Ethics & Morality

Trump and torture: you don’t fight Islamist fire with the embers of Christian virtue

President Donald Trump wants to keep his country safe from Islamist terrorists. He’d also like to destroy ISIS and wipe them off the face of the earth. In pursuit of the former, he has issued an executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. Oddly, the list doesn’t include Saudi Arabia, whence 15 of the 9/11 hijackers hailed, and which is the fons et origo of Wahhabism, the Islamist death cult which inspires jihadists to do what they do. In pursuit of the latter, President Trump hasn’t said anything about what he intends to do, but he does think torture works.

According to an interview transcript, he said:

When they’re shooting – when they’re chopping off the heads of our people, and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian, in the Middle East, when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I’m concerned, we have to fight fire with fire.

It is to be noted that he doesn’t advocate a change in US policy: he is asked for a personal opinion, and he gives it. “I want to do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally,” he insisted. “But do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works.”

‘Feels’ is important. We might all feel that torture works, because hanging people upside down and electrocuting their genitals or raping them with broom handles really ought to elicit the swift admission of whatever information is sought. But it manifestly doesn’t work on everyone. If it did, quite a few Christians in the Middle East would be converting to Islam rather than suffering crucifixion, torture, rape, or being burned alive.

President George W. Bush authorised the use of torture (aka ‘enhanced interrogation’) after 9/11. Detainees were deprived of sleep, stripped naked, slapped and slammed against walls, locked in small boxes, hooded, burned and waterboarded. It was justified on the grounds of national security in the acquisition of critical intelligence. Even President Obama sustained the isolation and indefinite detention tortures of Guantanamo Bay, having once pledged to shut it down as an offence against natural justice.

We obviously cannot know if any of these tortures worked or work.

What we can know, however, is that if ISIS is doing things “that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times”, it is incumbent upon enlightened nations not to sink to their barbaric level. Fighting fire with fire might work if your objective is to extinguish a forest inferno by lighting smaller back-fires to starve it of fuel. But it is profoundly immoral when you burn people alive in order to prevent them from incinerating you.

We’re not talking about war or acts of war; nor are we talking about the means and mechanisms of capital punishment. War can be just; mass destruction can be just, and offended society cries out for satisfaction: rulers do not bear the sword for no reason (Rom 13:4). But torturing souls in order to extract information is not a civilised art, but a defilement of justice. It disquiets nature because it can never morally satisfy: the scars just burn in self-renewing cycles of injury, hatred, loathing and self-loathing.

Torture is a violence which never vindicates, for the truth it might acquire creates a vacuum in nature’s justice. You might feel it works, but it destroys innocence and outrages righteousness. It might make you feel mighty and in control, but it is a power which nullifies political authority and destroys social morality. It hardens hearts and diminishes truth because the truth it gains is tarnished with terror. Torture has no place at all in the Christian tradition: it is the law of the overlord, not the love of the Lord. It coerces captives, breeds resentment and rights no wrongs. It is a ritual of vengeance which is better left in Medieval times, for terror is no antidote to terrorism: you don’t fight Islamist fire with the embers of Christian virtue.

  • Anton

    Aristotle pointed out that torture was as likely to elicit lies as truth, to make it cease (Rhetoric 1.15.26).

    Trump is doing great on Islam, Israel, abortion, climate change and the deprioritisation of the gay agenda, all major U-turns for the White House. But I’m glad that His Grace is holding him to account for one of his worse choices.

    • Coniston

      I have read that the British army officer who was in charge of interrogating Nazi spies in WW2 did not sanction torture on the grounds that it did not work – they would say anything. Can anyone confirm this? In any case torture by a supposedly civilised (and Christian?) nation should not be tolerated.

      • Anton

        In (ancient) Roman law even witnesses could be tortured for information in some circumstances!

        • CliveM

          If it was a slave, it was the only way allowed to obtain information against its owner.

      • Royinsouthwest

        I read that too somewhere but I don’t remember the source. A lot of false information would probably be worse than no information.

      • Dominic Stockford

        A member of my congregation (now deceased) was an interpreter for both the British and American armies after the war was completed, and during the last few months. What he saw OUR people doing to extract information drove him to the point of madness.

        • Busy Mum

          Interesting – though maybe ‘our’ people had been driven to the point of madness by what they had seen the others doing, especially after clearing the camps!
          I read somewhere, can’t remember where, that the Free French used a cellar located in London to do their torture. The British govt was either unaware, or turned a blind eye.

        • Coniston

          I think there is a distinction to be made between what happens in the heat of battle, or immediately afterwards, and what should be the settled policy of a government away from the battle zone. We have had soldiers prosecuted for shooting badly injured enemy soldiers, either under extremely stressful conditions, or genuinely to put them out of their sufferings. I’m sure that soldiers, of all nations, have sometimes shot very seriously wounded soldiers on their own side, either because they would probably die in any case, or to prevent them from falling into the hands of a very brutal enemy, who would do much worse to a captured wounded enemy.
          Another trouble is that nowadays very few politicians, lawyers or judges have experienced battle conditions. We must try to prevent war crimes, but the heat of war is not conducive to instant rational and moral considerations. We should not expect our soldiers, if we send them to war, to always behave like angels. If we don’t want such things ever to happen, disband our armed forces and prepare to be invaded.

      • Paul Callaghan

        Yes your right, British army not used torture to extract info as ineffective (not because it was immoral) but because ineffective/inefficient use of resources) Note that This is Trump’s stated position since before he was elected (as advised by General ‘mad dog’ Mattis) for exactly same reason as 2nd world war British generals, Not efficient. you can find the quote on google/youtube etc and Trumps agreement in public statement of his non torture policy. But then nobody cares , people just say he supports torture to motivate hate campaigns, hate is effective tools and better mobiliser of mass movements than peace talk. People like peace talk will get you crucified (Jesus) or shot (Ghandi) but Hate talk is great for mass mobilization onto the streets.

      • @ Coniston—Even if the British did not use torture during the war, they did so afterwards to extract the key confession of Rudolf Höss, one of the commandants at Auschwitz. He was tortured for three days and nights in March 1946; it was only in 1983 that the torture came to light. Arthur Butz’ The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, published in 1976, mentions some of the techniques used by the US at Dachau: ‘beatings and brutal kicking, to the point of ruining testicles in 137 cases, knocking out teeth, starvation, solitary confinement, torture with burning splinters’. PDF here, page 45.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    A pertinent piece, Your Grace, and one I heartily commend. One must never sink to the level of the barbarian, but that does not preclude a considered and measured response to their violence and intimidation. If Western Civilisation is worth defending – and it is – we must do so justly. President Trump’s indignation seems to skirt around Saudi Arabia, which is interesting. Some are bad, but others who are bad get carte blanche because of oil?

    • Michael Wood

      I think he has business interests there

      • Dominic Stockford

        His family now have business interest there, but not him!

        He may choose a different way to deal with Saudi Arabia than such public condemnation.

  • Will Jones

    Why is torture a standard element in all action films? The hero is almost always shown extracting information from the villains at gun point or under severe threat or subject to violence. No one seems to think it reflects badly on their moral character or recoils at the spectacle. Double standards?

    • Anton

      Interesting. If someone has kidnapped your loved ones and you get hold of the man responsible who knows where they are and the code on the time bomb they are strapped to, would you warn him that you will cause him progressively increasing pain until he divulges, and then do so?

      I don’t know if I would, but it would be difficult not to sympathise with someone who did.

      • CliveM

        But if you did, would the informatìon supplied be reliable and would relying on a lie divert resources which may actually get to the truth?

      • Sarky

        When you are fighting an enemy that sees martyrdom as glorious, do you really think torture would be effective??

        • Busy Mum

          Islam does not have the monopoly when it comes to seeing martyrdom as glorious.

          • Sarky

            Yes, but the difference is Christians don’t actively seek it.

          • Busy Mum

            Glad you appreciate the difference!

          • Sarky

            Christians don’t tend to be tortured for information.

          • Busy Mum

            Not in this country at the present time.

          • Sarky

            Never in this country. Ever.

          • Busy Mum

            Read your history.

          • CliveM

            Not as formally sanctioned by the State perhaps. Elsewhere………………. hmmm, I wouldn’t bet on it.

          • Anton

            Lollards were.

          • CliveM

            I had assumed he meant going forwards, not historically. I maybe wrong of course.

          • DWMF

            Wrong. A casual perusal of court transcripts up to the 19th century will enlighten you.

        • Anton

          On the understanding that I am not advocating a course of action but answering your question, pain might elicit information which threat of death would not.

          • Sarky

            Until we have evidence of effective information gleaned from torture, then an answer to your question is merely speculation.

          • Anton

            Speculation either way, I’d say.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Is extracting information at gunpoint torture? The term needs defining.

      • Will Jones

        It does. But ‘good guys’ are also often shown inflicting violence in order to extract key information, e.g. by holding baddies up against walls or over precipices. That is surely torture. Or does it not count if it is emotionally driven and spur of the moment?

        • Dominic Stockford

          Your inability to ‘know’ what is or is not torture is why it needs to be defined. After all, locking someone up, removing their freedom until they tell us something, is that not torture? Making someone watch Coronation Street until they talk, is that not torture? Definition is required.

  • CliveM

    If this happens it would have important implications for US/UK security cooperation. The legal fallout from the last time the US used these measures is still being felt.Ask Jack Sraw. Any cooperation would risk legal challenge. We may not be able to warn the US of possible threats, if there was a rsk that any persons arrested might be tortured. We wouldnt be able to use information gathered by these means.

    Torture is morally wrong. It is also inefective and damaging to security.

  • Sarky

    You start torturing people, for whatever reason, then you are no better than that which you seek to destroy.
    The moral high ground is totally lost.

    • len

      The moral high ground is of little comfort if it just makes you a better target?

      • Now you want a comfortable existence? That’s not the Way of the Cross.

        • len

          Choose you battles wisely is perhaps better than blundering about aimlessly jack.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Listening to his comments being spoken by Trump, I was interested that he was clear that in his actions he would be bound by law, and would be led by those who are in the relevant posts around him. That is, he wouldn’t order such a policy contrary to law or advice. What was slightly shocking when listening to the conversation on BBCR4 this morning, was what people DON’T think is torture, including ‘light waterboarding’! I am guessing our own security services agree with this, even though we as a people wouldn’t do.

  • C A Dark

    Perhaps someone can explain what the alternatives to torture are, for extracting information. No-one has yet given any.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Apparently, according to one man on BBCR4 this morning, a can of beer and a cigarette. lols.

    • Anton

      Time, lack of sleep and continual interrogation. Whether that is torture is a matter of definition, and I am not making any ethical judgement but simply answering your question.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Intelligence applied and exercised by our State interrogators:

      1. ‘Your friend, down the corridor, squealed like a baby, 3 AM this morning; he said you were there; that you did it…he tried to stop you’;
      2. Concealed bugs – they all gonna talk some time – they can’t keep their mouths shut for long.
      3. Insertion of ‘turncoats’;
      4. Paradoxically, lots of privileges – cigarettes, brandy – help ’em relax day in and day out – let boredom settle in – it’s a real killer.

  • David

    I suspect that people will say anything you want them to say if you torture them enough, and therefore it doesn’t work. But hey what does any of us know without evidence of its efficacy, and that isn’t likely to be forthcoming, or reliable if it was.
    Was it Bush who started torturing on their base in Cuba? But anyway when the US did this they crossed a line into immorality. For we cannot uphold western civilisation, and we must, by using practices abhorrent to civilised behaviour. I was surprised when Obama failed to implement his pre-election promise to close it down. Trump should walk up onto the moral high ground and stop physical violence as a torture technique.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    A detainee has information regarding a planned attack which will result in the deaths of dozens, maybe hundreds, of innocent bystanders. They refuse to give up that information. Why? Because it is their wish and their intention that those innocents must die, and leave many others injured. They are therefore complicit in mass murder. They are combatants in a war against the nation and its people Unlike the act of terror, torture will however leave that person alive. It is also nothing compared to the barbarism many Islamists happily inflict on their victims. It also demeans a nation when it fails to protect its citizens. I see nothing incongruent about the use of force, whether it is in war, or a prison cell, when the nation is under attack and needs to protect itself. If they don’t want to get tortured then the simple solution is not to plan acts of terrorism, or is that now a protected human “right” too?

  • len

    How do you get an IS terrorist to comply with your wishes?. Promises him 72 virgins and a lake of wine in the afterlife.No torture necessary.

  • Torture might be effective in some cases, but it also warps the soul of the person who is tasked with inflicting it. Hopefully Trump will take the advice of General Mattis – who is opposed to torture – as he has promised.

    • 1642again

      That is what he said. The issue is whether he advocates a reversion to enhanced interrogation methods such as water boarding or sleep deprivation, not ripping out toe nails or burning with hot irons, which are perhaps in the grey zone between torture and interrogation.

      The classic question is of course: if an Islamic terrorist had planed a nuclear bomb in the heart of London, the authorities catch him and know there’s a bomb, but have only an hour or two to find it and defuse it, would you use torture to get the information out of him in time?

      I would.

      Too many people, even those worried by Islam, still don’t understand the existential nature of this struggle. Islam’s advances have only been driven back by aggressive force.

      • CliveM

        If you only had an hour or two, you’d only have one chance, the terrorist would know it and lie.

