GOP Pol Calls for Torture of American Citizens

GOP Pol Calls for Torture of American Citizens August 15, 2013

I mentioned a couple of days ago that a GOP Caesar would surely soon start thinking longingly about using torture against citizens for domestic crimes, just as the GOP already is orgasmically in love with the manliness of using it against foreigners and even tries to liken it to the saving power of the sacraments.

Turns out I was wrong. A GOP pol (and not the last one, have no doubt) has already tweeted longingly about torturing American citizens.

And none of this perfumed “enhanced interrogation” euphemism so beloved by Catholics trying to avoid the plain language of the Catechism either. This guy is too ignorant or contemptuous of the Church’s teaching (yeah, he’s a Catholic) to have figured out he needs to play the word games perfected by torture apologists of St. Blogs in the struggle to advocate for mortal sin while maintaining plausible deniability:

State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Carmel), a potential 2014 congressional candidate, said on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning that torture is necessary in this and other cases of terrorism to save lives. “If getting that information, including torture, would save one innocent life, including what we’ve seen children, would you use torture?” Ball said. “I would be first in line.”

After Tsarnaev was captured on Friday night, Ball drew criticism when he tweeted, “Who wouldn’t use torture on this punk to save more lives?”

Ball, the chairman of the state Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee and an Air Force veteran, said he was voicing an opinion that many other Americans share. He described terrorists as playing by a “different set of rules” in a statement Sunday, and said, “playing paddy cake with mass murdering killers is not effective in my opinion.” He reiterated that point Monday on Fox News.

Note several things. First, note the venue on which he makes these remarks: FOX, a network designed and built to feed and reinforce GOP unit cohesion and the GOP consensus. Second, note that Hannity treats him with kid gloves. Third, note that despite the veneer, Ball is all about torture as vengeance, not intel. Fourth, note that the rights of citizens proceed, for Ball, not from the hand of God, but from the opinion of the state. Fifth, note that he regards basic civil rights as “playing paddy cake” and not as the bare minimum of human decency. And sixth, note that this total contempt for the elementary rule of law is a campaign bragging point–because he knows the Tea Party zealot wing of the GOP base has, if anything, only doubled down on their zeal for this, not regretted it one iota. Most ardent “conservatives”, he knows, *long* to make America a torture state. It’s ruthless, efficient, and manly. And he’s not wrong in this perception. According to polls, the more one identifies as a conservative Catholic or Evangelical, the more one loves torture.

The instant the Bourbon GOP regains power, torture will be back. It remembers everything and learns nothing. And conservative Catholics will, if history is any indication, provide the philosophical and theological rationales for spitting on the Church’s teaching and supporting this filth. Catholics for a Free Choice should open a branch office for conservative Catholic torture zealots. How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.

Oh. And did you hear the huge outcry from conservative Catholics for the bishops to excommunicate him along with Pelosi for giving scandal and openly dissenting from Church teaching on a matter of mortal sin? Yeah. Me neither. The cafeteria is wide open.

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  • CrustyNatsFan

    A good but depressing post. Someone might want to tell these folks that when we are told to pick up our cross and follow Him it did not mean to look for others to nail to it. We should pray for those advocating torture and abortion that they may start to place their trust in Christ and not glorified violence and murder. We are indeed a broken race.

    • HornOrSilk

      “But they torture us or would torture us if they could” is the response to expect. It’s the same justification as for immoral treatment of Obama (who has legitimate reasons to be criticized through legitimate methods).

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    I have no doubt that the swift incarceration or sudden death of this punk – to use his language – would save a great many lives.

    • Dan C

      Which requires Catholic justification.

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        Incarceration? In my country there is a crime called “apology for crime”, where obviously criminal things are defended in public for bad reasons. His defence of torture falls easily within that. As for sudden death, I am not calling for his murder, just wondering why a good and kind person who has done nothing but good to everyone around him died last year at 53 while this guy wastes God’s good air with idiotic villainy. But if God wants to let him live a hundred in the hope he may repent, that’s God’s business, not mine.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      would save a great many lives.

      And how many souls would it cost?

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        Jailing a character who wishes to criminalize the state? How many souls would it cost if he were allowed to profit by his evil words, and teach people around him that there is profit in idiocy and torture? As for his dying, I never asked for murder, but I have seen many of the best people I knew die before their time, while God keeps giving this kind of character life and breath. I don’t want anyone to murder him, but I am not too fond of breathing the same air, that’s all.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Jailing, sure. But you also mentioned “sudden death.” Wishing death on someone is…problematic.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    There’s no surprise at all that Hannity likes this guy. He had his own passionate plea for disappearing and torturing Tsarnaev. Gotta be hardline, or someone might mistake you for being compassionate.

