All posts from “Torture”

May 3, 2011

Bin Laden's Death Reignites Torture Debate

As more details of Osama Bin Laden’s death emerge, a debate about the value of torture to gain intelligence has been revived, Wednesday's front page of The New York Times suggests.

AFP reports that the U.S. has downplayed the role of torture in the bin Laden hunt. Former Bush aides suggested bin Laden's death "justifies" torture, The Guardian reports.

Surveillance, not waterboarding led to bin Laden, argues Spencer Ackerman of Wired. It seems possible harsh interrogation tactics could have been used, says Chris Good of The Atlantic. There isn't enough information to prove either side's point, Joshua Keating suggests at Foreign Policy.

Two issues related to ethics came from President George W. Bush's memoir last year. He said that seeing his mother's miscarried fetus shaped his philosophy of life. He also said he personally approved the use of waterboarding.

In his book, titled “Decision Points,” Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was “Damn right” and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives.

A 2009 study suggested that evangelicals were the most likely religious group to justify torture. Around 60 percent of evangelicals said use of torture against suspected terrorists can often or sometimes be justified. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey found that 50 percent of Catholics 46 percent of white mainline Protestants said the same thing.

The same year, however, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said that waterboarding is torture and and "violates everything we stand for." In 2006, CT published a cover story on "5 Reasons Torture Is Always Wrong." In 2007, the National Association of Evangelicals board of directors affirmed the Evangelical Declaration Against Torture.

November 8, 2010

Bush: Seeing Mother's Miscarried Fetus Shaped Philosophy of Life

President George W. Bush writes in his new memoir, Decision Points, that Bush’s mother showed him a fetus in a jar, according to the New York Post.

After Barbara Bush had a miscarriage, she saved the fetus in a jar and she "said to her teenage kid, 'Here's the fetus,' " Bush is expected to tell NBC’s Matt Lauer in an interview airing this evening

The episode contributed to Bush’s pro-life stance. “There's no question that affected me, a philosophy that we should respect life,” Bush said.

"There was a human life, a little brother or sister," Bush told the "Today" host during the sit-down to promote his tome, which hits stores tomorrow.
Bush said his mother gave him special permission to recount the private story in print.
But "the purpose of the story wasn't to try show the evolution of a pro-life point of view," Bush insisted to Lauer.
"It was really to show how my mom and I developed a relationship."

Last week, the Washington Post reported that Bush said he personally approved waterboarding as a technique.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique (waterboarding) against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

In his book, titled “Decision Points,” Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was “Damn right” and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives.

“Former President Bush should be ashamed of his decision to torture detainees,” said Rev. Richard L. Killmer, executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “His decision to allow the use of torture was both illegal and immoral. And his excuse that the use of waterboarding ’saved lives’ is wholly inadequate and unjustifiable. U.S.-sponsored torture has cost innumerable lives of both American soldiers and civilians, because it has inspired extremists to commit acts of terror against us. It has cost us dearly. Torture does not make us safer; it makes us more of a target.”

The interview with Lauer will be shown on tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

May 5, 2009

Southern Baptists' Top Ethicist Calls Waterboarding `Torture'

Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, a leading Christian conservative who helped advance the Bush administration's agenda on a range of social issues, said Monday that the formerly sanctioned practice of waterboarding of suspected terrorists is torture and
"violates everything we stand for."

Land, who is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, repudiated the simulated drowning techniques in an interview with Religion News Service.

richardland.jpg

According to recently released memos, federal agents under Bush waterboarded two suspected terrorists 266 times in attempts to extract information.

"I consider waterboarding torture," Land said. "One of the definitions of torture is that it causes permanent physical harm. I can't separate physical from psychological. And I can't imagine that being repeatedly subjected to the feeling of drowning would not, in some cases, cause lasting psychological trauma."

But Land also criticized President Obama for publicly releasing Bush-era documents that authorized particular interrogation techniques.

"To leave open the possibility of prosecuting men for what the Justice Department had declared was legal, I think is a horrific mistake," Land said. "If it were to lead to trials of some sort, it would rip the country apart."

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