        • 1642again

          I’d take the chance and let them know they and their families would die an appalling death they lied.

          During the kidnapping epidemic in eighties Beirut some Russian diplomats were kidnapped by one of the gangs behind it. The KGB kidnapped one of the men in the family of the leader of the gang, and started posting him by installments to his family. The Russian diplomats were released unharmed while the western hostages were held for years while Western governments pontificated and wrung their hands.

          Moral qualms don’t cut it sometimes.

          • CliveM

            ISIS and its affiliates strap bombs around their babies, hand them over to the mother and watch them walk into crowds and blow themselves up.

            What was taking place in the 80’s was almost civilised in comparison.

          • 1642again

            I entirely agree Clive. Things are descending fast. Trump is the only western leader who seems to understand it viscerally.

          • Whatever happened to the USSR and the KGB?

          • 1642again

            They passed the way of all flesh, but that does not change the argument.

      • David

        I think I agree.
        But I’d suffer severe remorse.

        • 1642again

          The Christian conscience would hopefully stop one descending into Hell, but sometimes the ends do really justify the means, and one day we will be answerable to Him who knows all the answers, for our reasoning, but don’t forget He effectively advocated capital punishment for the killers of children,

          • David

            Fortunately neither you nor I will ever be put in such a terrible and difficult position as the decision maker in such situations.
            But too many of those sitting safely in comfortable armchairs or Court Rooms, are far too quick to condemn those who do have to grapple with such moral dilemmas, as are inevitably involved in public protection in a world which contains many who hate us.

          • “but sometimes the ends do really justify the means”

            Do they? God has mandated capital punishment for all unlawful killing, not just the murder of children as a punishment – not torture. There’s a difference.

          • 1642again

            Really? Jesus mentioned drowning for child murderers, but where did he say that all unlawful killers should be executed? Does that include those guilty of manslaughter?

          • Jesus hardly recommended drowning for those who corrupted the consciences of children when He said: “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Surely He was referring to the judgement of God and not to a temporal punishment.
            Given Christ is God, the Nomadic penalty for unlawful killing in Genesis 9 would apply as His word.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        The greater good…

      • I tend to agree with Clive M below.

        • 1642again

          I understand, although I tend to feel it’s the apogee of moral narcissism to potentially condemn a million innocent lives in order to refrain from polluting one’s soul by a course of action which might prevent their deaths. Not doing something to prevent an iniquitous crime when one could can be argued to make one complicit.

  • ChaucerChronicle

    Your Grace

    I have used our country’s definition of torture.

    The International Criminal Court Act 2001 defines torture as:

    “the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions”.

    It seems to me that when we eat the bread and drink the wine: we are witnesses to the torture of Truth.

    Torture not only dehumanises the victim but it also dehumanises the State through its’ agents, which in turn risks dehumanising its own citizens.

    Once it begins dehumanising its citizens (for example, under RIPA) it must then defend the Lie. In the end a State can only defend the Lie with more torture: it has no other instrument with which to defend itself.

  • carl jacobs

    Torture works. That’s why the practice is widespread. You control for false information by cross-checking across a wide range of people. The problem is that you can’t hermetically isolate the torturer from that acts that he commits. He doesn’t cease being a torturer once the interrogation stops. What then does he become? What does he do with his seared conscience?

    I think most people would refuse to do these things at first. I also think most people can be made hardened to it and can be taught to like it. Power is a fearful intoxicant. If I have qualms about its impact on me should I ask someone else to do it on my behalf? Only if I wish to admit cowardice. And can I then complain if the state decides to use those methods on me?

    I remember watching a Vietnam veteran discussing this issue. He was an infantry officer. He was asked “Would you torture a prisoner to learn the location where your own men are being held prisoner?” If you know what the Vietnamese did to prisoners you will understand the moral nature of the question. This former platoon commander said without hesitation “Yes, I would.” I understand that answer. It’s an answer born of the responsibility of force protection. “My men are more important than you.” The exigency is clear. Are my sterile hands worth the price paid by my comrades?

    I fear that question. I fear the answer even more.

    • IanCad

      Good Lord Carl!! You’ve been one of Trump’s most vocal critics on this blog; Now he advocates for torture and you’re clapping your hands.

      • Anton

        He’s hardly clapping his hands.

        • IanCad

          Maybe not, but it’s the first time I’ve seen him respond to a thread about Trump without dissing him.

          • carl jacobs

            This isn’t about Trump. It’s much broader than that. Trump is just dumb enough to say things that shouldn’t be said out loud.

            Would you for example justify torturing a terrorist to learn the location of a nuclear device planted in (say) London? Or Miami? The man who says “No” is a moral imbecile. But the implication of that realization is terrifying. Where does that take us?

            Stare that question in the face and answer it. Don’t hide from it. Too many people treat this subject as a series of moral abstractions instead of an integrated whole.

            I don’t have an answer. I wish I did.

          • Sarky

            If you need to rely on torture to find the location of a nuke, then your intelligence agencies need rounding up and shooting.
            Stupid question not rooted in reality.

          • 1642again

            Not it’s not. It’s a rhetorical device designed to ascertain where people draw the line between alpha and omega on a spectrum of courses of action. We all draw the line in different places perhaps, but it’s still a useful exercise.

          • Sarky

            Only if it’s grounded in reality.

          • 1642again

            It might be one day, with Iran, Pakistan and DPRK having or close to having the bomb.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Is it reasonable to expect intelligence agencies to be infallible? How would rounding up and shooting the staff of those agencies help if terrorists had managed to smuggle a nuclear bomb into London or Miami?

            I think that torture should not normally be used but can understand why it would be considered in some of the hypothetical situations mentioned.

          • 1642again

            Correct. 9/11 happened after all.

          • carl jacobs

            What you just did was confirm my argument. You tacitly agree that torture would be justified to find a nuke. To avoid that implication you must disparage the question. But all you did by disparaging the question was prove the existence of the boundary you sought to deny.

          • A moral end does not justify an immoral means.

            The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2298) teaches: “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” When an interrogator treats his captor in a degrading manner, the human dignity of both men is violated; by treating his subject as something less than human, the captor becomes something less than lives, does not answer the key question. If torture is intrinsically wrong – if it can never be justified, regardless of the circumstances – then it must be rejected.

            Even if true that torture would induce prisoners to give accurate information, that would not be enough to justify an intrinsically evil act. Some claim that “enhanced interrogation” helps to ward off terrorist attacks or may save thousands of innocent lives. That is a powerful practical argument. But practical arguments are not enough to justify an intrinsically immoral act. How many women, finding themselves in difficult pregnancies, can make powerful practical arguments in favour of abortion?

          • David

            Your open honesty is admirable.
            We would all fear being asked the pertinent questions you used as exemplification.

          • ChaucerChronicle

            In such a situation the torturer would be treating the suspect as a ‘moral imbecile’. The suspect too, recognising that, would be conjecturing and weighing up, ‘how many points might be scored’.

          • grutchyngfysch

            A man willing to torture another because he believes that there is justification for such an act, must also be willing to make his own freedom part of the cost. If torturing one person for the sake of the many is justified, then imprisoning the torturer who retrieves that information is not a substantially higher cost to pay.

            The primary and obvious issue with torture is when torturers carry it out with impunity: that what begins as necessity becomes convenience. The only way to ensure that something is only truly invoked in extreme necessity is to insist that the person who requires it pays part of the cost.

          • carl jacobs

            That only makes sense if the torture occurs without cover of authority. You can’t imprison a man for acting in the public good under cover of public authority. He becomes a sacrificial lamb for the atonement of collective public guilt.

            Now this would apply to the Lieutenant I referred to above. The situation he dealt with – torturing a prisoner to learn where his own men were being held prisoner – would have involved him acting on his own authority. But I guarantee you. If I was an officer on the court martial, I would not vote to convict. Especially if he got his people back.

    • CliveM

      For torture to work, the benefits need to be greater than the cost.

      If the US resumed torture as officially sanctioned, the costs to all would be significant.

      • “For torture to work, the benefits need to be greater than the cost.”
        No …. it’s always immoral.

        • CliveM

          I agree. I used the term worked. I didn’t say it was right. The point I was trying to make, perhaps badly, is that its effectiveness can’t be taken in isolation of a single incident. So if torture leads to the arrest of a single terrorist, but results in more people becoming terrorists, even using its proponents definition of success, it will have failed.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Napoleon, wrote in 1798 in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier: “The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognised that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know.”

      • carl jacobs

        And yet the Gestapo used it to great effect. If it didn’t work, it wouldn’t be used. The problem we have is that the inherent justification is rooted in the need for the information. “Whose interest is being served?” That’s the wrong question but I don’t know how to avoid it.

        You made a good post below about alternatives. But they don’t help with the extraction of time-sensitive information.

        I hate this subject. I just think it should be addressed honestly.

        • “Whose interest is being served?” That’s the wrong question but I don’t know how to avoid it.

          By asking what God requires of us in such circumstances. Being tempted in desperate situations is understandable. Remove God from the equation and its down to exigencies.

          • Anton

            Yes, but you seem awfully sure of what God requires.

          • You believe God, as revealed in scripture, approves of human torture?

          • 1642again

            Errr. Hell?

            [second fuse burning brightly and retires]

          • You do realise this is the justification used by the Church during the Inquisition? Torture to bring forth a rejection of heresy and a confession of faith. Do you think this acceptable?

            The intentional infliction of pain is not it itself intrinsically evil. Hell isn’t “torture”, it’s punishment; the eternal separation from God.

          • 1642again

            It may have been. I don’t approve of torture, merely being able to envisage certain extreme situations where it could be justified and utilised to save innocent life.

            I don’t know whether there is pain inflicted in Hell or not. All I know is what’s in the Bible, with Jesus himself saying in parables that those rejected by God are cast into the fire. But Hell, whosoever it is constructed, is clearly a place designed to inflict suffering and God seems prepared to let that be the case.

          • Punishment is not the same as torture

            We need to distinguish between different possible purposes of torture: (a) for extracting confessions of guilt; (b) as a legally authorized punishment for criminals; (c) for extracting information; and (d) illegally, for sheer vengeance, sadistic pleasure, or intimidation of one’s adversaries.

          • 1642again

            I don’t think we’re far apart having seen some of your more recent comments. (c) can be justified in extreme situations in my view.

          • As Jack commented below:

            Even if true that torture would induce prisoners to give accurate information, that would not be enough to justify an intrinsically evil act. Some claim that “enhanced interrogation” helps to ward off terrorist attacks or may save thousands of innocent lives. That is a powerful practical argument. But practical arguments are not enough to justify an intrinsically immoral act. How many women, finding themselves in difficult pregnancies, can make powerful practical arguments in favour of abortion?

            The question is: what constitutes “torture”. Few people would argue that a suspected terrorist should be seated in a comfortable chair, given a cold drink, and addressed politely. Some degree of pressure can and should be exerted on the suspect, to prompt quick and accurate answers. Torture, however, is the deliberate infliction of pain, intended not to secure the subject’s cooperation but to break his will.

            Imagine how we would react if we learned that the subject of the interrogation was completely innocent: that he provided no information because he had no information to provide. If that innocent man had been made to sweat and squirm for a few hours, that would be unfortunate. But if he had been broken in body or in spirit, that would be torture.

            Brutal and degrading treatment that aims to break the spirit of man, made in the image of God, to forcibly extract information, is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. It aims to push a person beyond their endurance. Where torture is used, the human dignity of both men is violated; by treating his subject as something less than human, the captor becomes something less than human himself.

          • 1642again

            Jihadis have already degraded themselves. We can do little more.

          • Except degrade ourselves. Jihadis are still men created in the image and likeness of God. Men who have been deceived and deluded by a demonic ideology.

          • Anton

            I didn’t say that. You are changing the subject.

          • Is Jack changing the subject? How?

          • Anton

            All I said was that you were awfully sure of what God requires: a comment about the possibility of over-confidence.

          • Based on Jack’s reading and understanding of 2000 years of Christian thinking on this issue and the changing teachings of the Church .

            There has been much vacillation in the Church over this issue. The inconclusiveness of the New Testament is reflected in the pendulum-swinging vacillation of Catholic theologians and lawmakers of the patristic period and ever since.

            Tertullian took a totally pacifist stance, claiming that Christian standards of behaviour were irreconcilable not only with complicity in torture but with any kind of military service or even law enforcement. But when the empire became Christian in the fourth century, such “impractical otherworldliness” disappeared. While some barbarous customs were phased out (e.g., masters having the right to kill and torture slaves, gladiatorial combats and other bloody spectacles, major physical abuse of children by parents, and the branding of prisoners on the face), other oppressive practices remained legally established, notably slavery and torture. The fifth-century Theodosian Code authorized torture, either as a punishment or during judicial interrogations, for forty specified situations. St. Augustine, while deploring the plight of those judicially tortured in the attempt to force confessions, ends by reluctantly justifying this procedure as a seemingly unavoidable evil in a fallen world where crime somehow has to be detected and punished.