  • Michael0309

    I am not conservative or liberal, I’m Catholic. Greg Ball’s comments do give scandal to the church. They are immoral and he has no business holding any office in this country. I know some may disagree with me, just my two cents

    • chezami

      Thank you! Good to hear!

  • Answer to tweet: I wouldn’t. I am convinced that torture NEVER provides useful information not already known to the torturer.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      Absolute fact.

    • This is like the arguments I have with vegans about why Catholic abstinence from meat is not the same as theirs. They do it because they think the meat is unhealthy. We do it as a sacrifice. The reason not to torture isn’t that it doesn’t work.

      If you don’t think that somebody has ever been successfully tortured out of a bank account PIN, you’re deluded.

      • A bank number pin? My bank gives me 2580 specifically for that purpose- snaps a picture and calls the cops.

        • That’s very nice that your bank does that for you. It happens that one of the things that made me decide that Mexico City was not a good place for this gringo was the description of a common kidnapping robbery scenario where they take you, stick in the back under their feet, and beat you until you give up your pin. Then they send out someone to drain one bank card and credit card after another.

          If it’s such a common crime that it actually makes it to US reporting, do you think, perhaps, it’s a little ridiculous to maintain that such schemes never work?

          You lose credibility when you’re unwilling to concede the obvious.

          • Pretty damn easy to give false info in that situation, isn’t it?

            • Not really, since if you do, you’re still in the footwell at the back seat with a gun in your ear when the guy comes back without the money.

              Let’s say you have a bank card and multiple credit cards in your wallet which is a fairly common scenario. They’ll want all your PINs and try them out one card at a time with ATMs in the bad part of town where police response is slow. few are going to even report a gunshot, much less a bit of punch and kick to encourage you to be truthful. In a country where the criminals send messages with severed heads, do you really think a severed finger is going to make them break a sweat?

              Again, making false statements of fact discredits the anti-torture position. This is not a good idea. In certain circumstances, torture works. Concede that and you get to the more interesting point that the likelihood of it working is inverse to the importance of the fact being sought out.

              • I have many different pins, for many different cards. I’m not going to remember which pin goes with which card in a given situation- give them 8 different pins, none of which are real, and the machine will eat the cards as if they are lunch.

                I think the real problem here is the same as the one the Cherokee Chief had when faced by the Chicago Loan Shark. The goons dangled the chief out the window of a 30 story building. The loan shark said “Now, Chief, you have a problem”. The Chief replied “I have no problems. If you drop me, I go to the happy hunting ground, and all will be well. If you don’t drop me, I live, and all will be well. It is YOU who have the problem.”

                It is a proven fact that a person under torture will tell the torturer whatever they want to hear *even if that is a complete lie*. You can’t trust information you get under torture, because you can’t read the mind of the person you are torturing.

                • You seem to be making this about yourself. It isn’t. Your claim originally isn’t that you would heroically defend your bank accounts in the face of torture but that *everybody* would. That’s what that “NEVER” implies.

                  You’re not even bothering to defend your original point. You’ve implicitly ceded it.

                  In turn, I’ll cede your current claim, that you, personally, have the physical heroism to stand up to thugs torturing you for your bank accounts.

                  • The point (and in fact the original point) is that the thugs can never be sure which kind of person they’re torturing. Nor can we with a suspected terrorist. Will we get the guy who, when waterboarded, gives up the location of the bomb? Or will we get the guy who is able to tell a plausible lie under torture and send all of our emergency personnel and supplies to Los Angeles while the Empire State Building comes down?

                    That is what I meant by the comment that torture never reveals information that the torturer doesn’t already implicitly know. It can verify information (like for instance, the torturer knows that the pin number will be between 0000 and 9999) but the torturer can’t be sure of that information until he is able to verify it from another source (and in fact, acting on information that comes from torture is a high risk idea to begin with).

                    There is a significant disconnect there that can’t be breached.

                    • The torturer in reality is generally dealing with statistics and an assembly line (which is the real problem with torture, these are individuals with souls, not machine parts). The modern age gives us information overload and torture helps clear out the irrelevant stuff, a major problem in dealing with these big information gathering systems that don’t discriminate between mud and gemstones.

                      Implicit knowledge is not actionable. Torture is almost exclusively used to gain actionable knowledge. If you don’t understand that, then yes, the disconnect can’t be breached and you will have failed in your aim, but for a reason which is correctable on your side.

