Sarah Palin’s remarks require an apology

This post by Ed Peters expresses closely my own view.  Since he has done the heavy lifting at his blog, In The Light Of The Law, go HERE.  Visit his place and take a look around.

Sarah Palin’s remark warrants reparation, not applause

Whether one is a left-wing looney who becomes unhinged upon simply seeing this woman who loves her family and her country or is a right-wing yahoo who looks on her as some sort of high priestess of traditional values, Sarah Palin’s statement that, if she were in charge, “waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists” should shock the conscience.

Dcn. Greg Kandra calls Palin’s rude remark “blasphemous” and he might be right (see CCC 2148, or Crosgnani, DMC I: 460-471, or Davis, MPT I: 42-43); even if Palin’s words only meet the lesser standard of “irreverence” toward God or holy things, they were wrong to utter and wrong to applaud. C. S. Lewis warns (I forget where exactly) about one’s glibly getting off, at God’s expense, one-liners that please the crowd but provoke unseen angels to weep. I think Palin’s guardian angel (and yes, she has one, CCC 366) wept at her comparing baptism to waterboarding.

Open contempt for faith and things of religion is broadly associated with the left in America. I well recall pro-aborts smirking under a placard that claimed “If men could become pregnant abortion would be a sacrament.” Now Palin has given sociology professors an incontestable example of contempt for religion on the American right.

May my readers join me in offering a short Pater in reparation for both.

It may have just been a slip of judgment in a moment of enthusiasm, but hope that she apologizes.

I also hope that there may be a moment when, after deeper reflection about baptism, she will recall that she was baptized into the Catholic Church.

UPDATE:

I must make a clarification or two.

First, putting aside what I might think of waterboarding (for it, against it, neutral about it), I object to the use of baptism imagery in describing it.

Second, I don’t think anything I wrote suggested indifference towards terrorism.

Third, it would be great were people to think while reading so as to discern who is saying what. There are Peters’ words and my words, above.

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163 Responses to Sarah Palin’s remarks require an apology

  1. mrshopey says:

    I was saddened to see that remark by her. Lord have mercy.

  2. JustaSinner says:

    Poor choice of words to be sure. Condemnation? Well after the Church ex communicates Nancy Pelosi for her public praise for abortion, and deliberate falsehoods about Church doctrine, okay.
    Germans have a saying about sweeping in front of your own door first. This is good advice…we have Pelosi and Kerry et al, after we sweep up that mess on to Sarah Palin

  3. mamajen says:

    How unfortunate. I’ve all but given up on the political scene, but she was basically my hero when she first appeared on the national stage. Unfortunately it increasingly seems like she’s trying to cater to a certain demographic that I don’t identify with. I prefer the classy, highly professional woman I first saw.

    Anyway…Dr. Peters is right to call her out, and I hope she apologizes. Nobody should get a pass for this kind of behavior. That was an awful thing to say.

  4. LarryW2LJ says:

    I wasn’t aware that she’s a baptized Catholic. Very unfortunate choice of words. I cringed when I saw it.

  5. Bressani56 says:

    I was also absolutely disgusted that Sarah Palin would invoke BAPTISM in such a context. I just cannot believe she thought that was appropriate, and I hope she apologizes. Such talk is truly disgusting and she ought to know better. At the same time, the person above who commented about the treatment of certain “catholic” politicians is also correct. See also this glaring double standard: http://bit.ly/1ltMRu5

  6. AvantiBev says:

    A very unfortunate choice of words. Terrorists aka JIHADIs should not be baptized they should be executed. If they wish to convert before execution, they can be baptized then.

    If caught in an act of jihad such as kidnapping 180+ school girls from their school, they should be terminated immediately.

  7. MarthainCanada says:

    Mamajen, I agree with you about early impressions of her. But remember, back then she held elected office and was representing a national campaign.

  8. Sonshine135 says:

    It is Sarah Palin’s unfortunate choices of words that has doomed her from ever holding office again and made a mockery of Tea Party Republicans. For being as well educated and likeable as she is, she always seems to say the wrong things at the wrong time. I consider myself a Tea Party member due to their constitutionally-based ideals, desire to reduce debt, and lower income taxes. I think Palin detracts from that message, and plays more into liberal stereotype of country bumpkin, warmonger. Hearing that she compared water boarding to Baptism is just another example of this. Very sad.

  9. Matt R says:

    Her response posted in the article from Deacon Kandra just added to the disgusting nature of her initial comment. For someone as pro-life as she is, even quoting St. John Paul II on her Facebook on the day of the March for Life, she places people into categories, stripping them of their personhood and allowing them to be subjected to physical and moral violence…the same thing she defends her child with Down Syndrome for.

  10. NBW says:

    I didn’t know Palin was Catholic. Her choice of words were not charitable. And I think to myself..”great, one more thing the rest of us will get confronted on as Catholics.”

  11. Pingback: From Anti-Catholic Atheist to Church-Loving Convert - BigPulpit.com

  12. Geoffrey says:

    Most of my admiration for her was lost when she resigned as governor before her term was finished. This comment was vile.

  13. BLB Oregon says:

    The Apologist’s Evening Prayer

    From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
    From all the victories that I seemed to score;
    From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
    at which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
    From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
    Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

    Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
    of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
    From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
    O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
    Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
    Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.

    C.S. Lewis, Poems (1964).

  14. BLB Oregon says:

    BTW, Sarah Palin attends Wasilla Bible Church, which she has described as “a non-denominational Bible church”. She was baptized at the Wasilla Assemblies of God when she was 12 years old. She moved from the Assemblies of God to churches that consider themselves “strictly Bible-based” as an adult.

  15. Pingback: “Sarah Palin’s statement should shock the conscience”—UPDATED

  16. Carolan says:

    Another BTW: Sarah Palin’s parents left the Catholic Church for an independent evangelical church when she was a child. She was indeed baptized a Catholic but was not raised in the faith.

  17. Fuquay Steve says:

    But Father, isn’t inequality the cause of all social evil in the world? Why stop at Sarah? All those who gallivant to Europe frequently, eat at fine restaurants and photograph the delicasies and spend precious gold on feeding birds, don’t they have to apologize too? Haven’t they read our Popes latest tweet? Let the first person who does not have to apologize for something demand an apology from someone else. Or something to that effect.

  18. Joseph-Mary says:

    I do not think she meant it as a slight to the Catholic Church or to the Sacrament. Some folks use it as a figure of speech without thinking what it truly is. Certainly the OMG used everywhere and everyday by so many is a worse blasphemy.

  19. Pingback: Of Sarah Palin, Waterboarding and Baptism | The American Catholic

  20. While her reference to baptism was offensive, I cut her some slack on that because I figured, as someone raised as a Protestant, she may not realize just how offensive that was. Meanwhile, she has no excuse for her defense of waterboarding — she surely knows what that is.

    Some folks of good faith dispute that it’s torture, fair enough; but Gov. Palin’s followup on Facebook makes it crystal clear she doesn’t care if it’s torture. She said — quote: “…treating evil terrorists the way they deserve to be treated to prevent the death of innocent people…”

    Well, exactly what do evil terrorists “deserve”? I daresay, they deserve hell (as do all sinners, of whom I am foremost). So is Mrs. Palin saying that she, or that government in general, ought to have the power to give people hell? What happened to limited government?

    There’s a huge question of judgment here. I had high hopes that she was a better woman, with better judgment, than she was made out to be. I’ve lost those hopes.

  21. Uxixu says:

    I did consider it inappropriate, and think irreverence is more accurate assessment than blasphemy. Her intent was more carelessly thoughtless than malicious and it’s being amplified by her detractors. Reverend Fr Martin Fox hits in the head. Many cradle Catholics, to say nothing of non Catholics simply don’t treat the Sacraments are reverently. Just recently attended a baptism and I had my wife cloth up our children in their Easter best telling them this is a rare and wonderful event for them to be especially reverent for. Unfortunately many of our poorly catechized friends were far more casual. I always try to stay humble and not be a Pharisaical about the conduct of others but the chit chat AND

    I am one who would dispute that waterboarding as practiced by the US qualifies as torture both from it’s implementation in SERE (amongst others) as well as medical personnel standing by as well as the general misperception of it’s intent (which is NOT to gain information as opposed) as well as the narrow and specific circumstances it was used in.

  22. TomG says:

    Contrary to what her most ardent followers think, La Pucelle she ain’t. She went all Hollywood (or maybe Branson) on us some time ago.

  23. robtbrown says:

    mamajen says:
    How unfortunate. I’ve all but given up on the political scene, but she was basically my hero when she first appeared on the national stage. Unfortunately it increasingly seems like she’s trying to cater to a certain demographic that I don’t identify with. I prefer the classy, highly professional woman I first saw.

    My impression was that she resigned the governor’s office for two reasons: 1) She and her family were tired of the personal attacks, and 2) She would be free to accept speaking fees and make a lot of money.

  24. Uxixu says:

    I seem to recall her being sued. I do think she should have served out her term regardless though.

  25. Bedens says:

    Father Z, I believe you are reading some slight into Sarah Palin’s words that was not intentional on her part.

    Please don’t provide a forum for maligning this woman. She has done so much to promote the sanctity of human life through her very public displays of love and affection for her special needs son. And for all of her five children.

  26. Ben Kenobi says:

    For those of us in Texas, Islamic Terrorism is a reality, Father Z. Families have lost men and women who have served this glorious country with their lives, because Islamic cowards decided to slay them in the name of Allah, not on the field of combat, but by attacking unarmed citizens by surprise.

    There is nothing stopping Muslims from doing so, anywhere and anyplace in Texas, or in America in general. If they could bomb the largest Army base then, say, the local supermarket or even the parish church can be attacked too.

    Some countries see this violence on a regular basis, especially in countries like Nigeria where Christians are attacked, burned, killed and raped for the temerity of keeping to the Cross.

    Perhaps some day we’ll see a memorial put up for these noble citizens by a Christian leader to honour their sacrifice as the newest saints of the Church.

    Or perhaps we’ll see this instead.

  27. Bedens:

    No offense, but that’s not a very sound argument: i.e., because she’s done so much good, she shouldn’t be criticized.

    Gov. Palin is a big girl and she plays in the big leagues. And, I might add, she has followed up her remarks by doubling down, hard, on the endorsement of waterboarding.

    She’s not a shrinking violet who had an unexpected microphone stuck in her face.

  28. Traductora says:

    Glad to see a good, serious response to this. I was appalled by her comment; even as the Protestant she apparently is now, Palin should know better than to say something like this.

    BTW, I have no objection to waterboarding in those (probably rare) cases where it may be necessary, so I’m not disagreeing on that account. But it’s still nothing to laugh at or joke about, especially sacrilegiously, and to me, this was Sarah Palin’s “jump the shark” moment. She’s become so entranced with her own media image that she is becoming a parody of herself. I liked her better when she was Governor of Alaska.

