This past December 16, 2014, Retired M.D., Ben Carson (Opinion Columnist and internationally known retired neurosurgeon) wrote an article entitled, “Democrats Wasteful Torture Report” in which he writes, “The recent release of a Senate report commissioned by Democrats regarding torture of terrorism suspects in order to obtain vital information was, in my opinion, a waste of $40 million of taxpayer money.”
Ben Carson addresses the fact that three suspects of the planning on the attack on the Twin Towers, were water boarded and other interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation “played a part in apprehension or annihilation of many upper echelon terrorists leaders, including Osama Bin Laden.”
From the article, Ben Carson is clear that the purpose of the Democrats were to present their last major statement on the Bush administration. It was intended to be an embarrassment on the Bush Administration. But was Ben correct in his observation of the Democrat report? Was this report solely to throw one last jab at President Bush?
There is no doubt that the extreme liberal left will always love to take a pot shot at President Bush, but I think that the intent of the Democrats is far more reaching that hitting the CIA? I think the motive of this biased report without one Republican participating nor any one individual involved ever interviewed, was to limit damage control of the huge loses this past November. The GOP gains were at least 11 added seats in the House of Representatives, winning 24 Governors races, retaking the Senate, and taking a majority in the State races all across the Country. It was a wave that spoke loudly against President Obama and his policies.
So, with the projected transfer of power that was going to take place in January, the Democrats wanted to make sure they produced this torture report while they still had their majority.
Dianne Feinstein defended her torture report creating the narrative that America exercised torture. She posed the following questions: “Is there ever a good time to admit our country tortured people?” “Is it time to publicly examine how our country ended up torturing people?”
I remember during this time that members of the Democratic Party like Nancy Polosi denied ever receiving any report given by the CIA in the interrogation given in the above situation written by Ben Carson. The evidence was overwhelming that the Congress was in fact briefed on what was taking place with the individuals involved. But the media was very silent in reporting the Democrats intent and purpose in presenting the biased torture report.
Now going back to the original question, what was the intended goal obtained by the Democrats as a result of the torture report? It was to sow seeds of division among the vast opposition against the policies of the Obama Administration. Torture is being used by the liberal left to cause fractures among the Christians who have been the blunt of liberal attacks coming from the Gay Marriage ordinances, to the IRS going after Conservatives throughout the Country.
So, what the Democrats have done was to create the narrative that Americans committed acts of torture and set the case of what they define what torture is. So much so that people began to divide over questions on torture. Since the time just before Christmas, this battle now has caught fire among the Christian community. Close associations have been ripped apart as their views on torture and what constitutes torture has intensified.
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, in their guideline of torture: “Torture is a Moral Issue: A Study Guide”, chapter II states, “Torture assumes many guises, from electric shocks and burning with cigarettes, to sexual humiliation in various forms, even rape. Detainees may be threatened by attack dogs, or told that unless they cooperate their family members will be harmed. Detainees may be beaten, deprived of sleep, hooded for long periods. The list goes on of ways that pain is caused or that detainees are terrorized. And some parties to the debate argue, as we said, that some practices under discussion do not actually constitute torture. Or they may argue that when torture has occurred, it was inflicted by misguided individuals whose actions were unauthorized.”
Because of the recent danger of attacks taking place affecting America, the Bishops recognize, “Intelligence-gathering for the sake of national security undoubtedly is an essential government function.”
The study guide further states and asks, “There are many means of intelligence-gathering, and it is pursued in many settings. Among them are detention centers where prisoners are questioned: prisoners of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or of actions against terrorist cells around the world. What methods of obtaining information from these prisoners were to be permitted?
Here is a very important statement coming from the intent of the USCCB, “For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
What is taking place is that the pro-Democrat report on torture has become the rallying cry against conservatives who do not agree with the basic redefinition of what constitutes torture. I listened to the argument as I saw people I care about dividing up blocking each other and unfriending each other on Facebook. People began inserting their own interpretation of what constitutes torture and began threatening others and banning others who differed with their interpretation.
It was very difficult for people to remain neutral as these camps intensified. I began attempting to address this problem to the office of the USCCB and found that this was no easy thing to do, it is hard to get a hold of anyone as I was sent to several different offices as no one seemed interested on answering the question. I eventually spoke with the Diocese of Austin and Barbara Budie who is their spokesman for the Diocese on social concerns. Barbara was very involved with the USCCB and was very helpful answering questions on the intent of the Bishops guidance.
On the issue of sleep deprivation, what the Bishops considered torture was the prolonged interrogation without sleep that could run 180 hrs with limited breaks, little food and drink. That would constitute as torture. But sleep deprivation in itself was not torture, it is the obvious abuse of it.
