Author Topic: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?  (Read 11926 times)

Jim_Krauser

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #60 on: December 11, 2014, 06:48:35 PM »
The gang of Bonnie and Clyde had killed at least 9
policemen in their robbery of banks and stores.
Killing police will get you to the top of the public
enemy list.  As murderers this gang became wanted
dead or alive.

I understand the circumstances that led to the ambush and the crimes for which they were accused (and surely committed). 

The question raised about the manner in which they were killed (rather than any attempt at apprehension) is one of due process within our system of justice; which is the one behind the drone issue, if I understand it correctly.

If "wanted dead or alive" is an appropriate attitude to be struck toward those at the top of the public enemies list...why not the terrorist attacked via a drone?

Obviously with a drone attack the issue of colateral damage (as it is so euphemistically expressed) is at least one issue.
Jim Krauser

Pastor-Grace Evang. Lutheran Church, North Bellmore, NY

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #61 on: December 11, 2014, 07:00:30 PM »
They figured that as long as they could change the Levitical shellfish laws they could change Sinai's law from allowing justified killing in warfare to not allowing it.


More likely, those who walked with Jesus followed his example of not using weapons or armies to fight back; to allow one's self to be killed with the expectation of a resurrection.


My hunch is that, like with a number of other things, Constantine converted the Church more than the Church converted the emperor. Being a good Christian meant being a good Roman which meant serving and supporting the expansion of Rome and Christianity through military means.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Richard Johnson

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #62 on: December 11, 2014, 07:09:53 PM »

My hunch is that, like with a number of other things, Constantine converted the Church more than the Church converted the emperor. Being a good Christian meant being a good Roman which meant serving and supporting the expansion of Rome and Christianity through military means.

I pity poor Constantine, the nature of whose Christian commitment has probably been analyzed and interpreted by more people than most any other Christian in history.

But at least Brian admits that he's only playing a hunch.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

JMK

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #63 on: December 11, 2014, 07:23:23 PM »
For those interested, there is an interesting article on torture by Daniel R. Heimbach, who teaches ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The journal in which the article is published is edited by the conservative Lutheran theologian, John W. Montgomery. You can find the article here: http://www.phc.edu/TOC_Vol_10__No__1.php


Team Hesse

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #64 on: December 11, 2014, 08:20:24 PM »

My hunch is that, like with a number of other things, Constantine converted the Church more than the Church converted the emperor. Being a good Christian meant being a good Roman which meant serving and supporting the expansion of Rome and Christianity through military means.

I pity poor Constantine, the nature of whose Christian commitment has probably been analyzed and interpreted by more people than most any other Christian in history.

But at least Brian admits that he's only playing a hunch.


Peter Heather in his fairly recent tome "the Fall of the Roman Empire" at one point tantalizingly offers the notion that Christianity was more Romanized than Rome was Christianized. I wish he would have fleshed that out a little more but it was a thought provoking assertion.....It was a good read.


Lou

peter_speckhard

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #65 on: December 11, 2014, 09:00:33 PM »
No, Peter, the law is not filled with "judgment calls." Laws may be subject to interpretation, but that is a different matter, and it is done by the courts interpreting the laws, not the police supposedly enforcing the law. I do not believe I understand what you are trying to do with this thread of argument, but what I do understand about it I don't like very much. As usual, I'm afraid I find your analogies as dense and dark as a Siberian forest at midnight on a moonless night.
What in your mind is the distinction between a judgment call and a matter of interpretation? I used the example of the word "unreasonable." If there is a law the unreasonable use of force, it is a judgment call as to how much force that it is and whether any specific use of force was reasonable or not. And if societal standards enter into at equation and societal standards also evolve, then someone could do the exact same thing year after year and suddenly find himself breaking the law when he wasn't breaking the law before, even though the text of the law never changed and what he was doing never changed.

You seem to think it a no-brainier that the Hackman character in Mississippi Burning was guilty of torture. Yet I don't remember anyone saying that in the 1980's. His character was considered a hero, if a flawed hero. And surely if the nation were holding up an obvious torturer as a hero character, you would have been compelled as a pastor and journalist to write something about what a shame it was to praise a torturer. Did you write something? If not, did you just not care that society was praising a torturer?

Charles Austin

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #66 on: December 11, 2014, 09:46:11 PM »
Peter writes:
You seem to think it a no-brainier that the Hackman character in Mississippi Burning was guilty of torture. Yet I don't remember anyone saying that in the 1980's. His character was considered a hero, if a flawed hero.
I comment:
Not by me. Not by some of us.

