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" The point of bringing this up is, this is an age of violence in the world and throughout the entertainment industry, and so it is not surprising to hear Washington politicians rationalize, backtrack, dip into semantics and find euphemisms that work well when it comes to issues of torture.
A very well-known philosopher - the late Elizabeth Anscombe - stood up and was counted when it came to ethics and human rights. In 1956, Anscombe took offense to the suggestion that Oxford University should bestow an honorary degree on President Harry Truman. She along with others "opposed this because of his responsibility for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" (O'Grady 2001). Although Anscombe and her colleagues were voted down by others at Oxford, "they forced a vote, instead of the customary automatic rubber-stamping of the proposal."
Anscombe wrote, "For men to choose to kill the innocent as a means to their ends is always murder." It could also be said, for men to torture other men to extract information, and call it "coercion" or "enhanced interrogation," or anything else, is always torture. She also took issue with language that embraced morality but skirted the real moral issues. In the article by O'Grady, Anscombe believed that modern philosophy had misunderstood ethics. She argued that using phrases like "moral duty," "morally right," "morally wrong" and "moral obligation" were "vacuous hangovers from the Judaeo-Christian idea of a law-giving God.
Meanwhile, in the real American world of political drama, if you are supportive of torturing any suspected terrorist but you don't want to appear too bloodthirsty, you say it's just using "coercion" on lawless terrorists in order to protect the U.S. And - as George W. Bush often says - to "...Save American lives." In fact, the operative word used for torture in Washington D.C. lately is "enhanced interrogation," which doesn't sound nearly as bad as "torture." The "dean" of Washington D.C. wire service reporters, Helen Thomas, who is shown great respect by the media and by every president (she gets the first question at all news conferences), writes that Bush drew the line when he stated that "We do not torture."
And yet, Bush threatens to veto legislation from Congress that would ban torture, which puzzles Thomas. "The president has threatened to veto a legislative ban on waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques that are tantamount to torture" (Thomas, 2008). Thomas also mentions that the U.S. has legal commitments and has signed on to international laws that define torture as "...cruel, inhumane and degrading."
The reporter mentions in her article that Bush has frequently stated he doesn't mind low public opinion polls "because he is certain he will be vindicated in the future." Thomas adds, "He should stop worrying about his legacy...it's already established. By his deeds you shall know him; preemptive war, torture and wiretapping, for starters."
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration announced recently that its internal ethics office "was investigating the department's legal approval for 'waterboarding' of Al-Qaida suspects by the CIA..." (Shane, 2008). That disclosure was in a way drawing the line between the truth and what has been told to the public. The truth, which may come out following the investigation, will come out to some degree at least in terms of who issued the legal memos that authorized "harsh interrogation methods" since 2002.
When Bush says, "We don't torture," he is drawing a line between the truth and what he wants the public to know. He is being a political person who has shown that he will do anything he wants to in terms of "the war on terrorism," whether is it legally sanctioned by the Constitution, international treaties, or U.S. law - or not.
Dryer, Alexander Barnes. "The Truth About Torture." The Atlantic. Retrieved February 25, 2008 at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200309u/int2003-09-11.
O'Grady, Jane. "Elizabeth Anscombe." Guardian. Retrieved February 25, 2008, at http://www.guardian.co.uk.
Shane, Scott. "Torture justification memos under ethical review." The Mercury-News.
Retrieved February 26, 2008, at http://www.mercurynews.com.(2008).
Thomas, Helen. "Bush legacy already established." Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved February 24, 2008, at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com.[continue]
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