On the question of isolation, using a hood or placing a Prisoner in isolation was not torture, but again it would be the abuse of placing a Detainee in darkness for days and weeks without interaction, without opportunity to exercise, without food or water would constitute as torture.
The big one that people seem to base most of their argument on is water boarding. Water boarding does not cause “SEVERE” pain or suffering, but admittedly, it is not a pleasant experience. It creates the reflex of drowning. Does this constitute torture? It depends who you ask. Of course if you ask Dianne Feinstein and the international Red Cross, that would be a huge yes.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the detainees were entitled to minimum protections provided under the Geneva Conventions, including prohibitions against torture and humiliation.
Vice President Dick Chaney stated, “Definitions, and one that was provided by the Office of Legal Counsel, we went specifically to them because we did not want to cross that line into where we were violating some international agreement that we’d signed up to. They specifically authorized and okayed, for example, exactly what we did. All of the techniques that were authorized by the president were, in effect, blessed by the Justice Department opinion that we could go forward with those without, in fact, committing torture.”
Vice President Chaney was asked, “When you say waterboarding is not torture, then why did we prosecute Japanese soldiers in World War II for waterboarding?” His response was, “For a lot of stuff. Not for waterboarding. They did an awful lot of other stuff. To draw some kind of moral equivalent between waterboarding judged by our Justice Department not to be torture and what the Japanese did with the Bataan Death March and the slaughter of thousands of Americans, with the rape of Nanking and all of the other crimes they committed, that’s an outrage.”
According to Barbara Budie, the USCCB bases much of it’s guidelines from the Geneva Convention. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention states:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: 1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
Another source that people refer to torture comes from the United Nations, they refer to Article 1 1. “For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. 2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.”
From this we can see the quotation of the USCCB which is being used by both groups who seek to define torture. From the pro-torture crowd, I’ve heard them ask this question: Would Jesus support or conduct waterboarding? For them, this is a “gotya” question as they want to unite Jesus interrogation and suffering with a person being interrogated today. I have been threatened myself that I would be banned by certain individuals if I thought Jesus would waterboard a Detainee?
Then the other side of the line will respond that Jesus states, “He said to them, “But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was reckoned with transgressors’; for what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.” Luke 22:36-38
Does this mean that Jesus would use a sword Himself. Not at all. ”It is enough,” seems to imply that Jesus intends to prepare the Apostles to face the world’s hostility. Dave Armstrong quotes Matthew 18:34-35, “When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Jesus is speaking of the debt that is to be paid in full for the person suffering in Purgatory. Jesus is using a temporal understanding of what prison life was like that His listeners would clearly identify with the afterlife.
The USCCB in the guideline is clear that torture is not to be used. The Guideline states, “The use of torture must be rejected as fundamentally incompatible with the dignity of the human person and ultimately counterproductive in the effort to combat terrorism (No. 88).”
The Bishops through the guideline recognizes, “Torture is much discussed and debated today in the media and in the courts. Questions have been raised, even in cartoons, as to how to define torture, and what constitutes torture. Some argue over what constitutes cruel and inhumane, while others say, I’II know it when I see it. And some, who might have dismissed a given practice as torture, have quickly changed their minds when it was done to them.”
Barbara Budie was very clear that the Office of the USCCB wants charity to prevail in this matter. The idea that people condemning others and attacking others to justify their position on torture is not coming from the Catholic Bishops. The Church is calling people to dig deeper into the study of torture and how we can best serve the Lord and the nation. What are the boundaries? Charity is to be stressed.
The New York Times: “Defender of Waterboarding Hears From Critics,” by Mark Oppenheimer, February 26, 2010.
“There’s nothing unusual about partisans of the Bush administration defending waterboarding as a useful form of “enhanced interrogation.” Others will go even further, calling the technique “torture,” but saying it may be a necessary evil. What is a bit unusual is the case being made by Marc A. Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
In “Courting Disaster: How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack,” Mr. Thiessen, a practicing Roman Catholic, says that waterboarding suspected terrorists was not only useful and desirable, but permitted by the teachings of the Catholic Church.
This does not square, to put it mildly, with the common understanding of Catholic teaching. In the past month, Catholic bloggers and writers from across the political spectrum have united to attack his views, and to defend their own: that waterboarding is torture, and that Roman Catholics are not supposed to do it.
Mr. Thiessen makes two basic arguments. First, he says that waterboarding, the simulated drowning technique used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, and others, is not torture. “I didn’t get into the Catholic theological stuff of it until I sat down to write the book,” Mr. Thiessen said in a phone interview. So when Mr. Bush asked him, in 2006, to write a speech explaining the C.I.A.’s interrogation program, Mr. Thiessen asked himself other kinds of questions.
