Softee, if he acts the opposite it reveals his plans for a ruthless overthrow of our government by a heartless socialist/communist. Sounds Pharisaical to me.
OldTimeLefty

michael
michael
11 years ago

I nearly puked when they hanged Saddam and our “leftist” media cheered the act while the American people were supposed to rejoice.
It was a barbaric, absurd act, just like when we killed his sons and posted their dead faces everywhere.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Wake me up when we’re at real risk of being invaded.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Michael writes:
“I nearly puked when they hanged Saddam and our “leftist” media cheered the act while the American people were supposed to rejoice.
It was a barbaric, absurd act, just like when we killed his sons and posted their dead faces everywhere.”
Moral relativisim I suppose. We hung a lot of them after the Nuremberg trials (I admit that they were to justice what military music is to music) and no one complained.
As to torture, my ideas are not fully formed. However, I do suspect some difference between a “fanatic” and a captured professional, or simply patriotic and perhaps drafted, soldier. It is difficult to think clearly. For instance, the Japanese tortured our soldiers almost without limit, even having beheading contests to pass the time. Should they be forgiven because we later used a “weapon of mass destruction” on them? Or, does that behavior justify a “weapon of mass destruction”.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Posted by Dan at April 11, 2010 3:53 PM
“Wake me up when we’re at real risk of being invaded.”
Well Dan, time for a little clarification of terms. “real risk of being invaded”? Wasn’t 9/11 enough for you? Would more of those suffice? Do you require actual “boots on the ground”? Would, lets say, 10 suitcase bombs per day qualify? How much “projection of force” do you require? Would “stand off bombardment” ever qualify in your mind?

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Posted by pharmacy tech at April 11, 2010 10:14 PM
My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!
Welcome aboard. As you can see this is a primarily “right wing” blog in the sense that we want to hold the government to its “enummerated powers”. “Left wing” posts are accepted but we request that they be cogently stated and not simply “screeds” peppered with “buzz words” and finger pointing at George Bush.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Warrington, that was a “spam-wing” comment. Moral relativism I suppose.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

Thanks, Warrington! We’re putting you in charge of the Welcoming Committee.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Posted by michael at April 12, 2010 12:29 AM
Warrington, that was a “spam-wing” comment. Moral relativism I suppose.
You’re right of course, I should have noticed the link in the signature. Sometimes I am unable to control the impetuosity of my thoughts.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I frankly didn’t care one bit about the hanging of Saddam Hussein.he had a trial by Iraqi standards-the ACLU doesn’t carry weight there.
This man had thousands of people gassed to death;he also had untold numbers killed by other means.Can’t lose sleep over his death.
His sons were animalistic sadists who tortured and killed people for fun.
They resisted arrest by opening fire on US troops.What’s the problem,Michael?I just don’t get your outrage,and I usually have a lot of respect for what you have to say here.This time I’m at a loss to understand your point of view.
it’s like feeling sorry for Baby Face Nelson.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Joe, It’s their country.
Theoretically, a country could decide that our president condones the murder of millions of babies through abortion, therefore we as a country must be invaded and a proper way of thinking indoctrinated into the American people. When the American People get sick of war, they turn, and hang the president and kill his family while the world cheers and the press reports that the baby killer is dead. People would feel vindicated and justified.
Probably won’t happen here, but whether Saddam Hussein was or wasn’t a criminal wasn’t up to us to decide. Once I learned that we had been completely wrong about the WMD I started looking at the entire War in Iraq and our foreign policy differently. Watching the Iraqui’s, who never would have had the chance had we not handed him over, hang their monster wasn’t very good.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I opposed the Iraq War from day one.
That said,I considered the deaths of Hussein and his sons justice.It was a fringe benefit of a totally unecessary war.

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