            In the sixth century, the law-reforming Emperor Justinian echoing Augustine’s reservations about judicial torture, giving an impetus to its eventual abolition. Three more centuries pass before we find further relevant legal evidence about criminal processes in Rome. By this time, probably under the influence of Germanic and Frankish customs, as well as continuing Christian reflection, all judicial torture for the purpose of extracting confessions of guilt had been abolished. Our witness is Pope St. Nicholas I, writing in 866 to the recently converted Bulgarian prince, Boris, who has asked the holy pontiff for guidance on how a Christianized society should be run. Section 86 of Nicholas’s long response reads as follows:

            “If a [putative] thief or bandit is apprehended and denies the charges against him, you tell me your custom is for a judge to beat him with blows to the head and tear the sides of his body with other sharp iron goads until he confesses the truth. Such a procedure is totally unacceptable under both divine and human law (quam rem nec divina lex nec humana prorsus admittit), since a confession should be spontaneous, not forced. It should be proffered voluntarily, not violently extorted. After all, if it should happen that even after inflicting all these torments, you still fail to wrest from the sufferer any self-incrimination regarding the crime of which he is accused, will you not then at least blush for shame and acknowledge how impious is your judicial procedure? Likewise, suppose an accused man is unable to endure such torments and so confesses to a crime he never committed. Upon whom, pray tell, will now devolve the full brunt of responsibility for such an enormity, if not upon him who coerced the accused into confessing such lies about himself?”

            After three centuries a new, militant and virulently anti-social heresy, Albigensianism, began to threaten Christendom. Church leaders succumbed to the temptation to fight this new menace by the old, barbarous methods. By the mid-thirteenth century, Pope Gregory IX had mandated the death penalty for unrepentant heretics (something the Church had never countenanced in its first 1,100 years), and his successor, Innocent IV, mandated for the newly established Inquisition the use of confession-extracting torture (with a severity only stopping short of danger to life and limb) for those accused of heresy. St. Nicholas I’s ninth-century condemnation of this practice had fallen into oblivion, and more than three more centuries would pass before Catholic voices began to call for the abolition of torture as contrary to the spirit of Christ’s gospel. But all the popes and the majority of theologians up until the eighteenth century (including even the great moralist and Doctor of the Church St. Alphonsus Liguori) continued to endorse confession-extracting torture. It was not until 1816 that a bull of Pope Pius VII finally enjoined all Catholic rulers to abolish this practice.

            The next one-and-a-half centuries were marked by virtual silence from Rome on the subject of intentional pain-infliction prior to Vatican II’s denunciation of “physical and mental torture” as one of many other “disgraceful” social evils that today “poison human civilization” and “debase the perpetrators more than the victims” (Gaudium et Spes 27). In a 1982, John Paul II echoed this pastoral conciliar statement and urged universal compliance with the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition of torture and adding, “The disciple of Christ spontaneously rejects every recourse to such methods, which nothing could ever justify.” Finally, the 1992 Catechism, speaking of “respect for bodily integrity,” describes torture as “physical or moral violence” and affirms that its use “to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the human person and for human dignity” (CCC 2297).

          • Anton

            From memory, heretics in the Byzantine Empire were put to death for treason before 1054 and this was presumably approved of by the undivided church.

            The Tsar of the Bulgars was playing Rome off against Byzantium, and it is good that the Pope of the time explicitly ruled against torture.

            You write that “After three centuries a new, militant and virulently anti-social heresy, Albigensianism, began to threaten Christendom.” Without question the Albigensians (Cathars) were heretics, but could you clarify what you mean by ‘anti-social’ and ‘threaten,’ please?

          • Research their beliefs for an answer to that question.

          • Anton

            I know well what they believed and how they behaved; that is why I was asking you to justify the terms you used.

          • They were a menace to governments and society generally. They commended suicide especially by starvation, their endure, and in general, the extinction of human life, and advocated abstention from marriage, preferring concubinage as less evil. Thy undermined the authority of secular rulers and were caught up in rebellions.

            The dualism of the Albigenses was also the basis of their moral teaching. Man, they taught, is a living contradiction. Hence, the liberation of the soul from its captivity in the body is the true end of our being. To attain this, suicide is commendable; it was customary among them in the form of the endura (starvation). The extinction of bodily life on the largest scale consistent with human existence is also a perfect aim. As generation propagates the slavery of the soul to the body, perpetual chastity should be practiced. Matrimonial intercourse is unlawful; concubinage, being of a less permanent nature, is preferable to marriage. Abandonment of his wife by the husband, or vice versa, is desirable. Generation was abhorred by the Albigenses even in the animal kingdom. Consequently, abstention from all animal food, except fish, was enjoined. Their belief in metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, the result of their logical rejection of purgatory, furnishes another explanation for the same abstinence. To this practice they added long and rigorous fasts. The necessity of absolute fidelity to the sect was strongly inculcated. War and capital punishment were absolutely condemned ….

            The members of the sect were divided into two classes: The “perfect” (perfecti) and the mere “believers” (credentes). The “perfect” were those who had submitted to the initiation-rite (consolamentum). They were few in number and were alone bound to the observance of the above-described rigid moral law. While the female members of this class did not travel, the men went, by twos, from place to place, performing the ceremony of initiation. The only bond that attached the “believers” to Albigensianism was the promise to receive the consolamentum before death. They were very numerous, could marry, wage war, etc., and generally observed the ten commandments. Many remained “believers” for years and were only initiated on their deathbed. If the illness did not end fatally, starvation or poison prevented rather frequently subsequent moral transgressions. In some instances the reconsolatio was administered to those who, after initiation, had relapsed into sin. The hierarchy consisted of bishops and deacons. The existence of an Albigensian Pope is not universally admitted. The bishops were chosen from among the “perfect.” They had two assistants, the older and the younger son (filius major and filius minor), and were generally succeeded by the former. The consolamentum, or ceremony of initiation, was a sort of spiritual baptism, analogous in rite and equivalent in significance to several of the Catholic sacraments (Baptism, Penance, Order). Its reception, from which children were debarred, was, if possible, preceded by careful religious study and penitential practices. In this period of preparation, the candidates used ceremonies that bore a striking resemblance to the ancient Christian catechumenate. The essential rite of the consolamentum was the imposition of hands. The engagement which the “believers” took to be initiated before death was known as the convenenza (promise).

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01267e.htm

          • Anton

            It is a precept of fair judgement that we evaluate a group in their own words as well as the words of their enemies. That is not possible with the Cathars. If the quote you give is accurate, how do you explain that Bernard of Clairvaux complimented their morality (Sermon 65) and St Dominic Guzman wandered Cathar lands debating theology with them at no personal risk to himself?

            A papal legate sent to the local (Catholic) ruler Raymond of Toulouse, who protected them – presumably because they were good citizens, as Bernard said – was murdered, but this was most probably by a knight of Raymond’s after the legate had excommunicated Raymond.

            So what happened next? Innocent III, avid to maintain Rome’s ecclesiastical monopoly in Western Europe, instructed other legates to preach a crusade against these peaceful eccentrics, offering their land to Catholics who took part; and appealed to the king of France to join in. Papal-instigated genocide!

          • Jack is not debating the rights and wrongs of the Crusade against them but their virulently anti-social belief system – as outlined above.

            Bernard of Clairvaux was scandalised by the shameless corruption in his own Church. This always provides fertile soil for heresy. The people of the area were abandoning the Roman Catholic Church en mass for this heresy. When one considers the apparent elements of the Cathar reforms such as sexual ethics and celibacy, dietary abstinence and other forms of asceticism, poverty, and clerical emphasis on spiritual over temporal authority, it’s not hard to understand his position because he favoured these reforms himself. Bernard referred to Cathars living what he considered to be the Christian ideal: fasting; working for a living; appealing equally to men, women, and Catholic priests. However, he never praised them and considered them dangerous heretics.

            Despite any sympathy he might have had, speaking of heretics he held that “it would without doubt be better that they should be coerced by the sword than that they should be allowed to draw away many other persons into their error.” (Serm. lxvi. on Canticles ii. 15)

            Poverty, fasting, celibacy, and preaching, the four cornerstones of Bernard’s attempted reform in the Church, similarly appeared to underpin the moral endeavours of the heretics he disputed. Similar on the surface – as outlined in my earlier post.

          • Anton

            We have one scripture of the Cathars, but for how they actually lived we have them only in the words of their enemies, Roman Catholic writers. It is a basic principle of justice and scholarship that we not make a definitive judgement on them on that basis. Do not ignore it.

            Odd that you criticise celibacy and fasting when Cathars do it but praise it when Catholics do it.

          • Because the Cathars reasons were diabolical – to prevent reproduction and hasten the destruction of evil matter to release the trapped spirit.

          • Anton

            You would do better to take the view of your historic Catholic counterpart Count Raymond of Toulouse, who regarded them as good citizens under his laws and protected them for that reason. Anything else is between them and God and is not your business.

          • Hardly a “counterpart”. He died an excommunicated heretic.
            Raymond VI was regarded as an abettor of heresy and enemy of the Church. He held his lands under the feudal system from a number of his relatives. Most of these lands were held as a vassal of the King of Aragon, but some he held from the Holy Roman Emperor, some from the King of France and some from the King of England. He had material reasons for supporting the Cathars. He wanted to secure his estates and further the interests of his dynasty. Whilst Raymond claimed to be a good Catholic, he was closely associated with the Cathar cause. He listened to Cathar sermons and always travelled with a Cathar Parfait in his retinue.

            He had a reputation as a lecher and spent much of his early career stealing his father’s mistresses. A pattern that continued during his marital life. He married at least five times, and maybe even six, for political and strategic reasons.

          • Anton

            He’d have made a great Renaissance Pope!

          • carl jacobs

            This reduces to “You have to suffer so I can avoid temptation.” You aren’t making decisions for yourself.

          • No. It’s saying certain behaviours can never be justified and should be outlawed because they are wrong.

        • ChaucerChronicle

          ‘In fact it is surprising how unsuccessful the Gestapo’s brutal efforts were. They failed to break senior leaders of the French, Danish, Polish and German resistance movements. ‘Torture and Democracy’ collects all the known Gestapo torture ‘successes’; the number is small and the results pathetic, especially compared to what informers achieved (ibid., 496-99).’

          Cited in ‘Screening Torture: Media Representations of the State of Terror’ by Flynn et al.

          • 1642again

            The fact is it works on some people and not others so much. The Germans did break up much of the French resistance and I believe most of the Dutch.

          • ChaucerChronicle

            That’s not what research reveals.

          • 1642again

            Plenty of history books out there that show that the Gestapo were pretty effective, especially as there were never more than 2000 in occupied France.

          • CliveM

            The Gestapos effectiveness is not the question, it’s how much of it was dependent on torture.

          • 1642again

            They’re nothing if not efficient those Germans. They would not have used it so routinely if it had proved largely ineffective.

          • CliveM

            The Gestapo were vicious thugs. They would have done it for fun and the thrill of it.

          • Anton

            That’s the SS. Gestapo were mainly obeying-orders types.

          • carl jacobs

            The Gestapo was part of the SS.

          • Anton

            Oops. Thank you, Carl.

          • 1642again

            Some certainly, some were psychopaths, but they were not stupid.

          • ChaucerChronicle

            There has been shown no causal link between the numbers of officers in France and effectiveness of the Gestapo.

          • 1642again

            I’m not sure it’s the sort of thing one develop an equation for, but 2000 Gestapo was not a lot to suppress the French population.

          • ChaucerChronicle

            A distinction needs to be drawn between ‘the French population’ and ‘the French Resistance’.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Even the Gestapo were surprised at the number who informed on their fellow citizens.

          • ChaucerChronicle

            The ‘success’ of the Gestapo’s effectiveness through the instrument of torture is a myth.

            ‘Hitler’s notorious secret police got most of their information from public tips, informers, and interagency cooperation (Rejali, ‘Torture and Democracy’, 493-96). That information was more than enough to help the Gestapo decimate anti-Nazi resistance in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, France, Russia, and the concentration camps.’

            Screening Torture: Media Representations of the State of Terror by Flynn et al

        • Albert

          It works in what sense? You get a lot of information, some of which may be correct. For the Gestapo that was fine, because they weren’t squeamish about locking the innocent up. But here we are talking about making people safer.

    • Will Jones

      Your argument about expecting others to do unpleasant things on your behalf applies to many of the activities of the armed forces and security services. They must engage in many acts which are in normal circumstances quite immoral, and which I would not be prepared to do. Yet I know it is necessary that someone does them on my behalf, on behalf of my country. Is that hypocritical? Is what they do wrong?

    • Moral reason, based on scripture and natural law, gives the answers to both questions, Carl. Emotions don’t.

      • carl jacobs

        I knew how you would answer. But you always answer from the perspective of he who possesses no responsibility. It’s easy to decide when your decisions go no farther than a philosophical discussion.

        What would happen to POWs in the hands of the NVA is not emotion. It is cold hard fact.

        • That’s because Jack believes in moral absolutes, as difficult as they might be to apply.

          • Anton

            If you are an army officer in charge of your men, your approach would weigh the value of the lives of the enemy equal with the lives of your own men…

          • Their lives are of equal value before God. The responsibility is to protect the lives of men in his charge by using legitimate means, not to set all moral considerations aside.

          • Anton

            Not clear how that translates on a battlefield.

          • Just war theory outlines an answer to that one.

          • Anton

            it’s not a settled science, and in any case there’s not likely to be time to consult the portable Aquinas on a battlefield while under fire.