                    • In a ticking time bomb scenario, where you have only ONE suspect in custody and don’t have any statistics (which is what Senator Greg Ball put forth, the use of torture of suspects to save lives by revealing actionable terrorist plots) torture is actually worthless. There’s no way to verify the information gained.

                    • Stop using the word “NEVER” (your caps, not mine) when that’s not what you mean. Greg Ball is not even on my horizon here.

                    • You are posting in a discussion on Greg Ball’s statement :
                      “If getting that information, including torture, would save one innocent life, including what we’ve seen children, would you use torture?” Ball said. “I would be first in line.”

                      Scrolling up to the top and reading the whole thread, including the ORIGINAL POST, will help.

                    • Greg Ball’s statement is defeatable. Your false statement of fact makes it harder to defeat. Quit giving Ball backhand support by making false factual claims.

                      Is that more clear now?

                    • Then defeat it. My statement defeats Greg Ball’s statement based on the fact that any unique information that is not verifiable, can’t be verified- and torture just insures that it is MORE likely to be a lie.

                      How is Greg Ball’s statement defeatable from your perspective?

                    • We don’t torture. It was never a good idea. It isn’t a good idea today. It will remain a bad idea tomorrow.

                      Interrogate? Of course. Be tricky, sneaky, scary about it? Sure. But torture itself is an attack on america and its ideals. To advocate it is treason.

                      Greg Ball is a traitor for advocating torture.

                    • “We don’t torture.”

                      I no longer believe that. But it has always been a bad idea, it’s just been more hidden in the past. I do believe that Greg Ball has many like minded people in the military and police of the United States, and I’ve seen the same behavior all the way down to the county sheriff level.

                    • “We” is an interesting word. In the context I was using it, it is an implied statement of excommunication from the community of americans. We don’t do X, though there may be evil people who we haven’t caught yet doing all sorts of crimes.

                      By accepting that we torture, you are putting a seal of approval on it. The torturer is us, within our circle of acceptable companions, though perhaps distasteful in his choice of occupation, like a garbageman.

                      No. The torturer is beyond the pale, excluded, shunned, outlaw, hunted.

                      Torture remains illegal in the US. My line of argument directly supports the law and is effective because it invokes both law and custom in a clear and truthful way.

                    • I was using the word WE in the idea of – if you profit from it, you approve of it. And the torturer is NOT shunned, outlawed, or excluded- the ones on the Sheriff level get re-elected for being tough on crime.

                      It is illegal de jure, but not de facto; and the courts turn a blind eye to it quite often, even when it results in murder.

                    • You can profit without approval. I may profit from overly restrictive immigration quotas in terms of salary negotiation without approving of it.

                      The cure for tolerance of crime is to file a complaint. Judges and lawyers are subject to various forms of discipline depending on jurisdiction. If a judge condones torture, it’s an ethics violation at the very least and may be criminal conspiracy.

                    • What an idealist you are. Most of this is with the blessing of the very people who you would complain to.

                    • There’s a funny thing about the english common law system. If you actually file a complaint, go through the motions, suffer an actual injury, you have standing to pursue remedies. All of these people have enemies. Some of them sit on the ethics board of their state and would green light this just to mess with their foes.

                      Then again, I somewhat doubt that I am the only person left in the US that believes in doing what is right.

                    • Heck, you and I are among a severe minority that believes that there IS a universal ethical code. Or can be. What is right for you is significantly NOT what is right for somebody else under English Common Law.

                    • John Paul II’s greatest two contributions to the downfall of communism were
                      1. Be not afraid as a repeated catch phrase throughout his papacy
                      2. Taught by his globe trotting presence bringing out huge crowds that people weren’t alone in their opinions.

                      Do not swallow the lie that you are alone or part of a hopeless minority. You aren’t, though many of your allies will not have your formation and insufficiently understand the implications. That’s ok, the same is probably true for other people with respect to you and I.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          I would double check with your bank whether this is true. Most banks think that an emergency PIN system is a bad idea, and probably dangerous.

          • Depends on your bank, and I was warned this ONLY works at my bank’s ATM. It is NOT a reversal of numbers, it is a code that is the same for everybody regardless of your pin.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        Just because it’s not the primary reason doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a reason at all.

        There may come a day when embryonic stem cell research actually provides a therapy for a disease (it hasn’t yet). That wouldn’t change the fact that it kills children, which is the primary reason it should be stopped. However, pointing out that there are no benefits to using it is still a valid argument. It’s just not the main one.