  29. Bedens says:

    Fr. Martin, I’m not arguing that Ms. Palin is above criticism. I just think it’s a shame that Fr. Z is helping to promote the idea that Ms. Palin was intentionally slighting the Sacrament of Baptism, when he doesn’t know that to be a fact at all. I heard her comment and that idea never entered my head until I read it here, as I understood her to mean baptism in the sense of “initiation” and not necessarily Christian initiation.

    I’m very sorry I read Father’s blog today.

  30. frjim4321 says:

    News Flash? Sarah Palin says something offensive and ridiculous? For the past 5 – 6 years haven’t we come to expect this and worse?

    “May my readers join me in offering a short Pater in reparation for both.” – Congenial Host

    I really don’t buy the idea that we can vicariously make amends for the atrocities of other people. It’s like the priest I know who every Christmas and Easter get up in his homily and says “for any of you who have ever been wronged by the church, I apologize.” GAG ME! You can’t apologize for someone else for something the other person did. What is apology? What is reparation? Think about it…

  31. Fuquay Steve says:

    wow. I see and agree with Bedens points and particularly with the last sentence. Has this been hijacked by the Fishwrap? frjim4321 comments are truly snarky, offensive, arrogant and narrowminded. If he is a priest, I am grateful I am not in his parish. Charity frjim is a virtue.

  32. FrJim:

    You may not buy the notion of making reparation for others, but as you well know, the Church does. It’s got a long history in the life of the Church. I’m sure you know how the argument goes, so I don’t want to waste your time recounting it. I bet you could make a decent presentation of it, if you wanted.

  33. frjim4321 says:

    Fuquay Steve – - -

    Really? I’m snarky and arrogant? Read the beloved ‘conservative’ George Will. My comments are mild by comparison.

    On the other hand, you would probably love my parish. I suspect most parishioners are Republican, many of them staunchly so. At the last Eagle court of honor they read a testimonial letter from the duck dynasty guy instead of the president. I keep my politics and theological speculation out of the pulpit. You might be very grateful to be here b/c it’s a great parish not because of the pastor but because of the people.

    There’s nothing uncharitable about what I wrote, since it was the truth.

    – - – JB

  34. av8er says:

    frjim4321, I think it was Ed Peters who asked for the Pater for reparation.

    Also I think a better comparison of this remark is when a public political leader, like the President says “God bless planned parenthood”. Both remarks demand condemnation. Unlike the non sequitur made by Fuquay Steve. Steve should think about the first words spoken by Judas Iscariot where the rebuking of the woman when she she anointed the feet of Christ instead of using the jar of perfume for money to the poor. Ven Archbishop Fulton Sheen said Judas was the patron saint of social justice.
    I wonder if he has objections to those in the military who get tax breaks for being in combat zones or buying items on military bases or perks given to military members at different restaurants, theme parks, etc. Priests are also combatants. They are our officer corps in the Church Militant. So, some perks in their life given to God for their service to us I have NO problem with.

  35. frjim4321 says:

    … Pater … OIC, same comment but directed at Ed

  36. Fuquay Steve says:

    Frjim

    i would hope your parish was great because of the presence of the Lord and the sacredness of the sacraments and liturgy. Focus must be on Our Lord. On the other hand, fellowship activities at your church probably are a lot of fun.

  37. LeeF says:

    Sarah Palin’s problem is not that she is stupid, as in having a low IQ, but rather that she is intentionally ignorant, and indeed glories in same. Despite being in the middle of national politics for some years now, she gives no indication of keeping up on current events across a wide range of topics, that she could get from daily reading of a couple national newspapers, weekly reading of a news magazine like US News or something, and monthly reading of a general interest science magazine (plus sports of course since pols must curry favor). Forget high brow academic publications and books on politics, just general reading of newspapers and magazines to be better informed. Rick Perry also showed this failing last campaign season.

    Sarah Palin may be to some a great cheerleader, but she has proven time and again that she can never be “the” leader. And this is coming from someone inclined to agree with her on many topics were it not for her wretched handling of them.

  38. Fuquay Steve says:

    Av8er

    I agree with you, I wish someone would please explain your point to the Pope. Tweets like the last one (Inequality is the source of all social evil) really come across poorly. The poor will always be with us does not mean that we all have to be poor. It does mean we have to be more charitable, in some cases, a lot more charitable.

  39. Ben Kenobi says:

    “rather that she is intentionally ignorant, and indeed glories in same.”

    If this is a way for Father Z to test his audience, he’s succeeded masterfully in uncovering leftist snobs.

  40. frjim4321 says:

    F.S. – - –

    I was reporting on distinguishing characteristics other than those which are common at all Catholic churches.

  41. Uxixu says:

    We can pray for her repent of her own volition, if not return to the Holy Mother Church it appeared she was baptized in, instead of continuing along with the heretical sect she’s been doing since then.

    LeeF, I think you’re not skeptical enough and buying into the mainstream media narrative on it, though. They tried to make Reagan look stupid and/or senile (until it became un-PC to do so because of the Alzheimer’s later in his life), then they did it to Quayle, then they said that about her. Don’t give it credence. I do see many turncoats on the right, especially of the establishment wing that were perfectly happy to support Dole in 80, both Bushes, Romney, etc and enjoy the scraps the populists will throw them as a permanent minority. Much as with Palin, they said Reagan was too radical and couldn’t be trusted with the Soviets…

  42. av8er says:

    Fuquay Steve; Yes, I agree.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Fr Martin Fox says:

    While . Meanwhile, she has no excuse for her defense of waterboarding — she surely knows what that is.

    Have you ever thought that it was OK for the US go into Pakistan and kill Usama Bin Laden, but it wasn’t OK to take him into custody, bring him back and waterboard him?

  44. Fuquay Steve says:

    frjim

    my parish is full of sinners seeking healing. i daresay our pastor would always refer to us as such and never refer to us as great. He loves us nonetheless. we are all equally humble in our church and for that I am grateful.

  45. av8er says:

    I like SarahPalin. Its a shame that her parents left the Church when she was young.

    She is no dummy. Looking at her accomplishments as AK Gov is hard to make a claim that she is intentionally ignorant. Is she perfect? Of course not. Anyone who veers into theological rhetoric to make a point will undoubtedly lose. She needs to be instructed as to why that comment was wrong and apologize. The problem is that who knows what her faith tradition teaches regarding baptism but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that their pastors probably winced at that comment also. Her stance on life issues is very commendable which is why I give them the benefit of the doubt.

  46. Kathleen10 says:

    I wouldn’t have thought too much about her comment, but maybe that’s a poor reflection on me. In thinking about it, it seems an unfortunate choice of words, but the words pale in comparison to our reality, not just in America but the world. The reality of islam and violence, mayhem, murder today is so shocking and the threat so real, that in comparison Sarah Palin’s words fade into nothingness. When I contemplate the evil that has been perpetrated, I’m glad for myself that waterboarding is not my call. We are way behind the curve because muslims are set for destruction and we are deliberating words.
    I appreciate anyone who will courageously speak about conservative values. Sarah Palin speaks courageously on hot topics that most people wouldn’t go near. Statistically, she is bound to say the wrong thing now and then. Would I “disown” her? Absolutely not. We need every hand on deck, and it would be crazy to jettison someone so outspoken and courageous. We have so few friends we can’t afford to cut anyone loose. This is a very real battle.
    I also grow concerned about the reaction to statements that one may disagree with. I like very much the motto that Americans once quoted often, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” This is a fading value it seems, but it is a value worth keeping, in my opinion.

  47. Sword40 says:

    Sorry, folks; I agree with Sarah on this one. When I was in the Marines, 1962-1966, we use to practice what you now call waterboarding. Yes, its a frightening experience. But used with caution it works.

    Too many “bleeding hearts” running around. I’ll stand with Palin on this one.

  48. Bedens says:

    “Really? I’m snarky and arrogant? Read the beloved ‘conservative’ George Will. My comments are mild by comparison.”

    But George Will isn’t a Catholic priest, Father.

  49. lsclerkin says:

    I’m praying for her to come home to who she really is.
    A Roman Catholic.
    They hate her anyway.
    She might as well.

  50. Uxixu says:

    I have disagreed with Reverend Fr Jim on more than a few items but in this case, agree with him on the apology for others part (even if i would still disagree yet again on his reference to the last 5-6 years, which is more the media/celebrity caricature of Sarah Palin). I don’t even like it when the Holy Father does it (and Saint John Paul II did it way too much for my comfort, especially with the Galileo, etc for instance, who was an arrogant jerk punished for disobeying the secular power – which only incidentally overlapped with the religious sphere by circumstance).

    I would also reject the appeal to authority inherent in the George Will reference but that’s neither here nor there.

  51. Joe in Canada says:

    Frjim: making an act of reparation for others is a quite historical part of the Catholic tradition: consider the act of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus ” for their (men’s) culpable indifference and the outrages which, in all ways, they oppress Your most loving Heart.”

    As far as whether she should apologize or not, well, there is this North American Evangelical thing where they seem to think that the good intentions of their heart make their actions good. It no doubt has its basis in Augustine’s “love and do what you will” but taken out of its Catholic context becomes a sort of Mormonism: “every man can become his own God” (and every woman a goddess for her husband). I find more and more as a Catholic that there is no reward in playing their game: I would simply say “Mrs Palin is a Protestant – let the Protestants deal with her in this matter.” Mrs Pelosi, indeed, is a greater problem for us.

  52. DisturbedMary says:

    Talk about throwing somebody under the bus. I’m not happy she said it. I think it was ignorant and crude. Suitable for a wince — not a round of applause ….but….. I don’t like taking shots at her in public. She is Protestant. She’s one of a few women of virtue in national politics. Why throw a hardball at her? From some of the remarks, it delights closet Democrats to slap her down as if she is the woman caught in adultery. Don’t like this whole thing at all.

  53. stephen c says:

    I read Dr Peters as saying Deacon Kandra might be right, and that he might be wrong. If his standards of what is right are correct, then it is likely that – just to name 5 souls who may need our prayers – General Patton (well known for brave, intense, and insulting comments on the enemies of America), G.K. Chesterton (well known for “witty” and sometimes cruel comments on enemies of his view of the world), Pius IX and Pius XII (well known for comments – or meaningful silences – regarding critics of their choices as ecclesiastic rulers), and Solzhenitsyn – and quite a few others who have opined on life and death moral issues (including me and almost everyone reading this comment) probably owe big apologies for things in the nature of blasphemy (as Deacon Kandra pointed out) – and probably also slander, callous and sinful silence, and even attempted linguistic theft (by trying to impose one’s own interpretation of a word with various dictionary definitions on every one else in the world). I will leave it to others to criticize Patton and the others mentioned for their specific choices of words, or their preferential options for silence, and I hope, as to myself, and as to those I love, to be held to the most charitable possible standard …

  54. MaryW says:

    Kathleen10

    Well said! Fully agree with your comments.