Peter writes:
And surely if the nation were holding up an obvious torturer as a hero character, you would have been compelled as a pastor and journalist to write something about what a shame it was to praise a torturer. Did you write something? If not, did you just not care that society was praising a torturer?
I comment:
Well, I'm not sure there was all that "praise," but no matter. For heaven's sake, Peter, are we to take out after every mass media piece, whether television, film or book, that shows immoral actions? Really?
     What I am concerned about here - in this modest forum of people who claim to be Lutheran Christians - is what seems to be an easy acceptance of despicable acts.
     "They" are worse. "They" kill. So if we torture a little, it's OK.
     "They" are out to kill us. So anything we do, legal or not, moral or not, to keep them from doing that, is OK.
     Criminals and murderers are really bad guys. So if cops or the feds break a few laws or jaws in getting them convicted, that's OK.
     No. It is not OK.
     And you are, Peter, tying yourself up in knots about "societal standards" in an effort to justify your views. We are discussing law and related matters. Yes, what was illegal at one time, is legal now; lovely things like inter-racial marriage, and gay and lesbian marriage. "Societal standards" whatever the heck they might be, do not seem to be endorsing cops shooting people just for carrying a weapon while being black; or beating the pinfeathers out of suspects to get a confession or badgering witnesses into giving false testimony.

Coach-Rev writes (re my comment on the reaction to the report):
Fascinating.  Just fascinating.  So they can't be trusted though they were there and were participants in that.  They must be lying to cover something up you imply.
I comment:
Well, Duh! Yes! Because - wait for it! - they have already covered something up. Several times. At several levels of government. Of course, of course, they are covering something up. That is exactly what the recent report is telling us.

Coach-rev goes on:
And a couple of years back you incessantly hammered that second hand reports didn't count for anything because they were NOT there and first hand witnesses, AND there obviously had to be more to the story.
I comment:
Yes, I do not trust second-hand reports, especially the ones you seemed to favor so dearly, especially when they came from one "side," a "side" that had a considerable ideological stake in the matter at hand. In some of those now dust-gathering dust-ups, no one from the "other" side was here to make their case.

Coach-Rev:
So its now clear that you will only accept testimony, first hand or other, that corresponds only to your point of view.  In certain circles that's referred to as a self-reinforcing delusion.
I comment:
How do you know what my "point of view" is? I do not believe I have ever commented anywhere on the matter of our government involved in allegedly illegal kidnappings, torture and murder.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minnesota. Interested in faith related to today’s life; and in church history, choral singing, cooking, movies and live theater.

Voelker

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #67 on: December 11, 2014, 10:15:22 PM »
I'm amazed that this discussion is happening in the US. The country of my youth was proud of being — whether it was true or not, whether it was accurate or not — the good guys, and (at least pretending to) act(ing) that way. We didn't (officially) torture. We didn't (officially) kill everyone attending a wedding party. People were rightly and truly outraged when government actors were shown to have played off-book, even if the final results were acceptable. Discussions of how much mistreatment is torture would have been met with opposition from many, but now? Not so much. It makes me wonder if anyone involved in the "interrogations" ever had a conversation like this (some possible language warnings): Are we the baddies?

peter_speckhard

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #68 on: December 12, 2014, 12:11:08 AM »
I don't see any easy acceptance of torture here. I see difficulties with simply writing people off as war criminals. If I were dictator, I would probably abolish "enhanced interrogation" altogether. But in trying to think about the issue, the people who see clear black and white don't realize what they're saying about members of the CIA and the military, that they are not just maybe but obviously and unarguably war criminals guilty of crimes against humanity. I'm not willing to buy into such knee jerk judgment, especially when it has an obvious partisan flavor.

Voelker

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #69 on: December 12, 2014, 12:50:15 AM »
Peter, I 'm not interested in whether or not those CIA/military actors are "war criminals" or "guilty of crimes against humanity"; those terms were invented to shoehorn war into a crime/justice model, which just doesn't work (then there's the atrocious "WMD", which implies that human lives are so much war matériel).

No, what I'm interested in is in just how quickly our nation has moved from a strong anti-torture position to one where it is ho-hum, everyday stuff, descriptions of which are fit to print on front pages of newspapers and the like. This should be anything but a partisan position (at least it was so in the past; if it has become one, then there's no help for any of us, right or left), because I certainly don't recall one party or the other being more pro-torture than the other (though, awful to say, I can too-easily imagine the 2016 presidential election debates on this very point); the dislike, the odium cast toward it and those who practiced it came from all directions. There is, it must be admitted, a recognition in the language used that not everyone is comfortable with torture: "enhanced interrogation" sounds like something that comes right out of an HR office. Yet, even with such false naming, there is little reticence in speaking about what EI entails, except to protect "trade secrets" so that future recipients of such treatment won't get preparation to resist.