          • 1642again

            Didn’t Aquinas justify morally the burning of heretics? A great and good man, but not flawless.

          • Anton

            Yes, in Summa Theologiae II-II, Q.11, art.3. Amusingly he also argued that if matter was not indefinitely divisible then transubstantiation could not hold (III, Q.75). In the 19th century atomism was proven to be true – it is not disputed by any Catholic theologian or scientist – yet oddly Aquinas is never quoted against transubstantiation.

          • So what? He wasn’t infallible.

            Aquinas’ approach to heretics is not one supported today but is has a logic to it that reflected the punishments of his time and the belief in the evil consequences of heresy for others:

            I answer that, With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church.
            On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.

            On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but “after the first and second admonition,” as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death. For Jerome commenting on Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven,” says: “Cut off the decayed flesh, expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole house, the whole paste, the whole body, the whole flock, burn, perish, rot, die. Arius was but one spark in Alexandria, but as that spark was not at once put out, the whole earth was laid waste by its flame.”

          • Anton

            The troubling thing is this, though: that we are not talking here about the world misbehaving, but the church, the very body which is supposed to be a beacon of light to the world.

          • The Church is made up of human beings and, as yet, issues of torture and execution have not been infallibly stated or definitively declared.

          • Anton

            One could hope, however, that the church, fallible as it is, would give the world a lead in the right direction rather than the wrong one. It does verbally claim the moral high ground, after all.

          • The Church does give the world a lead, for all its human faults. You wouldn’t know Christ today but for Saint Peter and the Apostles who made human errors as scripture attests. Then the Church Fathers who applied themselves to the Gospel and revealed its truth. The monasteries that kept the light shining through the dark centuries and resurrected the message. And, for all its human faults, there have always been great theologians, reformers and saints in the Church.

            Through study, we discover a Church capable of surviving through two millennia of Roman persecutions, bad popes, and the Protestant Reformation. A Church constantly reforming and renewing itself from within, a Church adapting itself to every age and every culture without compromising God’s eternal truths. A Church not founded on the theology of any man or group of men, but by Christ through the Apostles.

            The Holy Spirit prevents the Church from teaching error. Therefore, once the Church dogmatically defines a doctrine, it will “stand firm and hold fast” to that truth until the end of time.

            Protestants can make no such claim. Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. Within Luther’s own lifetime, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli were already disputing his teachings. They differed over central doctrines, like the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and predestination. Doctrinal and denominational divisions within Protestantism have continued to escalate. The Catholic Church, in nearly 2,000 years of existence, has never reversed or contradicted a single doctrine, once that doctrine has become part of the infallible teaching of the Church.

            The Church’s understanding of a defined dogma may develop. Indeed, the richness of Christian theology derives exactly from the Church “pondering in her heart” over centuries all that God has revealed and coming to deeper and deeper awareness of the truth. As Jack posted earlier, the Church’s position on the torture and execution of heretics has never been formally defined as an infallible dogma i.e. revealed by the Holy Spirit.

            Jack pointed this out earlier and you dismissed it as “parody”. One must distinguish between doctrine, whether infallible or merely “authentic”, and theological or canonical opinion. The former includes only those propositions of faith and morals to which the Church requires assent on the part of Catholics. With infallible doctrine this is an irrevocable assent, corresponding to the absolute certainty with which the Church guarantees its truth. In the case of non-infallible but “authentic” doctrine, the assent required is not final and irrevocable, because the Church has not so far proposed it as being more than morally certain. With torture, as Jack has explained, the Church has vacillated down the centuries and held different positions and there has not been agreement. Even today, whilst a consensus is developing, different positions are discernible.

          • Anton

            It is true that I was converted by someone who was converted by someone who… all the way back to the apostles. And THAT is the succession that counts, the family tree of believers, not the apostolic succession of ‘bishops’ (a word which has mutated in meaning without scriptural authority from many episkopoi per congregation to many congregations per episkopos). The later connections in my family tree were all protestant, for what that is worth. We could always look to the Bible for infallible words.

            The Holy Spirit prevents the Church from teaching error.

            If by Church you mean Rome, I do not agree. When I have pointed out obvious errors, such as Rome’s attitude to Blessed Mary the mother of Jesus, you have simply gone into denial (if you disagree) or tied yourself in incredible knots (if you agree) about how it wasn’t an ex cathedra pronunciation by a Pope declared from the third step of St Peters on a Monday when the moon is half-full, or something like that.

          • If you understood anything about how the Church formulates infallible doctrine then you know what you’re saying is nonsense and that you are the one in denial. If you don’t, then you’re ignorance is culpable because you are stubborn and stick necked.
            As for “succession”, the claim of all heretics is that they understand scripture better than those authorised by Christ to proclaim His truths and that they learned this from someone outside the Church. That’s the thing about heresy, it’s contagious.
            Please don’t waste my time or yours by replying. Jack doesn’t respond positively to insults about his faith.

          • Anton

            I’m culpable, Jack, but we’ll meet in heaven anyway.

          • Which is why these issues should be discussed prior to engagement so that one is prepared in advance.

          • carl jacobs

            Hilarious.

          • The moral hole you always go down is moral consequentialism.

          • Anton

            Jack means that “it’s just war”.

          • chefofsinners

            Their lives may be of equal value, but you fail to value the bonds between people. If forced to choose between your own child and an enemy’s child, would you not choose your own?
            Moreover, for the Christian, it is permitted and indeed encouraged to value one’s own life less than that of others.

          • That does not justify immoral actions against others to protect their lives or one’s own.

          • chefofsinners

            No, it redefines what is and is not moral.

          • If you subscribe to situational ethics or moral consequentialism, maybe. Do you?

          • carl jacobs

            Especially when Jack doesn’t have to carry the burden.

          • We all carry the burden.

          • carl jacobs

            No, Jack, you never have. You answer these questions like you are sitting for a written exam. You take no account the difficulty that must be born by a third party. You don’t look farther than yourself.

          • Jack understands why many women might be drawn to having abortions and has some sympathy for them – e.g. following rape, incest, prospect of a severely disabled child, living in extreme poverty, facing medical complications, young girls, etc. Such circumstances, however difficult, do not justify the evil action. We all face difficulties in live and that’s why we need an absolute moral code.

    • συκοφάντης

      One hires a butcher to do the butchering. When was it not ever thus.

    • The ‘Just War’ of Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas refers.

      Neither mentioned the brutalising aspect perhaps because brutality was already written into the situation. There are many examples I have encountered of those who have been required to take like and suffered no apparent brutalisation or torment as an effect.

      It does require having a justification which goes beyond one’s own motives. That may be religious or otherwise.

      I fear you may have created an unnecessary trade off in your last two sentences. The decision may be better based than mere exigency IMO.

  • IanCad

    This is a shocking misstep by Donald Trump. It will only serve to diminish America’s claim to be a civilised nation. With any luck his defense secretary will convince him of his foolishness.and may halt the discrediting of the new administration.

    • carl jacobs

      Welcome to the real world.

  • Daniel1979

    Daesh’s actions and brutality provokes a sense of Righteous Indignation in me, but the use of torture seems like an unrighteous, indignant way to respond. We can and should take the fight to them without allowing fear and anger to be the drivers in compromising our values.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Excellent!

      Torture erodes military discipline.

    • Anton

      If there aren’t any of them left, the question doesn’t arise!

  • Limiting immigration from Saudi Arabia would have been an empty gesture, as Saudi citizens mostly come on tourist or study visas, and can be screened by the American embassies. Trump specifically chose countries from where large numbers of refugees are likely to arrive. Refugees often bypass the usual immigration procedures, making this becomes an attractive route for terrorists. With Saudi Arabia, other strategies might be more effective, particularly strategies that affect them financially.

    • David

      Useful comments I sense.

  • len

    Is is ethical to use medieval methods to deal with a medieval religion?.
    To bring this down to a more personal level would I use these methods to preserve the life of my family?.
    Hard choices and hard decisions sometimes need to be taken and this will be an area of conflict for every person especially professing Christians.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Ethical? No, perhaps not…but I remember the words of Colonel James Napier when dealing with a group of Hindus determined to burn the widow of a dead man, as was their custom. Something to the effect of, “You carry out your customs then I shall hang the lot of you – that’s our custom.” Worked a treat. As they used to say in days of Empire, “Show ’em some stick”

      • len

        I am inclined to agree with you Mrs Proudie.
        The iron fist in the velvet glove.

      • Anton

        The thuggee cult was ended in the days of the Raj simply by executing on the spot any Indian found with the ritual strangling scarf in his pocket.

        • 1642again

          William Sleeman. A great man.

          • Anton

            A remake could easily be made of Monty Python’s “What did the Romans ever do for us?” scene, with Indians as the conversationalists and the British as the Romans. I doubt that the BBC would broadcast it, though.

  • alternative_perspective

    The time is not far off where technology will be able to analyse brain patterns with such precision and correlate them against pre-recorded responses of given, known stimuli – that it will be possible, at least murkily, to reconstruct thoughts directly without the intermediate mechanism of speech.
    What then of interrogation? No torture, little violence but nearly unrestricted access to another’s thoughts.

  • Torture is wrong under any circumstances. Period.

    • Anton

      Surely “Full stop”?

      • Jack was using American English so Carl would understand.

    • 1642again

      PSSSS. The Inquisition?

      [lights blue touch paper and retires]

      • Anton

        That wasn’t contrary to a comment of the Pope issued ex cathedra on the third Saturday of the month when the moon was full and the Tiber was flowing at between 6 and 7 km/h.

        • This comment may be tongue in cheek but Jack wishes critics of Catholicism knew what they were talking about.

          One must distinguish between doctrine, whether infallible or merely “authentic”, and theological or canonical opinion. The former includes only those propositions of faith and morals to which the Church requires assent on the part of Catholics. With infallible doctrine this is an irrevocable assent, corresponding to the absolute certainty with which the Church guarantees its truth. In the case of non-infallible but “authentic”/”authoritative” doctrine, the assent required is not final and irrevocable, because the Church has not so far proposed it as being more than morally certain. It has, let’s say, a 99-percent-plus probability of being true. Classical Catholic theology defines a morally certain proposition as one we believe is so close to absolutely certain that we can safely act on the presumption of its truth without fear of being in error, e.g. women’s ordination and contraception. Less than morally certain propositions fall into the category of more or less probable and hence, more or less freely debatable opinions e.g. how predestination operates, within certain limits such as human free will.

          We also need to distinguish between Church doctrine, involving the magisterium or “teaching Church”, which requires our internal assent to certain propositions, and Church legislation, involving the “governing Church”, by which some or all Catholics are commanded, permitted, or forbidden to carry out certain external actions but without necessarily being required to agree internally with such legislation. According to a centuries-old consensus of approved theologians, only universal Church legislation, understood as that which obliges all, or at least the great bulk of, the faithful around the world, enjoys an absolute guarantee, based on Christ’s promises to his Church, of being neither unorthodox nor seriously harmful in itself.

          • Anton

            Are you parodying yourself or am I?

      • len

        Don’t mention the inquisition .Damn too late, you will have the whole Cyber Swiss guard out now…

        • 1642again

          Feeling reckless len!

      • Jack acknowledges this was wrong.

  • 1642again

    Let’s all retreat from the big bad world where real people have to take impossible decisions between the lesser of two evils and live with the consequences, and instead hunker down in a nice Theological College Senior Common Room with sherry and crumpets by the fire, and wring our hands, polish our virtue and ponitificate on those awful mucky people who have to make those dreadful choices in the real world?

    • ChaucerChronicle

      The spirit of Munich has by no means retreated into the past; it was not merely a brief episode. I even venture to say that the spirit of Munich prevails in the Twentieth Century. The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles. The spirit of Munich is a sickness of the will of successful people, it is the daily condition of those who have given themselves up to the thirst after prosperity at any price, to material well-being as the chief goal of earthly existence. Such people – and there are many in today’s world – elect passivity and retreat, just so as their accustomed life might drag on a bit longer, just so as not to step over the threshold of hardship today – and tomorrow, you’ll see, it will all be all right. (But it will never be all right! The price of cowardice will only be evil; we shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices.)

      Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Lecture, Nobel Prize for Literature

      • 1642again

        Entirely agree CC.

      • Anton

        Chamberlain was indeed wrong at Munich. But we would do well to remember the effects on his generation of WW1.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      So you have visited Barchester Theological College then? We serve hobnobs there as well…

    • David

      Nice one ! It sums up many of the virtue signallers.

    • There is intrinsic evil that can never be countenanced.

      Intrinsic evil is the opposite of extrinsic evil: It is an act which is naturally (intrinsically) evil, because the act itself is absolutely contrary to reason, to nature, and to God.[1] Intrinsic evil can never be done, for it can never be good, because good can never be good and evil at the same time.[2] For example: A truth is true. What is true is good. A lie is an untrue or false statement made with the intent to deceive. The truth cannot be true (good) and false (evil) at the same time. A lie is never true but is always false, for it is intrisincally untrue and deceptive. Hence, a lie is an intrinsic evil.[3]

      http://catholicity.wikia.com/wiki/Intrinsic_Evil

      The question is whether torture is intrinsically evil, not whether it is simply a theoretical debate without substance in a fallen world.