    I see that some people are discussing what Pope Francis said about “inequality”. Today in his homily he stated that in Christian communities there was “no room for gossip, envy , calumnies, and defamation”. My takeaway, even though inequality exists it’s a fact of life and it doesn’t excuse being envious of other peoples’ possessions, attributes, ability to travel, etc.. My children were raised knowing life isn’t fair.

  55. OrthodoxChick says:

    No matter which way I try to read Mrs. Palin’s comment, it sounds wrong. Is she saying that the Sacrament of Baptism is a suitable torture for terrorists? Waterboarding is not Baptism. Some consider waterboarding to be torture. Others consider it an effective tool for obtaining information if used rarely and only when nothing else has worked. Of course, now that every muslim on the planet knows about it, it’s no longer effective anyway, so…Was she just trying to put together something Christian in the same sentence as “terrorists” for shock value? A poor attempt at a joke, perhaps? I can’t seem to find a good way to take her comment. But then, I’m not a fan of Sarah Palin as a politician. I did watch every episode of the series she had about Alaska on TLC though. That was great. She should stick to being a public celebrity who does an awesome job selling her state. She’s a likeable T.V. personality, but I wouldn’t vote for her for a national office.

  56. Gretchen says:

    Why are we focusing on a non-practicing (non-raised-as-a-Catholic) Catholic when there is a target rich environment among practicing Catholics? Furthermore, has anyone, anyone heard of hyperbole?

    If the question is about waterboarding, then let us discuss it. Let us not deflect with hand wringing about the simile of baptism with waterboarding. The word baptism has been used in different ways, such as a “baptism by fire” and so on. Do you really belive that Mrs. Palin is referring to the sacrament of baptism, and defiling its religious purpose?

  57. Robtbrown says (29 April 2014 at 4:41 pm):

    Have you ever thought that it was OK for the US go into Pakistan and kill Usama Bin Laden, but it wasn’t OK to take him into custody, bring him back and waterboard him?

    Of course. Since you bring it up, let’s take some time to explain Catholic moral teaching on this.

    It is never okay to intend someone’s death. It’s one thing to say, you killed an enemy in the course of defending your country, or trying to capture the enemy, etc. But in morality, intention is critical. To intend to capture, to stop a threat, is a moral intention. To intend, for it’s own sake, the death of another, is not.

    Yep, even for Bin Laden. Sorry to break it to people, but Bin Laden was created by God, in his image. And no human being, no matter what the circumstances, gets to take the place of God in giving or taking life.

    So am I saying the brave soldiers who went after him did evil? Not at all. I have no idea what their intentions were; but giving them the benefit of the doubt, I assume their intentions were to oppose a threat. And one test of this goes to the orders they were given: what were they told to do if Bin Laden were willing to surrender? If the answer is, take him alive, then good. If, kill him anyway? That is wrong.

    But once an enemy combatant has been captured, the rules change. And you know what? It’s a sign of how far down the road to barbarism it is, that this is no longer readily understood.

    All the more reason to sound the alarm — loudly!–when we have these throwaway endorsements of torture.

    Does it not occur to people that we — we noble, admirable Americans, the good guys–can become the bad guys?

    Does it not occur to people that this transformation has happened before to people who were once moral, decent people?

    Do people think Americans have some special gene in us that somehow prevents us from going over to the dark side?

    How do you suppose it happens?

  58. Sword 40:

    Sorry, folks; I agree with Sarah on this one. When I was in the Marines, 1962-1966, we use to practice what you now call waterboarding. Yes, its a frightening experience. But used with caution it works.

    Too many “bleeding hearts” running around. I’ll stand with Palin on this one.

    So, once you decide that doing evil is justified that good may come of it, where do you stop?

    How much torture can you justify doing, because “it works”?

    You use the word “caution.” But why be a wuss? Why is caution important? You’ve already justified setting aside the moral law for some greater good. Why not set aside caution?

    After all, if some evil is worthwhile to gain some good, what will happen when you throw caution to the wind and go full-bore with even more evil?

  59. Uxixu says:

    The caution is to our credit and what I would argue, dear Revered Father Fox, is (with the associated medical personnel supervising) what keeps waterboarding as practiced by the US from qualifying as bonafide torture (and thus doing an evil). Despite conventional wisdom it was not used to gain information (as people will say anything, especially lie) but to gain cooperation. This is determined by asking questions the interrogator already knows the answers to, which the one being interrogated has no way to know. When resistance has ceased and cooperation begins, the treatment stops.

    The same cooperation could well be gained by crossing that line into beatings and any number of atrocities that would be quite permanent. Those limited few this is done to will have damaged pride but may well gush like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and beg that this be done to all of ‘the brothers’ to more quickly bring them to the inevitable as opposed to dragging it out over a much longer and inevitable term of more conventional techniques. Intent is specifically to avoid lasting harm.

  60. kay says:

    From reading all the comments I get the end result being:
    Let’s skewer Sarah Palin on Father Z’s blog for a reference to the WORD “baptism”. Guess this means that nobody can ever say this word with anything other than reverence. No “baptism by fire” (Gretchen) or other sayings that are in the secular/vernacular because its been trademarked word by Catholic Inc.

    Second, any Catholic anywhere cannot remotely suggest justice (see comments by Kathleen10, Sword40, DisturbedMary) or go to war (defend yourself or your country) because to cause harm to another is against Catholic teaching. Anyone tell this to the Jesuits who took over Peru, killed a whole bunch of people, all for the sake of “equality” let alone getting people of other religions to convert to Catholicism. Oh wait – Catholics DID fight/kill/seek justice and forced conversion of Protestants and Muslims over the ages (just like those 2 religions did to Catholics).

    Can someone then clarify for me, all those that died in the avarice landgrab / protection of believers who could not get to the religious sites in the Holy Land which caused the Crusades being called for by the political figures at that time (the POPE) – are those fighters now in hell? Or like Sarah Palin, their judge and hers is not us but Jesus and we should really be focusing on the bigger things like Sharia law creeping into our legal system at the expense of Moses & the 10 Commandments? Nobody ever takes on those issues.

    This Sarah Palin issue is/was a non-issue and the Church is making it one. Why? Is it a concerted payback for Sarah Palin’s past statement she made where she stated she’s “taken aback” by “kind of liberal comments” by Pope Francis?

  61. BLB Oregon says:

    It is almost besides the point whether she was ever baptized in the Church or not. No Christian of any denomination should tolerate such a repugnant remark from anyone, baptized or not. This is a larger excerpt:

    “I do have to apologize for that. I am sorry. Not all intolerant, anti-freedom, leftist liberals are hypocrites. I’m kidding, yes they are. And they are not right. The policies that poke our allies in the eye and coddle adversaries instead of putting the fear of God in our enemies. Come on! Enemies who would utterly annihilate America. They obviously have information on plots to carry out jihad. Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

    The allusion to C.S. Lewis’ poem was spot-on. Asked about her remarks later, she didn’t back down an ounce. All of this right after Holy Week, no less, and she talks about “the fear of God”?!? Has she no shame, or just that little comprehension of the plain meaning of the New Testament? Her pastor ought to take her to task. She should either talk like that or claim to preach the Gospel. She can’t pretend to do both and yet go unchastised by those who really do preach the Good News.

    Goodness heavens, I’m surprised the NRA doesn’t disown those comments, too. I don’t know a gun-owner who would talk like that. It is simply outrageous.

  62. BLB Oregon says:

    What would we say if a Muslim were to say, “oh yes, the Christians, they baptize–they baptize by waterboarding!” Yes, they would surely be talking about how much we fear the Almighty and the reckoning of Heaven, by how we treat our enemies, as charged by Jesus, whom we call the Christ and the Prince of Peace. How glorious and true would they see that our holy faith is!!

  63. jflare says:

    “It is never okay to intend someone’s death. It’s one thing to say, you killed an enemy in the course of defending your country, or trying to capture the enemy, etc. But in morality, intention is critical.”

    “So am I saying the brave soldiers who went after him did evil? Not at all. I have no idea what their intentions were; but giving them the benefit of the doubt, I assume their intentions were to oppose a threat. And one test of this goes to the orders they were given: what were they told to do if Bin Laden were willing to surrender? If the answer is, take him alive, then good. If, kill him anyway? That is wrong.”

    I regret that I believe I’m compelled to argue that these two arguments do, for my purposes, directly contradict each other. One who has reached the age of reason can learn that harming another is wrong. One who has matured enough to be of legal age to be drafted into the military certainly will have cause to know about the nature of warfare; enough to know that war involves harming other people. If that’s the case, I don’t believe we can make a competent argument that any war ever truly can be justified. We can only make the case that we inflicted harm on others with the intent that we should cause a perceived enemy to cease to be a threat to us or our nation. Even so, we need to understand that we’re still inflicting an act against God’s creation.

    I think I’m also compelled to argue that I doubt if the precise orders given to the soldiers who captured bin Laden truthfully make that much difference. Or, if they would, if we would wish to try them for some sort of war crime, we’d need to remember that Catholic moral principles have never been the guiding impetus behind any of our standing rules of war. As a result, I’d be inclined toward acquittal, if only based on the idea that they couldn’t commit a mortally sinful act because they wouldn’t have reason to define it as a a grave act in the Catholic sense.
    If we want to argue that the intent to kill the man would be a grave error, I’d like to point out that in those circumstances, there’d be almost no chance whatsoever that he’d be given opportunity to surrender because they’d already know that he would not be at all likely to do so, but would be far more likely to shoot instead. As a result, I’d say the most logical orders would be to shoot him on sight, unless he was making an obvious effort to surrender by throwing his hands in the air. I think that most exceedingly unlikely

    In general, I find most arguments about the moral state of this act of war or that to be almost completely useless. Soldiers don’t have the luxury of arguing with themselves or each other for ten minutes or longer about the exact moral character of a situation, the way a lawyer might. In most cases, a soldier will have a half second or less to decide whether to fire or not. After that, the decision may be made for him by his being shot by the opposing side.
    I am amazed by the number of people who don’t seem to understand that.

  64. Peter in Canberra says:

    And obviously the clear implication that torture is OK is also obnoxious and repugnant.
    One doesn’t need to be a lefty to have that view either.

  65. Peter in Canberra says:

    Thanks to Fr Fox for his contribution.
    Unfortunately Americans (ie USA) are considered by friends and foes alike to believe they have a special status above persons from any other country.

  66. mrshopey says:

    I think what saddens me even more is the retaliation. I don’t think you should side step important things that need to be said, but this was hardly important and those who will be angered by her remarks, aside from the Christians, will be Muslims. There target group will not be America but Americans in general in their country, and/or religious. Do we forget what the Regensburg Lecture caused that was well written and not meant to stir anything up? Having friends and family in theses countries, I pray. Since she is a female, it may not cause the stir that Pope Emeritus’ did, but still, our words can cause things.

