Consequentialism is Always a Faustian Bargain

After all those years of Catholics arguing for the mortal sin of torture in my comboxes, twisting themselves in a vast catalog of logical pretzels to do it, it turns out that in addition to being gravely evil, torture (as we should have known all along) doesn’t work.

Of course, the Republicans on the committee, for whom torture remains a core value and one of the deep loves of their constituency, dissent from the findings of experts and interrogators who, you know, know what they are talking about. After all, who wants to admit to being a supporter of (and perhaps responsible for) war crimes?

“To get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return — that is what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.” – Uncle Screwtape

  • Marthe Lépine

    WOW! It took them no less than 6000 pages to come to that conclusion! And I have been feeling guilty when someone pointed out to me something that was absolutely obvious but that I was not seeing!

  • Joseph

    Didn’t that recent pro-Obama death to Osama movie tacitly approve of torture? I think the lust for torture crosses the aisle. Dems and Reps agree, torture… the right thing to do and a tasty way to do it.

    • Irenist

      Actually, there is a pretty vociferous debate in some sectors of the “pro-Obama” community about whether “Zero Dark Thirty” promotes torture, and reliable Obama apologists like Andrew Sullivan (who is actually really solid on the torture issue) have been posting on the story a fair amount over on their blogs.

    • Evan

      I normally find Christianity Today movie reviews to be pretty acurate, and thier review suggests otherwise:
      http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/december-web-only/zero-dark-thirty.html

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      Heard a radio interview about 0D:30, I think on NPR, where someone was claiming that torture “sometimes” provides accurate information, and that some of the information that led to the killing of Bin Laden was elicited through torture.

      It’s the “sometimes” that is the problem with this line of argument. Sure, some of what some prisoners will say under duress will be true. But how do you know? How can you sift out the truth from the deliberate lies and the “I’ll say anything to stop the pain” confessions?

      When torture opponents say “Torture doesn’t work,” we mean that torture is not a reliable means of eliciting accurate information. When torture proponents say “Torture works,” they mean that every once in a while something someone said under torture turns out to be true. Entirely different standards.

  • Alexander Anderson

    I feel sometimes like Team Blue would very much like a blanket condemnation of torture… that they can easily ignore in a “real emergency”, while Team Red wants all assurances that what they want to do is OK. It’s like how Team Red wants to be on a certain side of a social issue with a wink and a nod while Team Blue wants all the law to say that what the want is all OK.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes, blanket condemnations of sins that are gravely and intrinsically evil are the right thing.

  • http://www.patheos.com Deacon Tom

    The report’s conclusion are nothing new to most experts. Apart from being evil, torture does not provide reliable information. Senator McCain, remember him, that republican who ran for President, has consistently maintained that torture is a no-go. And in my book, given his personal bravery while being tortured by the North Vietnamese, he has always been credible on the issue.

    • Mark Shea

      Agreed. The GOP has, on torture, been led by an appalling pack of chickhawks, draft dodgers like Cheney, and brutal cowards. McCain spoke with real integrity on this issue.

  • Mike Walsh

    Given that Obama has dispensed with the need for intelligence, opting instead for a drive-by drone-bombing campaign that has incidentally killed many more children than died in Newtown, I’m seriously tempted to re-evaluate my opposition to torture of terrorist suspects: it beats the hell out of just killing them and everyone else in the blast radius . . .


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