December 11, 2014

Morality and Torture

National Review’s David French, a combat veteran, writes on the Senate’s CIA torture report: “[T]here are still lines we cannot cross. … [R]eports of freezing a prisoner to death as he was chained to a wall, or reports of forced rectal feeding, represent two examples where – if true – the CIA went too far. There are other examples. Lines can shift depending on the stakes and magnitude of the danger, but lines still exist. We can’t ever reach the point where we just say, ‘War is hell’ and excuse all the conduct that follows. This is a common-sense moral proposition, and I don’t know any serious moral thinker who believes there are no norms for human conduct in war. Yet I’ve heard those who support enhanced interrogation accused of just that, of believing ‘anything goes,’ with inevitable comparisons to history’s worst criminals. … This line of thinking isn’t just ‘too far.’ It’s unhinged. It is moral to treat unlawful combatants differently – and worse – than lawful prisoners of war. It is moral to value American lives and use all lawful means to honor and defend those lives. And believing those two propositions doesn’t lead to moral anarchy but instead punishes criminality and can even deter war itself.” More…

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