  67. Supertradmum says:

    Until politicians in the States become statesmen or stateswomen again, this type of inappropriate and unprofessional speech will continue. We have lost the art of oratory and sunk to yellow journalism. Sadly, she has proved to be not presidential or vice-presidential material.

    And, the upset has nothing to do with her being a woman. Such an insensitive comment regarding a sacred act cannot be defended

    I feel the same way about Christie and others who mock the law. I am afraid such statements and actions are signs of hubris. We need humble civil servants, not those who are either not quite as intelligent as they should be, or up to the mark of leadership.

  68. jeffreyquick says:

    An outrage! She needs to be banned from politics for life and pay a $2.5m fine. Oh wait, wrong kerfluffle…
    Objectively, yes, she shouldn’t have said this. But she doesn’t owe ME an apology, given that the offense is the sort of inside baseball that doesn’t make Christians look bad. I pray that she apologizes to the One she needs to apologize to.

  69. Fuquay Steve says:

    Having a Deacon who was employed by CBS news call what someone said blasphemous is, of itself, ridiculous. Heal thyself.

  70. Kathleen wrote, “The reality of islam and violence, mayhem, murder today is so shocking and the threat so real, that in comparison Sarah Palin’s words fade into nothingness. When I contemplate the evil that has been perpetrated, I’m glad for myself that waterboarding is not my call. We are way behind the curve because muslims are set for destruction and we are deliberating words.
    I appreciate anyone who will courageously speak about conservative values. Sarah Palin speaks courageously on hot topics that most people wouldn’t go near. Statistically, she is bound to say the wrong thing now and then. Would I “disown” her? Absolutely not. We need every hand on deck, and it would be crazy to jettison someone so outspoken and courageous. We have so few friends we can’t afford to cut anyone loose. This is a very real battle.

    spot on Kathleen. Agree 100%,totally,no qualifiers.
    It was a poor choice of words on Palin’s part but i have not-till now-witnessed the stupidity that people are attributing to her.
    I’ve heard 1k terrible comments from the Dems(Marxists)and none of the condemnation from their supporters.Comments that were intentional and no apologies followed. This is because they know better.They do it because they can get away with it.
    As per water bordering. The same guy they’re waterboarding is wiling to strap a bomb on his body and BLOW HIMSELF UP taking out as many innocent people with him.
    Wouldn’t blowing yourself up kind of hurt and possibly kill you?
    2. How do you persuade someone to give up intel that could save lives if they’re willing to blow themselves and ram jets into buildings?
    Someone wrote,“Most of my admiration for her was lost when she resigned as governor “I looked into that spin by the left and found that she had GOOD reason to resign.First the left demonizes you. When that doesn’t work they try to dig up all the legal stuff they can. Sometimes true,most times NOT. However,that ties a person up with legal fees and court hearings. It’s usually not worth it when all they want to do is destroy you politically.You’re better off resigning.
    After having listened to Pelosi,Biden et al with their comments re abortion etc i can give Palin a pass if she’s willing to apologize.I don’t know that this is as big a deal as Pelosi thinking it’s ok to be pro abortion and Catholic,support gay marriage and the HHS mandate for contraception. I wish people would have jumped on them as hard as they are on Palin. They’ve made some VERY stupid comments also.I’m not defending Palin’s comment and use of the sacrament of baptism.I think she did so from ignorance of how offensive that is to many. On the other hand i find abortion and forcing Catholic institutions to support contraception to be far more offensive.
    I also find this atrocity far more offensive.Another example of the religion of piece.Not a misspell.
    Jihadists accused of hanging victims on cross
    YES,she should apologize and explain what she meant. I still back Kathleen’s comments whether she does or not.

  71. HobokenZephyr says:

    Poor choice of words? Sure. I intended irreverence to a Sacrament of the Church? OK. But I’ll go out on a limb here and say she’ll apologize for any affront long before our so-called “Catholic” leaders like Pelosi and Biden make reparations for the intended irreverence toward ALL the Church’s sacraments.

    As far as waterboarding goes? Meh. But I admit to having my own issues with Mohammedan terrorists.

  72. it just dawned on me that i’ve seen this movie before. It’s a tactic of the left. They take a good person and when they can find an opportunity they make sure the people that supported the person do the attacking FOR them.Anotherwords,they don’t have to attack. They know we will do it for them.We’ve taken out many good people this way. Meantime they get behind the worst possible people 100% and we do the dirty work they end up not having to do. I refuse to throw Ms Palin under the bus. Would i vote for her as a potential candidate for Potus.Not sure. I would have to think it over carefully.Go on a total attack and discredit her completely for one comment? Nope. Should she apologize? Yes and explain what i honestly don’t think she meant as an attack on our beliefs.

  73. benedetta says:

    Sarah Palin? I stopped paying attention to what she has to say a long time ago. Like Hillary’s statements, the sun does not set by those pronouncements, so I don’t really bother.

    As to blasphemy generally, there is quite a lot of it out there by entertainment/talk show/news/pundits etc. Does this not underscore the general loss of the understanding of the sacred in our times on a grand scale?

    Secular press pretty routinely calls Catholic rites “pageants” or “rituals” or “ceremonies” without ever acknowledging that Catholics consider these “sacraments”, even at a minimum. Public schools pretty much go all out whacky when the notion of someone praying within those four walls is floated, even privately praying, or describing one’s own religious experience. Why should this incident surprise or shock.

  74. Bedens says:

    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0713.html

    “Do you know what a rash judgment is? It is an internal act of the mind by which one person attributes evil actions or motives to another without any kind of evidence for such a judgment. A rash judgment is a kind of lie to oneself. Such judgments damage another person in our own eyes, when there is no really objective reason for doing so. Because of our fallen human nature we all tend to make rash judgments about others — often without even reflecting on what we are doing. It is especially easy to judge rashly people we do not like, people who have offended us, people who differ from us in one way or another. It is unreasonable to make rash judgments. Such judgments involve a misuse of our interior faculties, especially our mind and our will. Hence they are contrary to the Eighth Commandment and sinful. We should examine ourselves to see if we occasionally rashly judge others and we should strive to make our judgments correspond to the facts.”

  75. I said:

    “It is never okay to intend someone’s death. It’s one thing to say, you killed an enemy in the course of defending your country, or trying to capture the enemy, etc. But in morality, intention is critical.”

    “So am I saying the brave soldiers who went after him did evil? Not at all. I have no idea what their intentions were; but giving them the benefit of the doubt, I assume their intentions were to oppose a threat. And one test of this goes to the orders they were given: what were they told to do if Bin Laden were willing to surrender? If the answer is, take him alive, then good. If, kill him anyway? That is wrong.”

    Jflare said:

    I regret that I believe I’m compelled to argue that these two arguments do, for my purposes, directly contradict each other. One who has reached the age of reason can learn that harming another is wrong. One who has matured enough to be of legal age to be drafted into the military certainly will have cause to know about the nature of warfare; enough to know that war involves harming other people. If that’s the case, I don’t believe we can make a competent argument that any war ever truly can be justified. We can only make the case that we inflicted harm on others with the intent that we should cause a perceived enemy to cease to be a threat to us or our nation. Even so, we need to understand that we’re still inflicting an act against God’s creation.

    Well, let’s move beyond my own words to what the Church teaches. What follows is from the Catechism:

    2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,” our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.

    Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.” If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. the Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”

    2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

    2304 Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is “the tranquility of order.” Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.

    2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.” By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,” he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.” He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

    2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.

    These passages are crystal clear. (I bolded key phrases.) To intend the destruction of human life is forbidden by the Fifth Commandment. No exceptions.

    When we go to war, if the intention is to inflict pain and harm, that is evil (i.e., without here addressing the other issues of just war). On the other hand, if the intention is to punish aggression and to deter it–ultimately with the end of restoring peace, then that is just, even praiseworthy (again, without getting into the other questions of just war).

    Intentions are critical. That they are often mixed and hard to discern is certainly true, but doesn’t change the truth here. It simply raises the question, how do we keep our intentions focused on the right things?

    Ah, now you understand why many of us aren’t yukking it up with Gov. Palin’s flip attitude (and that of so many others) to the maiming and torturing and deliberate infliction of misery on our enemies — precisely because they are our enemies. In my view, the conscience of our nation is at stake here as many — in the name of “necessity” or patriotism or variations on those themes — harangue over and over about how we shouldn’t be “wusses” (Palin’s word choice) when it comes to putting the screws to these terrorists. After all, they’ve done worse, right? So they deserve it. So let’s go, America! Give those terrorists exactly what they deserve!

    This is poison to the soul of our nation. Not that our soul has ever been pure. But if we have any hope of having the right intentions in war, we — we Catholics, we Christians who listen to the Holy Spirit on these subjects — MUST be a voice that spells it out. “This is the line. It must never be crossed.” This is what right and wrong mean, and one thing is uppermost: it can never be acceptable to do evil, in pursuit of some other good. Very simple, but utterly non-negotiable.

    It’s depressing to see how many people who, one would hope know better, are so eager to give a pass to just a little ole bit of torture. Because, you know, they’re terrorists… That’s always how the slide begins. It never ends well.

    As our prof in Church history used to say at the seminary: we don’t need the Church when we’re right; we need her when we’re wrong–i.e., to tell us that, and not mollycoddle us about it.

  76. benedetta says:

    Bedens, Do you believe anyone here has ascribed an evil motive? I haven’t noticed that. Perhaps Edward Peters could help us out on whether we may call a thing a thing or not…

    Blasphemy is a pretty obvious thing to conclude from statements though. I don’t really think you need to know one’s personal interior state of mind in order to conclude that on its face a statement mocks what is sacred or religion.

    In any case as for myself I seriously doubt that Ms. Palin harbors ill will or malicious motive towards Catholics…I think one can blaspheme publicly and do damage that way without any particular intention to harm. That’s kind of the definition of it — some people for sure what to attack religion, and they state that intention with their blasphemy. My sense is that this is so very prevalent people don’t even realize what they are doing. I sure grew up in this culture mocking things of the Church without having any clue until much later and with quite a lot of reflection. It’s been one of the subtle means of attack on the sacred in our times, I think. That it comes from Sarah Palin is of no moment to me. What I think is worth thinking about here is how widespread it is, and what we may do as Catholics to counteract it.

  77. How much torture can you justify doing, because “it works”?
    The question is whether water boarding is torture.
    The word INTENT was mentioned. Waterboarding is not revenge. It’s a method of seeking intelligence to save innocent lives from people who are willing to maim and kill themselves with the intent of suicide. The suicide meant to take out as many other people as possible.
    Waterboarding does not kill anyone. The end result is not death. Blowing one’s self up? The end result IS death;at the least doing serious bodily harm to yourself.
    I’m not convinced waterboarding IS torture. Jihadists are our enemies. They decided that,not us. That’s why they go around abducting unwilling women to marry them and then treat them worse than dogs. Why they bomb churches,persecute and torture Christians and as soon as they get a chance they will wipe Israel and the US off the map. There is not going to be asurrender treaty with these people. They will continue to blow themselves up to take out men,women and children. And as long as we’re willing to tolerate they will be willing to deliver.Yes,we can pray for them but understand they have no interest in peace. NONE.