        • It’s not a matter of should or should not. It’s a matter of does or does not. Stating a false statement of fact that is obviously not true is always going to weaken your credibility and thus your argument.

          It’s perfectly true that torture can be unreliable, causes people to try to make up things to please their torturer, and in certain exceptional individuals actually will not work to the point of death. But to say that torture never works with anybody under any circumstance (which is what NEVER means) is not true and should not be said.

          • I didn’t say it never worked. I said that torture NEVER provides useful information not already known to the torturer.

            Your thug already has a good idea what information he is looking for. When torture does work, it is because there is a second source to verify the information against (the second thug running to the ATM). But in any given act of torture, unique information that comes from it simply can’t be verified or trusted.

            • The advocates of torture never claimed anything else which makes your entire line of reasoning a species of straw man argument, which is both annoying and makes you less credible, which is my entire point on this round. Use alternate lines of argument and you’ll do better.

              • “The advocates of torture never claimed anything else ”

                No, the advocates of torture put out shows like 24 that tried to portray torture as the best way to get information that you don’t know and can’t verify out of a suspect in a ticking time bomb situation.

                THAT is what I am arguing against.

                This started with me answering the question from Senator Greg Ball: “If getting that information, including torture, would save one innocent life, including what we’ve seen children, would you use torture?” *directly* in respect to the type of terror plot we saw in the Boston Bombing.

                My response is unabashedly ” I wouldn’t. I am convinced that torture NEVER provides useful information not already known to the torturer.”

                There is no way, in a ticking time bomb scenario, to verify the information.

  • The Deuce

    Anybody else notice how politically-correct “liberalism” and keeping-us-safe “conservatism” work together to empower the state to crush our rights?

    Tsarnaev and his family never should have been allowed to stay in this country in the first place, and he certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to become a citizen. But, of course, the Left will have none of that. To have subjected him (and others like Nidal Hassan) to appropriate scrutiny, or to take a realistically wary view of immigration of those from ethnic and national backgrounds significantly more likely to be dangerous to our citizens and opposed to our rights, would be “profiling” and “racial/religious discrimination,” which to Leftist sensibilities means “automatically bad.”

    Then, when the Left’s reckless endangerment and deliberate denial of reality produces its inevitably bloody results, the “pro-security” Right uses the fact that a guy like Tsarnaev was a citizen (as of September 11, 2012 – thanks Lefties!) as an excuse to spy on and torture citizens in general.

    The idea that the two sides are opposed is a mirage. It’s all just Ruling Class statists working to undermine social cohesion, expose us to danger, and then exploit the resulting chaos and fear to increase their power over our lives.

    • Dan C

      Immigration as “undermining social cohesion” requires some justification in Catholic circles. I am grateful for the great number of immigrants I meet daily.

      • The Deuce

        No it doesn’t. I realize that plenty of self-identified Catholics have bought completely into the “progressive” notion that man is not fallen, but the fact that unlimited immigration tends to undermine social cohesion is one of the most basic and oldest observations of history, ancient and recent, and has been deliberately used since the Assyrian empire to empower the state by stoking social tension. I’ll go with Paul on this one. In any event, anybody, Catholic or otherwise, who aids the Ruling Class in pulling off their divide-and-conquer strategy, and then complains when the conquer part happens, merits no respect or attention.

        • Dan C

          The stranger, the foreigner in every land is rarely the Ruling Class. Except for some anti-Asian xenophobia too, anti-immigrant debate is not really about STEM-trained and accomplished immigrants.

          Social cohesion is not a God, and like the idolatry around the phrase “family values” for now 25 years, it makes for a weak and corrupt religious basis.

          I suggest the Gospel, and since this is Year C, O have all of Luke and not cherry-picked Paul to back me up.

          • It isn’t the immigrant himself who is using it to destroy social cohesion, it is the way the Ruling Class uses the new immigrant, ignorant of his rights and responsibilities under the law, to cut wages and labor standards.

            The solution is Catholic- accept the stranger as you would anybody else. Refuse to exploit him.

        • Dan C

          And I recommend more skill in attempting to use Paul in proof texting. This passage quoted seems more relativistic to me with regard to Paul’s affiliations, suggesting a weakening of the artificial declarations of identity, which would be in keeping with his broader topic of unity in Christ as the citizenship one should only declare. This is a broader Pauline theme and you seem to miss it with this very oddly used proof texting.

    • Chesire11

      Dzhokar Tsarnaev immigrated to the United States when he was 8 years old. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to what sort of scrutiny could have determined that he would become a terrorist twelve years later?