Let's work to call a thing what it is, and own up to what has been done: if what has been done (and continues to be done) is torture (and the descriptions of what has been done — which goes far beyond keeping the lights on and making conditions uncomfortable — sure sounds like it to my politically-right-trained ears), let's call it exactly that, get it out into the open, and decide if that is who we are as a people: are we a people that tortures, or are we a people that doesn't? There is more than a small difference between those two sorts of nation. When expedience wins, as it often does, suffering and death are mere statistics. Is the object lesson in this given to us by Stalin and Friends so easily forgotten?

A thought experiment: could anyone today take the premise upon which The Mouse That Roared was built and build a plausible (with the necessary suspension of disbelief) comedy out of it after Abu Ghraib, after Guantanamo, after the practice of extraordinary rendition?
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 01:10:19 AM by WJV »

Charles Austin

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #70 on: December 12, 2014, 05:07:19 AM »
Peter writes:
I don't see any easy acceptance of torture here. I see difficulties with simply writing people off as war criminals.
I comment:
Who said that here? Nobody! No one said "war criminals." But it does seem that some crimes may have been committed.

Peter writes:
If I were dictator, I would probably abolish "enhanced interrogation" altogether.
I comment:
No, you wouldn't.

Peter writes:
But in trying to think about the issue, the people who see clear black and white don't realize what they're saying about members of the CIA and the military, that they are not just maybe but obviously and unarguably war criminals guilty of crimes against humanity.
I comment:
No again. And now you have elevated "war criminals" to "crimes against humanity." No one has done that. Is it inconceivable to you that what some of us are concerned about - namely that our country has engaged in some despicable actions, that in our alleged "war on terror" we may have gone against our principles - might actually have happened? You are quicker to excuse and defend what may have happened than we are to criticize it!

Peter writes:
I'm not willing to buy into such knee jerk judgment, especially when it has an obvious partisan flavor.
I comment:
Big news, Peter. Just because something comes from "one side" (and BTW, this criticism of our country comes from several "sides") does not mean that it is wrong. 

WJV writes (wish I knew who this person really is):
Let's work to call a thing what it is, and own up to what has been done: if what has been done (and continues to be done) is torture (and the descriptions of what has been done — which goes far beyond keeping the lights on and making conditions uncomfortable — sure sounds like it to my politically-right-trained ears), let's call it exactly that, get it out into the open, and decide if that is who we are as a people: are we a people that tortures, or are we a people that doesn't? There is more than a small difference between those two sorts of nation. When expedience wins, as it often does, suffering and death are mere statistics. Is the object lesson in this given to us by Stalin and Friends so easily forgotten?
I comment:
Rather smart words, I think.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minnesota. Interested in faith related to today’s life; and in church history, choral singing, cooking, movies and live theater.

Eileen Smith

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #71 on: December 12, 2014, 08:10:04 AM »
I'm amazed that this discussion is happening in the US. The country of my youth was proud of being — whether it was true or not, whether it was accurate or not — the good guys, and (at least pretending to) act(ing) that way. We didn't (officially) torture. We didn't (officially) kill everyone attending a wedding party. People were rightly and truly outraged when government actors were shown to have played off-book, even if the final results were acceptable. Discussions of how much mistreatment is torture would have been met with opposition from many, but now? Not so much. It makes me wonder if anyone involved in the "interrogations" ever had a conversation like this (some possible language warnings): Are we the baddies?

We didn't have internet and 24/7 news where we could watch these things played out…  And rich or wrong - we seemed to have more of an allegiance to those who put their lives on the line and not share what is to be covert. 

peter_speckhard

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #72 on: December 12, 2014, 09:07:25 AM »
Peter writes:
I don't see any easy acceptance of torture here. I see difficulties with simply writing people off as war criminals.
I comment:
Who said that here? Nobody! No one said "war criminals." But it does seem that some crimes may have been committed.

Peter writes:
If I were dictator, I would probably abolish "enhanced interrogation" altogether.
I comment:
No, you wouldn't.

Peter writes:
But in trying to think about the issue, the people who see clear black and white don't realize what they're saying about members of the CIA and the military, that they are not just maybe but obviously and unarguably war criminals guilty of crimes against humanity.
I comment:
No again. And now you have elevated "war criminals" to "crimes against humanity." No one has done that. Is it inconceivable to you that what some of us are concerned about - namely that our country has engaged in some despicable actions, that in our alleged "war on terror" we may have gone against our principles - might actually have happened? You are quicker to excuse and defend what may have happened than we are to criticize it!

Peter writes:
I'm not willing to buy into such knee jerk judgment, especially when it has an obvious partisan flavor.
I comment:
Big news, Peter. Just because something comes from "one side" (and BTW, this criticism of our country comes from several "sides") does not mean that it is wrong. 