  78. BLB Oregon says:

    Fr. Martin Fox wrote: “It’s depressing to see how many people who, one would hope know better, are so eager to give a pass to just a little ole bit of torture. Because, you know, they’re terrorists… That’s always how the slide begins. It never ends well.”

    Just to clarify: As soon as a Catholic commits torture, it has already ended badly. We may not use torture. We may use deterring punishments, but we may not terrorize suspects, not even those who are terrorists themselves.

    As the Catechism puts it, “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….In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors. ” (from CCC 2297-2298)

    Let us remember what waterboarding is! This is not dunking your little brother’s head in the pool to upset him. “Waterboarding involves a prisoner being restrained on his back with his feet at a level higher than his head, or hung upside down. A cloth is placed over the prisoner’s face or pushed into his mouth. Sometimes a plastic film is used. Water is then poured on to his face and into his nose and mouth. The prisoner gags almost immediately as the water starts entering the lungs. As he starts to feel he is drowning, he typically panics and struggles, and his body goes into spasm. Waterboarding can result in brain damage, broken bones and psychological damage.” That is the BBC News description. It is possible to kill someone by waterboarding, because they can choke to death on the vomit elicited by the gag reflex.

    Furthermore, the US is a signatory to the 1949 UN Convention Against Torture, which applies to all persons. The convention describes torture in this way: “For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.” (From Part I, Article 1)

  79. As i understand it there were only 3 high value prisoners who were waterboarded.That is,it wasn’t a technique adopted across the board.
    We had just had 3k innocent ppl killed on 9/11 and had no idea if other attacks weren’t imminent.Given the circumstances i doubt there was any other choice.

  80. they had medical personnel on hand did they not?

  81. One question. You just had 3k people killed on US soil.You didn’t see it coming. Other attacks could be imminent. They’re not talking.What DO you do to get intel?

  82. Boxerpaws:

    How evil the terrorists are is really irrelevant. If they are a million times more evil than anyone ever has been, so that even the devil is embarrassed to be associated with them…

    It’s still not OK to torture them.

    On the other hand, if you convince me that waterboarding isn’t torture, then how bad the terrorists are remains irrelevant. If it’s not torture, but merely an “interrogation technique,” then of course waterboarding is not only OK for illegal combatant prisoners, but prisoners of war, and even for police interrogations.

    No? Why not–if it’s not torture?

  83. BLB Oregon says:

    It is one thing to liken the endurance of suffering for a greater good to a baptism. When the word “baptism” is used to express solidarity with someone who willingly accepts a trial that is a sort of a death experience, especially when they willingly endure a trial that in the end transforms and elevates them as a person, that is not a blasphemous metaphor. Baptism is a sharing in the death of Christ, after all, and not just a cleansing from sin. That is why the phrase “baptism by fire” is not inherently offensive.

    It quite another thing to liken an immoral act we inflict on someone else to a baptism, as if we could impart a sacrament by treating someone with an inhumanity that is forbidden to us. That is an offense against the sacrament and the dignity of the human person we aim to degrade by our talk.

    The same goes for saying we are going to “put the fear of God” into someone when what we mean is that we are going to teach them to fear us and our willingness to resort to attacks that are actually an offense against God. That sort of language adds blasphemy and scandal to the original offense.

    Even if you argue that the offense is mitigated by the good end hoped for, how do you argue that such a gross expression of arrogance was necessary to achieve that end? You can’t!

  84. Boxer:

    Well, once you accept that it’s OK to do a little evil in order to gain a greater good, why stop at waterboarding? After all, they might be trained to withstand it. And they may be cool enough customers to realize that Americans don’t want to kill or even maim you, because they’ve got these laws and things. So you endure it.

    Gosh, now what do we do? The bomb is ticking…

    How about electricity? How about rubber hoses? How about a power drill? If we just smash a finger or a toe, what’s the big deal? It’s not killing them after all…

    Now, you may say I’m being unfair, because you would never go so far. But once you acknowledge that the end justifies the means, why should anyone trust you (or anyone else in the same situation) not to move the line…again? And again?

    Look: the mindset embedded in your own question creates the problem. Once you decide that, one way or the other, you will get the information, then of course the sky’s the limit, isn’t it?

    Do I really need to spell out all the repulsive ways someone might induce a battle-hardened terrorist to turn to jelly?

    Please tell me where Almighty God said, “thou shalt not…except if you must extract information from an enemy. Then all bets are off”?

  85. I am completely shocked by some of the comments here. Completely shocked.

  86. BLB Oregon says:

    My mistake–I quoted the 1985 convention, which the United States has not signed.

    We have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which says:
    “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. ”

    “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. ”

    “In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality…Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt. ”

    But which includes this “out”: “In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.”

    IOW, the United States government has refrained from a binding moral code with regards to torture. We reserve the right to claim “exceptional circumstances.” Why we do this when smaller and more vulnerable countries do not reserve that “out” for themselves is more than a bit sickening.

  87. robtbrown says:

    Fr Martin Fox,

    You cover more than a few topics. Some of your comments I agree with, others no.

    1. My point above was mainly a political one, that the same people who object to water boarding have no objection to invading a sovereign nation (also prohibited by int’l law) to kill Bin Laden. So it wouldn’t have been a matter of the rules changing. If Bin Laden had been arrested, it would still have been against int’l law.

    Before considering these matters morally, a few words on what has happened in the war against terrorists (not terrorism, which is a

    2. There was little tactical advantage gained by whacking Bin Laden. He was isolated, had little money, and wasn’t in control of things. And there were still couriers who were in contact with him, so they could be tracked from his house to those who were actually dangerous. So it would likely have been an advantage to have kept him alive.

    3. About a week after 9-11, a friend who is a ret Col told me that he had received an email from Gen Barry McCaffrey concerning the tactics that were going to be used against terrorists. Some, which I won’t relate here, were obvious violations both of the ethics of war and international law.

    4. About the same time I called an old high school buddy, who had just retired as a one star. I asked him whether we had any high tech gizmos that could see inside a cave. His answer: “This is not going to be a high tech war. It will be a slit their throats in the dark kind of war.”

    5. The late Col David Hackworth said that there would be terrorists who would just disappear. One day they would be alive, the next day they would buy the farm.

    6. Most of what the US did post 9-11 to prevent further acts by terrorists is not known to the public.

    The ethics of war.

    1. I have my doubts of the applicability of just war theory to contemporary methods of war, esp re ius in bello. Proportionality and Distinction (combatants/non combatants) are shaky criteria. Commanders don’t want an even fight. They want to overwhelm the enemy. If it means killing half the enemy combatants to save one under their command, that’s what they’ll do.

    And it’s easy to say who is a combatant but much more difficult to say who is a non-combatant. What if it’s necessary to kill a high tech genius (non combatant) who designs sophisticated guidance systems used in smart bombs etc.?

    2. The intention of a military man is different from the intention of someone protecting himself (self defense). The soldier intends to do what he is commanded to do—this is what morally protects those in combat. Tyler Drumheller (ex head CIA Europe) was asked whether the Seals were sent into Pakiston to arrest UBL. His answer: “Seals are usually not sent to arrest people” When I told this to an Army Major, he added: “Especially those seals.”

  88. “Do I really need to spell out all the repulsive ways someone might induce a battle-hardened terrorist to turn to jelly?”Understood. I’m assuming they considered that very question and the goal was to come up with the most humane way and still get the information.i doubt they had any desire to go over the line.The alternative was to give up,realize we were not going to get intel and prepare for the worst.
    Jihadists have their own methods;bombs,decapitations,crucifixions,cutting off limbs etc. I wish we had taken the alternative and not resorted to waterboarding but given their responsibility to protect our citizens i wonder if they didn’t believe they had any choice?

  89. CORRECTION: i wonder if they believed they had no other choice.

  90. Robtbrown:

    Most of what the US did post 9-11 to prevent further acts by terrorists is not known to the public.

    Which raises the distinct possibility that somewhere along the lines, we stop being the good guys.

    I’d like to know why we *should* win. To my mind, it’s because we’re fighting for something noble. But if not?

    Are we supposed to win simply because we have the biggest, baddest weapons?

  91. acardnal says:

    Fr. Fox,
    was the use of the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified?

  92. Stu says:

    Few things.

    Torturing a captive prisoner and invading a country are indeed apples in oranges. Captives, when subdued, no longer pose the same manner of threat and are treated differently. That’s standard for the guys wearing the “white hats”.

    Waterboarding can mean different things with differing techniques. The “waterboarding” that KSM received was not the same that servicemen are trained to in SERE.
    One of the defining aspects of torture is that it can cause permanent harm. This include psychological harm as well.

    And lastly, anyone who is a graduate SERE knows that torture or even “enhanced interrogation” isn’t effective. In fact, this was taught to us repeatedly by SERE instructors in warning us that the “soft” methods are much, much more effective and that is what we need to be wary of if we were ever in such a situation.

    And Palin’s remarks were at worst stupid and at best ignorant.

  93. “2. There was little tactical advantage gained by whacking Bin Laden. He was isolated, had little money, and wasn’t in control of things. And there were still couriers who were in contact with him, so they could be tracked from his house to those who were actually dangerous. So it would likely have been an advantage to have kept him alive. “
    Then the decision to kill Bin Laden was purely political and we’d have been further ahead to follow the couriers and track down the more dangerous.
    “On the other hand, if you convince me that waterboarding isn’t torture, then how bad the terrorists are remains irrelevant. If it’s not torture, but merely an “interrogation technique,” then of course waterboarding is not only OK for illegal combatant prisoners, but prisoners of war, and even for police interrogations.

    No? Why not–if it’s not torture?”Why not? We don’t use the technique in police interrogations because they’re typically not jihadists who will even blow themselves up to achieve their goal. They typically won’t fly jets into buildings killing themselves and 3k people. Typically they’re not out to wipe the US and Israel off the map and spread Islam world wide. I’m not in favor of waterboarding but i wasn’t the potus having to make this tough call either.I’d be very satisfied if we didn’t do it again.Back on topic: My feeling is that Sarah made her remark and didn’t consider what it might mean to some people. I believe she said it out of ignorance and it was an unfortunate off the cuff remark. I also see a lot of ppl just using this as a reason to attack her but that’s nothing new. I hope she apologizes and that it’s accepted. As far as being a national leader-she couldn’t possibly be worse than Obama or Hillary(Obama in a pantsuit)and she is pro life.

  94. Supertradmum says:

    The end never justifies the means. Ever.