      Also, he immigrated in 2001, and became a permanent resident in 2007 – under a republican administration, so it wasn’t exactly a bunch of “lefties” who let him in.

      Finally, he completed the legal process for becoming an American citizen, so why should he have been denied citizenship???

      • The Deuce

        True, technically it’s his criminal, Islamist, America-hating parents who never should’ve been allowed to stay in America. Tsarnaev himself, having already gotten a free ride into the country through his parents, should’ve been prevented from becoming a citizen because of the multiple warnings we got about him and his brother but ignored, because minimal due diligence would be so unmulticulturalist and politically incorrect.

        • Matt Talbot

          Deuce – I read the article by Saletan you linked to, and it struck me as incredibly mean-spirited, and more or less a mixture of calumny and detraction. I’ve never read anything by Saletan (I’ve come across his name, but that’s it) and I sincerely hope that his rant there is not a typical example of his work.

      • What makes you think Republicans aren’t lefties?

  • Stu

    Well, he was in the Air Force but he clearly never went through SERE school.

    At this point, I think the comparisons between politicians like him and Nancy Pelosi are not exactly on the same footing. AND DON”T ANYONE SUGGEST THAT I AM DEFENDING TORTURE. But at this point, Americans mostly know what abortion actually is. It’s been in societal debate for a long time. Torture? Not so much. It really only came up during the recent conflicts, is far removed from people’s day-to-day lives
    and accordingly hasn’t garnered much thought or been addressed with the masses.

    Should his Bishop sort him out? Yes. But to look for a huge uprising at this point is unrealistic. There is still much more education that needs to be accomplished on this topic.

  • Scott W.

    And none of this perfumed “enhanced interrogation” euphemism so beloved by Catholics…

    That’s the first thing I noticed, so he gets a little credit for honesty I suppose and none of this, “Well gee whiz, is it really torture?”

  • Josh

    “The instant the Bourbon GOP regains power, torture will be back.” Has it left? Not a rhetorical question. I didn’t know Obama ended it fully. Is this true?

    • Dan C

      Torture in some form has been a feature of American foreign policy since before Carter. It’s just we permitted our client states to do it in our behalf, trained and prepped for the task by our over-venerated Special forces and clandestine services.

      • Josh

        What a patronizing non-reply. I didn’t ask for a history lesson involving bitchy shibboleths like “over-venerated.” The question, put more fully is: To the extent a President is able to do this, did Obama put an end to what a normal person considers torture, e.g., waterboarding, sleep deprivation, painful body movement limitation, etc.? I know he ended waterboarding. Did he get rid of the rest? That is, has torture been sent away so that in the future it may come “back” like Mr. Shea says?

        • Dan C

          And what I am saying is that this is a de facto US policy with at least 40 years of provenance supported by the Special Forces and clandestine services. It has not left.

          • Josh

            OK. I get it. My question is too narrow. It ignores the broader picture. It’s not nuanced enough. Mea culpa.

            Shea wrote “The instant the Bourbon GOP regains power, torture will be back.” This seems to imply there was a change of some sort after the “Bourbon GOP” lost power. The only change I know of was Obama cutting out waterboarding. I was curious if there were others traceable to Obama or the “Valois Democrats.”

            • Dan C

              The uber-statesman Carter was President during the initial reign of terror in El Salvador, was President during the height of the Argentinian horrors, and never protested Pinochet or cut off his funding.

              The four American churchwomen were martyred in El Salvador unde Carter. Romero was martyred under Carter. Diana Ortiz was tortured while Reagan and Bush reigned.

              It is not a function of Democrat or Republican. I maintain that we ceased outsourcing and hiding it under Cheney and Bush. If you do not hear much about it now, it is just being kept secret. Why should these years differ?

              • Dan C

                The accounts of the now very broken Diana Ortiz are informative.

  • Colin Corcoran

    I think congressmen AND women should graduate from Military SERE training before being allowed to vote on something they don’t understand YET.

    Sometimes God must break people to make a way to get in, by sending congress to SERE school we can help the process along – after that they’ll do the right thing.

    If we would sacrifice our souls & become the enemy of what we fight for anyway – then why not just be cheese eating surrender monkeys up front and save the effort.

    • Dan C

      Plenty of military graduates of SERE are involved in these nefarious activities. Exposure to this violence in SERE has been no innoculation to misbehavior. Perhaps the trauma results in further abuse of others. That actually is supported by most trauma psychology today.

  • Chesire11