“There’s a standard of torture in civil law,” he said, “which is severe mental pain and suffering. I also have a common-sense definition, which is, ‘If you’re willing to try it, it’s not torture.’ “
Thousands of American soldiers have been willing to undergo waterboarding as part of their resistance training, Mr. Thiessen notes; therefore, it stands to reason that it is not torture.
Second, he invokes Catholic teaching to defend what he calls “coercive interrogation.”
The catechism states, “the defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to do harm,” and Catholic tradition accepts that this might involve killing. And, Mr. Thiessen writes: “If this principle applies to taking human life, it must certainly apply to coercive interrogation as well. A captured terrorist is an unjust aggressor who retains the power to kill many thousands by withholding information about planned attacks.”
Also,EWTN (“Eternal Word Television Network”) has hosted two explicit defenses of waterboarding — most recently by Thiessien, as well as Fr. Joseph Sirico of the Acton Institute, not to mention Q&A from Judy Brown of the American Life League questioning whether torture should be considered “intrinsically evil”. The point is that people are dividing themselves along the lines of what torture is while at the same time everyone opposes torture.
Another concern is that people are making statements like this, “I am against abortion, but in cases of rape or incest, my gosh I am not a radical fanatic like you, so in those situations it should be permitted, but I’m against abortion!” THEY JUST DON’T GET IT!”
That Catholic Church is clear that it opposes abortion for cases of rape and incest. The recent vote by the House of Representatives to stop abortions after 20 weeks went 239 to 179. Only 1 Republican voted against the measure while only 3 Democrat’s voted for the bill. 176 of the Democrats voted for abortion for any reason at any time. Incredible. To attack Pro-Life Catholics who oppose abortion is a huge mistake by those who equate waterboarding with torture.
Another quote that is circulating the net, “Another example of how the ‘CATHOLIC torture defenders’ are trying to silence concerned Catholics! EUPHEMINISM’S ON TORTURE (OOPS I MEAN WATERBOARDING!) ACTIONS TO ADDRESS TORTURE (DANG IT I MEANT WATERBOARDING).”
It is clear that they are equating waterboarding with torture, and those doing so are challenging now even Pro-Life Catholics who are conservative. This new area of separation strikes directly at what the objective of the Democrat’s report on torture was originally intended to achieve. That was an objective goal of the report.
To equate waterboarding with abortion and Artificial Birth Control is not what the USCCB have been saying, not at all. Nor is it the intention of the USCCB to cause division among the flock on the question of torture or what it is. That is still being watched and the Church will continue to study the issue even as 99.99% of people already agree on what torture is.
First of all, no where does the Bishops say that waterboarding itself is a sin. It might be a practice that many would think is boarderline to torture, but no one is calling it a sin (except those who are supporting the liberal left).
I myself am still praying and studying the matter, in my service in Iraq, I was a leader that helped changed the face of the War in Iraq. I was involved at the Division level in placing a Standard Operating Procedure that helped changed the image caused by the abuse of Abu Ghraib. Abu Graib would fall under my Unit’s theater of operation. What we incorporated in our handling of Prisoners of War helped change the direction that many Iraqi young men took who began signing up to support Americans. This did a great deal in lowing the amount of attacks on U.S. Soldiers saving American lives. What we did had great impact on the local community.
At no time did any one of our interrogations of any Detainees ever employed the use of torture by anyone’s perspective. The only credible position in defining waterboarding as torture I have been able to find comes from Malcolm Nance, a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the U.S. Navey’s Survival Evasion, Resistance and Escape School. But even from his perspective, he comes far short of calling it a sin. He has not implied such authority. For Catholics, that must come from the Bishops and I am sure that all this is weighing in on their research and prayer.
So as I began with this article with the Democrats report on torture, I think that the desired affect taking place is the ultimate collapse of people of faith. The extreme liberals want to see the end of faith in America as they hate it terribly. They want to see people fighting one another so that they, the liberals can return to power.
What all of us really needs to do is take a deep breath, exhale, and then really take to heart what the call of the USCCB is, to show love and charity. As tension continues to build in the world of the internet and Facebook, we still will be meeting together all across the Country when we go to Mass. It is there that we all receive the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Let us keep a prayer for this Country that we continue to live out our faith in the land of the free and the brave. God our Father, Giver of life, we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care. You are the rock on which this nation was founded. You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people. Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nations leaders. Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing Your will. Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the “culture of death.” Lead us into a new millennium of life. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
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