  • len

    Perhaps we should remind ourselves that radical Islam is at war with anyone who does not agree with their barbaric religion?.
    Do we wait passively to be tortured, blown, up or beheaded?. Israel at the moment is the only democratic Country facing these threats on a daily basis, but it is coming here.

  • CliveM

    Most of tortures proponents argue that it is required in extreme circumstances because whilst morally questionable, it works and avoids a worse evil.

    In reality the evidence that it works better the other methods is at best patchy, it is counterproductive and is morally wrong.

    In addition the argument about what a person would do in an extreme situation is fundamentally flawed. this post is about State sponsored torture.

    • Anton

      But agents of the State might find themselves in a James Bond race-against-the-clock to stop London getting blown up.

      • CliveM

        That still doesn’t address the effectiveness argument and whether spending your limited time on a method with a questionable record on someone who has nothing to lose, is the best way of addressing the problem.

        • Anton

          I know; I’m asking questions mainly on this thread.

        • ChaucerChronicle

          The most effective method I know is for PC Plod to walk the beat and have cups of tea with community groups. He is unwilling to do that:

          1. It is unglamorous work;
          2. Believes interception of telephonic and cyber data is effective.

          Daft.

          • 1642again

            3. The locals don’t like the police or don’t speak English, or will be ostracised if seen speaking to the police.

          • ChaucerChronicle

            I am writing from, formerly, working in the field.

  • Is waterboarding actually “torture”?

    Deciding what exactly we mean by “torture” isn’t easy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it as “physical or moral violence”; the 1984 United Nations Convention on Torture defines it as: “the intentional infliction of severe pain.” The words “violence” and “severe are not defined. Who draws the line—and where?—as to which specific practices are harsh enough to correspond to those words?

    There is no consensus about whether less extreme interrogation techniques count as “torture”: For instance, sleep deprivation, being kept under harsh temperatures or in uncomfortable positions, or “waterboarding” (which causes a brief, panic-inducing sensation of about to drown but no pain or injury). The only methods we can be sure are “torture” are those involving violence and severe pain.

    • Anton

      You can waterboard people to death.

      • Then that would be “severe physical violence” and would be murder.

        • Anton

          I know about waterboarding, Jack. I drowned (in the medical sense of the word, which does not mean unresuscitatable) when I was four years old. I credit the circumstances of my rescue as miraculous. I can still remember going under, and while I enjoy swimming today I am still unable to swim the width of a swimming pool underwater without a nose clip even though I have adequate breath. Waterboarding is torture alright.

          • Jack nearly drowned too, when he was 11 years old and was pulled from the creek water by a passing man who lived on a moored house boat with his family. An outsider, shunned by the local community.

            Waterboarding induces panic and the sensation of drowning. Is it torture? Used to extract a confession, it would be wrong. But to glean information, Jack isn’t so sure. It’s cruel and inhuman treatment, as is sleep deprivation, but is it torture?

          • Anton

            On the understanding that I am discussing only whether waterboarding is torture, and setting aside the ethical issues about torture discussed elsewhere on the thread, the answer is Yes. Waterboarding induces “the sensation of drowning” because the person IS drowning. Keep pouring the water on and the person will drown as surely as if you held him underwater.

          • Then, if you are correct, and it is torture, it is morally wrong. Is corporal punishment “torture”? One can be beaten to death too. Is withholding food or water wrong?

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Both the Catholic and UN definitions could include almost any act of war. What is war other than the infliction of either death or disabling injury? One could argue that simply locking someone in a prison cell is torture. It is a form of punishment and deterrent. If it were not meant to inflict pain, either physical or psychological, we would lock prisoners in luxury apartments.

      • Anton

        We do. Have you seen Breivik’s accommodation?

        • Politically__Incorrect

          It’s a bit cosy, but not a place I’d want to rent

      • The question then is whether punishment or the use of force is intrinsically evil i.e. never justified? “Torture” – and we need a definition – can be applied for different reasons.

    • CliveM

      Strange the RCC doesn’t explicitly include mental torture.

      • That’s comes under “moral violence”.

        • CliveM

          If so, then water boarding must be torture.

          • Then is God a torturer?

            “And it was given them that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man. And in those days men shall seek death, and shall in no wise find it; and they shall desire to die, and death fleeth from them.”
            (Revelation 9)

          • CliveM

            As you said elsewhere, their is a difference between torture and punishment. Water boarding done to extract information is torture.

            I am a bit reluctant tbh to use a book of the bible, so full of symbolism and allegory as Revelation, as a literal basis for any argument.

    • 1642again

      Now we’re coming close to alignment Jack. That’s my argument, are these things really torture or primarily rapid ways to disorientate and break the will to resist? I think they’re in the grey area between interrogation and torture, and as to where the line is exactly depends on the situation at the time and the context of the interrogation.

  • preacher

    History proves that inflicting torture on others is generally ineffective, the victim will either admit to anything when the pain becomes unbearable, even if the outcome is death.
    Many innocent people have suffered death in an attempt to stop the pain of torture, how many old but innocent old women were burned as witches in the 17th Century ? Many gave the names of others who were equally innocent in an effort to stop the suffering.
    The barbarity of the inquisition was infamous, but similarly ineffective & guilty of the deaths of more innocents.
    Further research will prove the truth of the above facts & many more examples. These measures were used at times in history when knowledge was limited, people were superstitious & life was cheap. To revert to these cruel & evil measures is a retrograde step for any so called civilised society.
    Although I know little about modern techniques to find information from detained suspects, I would think that the combined use of so called ‘ Truth drugs ‘ & lie detectors would be far more efficient as well as humane in interrogation of known or suspected terrorists in an effort to protect our liberty & nullify the spread of terrorism. It would also defuse those who would be inclined to be seen as martyrs, suffering for the cause from joining it’s ranks.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      ‘I think that the combined use of so called ‘ Truth drugs ‘ & lie detectors would be far more efficient as well as humane in interrogation of known or suspected terrorists in an effort to protect our liberty & nullify the spread of terrorism. It would also defuse those who would be inclined to be seen as martyrs, suffering for the cause from joining it’s ranks.’

      In my opinion, that too would be an ineffective strategy.

      It is the church leaders in the West, believe it or not, who encouraged that ‘fons et origo of Wahhabism’.

      How?

      Once the they realised that the Christians didn’t defend their religion (‘The resurrection is nothing but a conjuring trick with bones’ said the Bishop of Durham, Prof Jenkins) they concluded theirs must be the truth.

      Women priests supported their belief: if sex doesn’t matter then why should homosexuality?

      Now they can observe homosexual priests, they don’t even need to reason that Christianity must be wrong: it goes against nature itself.

      They produce radicals because they are genuinely desperate to solve the Subjectivity-Objectivity problem (that the West gave up on).

      They believe that the Koran is a revelation delievered by ‘Objectivity’ (outside and superior to Man).

      They are desperate to meet this unknowable god Allah so that Subject can ‘intimately’ know Object. The only way for that to happen is martyrdom.

      We Christians have failed in the Great Commission.

      Maybe that’s why Jesus is appearing to them in dreams and visions.

      • Anton

        That’s not what Jenkins said; he was too smart, although it is what he seems to have believed, and he explicitly denied the Virgin Birth. See his Wikipedia entry. Shame on all who let him be consecrated weeks after his comment about the Virgin Birth.

        • ChaucerChronicle

          The Muslims haven’t studied Judaeo-Christian theology and its’ ‘nice conceptual scheme of distinctions and nuances’.

          • 1642again

            They just sense weakness.

        • Pubcrawler

          Ah, you beat me to it.

        • And three days after his consecration as bishop on 6 July 1984, York Minster was struck by lightning, resulting in a disastrous fire which some interpreted as a sign of divine wrath at Jenkins’s appointment.

          Lightning also struck the Vatican twice within hours of Pope Benedict XVI’s announcing his shock resignation. It was February 11, 2013 the – feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

          There was another strike on October 7, 2016 – also a Marian feast: Our Lady of the Rosary. Originally called Our Lady of Victory, the feast was instituted by Pope St. Pius V to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.

          • Anton

            The respected Bible teacher David Pawson says that there were a number of unusual features about the thundercloud which blasted York minster, but I have not been able to trace any other source for what he says.

            If we wish to play that game, however, the vote for papal infallibility took place during a great thunderstorm in Rome.

          • Thunderstorms are not unusual in Rome. Lightening hitting Saint Peter’s is.

          • len

            Target practice?

          • Now that’s funny, Len. Wrong, but funny.

          • Anton

            I don’t agree. If thunderstorms are not unusual in Rome then lightning hitting the highest point for some distance around will be a regular occurrence too. It duly happened and it attracted extra comment for obvious reasons.

          • Google “Thunderstorms in Rome” and then “Lightening Hitting Saint Peter’s”.

          • Anton

            I recall hunting for these stats in 2013 and this article

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21630874

            confirms what I said. From the article:

            if there is lightning around, St Peter’s has a reasonably high chance of getting a bolt.

            Those 1:112 stats are about related loss of life, not about a lightning strike per se.

            PS Put “close lightning strike” into YouTube’s search facility for some fun.

          • Yes, but the only actual recorded strikes are those posted by Jack whatever the BBC might conjecture – with the exception of a rumour there was one in 1500 that some say threatened the life of Alexander VI.

          • Anton

            These are the only recorded strikes because nobody bothers to record them, in turn because they are routine. St Peters is the tallest building around in an area where thunderstorms are common; it will be hit frequently and as it has a decent lightning conductor no damage is done.

            Now, if St Peters were NOT hit regularly in an area where thunderstorms are common and it is the tallest building around, THAT would be news!

          • So now you concede thunderstorms are common and the one you claim occurred at Vatican 1 was not unusual? And it is news then precisely because it happens so infrequently.

          • Anton

            You are conveniently forgetting that my mention of that particular thunderstorm was prefaced by the phrase “If you want to play that game”.

      • preacher

        Thank you for your response brother, but I feel that we are communicating at cross purposes.
        The question was should we agree with the use of torture to extract information from suspected terrorists, not the problems with much of the weak leadership of the Western Christian Church, which is something I suspect we would agree upon.
        We haven’t all failed in the Great Commission yet, because the battle will not be over until the Lord returns & in the gospels He asks ” Will I find faith in the Earth ? ” In Revelations we find a pretty poor excuse for many Churches who have strayed & the Scriptures speak of many false shepherds & wolves who will come to threaten the faith of many.
        These are matters for another day, but I would say in conclusion that the Lord Jesus is not using torture or threats in the dreams & visions to bring in the lost, but love , mercy & revelations.
        Blessings. P.

        • ChaucerChronicle

          ‘Lord Jesus is not using torture or threats in the dreams & visions to bring in the lost, but love , mercy & revelations.
          Blessings.’ D

      • Pubcrawler

        “(‘The resurrection is nothing but a conjuring trick with bones’ said the Bishop of Durham, Prof Jenkins)”

        No, he didn’t: that is a misrepresentation; however, it is not clear that he believed in a physical resurrection.

        • ChaucerChronicle

          The point I am making is that one needs to look at how the Muslims would’ve received it.

          Not how the learned Judaeo-Christians on this site studied it.

          • Pubcrawler

            Yes, and I agree with your main thrust. Jenkins’ theology was certainly very dodgy, and he was not alone at that time, let alone today. But at least have the decency or academic rigour to quote what he actually said, not a popular version/misreading of it.

          • His much quoted statement about the Virgin Birth, namely: “I wouldn’t put it past God to arrange a virgin birth if He wanted, but I very much doubt if He would”, still strikes me as not just mistaken, but shallow. God does not “arrange” things the way we human beings do. He has a plan that springs from His eternal wisdom. What He plans is complete and entire, and every part of that plan means something. To see the Virgin Birth as some sort of afterthought or extra, as something contingent not necessary, is to miss the point about the nature of God and what His revelation entails.

            Long before the ordination of women, David Jenkins was one of the reasons why many people decided to abandon the Church of England. As one good man, who had spent decades as a Naval Chaplain, and who was later ordained a priest in the Catholic Church, put it to me: “The Bishop of Durham professes the historic Christian creeds, but he also believes he can interpret them as he pleases. This means that the profession of the Creed is now meaningless, because it can mean whatever we want it to mean.” This idea – the malleability of religious truth – is what drove Newman out of the Church of England too.

            http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2016/09/06/david-jenkins-was-a-caring-pastor-who-missed-the-point-about-god/

  • Ivan M

    Bill Clinton advised that if one finds in extremis that one has to torture in order to extract life saving information then one should have to go ahead. But the law does not have to be modified in order to accommodate it, since it is an understandable response to a dire situation. At most the agents involved can expect a slap on the wrist. The usual Jack Bauer situations: Ticking bombs, kids getting their fingers chopped off by kidnappers and such like are pretty much excused.
    But there is no evidence that a single terrorist act in the US, Canada or Europe since 9/11 has been prevented by the use of torture. On the contrary almost the perpetrators were known to the police and a simple expulsion or preventive detention would have the lives of the victims.

    • Anton

      If such an event had been prevented by information gained under torture, you and I would never know.

      • Ivan M

        Argument from ignorance would not cut it. If they had succeeded in preventing anything we would have known of it. This is not a Cold War situation where they had to protect sources in high places. Just a bunch of towelheads for whom the average American has no regard. Where they used torture unapologetically as in Iraq what after all has been the net result? I am referring specifically to physical torture. Sleeplessness is actually a far more effective means of extracting information.