  95. Acardnal:

    Well, I’ll tell you what. Here’s a link to the section of the Catechism on this subject: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P81.HTM. How would you square it?

    In particular, note this paragraph:

    2314 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.

  96. acardnal says:

    “Captives, when subdued, no longer pose the same manner of threat . . . .”

    I’m not so sure. What if they have specific knowledge of others who plan to use WMD to kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants? He knows the specific plan and when and where it will take place. He is definitely a threat! After Sept. 11, 2001, this was a very real concern of the intel and national command authority in the USA.

  97. Boxer — thanks, but your response is incoherent. If waterboarding is not torture, as you say, but only an interrogation technique, I don’t know how your, personal preference is going to govern what U.S. police forces do. And the notion that there are no criminals apprehended by police in this country who — just because they aren’t what you call “jihadists” — won’t scare the crap out of public officials strikes me as quite silly. Was Timothy McVeigh a “jihadist” Nope. You think that’ll never happen again?

  98. mamajen says:

    Why are we splitting hairs? Baptism, a sacrament, is always good. Water boarding is, at best, a necessary evil. The two cannot be compared. Simple. It does not matter whether water boarding can be justified or not, it is never an inherently good thing to do. God gave us baptism so we can have eternal life. Water boarding might grant people a few more years on earth.

    Not even the worst terrorist is beyond God’s mercy. Even the worst terrorist could repent and be baptized into the Church (or at least Christianity). No, we do not have another kind of “baptism” just for terrorists, whether jokingly or otherwise. They are human.

    I am stunned that people want to let this go because of who said it. Relativism: it’s only wrong if the left does it. Or so I’ve gleaned from this and other threads in which commenters want to ignore bad behavior because the offender otherwise tickles their fancy.

  99. ChristoetEcclesiae says:

    @Fr Martin Fox:
    Thank you, Father. You often offer me something to ponder. No exception today.
    May God bless. : )

  100. acardnal says:

    “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”

    I guess the key word in the above is “indiscriminate.” The Church could have simply omitted that adjective in their statement, but they didn’t. They left it in as a qualifier. So . . . some would argue that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not “indiscriminate” targets chosen randomly or without careful consideration, but they had military value.

    These matters are not always as black and white as academics in ivory towers make them seem.

  101. acardnal says:

    Regarding what Palin said vis a vis baptism and terrorists, it was a bad joke. She should apologize.

  102. ” Was Timothy McVeigh a “jihadist” Nope. You think that’ll never happen again?”
    a jihadist attack is more likely to happen for a number of reasons.Jjihadists are less likely to give up intel than a home grown terrorist. I hope we never use waterboarding again,but i’m going to assume they honestly determined they had no other choice at the time.
    “They are human.” They act like animals.Humans don’t treat other humans like these people.
    I hope she apologizes and we can forgive her. She’s bore a lot of garbage with grace.

  103. Boxerpaws:

    “I hope we never use waterboarding again…”

    Why? If it’s not torture, why do you object to using it?

  104. Uxixu says:

    How about my response, Fr Martin Fox? Do you find coherence in 1) the belief that US waterboarding (which absolutely needs to be distinguished to it’s extremely selected results and intent) doesn’t qualify as torture and 2) it should be used quite extensively only on those actively resisting conventional interrogation 3) appropriate medical personnel and oversight by the relevant authorities and 4) accountability

    I think 4 but many people are inured to violence and forgot our own Catholic ideology of Just War and that we’re not obligated to pure pacifism.

    Palin’s flippant and irreverent attitude can’t be condoned, nor would I commit honest to God torture (flayings, amputations, the rack, beatings etc etc which not only fail to attempt to avoid permanent damage but choose it deliberately) on the most evil, but I would waterboard without hesitation Al-Qaedas and other jihadis to crack their cells and prevent future attacks. I can understand those who could/would but they would be better leaders than those who would refuse to even approach techniques like waterboarding for failing to do their duty for those who’s responsibility they’ve taken with all the perks and privileges of being in such a position. “Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown” for good reason!

  105. a tad off topic.:be prepared.One day the Haggia Sophia will be a mosque.

  106. Uxixu says:

    Stu,

    You fail to distinguish between “lawful” captives and unlawful captives. By their very nature of violating the rules of war to begin with and not clearly identifying themselves and hiding amongst civilian targets (to say nothing of targeting civilian targets for purpose of terror), few to no jihadis gain legal protections of the Geneva Conventions, for example.

    Psychological harm is way too vague and subjective to be a reasonable metric. No lesson teaches anyone as well as pain as it’s concept is instinctual though thresholds are anything but. You also misrepresent (probably not intentionally) the context. Waterboarding is not good at gaining information, agreed. It is however extremely effective at breaking resistance.

  107. “Why? If it’s not torture, why do you object to using it?” I wouldn’t put it up their with torture but it’s not the most humane technique either. I may be wrong. and willing to think this over for a few days. For me i look at it t his way; if i had a choice between a pill to cure an illness or surgery to cure an illness. I would definitely choose the pill if it worked;having no other choice would opt for surgery. And if it were possible to cure the illness by just giving up a certain style of living and not doing either the pill or surgery I would definitely choose giving up the lifestyle. I also considered the medical personnel they had on hand. You know they didn’t want to kill the person they waterboarded and you know they gave them decent treatment up to that point. At least i trust that they did.I don’t want to beat this into the ground and will take a few days to think this through. Consider everything you said.As for Palin-i still believe she’s taken much garbage thrown at her with grace so i’m willing to accept her apology for one crass statement she should never have made. She made a mistake.
    I’m sorry but every day i have less and less inclination to consider these people humans.
    Tribal Council Marries off 8 yr old girl to 26 yr old man

  108. what i am saying is that the jihadist had the opportunity to avoid waterboarding just by giving up intel. It’s not as if they were forced. They always had the option.

  109. SKAY says:

    Fr. Fox said-
    “Are we supposed to win simply because we have the biggest, baddest weapons”

    9/11 was about the 3000 or more innocent people who were killed. Muslim terrorists intend to kill. They attacked us-with no mercy because of their religious ideology even though they had been welcomed into this country. They have no intention of fighting a “fair” war. I think that protecting our citizens(includes my children and grandchildren) from another attack on innocent people IS a noble goal.
    I wish Sarah had expressed herself a little differently as I also winced when I read what was said. I think that if someone sat down with her quietly and explained why it was hurtful-she would think about it and understand the point. I agree with Gretchen-it was hyperbole,
    Fuquay Steve said-
    “Having a Deacon who was employed by CBS news call what someone said blasphemous is, of itself, ridiculous. Heal thyself.”
    I was not aware. Thank you.

  110. Kathleen10 says:

    Sarah Palin is going to have to sell the team. Sorry. Different flub.

    This is an important conversation, if exasperating. We all talk about these things too little, now that conversation has become so stifled. God forbid we offend. But this is healthy discourse, the free exchange of ideas and opinions. This topic is difficult. It necessitates rough language and visuals we’d rather not have, but it’s important.
    I get those who are opposed to waterboarding, and respect your right to your opinion. I hate the idea of waterboarding, am glad I don’t have to do it, but, at the risk of personalizing this, I live between New York City (9/11) and Boston (Boston Marathon bombings). Maybe it’s the imagery and proximity, I don’t know, but this is not theory, not hypothetical, it’s very, very real. I won’t traumatize anyone further with descriptions, and I can’t argue Just War theory, but will only ask this as a hypothetical using a real-life example. There was a child killed in the Boston bombings, an eight year old child who had not long before, made his first Holy Communion. Let’s just take that one child, that right now, you can’t see and perhaps don’t know anything about. Please remember, I’m just using one example of one small human being that has suffered from Islamic terrorism. If you were forced to choose, waterboard one terrorist or that child dies, what would you choose? This is not, to me, an unfair question. This is not an overly dramatic hypothetical. This is our reality today.
    I fear a world where pacifists take over or influence much of the west, because that means Islam is unimpeded. That is not a world I want to live in. My only point is it is too easy to talk about right and wrong when it is removed and theoretical.
    @ Peter in Canberra. I believe your comment is unwarranted. I would challenge you to find any population in any country in the world who did not believe their country and people were the finest and most admirable, the USA included. American “arrogance” is entirely overblown, our own president’s comments notwithstanding. We have many reasons to be extremely proud of our country and our people, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be.

  111. Stu says:

    “Captives, when subdued, no longer pose the same manner of threat . . . .”

    cardinal said…I’m not so sure. What if they have specific knowledge of others who plan to use WMD to kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants? He knows the specific plan and when and where it will take place. He is definitely a threat! After Sept. 11, 2001, this was a very real concern of the intel and national command authority in the USA.

    Having information doesn’t equate into them being specifically a threat. But if you are really interested in getting such information from someone, torture doesn’t work. That’s not my opinion, that’s the consensus from DOD Interrogators. People will say anything to make the discomfort go away.

    uxixu said…”You fail to distinguish between “lawful” captives and unlawful captives.”
    Not at all. I’m concerned with the morality of it all, not what has been deemed lawful. After all, abortion is lawful.

    uxixu said…”Psychological harm is way too vague and subjective to be a reasonable metric.”
    It’s vague because every person has a differing threshold. So what might be psychologically harmful to one person would not be to another. So what purpose does that serve if you run risk of “destroying” a valuable intelligence asset.

    uxixu said…”Waterboarding is not good at gaining information, agreed. It is however extremely effective at breaking resistance.” To what end? Besides, torture certainly didn’t break the resistance of our POWs in Vietnam. Sure, some were broken, but to again, to what end? Nothing useful.

    Torture doesn’t work.

  112. Uixuxu:

    Torture is intrinsically evil; it’s use can never — N-E-V-E-R — be tolerated. That’s not “my view,” that’s Church teaching.

    If you want to dispute whether waterboarding is torture, I can’t stop you, but I’m convinced that it is. It quacks like a duck, etc.

    SKAY:

    There are lots of people, including many here, who are prepared to do what is gravely immoral in pursuit of “victory.” They have made that crystal clear. Tell them torture is wrong, they justify it. Either because of necessity, or because the enemy is so very evil. Neither answer is acceptable as Catholic teaching.

    But my point was, if we choose as a nation to do evil in order to win, then at some point, our justification for victory is no longer virtue. It’s no longer about any great moral cause. It’s not about freedom or justice — that’s what happens when we embrace evil. That’s why souls go to hell. You can’t embrace grave moral evil, and then say, “but I’m a good person!” Well, you can say it. In hell. Sin is serious. Evil is serious.

    If we embrace evil, and justify it, that path leads to what I said: that we end up having only might as our justification for victory.

    I’m not saying we’re there yet. But folks might do well to stop and look at ourselves:

    1. We claim the right to rain down war on any nation, even before it declares war on us.
    2. We send out drones, on orders of the president, no oversight, to kill anyone he wishes, anywhere. No place cannot be part of the battlefield.
    3. We use torture and many happily defend it.
    4. Meanwhile, as a nation, we exult baby-killing and unnatural marriage. We are the number-one source of pornography. We are a huge part of the narcotics trade.
    5. Our government spies on everyone, everywhere, anytime it wants.
    6. Our government is going to war on the Catholic Church, on God, and religious freedom.