WJV writes (wish I knew who this person really is):
Let's work to call a thing what it is, and own up to what has been done: if what has been done (and continues to be done) is torture (and the descriptions of what has been done — which goes far beyond keeping the lights on and making conditions uncomfortable — sure sounds like it to my politically-right-trained ears), let's call it exactly that, get it out into the open, and decide if that is who we are as a people: are we a people that tortures, or are we a people that doesn't? There is more than a small difference between those two sorts of nation. When expedience wins, as it often does, suffering and death are mere statistics. Is the object lesson in this given to us by Stalin and Friends so easily forgotten?
I comment:
Rather smart words, I think.
Yes I would, and no, it is not inconceivable to me. You simply have no clue what you are talking about, and you seem to get more dogmatic in your pronouncements about the others in this forum the more ignorant you are of their motives, intent, and overall position. Since you have already confessed to not understanding what I'm trying to say and called my analogies impenetrable, why not just conclude, "I don't get your position," rather than declare that you know my position but I don't?

My use of war criminals and crimes against humanity are perfectly valid. If this went on, and if it is torture, and if torture is a war crime, then those who engaged in it are war criminals. That is what I've been trying to say, and what I'm not comfortable concluding so glibly. That's also why I think the discussion of evolving standards is relevant; it potentially offers, a way to condemn the behavior going forward without imprisoning those who engaged in it.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2014, 10:10:25 AM by peter_speckhard »

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #73 on: December 12, 2014, 09:47:07 AM »
Peter writes:
You seem to think it a no-brainier that the Hackman character in Mississippi Burning was guilty of torture. Yet I don't remember anyone saying that in the 1980's. His character was considered a hero, if a flawed hero.
I comment:
Not by me. Not by some of us.

Peter writes:
And surely if the nation were holding up an obvious torturer as a hero character, you would have been compelled as a pastor and journalist to write something about what a shame it was to praise a torturer. Did you write something? If not, did you just not care that society was praising a torturer?
I comment:
Well, I'm not sure there was all that "praise," but no matter. For heaven's sake, Peter, are we to take out after every mass media piece, whether television, film or book, that shows immoral actions? Really?
     What I am concerned about here - in this modest forum of people who claim to be Lutheran Christians - is what seems to be an easy acceptance of despicable acts.
     "They" are worse. "They" kill. So if we torture a little, it's OK.
     "They" are out to kill us. So anything we do, legal or not, moral or not, to keep them from doing that, is OK.
     Criminals and murderers are really bad guys. So if cops or the feds break a few laws or jaws in getting them convicted, that's OK.
     No. It is not OK.
     And you are, Peter, tying yourself up in knots about "societal standards" in an effort to justify your views. We are discussing law and related matters. Yes, what was illegal at one time, is legal now; lovely things like inter-racial marriage, and gay and lesbian marriage. "Societal standards" whatever the heck they might be, do not seem to be endorsing cops shooting people just for carrying a weapon while being black; or beating the pinfeathers out of suspects to get a confession or badgering witnesses into giving false testimony.

Coach-Rev writes (re my comment on the reaction to the report):
Fascinating.  Just fascinating.  So they can't be trusted though they were there and were participants in that.  They must be lying to cover something up you imply.
I comment:
Well, Duh! Yes! Because - wait for it! - they have already covered something up. Several times. At several levels of government. Of course, of course, they are covering something up. That is exactly what the recent report is telling us.

Coach-rev goes on:
And a couple of years back you incessantly hammered that second hand reports didn't count for anything because they were NOT there and first hand witnesses, AND there obviously had to be more to the story.
I comment:
Yes, I do not trust second-hand reports, especially the ones you seemed to favor so dearly, especially when they came from one "side," a "side" that had a considerable ideological stake in the matter at hand. In some of those now dust-gathering dust-ups, no one from the "other" side was here to make their case.

Coach-Rev:
So its now clear that you will only accept testimony, first hand or other, that corresponds only to your point of view.  In certain circles that's referred to as a self-reinforcing delusion.
I comment:
How do you know what my "point of view" is? I do not believe I have ever commented anywhere on the matter of our government involved in allegedly illegal kidnappings, torture and murder.

You just did.
Don Kirchner

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peter_speckhard

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Re: Is the torture report indicative that it is time for national repentance?
« Reply #74 on: December 12, 2014, 09:54:44 AM »
Just a quick note on my previous post: I'm doing this on an iPad, which makes for lots of typos that then get autocorrected, sometimes to the wrong word. So if you read my last post and wondered about my anatomies, it has been changed to analogies. Hopefully my getting the words right will make the point I'm making less impenetrable.