        • Anton

          Regarding argument from ignorance, I am happy to leave the subject to you.

      • CliveM

        Wikileaks

    • len

      Our prisons would be full if all terror ‘suspects’ were to be incarcerated?.

  • len

    I suppose there is a lot going on in the security services that never gets to see the light of day?.
    A lot of terrorism is probably defeated by gaining intelligence through various forms of technology and not the use of torture?.
    Difficult to do anything to day without leaving an electronic footprint.

  • Inspector General

    Cranmer dear fellow. Unpalatable as it is, there is a war of sorts going on you know. That means special measures are needed for now. But here’s something more palatable – ordinary people are not yanked off the street and subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation’. It doesn’t happen like that. The security forces whose diligence allows us all to walk down the street without being torn to pieces by a car bomb or mown down by a truck have limited resources they are not going to waste on those who do not truly deserve their attention.

    If it means some bearded twenty something is picked up as a result of dodgy emails he sent, or that he keeps regular company with Islamic thugs, that’s his problem, not ours. Let him explain what he is about, and he’d better be forthcoming PDQ or he will be ‘encouraged’ to spill it out. For all our sakes, you understand, this must be how it will be.

    There you go. You’ll be able to sleep peacefully tonight with that off your mind. And as you drift off, spare a thought for those grieving. Those who’s loved ones couldn’t be saved by the entity that is ‘enhanced interrogation’…

    • Jack swears there are times Inspector when he wished the methods of Inquisition was still permissible for turning heretics back to God. Then he remembers his moral theology lessons as a young man and repents. Your views are an occasion for sin because you appeal to the baser motives in man.

      • Inspector General

        “The terrorist must understand that if we have to go to extreme lengths to defeat him, we will go to those lengths without question. He must be assured that there is nothing, absolutely nothing that we will not do if it has to be done. For the security of the realm and the safety of the people within.”

  • Inspector General

    Reading some of the comments today, the Inspector is struck by the naivety shown by a few of Cranmer’s following. Interrogation technique has nothing to do with masked men in black holding red hot pokers. It is a profession these days in the West. An art form. As for results, one doubts it would be used at all if nothing of value came of it. Anyway, it’s part of our arsenal, and justly so…

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Read all about it! Enoch Powell speaks out against torture of Mau Mau prisoners!

      Enoch Powell in 1959 spoke out in parliament following the Hola massacre, when 11 Kenyan prisoners were beaten to death.

      This is the concluding part of Powell’s speech:

      “Finally it is argued that this is Africa, that things are different there. Of course they are. The question is whether the difference between things there and here is such that the taking of responsibility there and here should be upon different principles. We claim that it is our objective….to leave representative institutions behind us wherever we give up our rule. I cannot imagine that it is a way to plant representative institutions to be seen to shirk the acceptance and assignment of responsibility, which is the very essence of responsible government.

      Nor can we ourselves pick and choose where and in what parts of the world we shall use this or that kind of standard. We cannot say, ‘We will have African standards in Africa, Asian standards in Asia and perhaps British standards here at home.’ We have not that choice to make. We must be consistent with ourselves everywhere”

      • Inspector General

        Death is what the armed insurgent can expect. Even after capture. One suspects the Kings African Rifles were rather too enthusiastic in the execution of their duty…

        • ChaucerChronicle

          Inspector General

          We are not discussing some shots fired on a safari.

          What can our troops expect when they are captured?

          If the Kings African Rifles’ ‘enthusiasm’ transgressed expected military standards, then I expect an inquiry followed by the prospect of courts martial.

          • Inspector General

            That regiment was comprised of African other ranks, commanded by British Officers. You want Britons on a charge for the African’s excesses?

          • bluedog

            Of course. Why not? If the officers allowed the African troops to run amok, the British officers would be responsible. You don’t turn military discipline on and off at will.

          • Inspector General

            We’re talking of African warriors in Africa, Bluedog. Don’t expect too much from them in the way of conduct. No one else does…

          • bluedog

            Not the case. When much younger this communicant remembers conversations with a WW2 commanding officer of the KAR, which had battalions raised in a number of British colonies. The battalion in this instance was from Kenya and saw active service in the Horn of Africa expelling the Italians. One was left in no doubt that the highest standards were expected of African NCOs and men, and these standards were met. The British Army does not permit its units to operate as tribal rabbles.

          • Inspector General

            As far as one knows, the KAR did not allow journalists to accompany them. Battle honours without question then!

          • ChaucerChronicle

            Inspector General

            British and American officers come under the doctrine of Command Responsibility.

            May I take this opportunity to remind you that we executed a king under that very doctrine.

      • ChaucerChronicle

        Oh no Hannah! No not those.

      • Inspector General

        As so you should, young Hannah. The Imperial British Army at its finest…

      • More like this:

  • Sarky

    If we accept torture as ok, where do we stop??? Does mavis get a good waterboarding to get her to confess to nicking a scratchcard?
    I’m just worried as to where the line gets drawn.

    • Inspector General

      An idiot like you shouldn’t trouble your small mind with such ludicrousness…

      • Sarky

        Once things become the norm they become accepted. You of all people should understand that.

        • Inspector General

          We accept armed police. But it takes a senior officer ranked Commander or above to sanction deployment of weapons….

        • Politically__Incorrect

          Why should it become the norm? We aren’t talking about petty crime but the potential mass slaughter of innocents.

  • Dreadnaught

    Torture or Robust interrogation?
    Its a question of degree that depends on an infinite number of variables. It is used and always will be used by armed forces and has delivered beneficial results otherwise they would find more effective uses of man-power to gather intelligence. Use of barbaric methods to instill fear in a people is one calculated method of popularion control that is rightly condemned by any sane society and is completely diiferent to the import of statement made by President Trump which he will never remove from his record in Office.
    What is not done, is to pontificate on ‘torture’out of ignorance or context.

  • Albert

    Torture doesn’t work because it does not give the victim a reason to tell the truth. It gives the victim a reason to say anything that will cause the torture to stop. This heightens the immorality of the practice, which is inherently immoral: it’s wrong in itself, and still used even though it doesn’t work.

    • Inspector General

      Look. If you don’t know what you are on about, why don’t you just shut it, sir…

      • bluedog

        ffs

        • Inspector General

          The Scenario

          MI5 pick up an Islamic gang. They’ve received a reliable tipoff that there’s a plan to tie a suicide vest to a vulnerable 12 year old girl and send her out. There are two immediate problems resulting: they can’t find the vest and they don’t know who the girl is. The surmise they haven’t apprehended all the gang. The detained are saying nothing, but one of them is showing signs of weakness. A little ‘encouragement’ and he’ll come out with the necessary…

          Now, how do you proceed…

          • bluedog

            Read post above for guidance.

          • Inspector General

            Do allow the interrogators to do their job. And lock Albert in a room if necessary…

          • Albert

            No need to torture me – I will implicate the Inspector for any named crime without torture.

          • Inspector General

            The idea behind locking you in a room is to save you from seeing what must be done to the suspect…

          • Albert

            🙂 You’re always so kind. Would be kind enough to ensure the room is sound-proofed so I can’t here what you’re doing in the next room?

          • Inspector General

            Shouldn’t you be knocking on bedroom windows and troubling the local population with ‘contraception is a sin’ around now. So goodbye for now…

          • Albert

            Artificial contraception is a sin.

          • Albert

            If he will not give the information because it is the right thing to do, he will give the wrong information – he’s as afraid of the others as he is of the state. Moreover, by torturing him, you vindicate his sense that the state is wicked, so he has another reason to pull the wool over your eyes and side with his gang. So the police go off on wild goose chase, while the 12 year old girls blows up in a public place…meanwhile, the police are busy arresting the wrong people.

          • Inspector General

            You really think the trained interrogators don’t know when they’re being lead to nowhere?

          • Albert

            You really think trained economists would get their post-Brexit economic predictions wrong? Oh they did – and most of us here guessed they were wrong. If trained interrogators are so good, they wouldn’t need the torture.

          • Inspector General

            What’s that got to do with the price of fish?

          • Albert

            Experts get it wrong.

          • Inspector General

            You’re very much an expert…

          • Albert

            From which I infer that I get it wrong…

          • 1642again

            One of the peculiarities of many captured jihadis îs that they spill the beans readily. KGB professionals they are not for the most part.

          • Albert

            You only have to look at the psychology of these people. At the root of their behaviour is a feeling of insignificance, so give them a worried audience and they are only too pleased to explain why they are significant.

    • chefofsinners

      Simply let him know that if the information turns out to be false then there will be worse to come.
      Basics, Albert, basics.

      • Albert

        And if he has no information to give what does he do? He gives false information? How precisely does any of this make people safer: though innocent, you might be tortured yourself, and others being tortured might give false information to make it stop. Then you get a witch-hunt of people named because of the torture. They also get tortured, but also, by virtue of being innocent have no information to give. So they give false information, condemning others. This is how witch-hunts actually worked and one of the reasons why people woke up to the stupidity of it all. For more information, see chapter 3 of For the Glory of God by Rodney Stark. It’s about evidence, not hunches.

        • chefofsinners

          Yes, it can go wrong. The alternative is to ask a chap a question and believe him when he says “I don’t know”. This also has obvious pitfalls.

          • Albert

            But fewer pitfalls. You have no new information, but that is better than wrong information. In the Church, eventually torture came to be realised as so unreliable, that information gained by torture had to be obtained outside of torture. Eventually, people said “Why are we doing this? We’re harming people to no good end.” So it doesn’t make people safer (because the information is unreliable), but it makes people less safe because they become victims of the state.

            And it’s just wrong anyway.

          • chefofsinners

            Suppose you know a man has information, but he won’t tell you.

          • Albert

            Suppose I think a man has information, you mean. Well then I won’t know whether what he says under torture is correct.

          • chefofsinners

            No, I mean what I asked. Perhaps he has arrogantly said that he has the information, or been recorded or overheard saying so. Or there is DNA evidence. Suppose you know a man has information which will prevent the suffering of others.

          • Albert

            I still don’t think you know, I think that means you have very good reason. I offer the same answer as before. I would add that when you start to torture people, you lose moral credibility, which means you increase the power of your enemies – law of unintended consequences, and all that. But notice, this is all pragmatic – I think there are issues of principle here too.

          • chefofsinners

            So, you have three witnesses who have heard a man saying that he knows where your abducted daughter is being held by paedophiles. He has been recorded on video saying he knows and sent text messages to friends saying he knows. He has photographs of her taken after she was abducted and his fingerprints have been found in her bedroom. He tells you to your face that he knows, then laughs to see the suffering it causes you.
            What price your principles?

          • Albert

            I’d beat an answer out of him. But would it be right both morally, and in terms of the information being correct?

          • chefofsinners

            Well, I’ve finally beaten that answer out of you. Is it correct? I wonder.

          • Albert

            Notice that I gave you the answer you wanted, not the right answer!

          • chefofsinners

            One more twist should do it…

          • Albert

            Should do what? Force me to give a wrong answer to stop the discomfort of the interrogation? You see how we are role-playing the very problem here.

          • It would be you reverting to animal instincts, absent of reason and moral considerations. Understandable in a desperate but not defensible or moral.

  • bluedog

    ‘It hardens hearts and diminishes truth because the truth it gains is tarnished with terror.’ A metaphor for the entire interaction between the notionally Christian West and Islam. All the examples quoted in this thread relate to interactions between advanced Western societies and third world societies, or the agents thereof. The Third Reich was a terrible corruption of a Judeo-Christian society. Christianity, as Rev’d Dr Gavin Ashenden recently reminded us in an excellent post, is based on belief in a loving God. The Islamic god demands submission but can, we are lead to believe, be merciful. Whatever the attributes of the Islamic god, the Wahhabist interpretation leads to a very tough-minded society that holds human life cheaply and cares nothing at all for those who do not believe, also permitting the telling of lies in the furtherance of Islam. The propensity for the Muslim to tell a lie is therefore sanctioned by his or her god, and a lie potentially becomes a virtue. Our own values are in reverse, our God explicitly forbids the telling of lies; we are conditioned to regard lies as vices.

    Where does this lead? For the Muslims it is a disaster. The Western assumption has to be that in extremis, everything a Muslim tells you is a lie and that great effort will need to go into cross-checking facts to determine the truth, all of which takes time that may not be available. In the case of the hypothetical bomb in London or Miami, if the suspect is a Muslim, the end justifies the means in the extraction of the truth. That is the consequence of Islam.

  • chefofsinners

    A state ought not to torture its loyal citizens. But once a man sets himself against that state he might forfeit its protection. The lives of the loyal members of that state might be valued above his. Their rights above his. What would you do with such a man if you were the head of state, charged with the safety of your people, and you believed useful information could be extracted by making him uncomfortable? Would you bring him a cup of tea and an armchair? You would not.

    • 1642again

      The old concept of ‘outlaw’ perhaps? I do agree with you for the most part.

      • chefofsinners

        The old concept of treason.

    • Anton

      And this is exactly why the notion of human rights is logically incoherent, whereas civil rights make sense: the State grants them, the State may in certain circumstances take them away.

      • Man’s “rights” come from his Creator – not the state.

        • Anton

          I agree that we should read the Bible to see whether God grants man any universal rights. He doesn’t.