    I mention all this to give context. Somewhere along the lines, the transition from good guys to bad guys happens. Do you know when that happens? Do you feel it? Is it obvious?

    Do you really think it’s only other poor fools who wake up one day and realize they’ve been cooperating with evil and somehow were blind to it?

  113. Uxixu says:

    Dear Fr Martin Fox, Yes I would never contend that torture should be permitted. I would strenuously object to the classification of waterboarding as torture. It’s apples and meatloaf to “real” torture and degrades so many abominable practices that really merit the term.

    Stu: “To what end?” Michael Hayden and Leon Panetta both attribute locating Osama Bin Laden to data corroborated through the enhanced interrogations. KSM was broken and his resistance ceased and not only that but he encouraged that it done to all of the others to break their futile resistance faster as it is futile and they’ll never be released.

    Conflating it with abortion and morality is a complete non sequitur. We’re precisely debating the morality.

  114. A world where “Islam is unimpeded. That is not a world I want to live in. ” and it’s exactly the world they want. It’s a sick and frightening world with socio-paths who have no regard for human life at all.NONE. It’s not a religion. If it is,it’s sick.

  115. OrthodoxChick says:

    But is waterboarding the only effective tool for eliciting intelligence in our arsenal? What about good ‘ol fashioned infiltration of a terror organization? Where have all of the spies and secret agents gone to? What about high tech options as was done to throw a wrench into Iran’s nuclear program via a computer virus?

    My take-away from Fr. Fox’s last comment (from 30 Apr/6:16pm) is that some folks have a tendency to conflate their political ideology with Church doctrine, justifying and/or denouncing along ideological lines. I see this as one downside to a two party system. It pits one side against the other, as if there are only 2 sides to every story. Yet we know that there are 3 sides to every story: yours, mine, and the Truth.

    As for Sarah Palin, I don’t feel that it is attacking her, nor tearing her down to simply point out that it isn’t cute, funny, nor clever to intimate that Baptism is someone’s version of waterboarding. It isn’t. One has nothing to do with the other. Clearly.

  116. Stu says:

    Panetta actually said this:

    “The real story was that in order to put the puzzle of intelligence together that led us to Bin Laden, there were a lot of pieces out there that were a part of that puzzle. Yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time, interrogation tactics that were used. But the fact is we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that.”

    This jibes with the overwhelming consensus that the use of water boarding was of marginal value. Torture doesn’t work. Recommend you look into the case of Hans Scharff. That’s how you get usable and reproducible intelligence.

    And I didn’t conflate torture and abortion. I pointed out that your reliance on torture being “lawful” is akin to some defending abortion for the same reason. Legality and morality are often at odds.

  117. ” it isn’t cute, funny, nor clever to intimate that Baptism is someone’s version of waterboarding. It isn’t. One has nothing to do with the other. Clearly.” agree.

  118. disagree that it’s ideological. The Islamic threat is real.it just hasn’t hit close enough to home for many of us. Unfortunately i think someday it will.

  119. OrthodoxChick says:

    boxerpaws1952,
    If you’re referring to my comment (in your comment from 7:14pm), I wasn’t saying that the threat from Islamic jihadists is ideological. I was using the word ideological in reference to the list that Fr. Fox gave in his last comment (from 6:16pm). If you go down that list of “evils”, you’ll find issues that tend to divide people along ideological lines.

  120. robtbrown says:

    Fr Martin Fox says:

    Robtbrown:

    Most of what the US did post 9-11 to prevent further acts by terrorists is not known to the public.

    Which raises the distinct possibility that somewhere along the lines, we stop being the good guys.

    I’d like to know why we *should* win. To my mind, it’s because we’re fighting for something noble. But if not?

    Are we supposed to win simply because we have the biggest, baddest weapons?

    Do you know of Dr Michael Scheuer, quondam head of the Bin Laden section a CIA? Also the author of Imperial Hubris. He says that they’re over here because we’re over there. It’s hard for me to say that he’s wrong.

    Are we the good guys? I’m not so sure how we can say that with abortion on demand and the march toward Homosexual “marriage”. nb: Judge Bork’s Slouching toward Gomorrah. Our Middle Eastern policy can be summed up in one word: Isroil.

    I think the main purpose of US foreign policy should be to maintain the peace. Sometimes that means using military force (si vis pacem, para bellum), e.g., Bush41. Unfortunately, bunglers like Bush43, Dumsfeld, and the current clown in the White House make things worse not better.

    IMHO, the ethical concern about drones is puzzling. The Stealth Bomber (B-2) flies at night and so high (c. 45,000 ft) that no one can hear it. It has a very low radar signature that is enhanced by flying between radar gates (flight plans are pre-determined). So it’s fair to say that it cannot be detected. And from that altitude it releases GPS guided bombs. I don’t think drones are any less ethical than that. They are all high tech ambushes.

  121. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    BLB Oregon has an interesting defense of the expression ‘baptism by fire’ (of which ‘baptism of fire’ is a variant) – a phrase not discussed under the heading “Metaphorical Baptism” in William Fanning’s 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia article, “Baptism”. The English Wikipedia article, “Baptism by fire”, notes assertions that “the term in a military sense entered the English language in 1822 as a translation of the French phrase baptême du feu”: its equivalents are certainly found in various modern languages.

    Stu mentions a “ ‘waterboarding’ […] that servicemen are trained to in SERE” (while distinguishing it from one “that KSM received “).

    Might the SERE sort be characterized as a kind of ‘baptism of fire by water’? Might the sort “that KSM received”, if properly distinguished, yet be similarly characterized?

    Might this have occurred to Mrs. Palin?

    Might she had meant something like, “if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists [with a ‘baptism of fire by water’ even as many of our servicemen are so ‘baptized’ in training, and then we would see if they stood up to it as well as our servicemen do]”?

    I do not pretend to know that – or if – she did, but might she have?

    If so, what implications might that have for evaluating what she said?

  122. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    BLB Oregon quoted from CCC 2298, “In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person.”

    Fr Martin Fox said, ” Our government is going to war on the Catholic Church, on God, and religious freedom.”

    For how much of the history of the Church might how many of its Pastors, when they “themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture”, be said to have been “going to war on the Catholic Church, on God, and religious freedom”? And how is it that only in “recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person”?

  123. Priam1184 says:

    Pailin is as Pailin does. Liked her when she first came on the scene six years ago, but since then it has become perfectly clear that she sees her role in life as being all about making bombastic statements that contribute absolutely zero to solving the pressing problems faced by the United States but do happily contribute to her book sales… I was more amused by the “In my administration” section of that quote since she will never actually even put herself out there to run for president much less have her own administration to implement such policies.

  124. Priam1184 says:

    Palin, not “Pailin”, sorry.

  125. “that contribute absolutely zero to solving the pressing problems faced by the United States but do happily contribute to her book sales…” so we’re saying Sarah Palin is all about selling her books. I don’t believe so but that’s neither here nor there. The comment she made about baptism definitely requires an apology. Again this is a snarky comment against Ms Palin and nothing to do with her terrible comment. I wish people would spend as much time going after politicians who ARE Catholic and support abortion,gay marriage and euthanasia. Anyway, i don’t know that i would actually vote for Palin for office. Not sure she’s the best choice. So anyone who thinks i’m just on the Palin bandwagon is badly mistaken. On the other hand she’s taken a ton of unwarranted garbage being thrown at her and handled it with grace. Only because she holds certain view on social issues.I hope someone explains to her and she apologizes,we forgive her and move on.
    “We use torture and many happily defend it.” I questioned whether waterboarding could be considered torture and as for happily defending waterboarding.Don’t think so. I wish we didn’t live in a world where any of this took place but we have people who have 1 goal-kill us and set up an Islamic Caliphate.In fact they’d be happy JUST to kill us. Nobody is HAPPILY defending waterboarding.
    ” He says that they’re over here because we’re over there. It’s hard for me to say that he’s wrong. Not buying it. They attacked us when we weren ‘t over there. They don’t really need a reason but they’ll use whatever excuse they can get their hands on. What’s their excuse for killing Christians in their own countries.Ppl who are CITIZENS of those countries.
    “If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin.

    Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. i don’t hate these jihadists. I don’t wish them evil. I do get what they’re about. They’re not some benign religious group that is going to respect your religious beliefs. It’s about defending us and defending Christians and defending Israel.
    Finally i do hope Ms Palin apologizes soon.She has been a trooper for the pro life cause. Will give her that.I will also give her that a lot of people have made very ignorant comments in the public and don’t get the flack she does. I’m going to give all of the other comments some thought, especially Fr Martin Fox’s(i shouldn’t have been so argumentative with you Father;apologies). We’ve got BIG problems in our country and one of the biggest is the LYING MARXIST president we’re stuck with for 2 more years and a media that is in the tank for him-meaning good luck getting the truth.

  126. i keep thinking about Kathleen’s words re that little 8 yr old boy. He wasn’t collateral damage-an unintended consequence. He wasn’t a battle field combatant-a soldier engaged in a war. He wasn’t even a pow. He was a TARGET. i don’t mean they picked out this little boy to kill but if he was among the crowd, then he was a target.Now we’re the President of the United States. We’ve watched 3k innocent people get murdered by terrorists. We have no idea if there are any more plots out there and another 3k people(OR MORE)are going to be murdered. It’s your duty to protect the American people. What do you do?

  127. jflare says:

    Fr Fox,
    I’ve never understood the logic people use in chastising someone about a particular act of war, or the means used to acquire information about how someone intends to fight, then declaring that the overall war might be justified, so long as we have the right intent. Such a train of thought seems to me to imply that war will be fought by well-reasoned and well-understood means and that if anybody resorts to unwarranted violence, they’ll be held to account for transgressions. Such a thought process also seems to assume that anyone will necessarily care about what the Catholic Church teaches about how wars might be waged and how not.

    Speaking from experience and from learning history, I have seen no examples at all of any occasion when Catholic faith ever informed much of anything about fighting a war OR the actions involved with learning how an enemy intends to fight. Warfare might be ruled in the best of circumstances by particular Laws of Armed Conflict that we expect our troops to uphold, but I highlight the idea that once the bombs start falling and bullets start flying, the logic of peace and justice are the first ideas to depart. Warfare, in real life, almost never involves an insistence that we fight a “just” war. In fact, I’d highlight the idea that we won our Revolution against Britain in no small part because we played pretty fast and loose with the idea of fair play.
    My conclusion has tended to be that warfare wholly undermines the idea of “good guys” and “bad guys”. It’s really more a matter of which side has succeeded in causing the other side to capitulate, hopefully without becoming any more hideous than strictly needed. Unfortunately, the degree of vice involved in winning may not be determined by the winning side, but by how determined the losing side is to hold out in spite of being clearly beaten. …Witness the decision to drop nuclear bombs on Japan to conclude World War II; firebombing several Japanese cities hadn’t yet persuaded the Japanese to surrender. Truman apparently felt he had little choice but to act all the more viciously against that side, if only to spare the lives of as many US troops as he could. Tragic and ugly though it is, that’s a legitimate choice to make.