  • Hi

    My gut instinct is to be against torture .. but I’m unsure after reading the thread.

    As from reading this thread , it seems to boil down to “what is torture and what is legitimate integration?”

    Like we might all suggest using someone as a human ashtray (what happened to Israelis who were captured by Assad the Eldest Syrians ) , thumb screws, iron maiden and the rack are torture, but other stuff?

    Is whipping torture? covering some one in candle wax? From googling” naughty Nina” , I understand that this shocking stuff- Bondage – is a fetish / turn on to some, so is that classified as a form of torture? . ….

    is it the method of torture ? What is torture? Is it torture if it causes pain to someone? For example is being forced to listen to George Michael for 24 hours a form of torture? Is being give “truth drugs ” or being savagely beaten?

    • chefofsinners

      Linus is torture and ought not to be allowed in a civilised society.

      • Fred

        In a war zone lot’s of things happen that “ought not to be allowed in a civilized society”. You know – like shooting and bombing – it is the nature of things.

        This ISIS episode has made it very clear that any restraint on the part of the west is regarded as abject weakness rather than an example to be reciprocated.

        Trump is big on signalling potency without necessarily an intention to follow through. His comments are best understood in that light.

        • chefofsinners

          Linus isn’t an Islamic terror organisation. It’s a French egotist who posts here with monotonous predictability.

          • Hi

            This one is for La Résistance/Maquis

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HM-E2H1ChJM

          • chefofsinners

            Even great films have their low points.

          • Hi chef ,

            Well don’t let Linus cloud your judgment on le français . Watch BBC 1 right now, a well cool Anglo- French detective show “death in paradise” with Kris Marshall (who should be the next Dr Who) & the beautiful Joséphine Jobert (who is French , cousin of Eva Green & by Israeli law Jewish ).

          • Fred

            Oh … sorry … stick … wrong end of.

          • len

            ‘Linus’ is a cross us Christians must bear.

          • bluedog

            As Churchill once said, of De Gaulle, ‘The heaviest cross I bear is the cross of Lorraine’. Plus ca change.

          • He has a British passport (mother was British) and claims to be “European”. He even disowns his the country of his father, France, which is perhaps understandable.

            Jack can reveal both the Lizards and the “Greys” have been highly active in France since 1789. Just look at Napoleon’s physical stature.

        • 1642again

          Teddy Roosevelt, ‘walk softly but carry a big stick.’

          Cameron, Obamy etc did the opposite.

  • Albert

    It is to be noted that he doesn’t advocate a change in US policy: he is asked for a personal opinion,

    Noticing that some people here welcome torture, I wonder if that’s the key insight – he says he is personally in favour (so as to get the approval of those who like that sort of thing), but then he will not permit it (so as to limit the disapproval of those who don’t).

    • chefofsinners

      Trump trying to limit people’s disapproval? Not a concept I have come across before.

      • Albert

        He said he would go after Clinton, he didn’t.

    • len

      Torture is OK as long as you don`t use it?.
      Don`t think even Trump is that confused?

      • Albert

        I’m not advocating that position and I’m suggesting he may be using it politically.

  • NortyNina

    “War can be just; mass destruction can be just, and offended society cries out for satisfaction.”

    Ah yes. But who is the enemy? Sometimes it can be hard to tell.
    Sometimes a war or outrage between group A and group B can be engineered by a third party group C who hates both groups and can profit from their destruction.
    I suspect most wars are like this.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      ‘Ah yes. But who is the enemy? Sometimes it can be hard to tell.’

      Consult your Best Friends: the Gestapo.

    • 1642again

      Your record’s scratched. Time to get a new one.

    • Hi

      Can’t you have the basic courtesy of replying to people? Why should we bother with you if you don’t respond

      Here’s a simple statement:

      Jews are well cool and Israel is fab.

      Up vote if you agree.

      • ChaucerChronicle

        Good show chaps for voting!

        Remember Israel is a democracy and surrounded by 350 million hostiles.

      • ChaucerChronicle

        17 so far on this count.

        Beautiful!

      • Jack will uptick if you uptick:

        Catholics are well cool and the Vatican is fab.

    • True. The Lizards, aided by their Jewish-Jesuit-Masonic collaborators, are behind all wars.

      • 1642again

        When are you going to reveal what the ‘greys’ are up to Jack?

      • ChaucerChronicle

        I like your style HJ; tasty bait!

    • William Lewis

      I suspect that your suspicions are suspect.

  • DP111

    Consider a situation where a Jihadi group has hidden several dirty nukes in various cities around USA.

    What then? If the bombs are not found, then America will retaliate with maximum force. The time to find the nukes is limited, and the consequences are unimaginable.

    • Dreadnaught

      And aimed at where? – There is indeed a war on going but not between nations in a conventional sense it is essentially a war of idologies.
      No one in the West is prepared to recognise this and is why we have not laid a glove on our protagonists.

      • DP111

        Thank you all.

        First. If America is attacked in this manner, the response will be from NATO. All of NATO will fall in line. Even Western countries not part of NATO, will fall in line.

        Many answers are essentially – who or what does America retaliate against? This is a fair question, if one believes that there is fairness in war.

        But if one admits that proposition, then Islamic Jihadis can continue nuking different parts of the West, and we will have no answer but to surrender, and accept Sharia as the constitution of the Western world. This after all, is what the Islamic war on the rest of the world is about. Its not to convert the world, but to put it under sharia.

        The other option, targeting a symbol of Islam, does not get us out of the quandary. Jihadis may consider it a small sacrifice, to gain the bigger prize of Islam conquering the world
        .
        Suppose the authorities get to know, that there all several nukes in cities in America, and by chance, the police arrest a member of the Jihadi group that did the planting.

        Do you think that investigators should have the freedom to use enhanced investigation techniques, including chemical, to find out where they are? Bear in mind that time may be short – maybe less then a week.

        And the consequences if the bombs exploded – millions of Americans dead. One cannot rely that any American president, in these circumstances, will be content, or be allowed, given the white hot anger of the American people, a proportionate response. The response would be such that it will leave hundreds of millions dead. There is no such thing as a proportionate nuclear exchange – its all or nothing.

        So it all rests on, that all bombs are found before they explode. Which means use of enhanced investigation techniques, including chemicals, as interrogation instruments.

        What do Cranmer’s respondents think?

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Will retaliate? Against whom old boy?

      • Anton

        Mecca?

        • 1642again

          Loads of places but start there where the evil began.

          • Anton

            I would not be surprised if various extremist groups have been informed – with plausible deniability, of course – that it has been added to the list of potential US targets.

            As to whether Muhammad really began his career there, Muslims today certainly think so but invest a tenner in the 90-minute downloadable documentary The Sacred City by an independent scholar, Dan Gibson, and be amazed.

          • 1642again

            Well then target the whole region just to make sure…

          • Anton

            I am saying only that I would not be surprised if this city was “in play” behind the scenes as a deterrent to devout terrorists. I could not advocate nuking it in a first strike. But I do wonder what Trump will say to Putin about Islam when they meet.

          • Jack has often wondered why the Kaaba has not been destroyed by some fanatical group or other. Pandamonium (the abode of all the demons) would be unleashed.

          • Pubcrawler

            Its destruction is a declared objective of ISIS.

      • DP111

        If it doesnt, then all it will do is to encourage other Jihadis to continue nuking America. The only option will then be to admit defeat, and let Sharia be our constitution.

  • not a machine

    I think its pretty clear that any war being fought by sending children with bomb vests on suicide missions ,or for that matter wanting to live stream its executions ,is a terror construct .I would have thought protocol would be , you have then in custody ,you give them interrogation ,they may or may not give you information you require ,if not make additional sentencing beyond mandatory ,if they could have stopped incidence have further sentence ….That aside ,wars being unfortunate and terrible things that they are I think you have to consider ,what that means in taking and giving , but basically I ponder what it means when Jesus spoke of having little faith in such moments of difficulty .Its if you are sure your waging of war is for the good thing.

    • Inspector General

      Jesus obviously didn’t object to Peter carrying a sword around with him. And there wasn’t even Islam then!

      • Dominic Stockford

        The passage talks of two swords – Luke 22:38. I wonder who carried the other one?

      • One believes He was against the sword being used by Peter to obstruct lawful authority.

      • not a machine

        I think one citation is Peter took the arresting guards sword

  • An unpleasant subject, this. My issues with torture are similar to my problems with the death penalty. It’s not killing or torture per se, but the institutionalization and bureaucratization of these. The potential victim, the soldier or the policeman who momentarily step outside of the law in dire circumstances or when time is of the essence, all take on a personal responsibility and submit their fate to a, hopefully, just society with just laws and mores, which would consider the circumstances. The execution chamber and executioner, the torture chamber and the torture specialists, all backed by the state and its subjects and employees …judges, lawyers, guards, doctors, equipment suppliers…all that stuff makes my stomach churn.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      I think capital punishment is entirely distinct from the issue of torture.

      In the former, one hopes that the condmened will make peace with his Creator in the execution shed.

      • Anton

        John Wesley rode the carts across London with men being taken to be hanged, and made many converts – and despite the “nothing to lose” possibility, I suspect he was not easily fooled.

        • I leave up to God to decide the worth and value of such eleventh hour “conversions.”

          • Anton

            I’m sure he did that too.

          • Who? Wesley or God? The lower-cased “he” implies Wesley.

          • Anton

            Sorry, I see the ambiguity. I’m sure Wesley left it to God, although he is entitled to his private conjectural opinions.

          • No problem. But something else is unclear to me. Did Wesley save the condemned men’s lives upon conversion? If so, these are not mere conjectural opinions, but the power to commute a lawful sentence on the authority of one man for which such entitlement is harder to justify.

          • Anton

            Wesley made no attempt to get their sentences commuted. He attempted to convert them to Christ in their last hour.

          • Ah, well, then I have no opinion on this matter.

      • Yest, the two are distinct, but the ability to “make peace with [one’s] Creator isn’t the primary distinction in my mind. The finality is. Additionally, institutional executions are a form of torture in themselves, especially where the subject waits for a long time.

        Both torture and execution are, arguably, unavoidable in pre-state societies lacking the resources or structures for effective systems of justice. No to so in our case.

        • That happens to be the present Catholic position on capital punishment – not to mention the hypocrisy of state killing when it sanctions the murder of unborn children allied to the desire for revenge on the part of secular society.

          • Well, of course, Jack. We run the Vatican too.

          • So, you are a member of the Jewish-Jesuit-Masonic cabal.

          • Must be. Had a Jesuit history teacher in Vienna, Herr Schuler, when I was 12.

  • Water boarding. What’s not to like? It’s a sunny day, surf’s up, you go ride a tube. Happy Days. Fonz et origo.

    Been to Wall Mart. Got a big one. Also ordered a new ‘plane. Mexico’s gonna pay for it: Air Force Juan.

    Got the Brits’ Prime Menstrual comin’ tomorrow. Pence says no grabbin’ by the pussy an’ when she mentions the bust she ain’t comin’ on to ya.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      A post to make me smile and end this day.

      Thank you, Mr President.

      PS: thank you for cutting off funding to abortion groups and UN pro-Palestian groups.

      Love ya!

  • On a previous topic, a Fox News interview with Rev. Dr. Ashenden on his resignation:

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/5298956988001/?#sp=show-clips

  • NortyNina

    “In pursuit of the former, he has issued an executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran.”

    A list of countries almost the same as those stated by General Wesley Clark in March 2007;

    “We’re going to take out seven countries in 5 years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran”
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166

    • ChaucerChronicle

      Are Nazis like you, now in the news supplying business?

      Get back to the Berlin bunker; that corporal from Bohemia wants you to make the coffee.

      Schnell!

      • LOL! The Nortie apparition links to the site of a loony Canadian Jewish conspiracy theorist and Putin lapdog, Professor Chossudovsky. The mental acrobatics involved behind Nortie’s attempt reconcile her paranoia over Jewish influence on the world with relying on a nominally Jewish source for her political views must be a dizzying, and surely comical, sight to behold.

        • She a “grey” play ….

          • Why grey? I was thinking fecal-brown with flies buzzing around.

          • 1642again

            Blabbermouth! 10,000 Hail Marys for you!

          • William Lewis

            What’s with the “grey” thing?

          • 1642again

            UFO visitors mate. Keep up with the conspiracy theioies please!

          • William Lewis

            Is Jack a species of grapefruit from the Citrus Nebula?

          • 1642again

            Not Jack. He’s their earthling agent,but there is a rumour that that ePope is really from the Planet Zarg and that the ‘greys’ out put to save the RC church from his evil plans.

          • William Lewis

            ePope? You mean the Pope doesn’t really exist? He’s a just a virtual being programmed into the information super highway? I feel I’ve just swallowed the red pill!

          • 1642again

            Typo! He certainly seems a virtual Christian and more a real liberal marxist.

          • Be careful ….

          • 1642again

            Gotta find me first…

          • You think “we” don’t know who and where you are?

          • 1642again

            I’ll be waiting…

          • Grouchy Jack

            Grrrrr …..

            Take this as a warning dick-head.

    • carl jacobs

      Ah, is this how you intend to fulfill your hidden agenda? Oh but at least you aren’t using a different ID.

      One thing I like to do on other blogs (using a different i/d) is to post a single comment from a non WN source that reveals what Jews are really like, or what they are really saying, in order to break through the facade that pro-jew commenters like to create, just to sow a kernel of doubt among the non-jewish commenters.

      NortyNina’s comment was made on the weblog Morgoth’s Review in a post called “Fear & Loathing In The European Hive-Mind” dated 11 June 2016.

      Here. Let’s see another Nina comment from the same post just for fun.

      I don’t think this is possible if, like the purists like to, you keep strictly on topic, it’s much more interesting when the comments cover a wider range of subjects, and I don’t think its possible to fill the comments interestingly if you are just talking about ZOG, racialism and Jews. I try to purposely vary my comments to give a more rounded coverage of topics, while still including some about Jews/racialism and ZOG. That’s my view anyway.

      • Those are a good.

        Mortie, the Bragging-She-Wolf of the Culture Wars. The kid ain’t the brightest bulb in the chicken coop.

        • carl jacobs

          Well, yes but … the ZOG would say that, wouldn’t it. Oh, wait a minute. Was that a kernal of doubt?

          • No, it was a kernel of doubt. In English, that is. Mortie got it right.

          • carl jacobs

            Ummm … Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

        • carl jacobs

          Good grief, but you’ve been busy.

          The true zionists ARE the world banking system, the media, education system, the CIA, the Coudenhove-Kalergi plan, the EU, ISIS and Al-Qaeda, oh and Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders is an anti-zionist Jew.

          How do you do find time to control the weather? Oh I forgot about that unfortunate ice storm in Toronto. I suppose that got the project cancelled.

          The above is another comment made by NortyNina on the weblog Morgoth’s Review in a post called “Fear & Loathing In The European Hive-Mind” dated 11 June 2016.

          • William Lewis

            ISIS are Zionists?!

            Yes, makes sense now. They are clearly trying to “clean up” the Middle East in order to prepare for the inevitable expansion of Israel.

            Have we jumped the shark yet?

          • Yes we have. I remember that “theory” making the rounds among the dementoids about a year ago.

        • dannybhoy

          “The kid ain’t the brightest bulb in the chicken coop.”
          ?
          “The kid ain’t the brightest bulb in the chicken coop.”
          ??
          A Canadian expression I presume..

          • We have a right to our unique expressions which are neither British nor American (like our spelling) under international law and human rights conventions. Heard it years ago from an Albertan.

      • 1642again

        Does she reveal anything of her activities on other websites CC?

    • CliveM

      Please answer the outstanding questions people are putting to you, including my own. Otherwise one might think you had something to hide.

  • Holger

    A bully supports torture.

    Why should this be surprising?

    It’s logical. Trump believes that might is right. Power gets him what he wants, which is his only truth.

    This is the man your prime minister is about to climb into bed with. We always knew the British had a masochistic streak about them, but even she may find the rogering she’s about to experience a little upsetting. Given her constant drawn and pained expression, it will be hard to tell.

    • William Lewis

      Ha! The Donald will be no match for this vicar’s daughter. The Republicans already love her. She is projecting soft power with every move she makes.

      • Holger

        Ah yes, that persistent British myth about how American presidents are supposedly led by the nose by your prime ministers.

        Like Blair led Dubya. Like Thatcher led Reagan – and then woke up one morning to find Grenada invaded without so much as a by-your-leave.

        Was that before or after the Americans had proposed giving the Falklands to Argentina? I don’t remember…

        “Soft” power indeed. So soft that in any language but disingenuous British English it would be described as weakness.

        Go ahead and cherish your fond illusions. Trump is certainly playing up to them right now. Reinstating Churchill’s bust in the Oval Office – what better way to lure the fly into the spider’s web.

        Britain has been America’s poodle for more than a century now. Theresa May holds no bargaining chip that could change the relationship. The UK could have brokered a deal between the US and the EU if its voters weren’t so idiotic. Now it’s just another client state of the US and will have to take any terms it’s given no matter how disadvantageous they are.

        Theresa better take something with her to slip into the Donald’s drink or her rogering may go on all night. One assumes she’ll lie back and think of England. And when she hobbles out of the White House the next morning, her perpetual careworn and worried expression will give nothing away.

        Not for her the Trump wives’ recourse to Botox to maintain a semblance of calm. When you have a face like a crumpled paper bag, all expressions look the same anyway.

        • bluedog

          Such much hate. So much bitterness. Hate Britain and hate America. Hate Women. Hate Mrs May. Love self. An endless repetition. Why bother?

          • Mike Stallard

            Because he is right?

          • bluedog

            To hate?

          • Maalaistollo

            Yes, I think he has a point. Did not somebody once describe our ‘special relationship’ with the USA as analogous to that between a dog and a lamp-post? Our post-war history looks like one of asset-stripping, whether in using our post-war impoverishment as a means of becoming ‘top nation’ (per 1066 And All That) or the way in which US corporations buy and then degrade or close down British businesses (eg Cadburys).

          • ChaucerChronicle

            Britain’s empire receded the moment we betrayed Israel and mistreated His people emigrating to His land.

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t know if that’s true, but I know we have little reason to hold our heads up re our conduct during that period.

          • Anton

            As a former colony, postwar America prioritised the enforcement by financial means of British decolonisation over the alternative, of bolstering the Empire in a worldwide strategic alliance against communism. The world would have been a better place in the latter case.

          • He hates himself ….

        • William Lewis

          Your words betray such a dark heart. It is pitiful to behold. So sad.

        • Royinsouthwest

          Britain has been America’s poodle for more than a century now.

          No we have not. Britain’s global reach was far greater than that of the United States up until about the middle of the Second World War.

          • Holger

            The British economy was dependent on American capital from the time of the First World War. Whatever dreams of imperial greatness persisted after that were a mere refusal to face economic reality.

          • Anton

            This is actually true. The dollar replaced the pound as the world’s reserve currency in two steps, one at each world war.

        • Anton

          Another pint of bitter, old chap?

          • Holger

            Ew! British beer! The only nation on earth that makes a beverage out of the water it washes its dishes in.

            Hmmm. Perhaps that accounts for your inability to recognise the bitterness of your fate as a tributary state scraping a living from American largesse. Your bellies are full – to overflowing – with bitterness already, so you’re inured to the taste.

          • Pubcrawler

            Don’t waste the good stuff! A half of bitter shandy at most.

          • Allosexuel

            Tee hee …. ‘e wets ze bod aftor a pent of beer and ‘is any boodies.

          • A puppy to pet and a cup of hot chocolate for him to curl up with.

        • “Oh darling, don’t be bitter. It’s the first instinct of the weak.”
          (Sarah Dessen, Along for the Ride)

    • Anton

      Another pint of bitter for you?

  • Your Grace, the President does not want people waterboarded for ripping up parking tickets. He is targeting people who have committed unspeakable acts of torture themselves, and he is doing so to keep his country safe. Theresa May take note.

    • Mike Stallard

      OK – Prove them guilty in a court of law then.
      Me, I would not object to the death sentence after that.
      The problem, of course, is that the tortured have relatives who want revenge. They also become the victims, not the aggressors.
      Christians should know this from our glorious martyrs.

      • Royinsouthwest

        I certainly do not like the idea of torture and, as various commentators on this blog have pointed out, some people who have been involved in interrogation of prisoners have major doubts over its effectiveness. However, your reply misses the point of Trump’s advocacy of waterboarding. It is not for the purpose of revenge but to extract information in time for it to be used to prevent future atrocities. Those atrocities would take place long before any trial was over.

        • Mike Stallard

          I thought it was a fundamental principle of law that you could not lock people up for suspected future crimes? What is happening is that our rights are being eroded and we have to stand up for them on the Dietrich Bonhoeffer principle.

      • Waterboarding conducted according to certain procedures and with certain limits was not listed as torture in US law and individual cases did not have to go before a civilian judge. Obama stopped this and instituted a system of interrogation which published the details of the interrogation procedures ensured that the subject was informed that he has the right not to answer questions.

  • I would comment that for a few months a couple of years ago, I was having great difficulty in sleeping and would sometimes be awake for several days at a time, being so tired that I was unable to do anything yet still unable to sleep. To me this was torture and at the time I think that I’d have given anything for a good night’s sleep.
    So I’m sure sleep deprivation can get results, whether you get the truth depends on the risks of lying, but I don’t think my brain was working sufficiently well that I would be able to concoct a plausible story for interrogators.
    Fortunately, as far as I’m concerned, it’s all in past, a glass of red wine or a tot of whisky about an hour before bed works wonders!

  • DP111

    Thanks for all the replies.

    First. If America is attacked by Jihadis with nukes, the response will be from NATO. All of NATO will fall in line. Even Western countries not part of NATO, will fall in line.

    Many answers are essentially – who or what does America retaliate against? This is a fair question, if one believes that there is fairness in war.

    But if one admits that proposition, then Islamic Jihadis can continue nuking different parts of the West, and we will have no answer but to surrender, and accept Sharia as the constitution of the Western world. This after all, is what the Islamic war on the rest of the world is about. Its not to convert the world, but to put it under sharia.

    The other option, targeting a symbol of Islam, does not get us out of the quandary. Jihadis may consider it a small sacrifice, to gain the bigger prize of Islam conquering the world
    .
    Suppose the authorities get to know, that there all several nukes in cities in America, and by chance, the police arrest a member of the Jihadi group that did the planting.

    Do you think that investigators should have the freedom to use enhanced investigation techniques, including chemical, to find out where they are? Bear in mind that time may be short – maybe less then a week.

    And the consequences if the bombs explode – millions of Americans dead. One cannot rely that any American president, in these circumstances, will be content, or be allowed, given the white hot anger of the American people, a proportionate response. The response would be such that it will leave hundreds of millions dead. There is no such thing as a proportionate nuclear exchange – its all or nothing.

    So it all rests on, that all bombs are found before they explode. Which means use of enhanced investigation techniques, including chemicals, as interrogation instruments.

    What do Cranmer’s respondents think?

  • Manfarang

    30 Years of the Troubles.
    You learn nothing and remember nothing.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Just had a thought: will Donald Trump turn out tho be a USA version of Juan Perón?

  • tiger

    If I may relate a true story. I was in health services during the Rhodesian civil war. During a special forces operation (COIN operation) the Political Commissar for the central zone was shot and wounded (Mugabe’s forces). It was imperative that he lived and he was brought into our hospital to be stabilised before transfer to a Special Forces Medical unit.
    He was put into a intensive care unit and nursed and looked after by our top staff. He was treated like any other patient would have been.
    I accompanied him to an airfield the following day. Due to poor weather the transport aircraft was delayed and I spent some time talking to him. He expressed his extreme gratitude to me and the staff for saving his life and asked me to pass on this message. He said they had always been told that they would be tortured and shot if captured.
    Later I spoke to a friend who was a Major in the medical team that received this man at the Special Forces medical unit and had continued his treatment. He told me that this man was so overwhelmed by the kindness and treatment he received that he sang like a canary.
    Special Forces later attacked and totally destroyed the base in Mozambique that he had originated from. This man went on to join this Special Forces unit and was evacuated out of the country when Mugabe came to power in 1980.
    Sometimes kindness and a display of genuine care can convert someone who is totally hostile to your perspective.

  • Jeez, some first date! Pence said to expect the hairdryer. Turns out his idea of a blow dry ain’t the same as mine!
    That was a sticky start, but the old animal magnetism soon kicked in, and we got down to business. She thought I was GBLTD-phobic but when I came out as Trans-Atlantic and Bi-lateral she opened right up. Now we’re holding hands in public, an’ you can guess what’s going down in the Presidential Suite! Makin’ Amourica great again!

  • Seadog

    But the fear of torture works wonders.

  • Alicia Sinclair

    Khalid Sheikh Muhammads torture apparently led to getting Bin Laden eventually.
    Shall we leave it to Maddis and the US system to work out where the lines are and how they need be policed?
    After Cologne and Nice, Brussels and Paris-safe to say that the USA have no purpose in listening to anybody in Europe anyway.
    Trump has a national democratic mandate, whereas May was a placement by a busted Tory Party-and has no national mandate yet. She`s doing fine-but she needs to burn the BBC off the national polity before it infects her with its own Lime Disease of limp green patronage and lies.
    Islams kind of green is darker-if we can`t deal with the idiot left, they`ll take us apart.

    • Friend Alicia! Haven’t see you for a while … hope all’s OK?

      • C’mon Lefty. What’s the crack?

        You’re after her, aren’t you?

        That raincoat will probably turn her head…

        • Friend Cat! I am literally shocked that you should cast nasturtiums upon my probity!

          The only thing I am “after” is Progressive Left Socialism in my lunch-time.

          Comments like yours – literally – get my coat. [Groan!J.C. Oh, Jeremy! It’s bad enough, having you literally butting-in on my Blog! Kindly leave me alone while I’m on the Far-Right Disqus! L.]

          • Friend and Eternal Comrade Lefty! Fraternal Greetings!

            When I said that raincoat might turn her head, did I say which way?

            I thought by forbearance was remarkable, given the fact that this is the sixteenth seventeenth time I have caught you at it…

  • DP111

    Assault on Most Reverend Manuel A. Cruz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark

    This is the situation in the West. Even if the perpetrator is not Muslim,
    which is likely, we now have church services in major cities, under
    police guard.