    So, when we come to waterboarding, I’m inclined to be very skeptical. Whether it officially qualifies as torture or not depends on precisely who you ask and precisely what the procedure and intent might be. One thing we can say for certain is that we aren’t aiming to make friends or pray. We can readily agree that it’s an evil kind of act.
    On the other hand, every occasion I’ve ever heard of waterboarding being used, we’ve already agreed to commit pretty heinous acts, by virtue of not insisting on finding less violent means of persuasion.
    If we want to scream that it’s an act of evil and the US government should be ashamed, I’d like to know something: Why haven’t we demanded Congress conduct a full investigation and start prosecuting the “evildoers”?
    I think we haven’t because we understand that it’s evil, but in the wider picture, it’s not AS evil as some other consequences.
    Thus, when Sarah Palin makes a remark about how this is “baptism”, I’m not inclined to get very excited.
    Considering the degree of evil that we readily tolerate from supposedly Catholic politicians and our general populace, I can’t believe that we’re thinking we should be enraged that Gov Palin or others speak with such contempt for others or for sacraments.

    We’ve already given them ample cause to think we don’t care.

  128. jflare says:

    “There was a child killed in the Boston bombings, an eight year old child who had not long before, made his first Holy Communion. Let’s just take that one child, that right now, you can’t see and perhaps don’t know anything about. Please remember, I’m just using one example of one small human being that has suffered from Islamic terrorism. If you were forced to choose, waterboard one terrorist or that child dies, what would you choose? This is not, to me, an unfair question. This is not an overly dramatic hypothetical. This is our reality today.”

    Kathleen, you’ve asked precisely the question, or kind of question, that I’ve been trying to press people to answer for several years. I do find this to be the immensely frustrating part, because people often will blast an official for a decision to waterboard, but when we start asking about alternatives, we typically hear equivocation or a flat refusal to answer the question.

    I have long felt that if people wanted to complain about TSA abuses, waterboarding, just or unjust war, or the like, people really should be starting to ask themselves whether they’re prepared to be killed (perhaps martyred) or if they’re willing to allow for a large number of people to die en masse. I have never succeeded in discerning any other solution that actually can happen.

  129. robtbrown says:

    A few points:

    1. My understanding is that intelligence is a mosaic that is assembled from many sources. It’s usually not a matter of just one person giving up information.

    2. The military view of waterboarding, etc., is to be opposed to it as method and to its effectiveness. On the other hand, the opinion of the CIA is the opposite of that.

    3, Jacques Maritain said something to the effect: We are not living in Christendom. We are living in its corpse, nevertheless, the West has a value for life not found elsewhere. And it’s not only with suicide bombers. I was told that in Bosnia the enemy set up mortars in orphanages, then lobbed mortar shells into a marketplace with their own people. Then then could blame us for the attacks as well as prevent the attack on the mortars

  130. veritas76 says:

    Frjim4321,
    I don’t follow this blog regularly, so I don’t know the background to a lot of the ‘drama’ that might be present, but your comment certainly caught my eye. You don’t believe that we can “make amends for the atrocities of other people,” or make reparation for others’ sins? I’m not asking with the intention of being an instigator — I genuinely want to know — what, then, was Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, if not a reparation or amendment for our sins? Because if we can’t make reparation for the sins of others, that is, if Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t efficacious because amends made can’t be applied to others, the future for my soul (and the rest of the world) is looking pretty bleak.

  131. Heather F says:

    acardinal:

    “I guess the key word in the above is “indiscriminate.” The Church could have simply omitted that adjective in their statement, but they didn’t. They left it in as a qualifier. So . . . some would argue that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not “indiscriminate” targets chosen randomly or without careful consideration, but they had military value.”

    Claiming that the “indiscriminate” adjective leaves a loophole whereby you can justify leveling a city because the city happens to have some features of strategic value is nonsense. “Indiscriminate” refers to the nature of the destruction, not the choice of city to be leveled. It is indiscriminate because it makes no distinction between soldiers and infants, it just kills everything in its area of effect.

    You cannot do evil in order that good may come of it. The end does not justify the means. Period. End stop. Whether we are talking about terrorism, nuking/firebombing/conventional bombing population centers (a form of terrorism, since it is deliberately targeting civilians/noncombatants specifically for its effect on enemy morale), or torture.

  132. robtbrown says:

    I forgot to mention that when I talked with the recently retired one star in 2001, he said: I wonder how many people understand that we’re about to get involved in a Middle Eastern civil war.

  133. cajuncath says:

    Kudos to our priests here for resoundingly putting forth the substance of Catholic truth.

    1-Waterboarding is a form of torture. Let’s be honest.

    2-The U.S. cited waterboarding as a justification for charging certain Japanese with war crimes at the end of WWII.

  134. acardnal says:

    Heather F. wrote,
    “You cannot do evil in order that good may come of it. The end does not justify the means. Period. End stop. Whether we are talking about terrorism, nuking/firebombing/conventional bombing population centers (a form of terrorism, since it is deliberately targeting civilians/noncombatants specifically for its effect on enemy morale), or torture.”

    The end doesn’t justify the means. TRUE.
    You cannot do evil in order that good may come of it. TRUE.
    Both are basic principles of moral theology.

    Now the question is whether or not Truman’s end was evil or good. Correct me if I misunderstand your point, but are you arguing that the use by President Truman in WWII of atomic bombs was an act of terrorism?

  135. acardnal says:

    Correction: “Now the question is whether or not Truman’s means were evil of good.”

  136. SKAY says:

    Fr. Fox said:
    “4. Meanwhile, as a nation, we exult baby-killing and unnatural marriage. We are the number-one source of pornography. We are a huge part of the narcotics trade.
    5. Our government spies on everyone, everywhere, anytime it wants.
    6. Our government is going to war on the Catholic Church, on God, and religious freedom”

    I agree, Father. On the last point we know that this administration is now telling military chaplains what parts of their Christian religious beliefs they can and cannot refer to when counseling our troops–along with other changes.
    There is now a big push from the administration for the Democrat Senate to approve Obama appointed federal judges before the upcoming elections. You can be sure these judges will have a certain point of view–particularly about abortion ssm,and the HHS mandate – just to name a few.

  137. robtbrown says:

    HeatherF,

    Let’s say you’re Truman. You know that the island-hopping battles have been bloodbaths, with 26,000 US casualties on Iwo Jima alone. And those numbers will likely pale in comparison to projections for an invasion of Japan.

    Further, the Soviet Union has now declared war on Japan, which likely means that it would like to occupy it a la Poland and other Central European nations.

    So you have the choice of dropping leaflets on Hiroshima, telling citizens to get out of the city because it’s going to be destroyed. Then dropping the nuke.

    Or you can continue the island hopping bloodbath, with many more casualties to follow–and take the chance of having to contest Stalin for Japan.

    What would you do?

  138. Acardnal:

    It’s very hard to see how dropping a bomb that is expected to destroy the vast bulk of a city can be anything other than “indiscriminate.” You might be able to argue that President Truman intended to be “discriminate”–i.e., he only wanted to hurt military targets — or, you might argue that he didn’t realize just how massive the destruction would be…but beyond that…it fits what the Church condemns.

    Second, there is a very important, yet often neglected question related to the purported necessity of his action. You reference that argument obliquely, but it usually focuses on how intransigent the Japanese were, and only two atomic bombs changed that.

    Now, the bottom line is that “necessity” is simply not a justification for doing evil. Evil doesn’t become less evil, or good, because your situation gets grave enough. After all, if the situation becomes grave enough, would a nation be justified, say, in releasing a biological agent? Or, to use the scenario I have cited before: if you want to compel a prisoner to capitulate, don’t torture him, torture his children.

    But just for kicks, let’s look at that necessity argument in the case of World War II and Japan. Recall that President Roosevelt insisted on “unconditional surrender.” This was controversial, and some of our allies opposed it, precisely because it might harden resistance. In the case of Japan, did “unconditional surrender” mean, for example, that the emperor would be deposed? As it happened, of course, we didn’t depose him. The old bird himself, Hirohito — who might otherwise have been subject to war crimes — in fact stayed on the throne.

    An unanswered (and unanswerable) question is whether Japan would have agreed to a surrender with conditions. And from the standpoint of Catholic moral teaching, it’s hard to see why that wouldn’t have been preferable. After all, should any nation be able to claim such moral supremacy that it is entitled to “unconditional surrender”? The surrender of combatants on the battlefield, after all, is never allowed to be “unconditional” from a moral standpoint. I.e., once someone surrenders, the moral law denies the victor supreme power over the prisoner. So why doesn’t that apply to nations?

    In short, it’s worth wondering if the dropping of the bombs was only “necessary” because of the immoral hubris of the allies.

  139. a heads up. CNN has finally caught up with Palin’s comments and gone religious.The author,Dave Perry, points out[rightly so]that Christians consider baptism holy and sacred.(We won’t hear this again.)
    He also notes,“On Wednesday, the National Religious Campaign against Torture released a powerful condemnation of the speech. To Palin, the organization’s executive director wrote, “Your statements play into a false narrative conveying that somehow, the conflict between the United States and the terrorist cells is a conflict between Christianity and Islam, or Islam and ‘the West.’ “
    Sorry but i happen to think that islam is on a collision course with Christianity and the West and anyone else that it believes is getting in the way,but particularly Christianity. They are persecuting and killing Christians in many countries. They don’t think much better of the Jews.
    There are other serious flaws in his op ed piece. Some of it’s correct.Some of it,not so much.
    Palin Goes Too Far
    Yes she did in this instance but the left is using the comment to get as many people turned against her as possible,even her supporters.I’m not going to help them out.I hope she apologizes soon.

  140. acardnal says:

    The National Command Authorities in the USA had very real concerns and intel (perhaps dubious in retrospect) concurrent with September 11, 2001 that AQ had WMD. (In fact, there is video of them testing chemical weapons on dogs.) What if KSM or other captive terrorists had knowledge of those details: who, what, when, when, where, how? Millions of innocent non-combatants would die if it was used. Doesn’t the government have the moral authority to prevent them from being used if they can get that info from the terrorists by using “enhanced interrogation techniques”? If it was your loved ones riding in the bombed bus in London or the bombed trains in Spain, wouldn’t you have expected your government to prevent that from occurring if they could?

    Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center has an interesting argument for the morality of killing an unborn child (a human embryo) in an ectopic pregnancy in order to save the life of the mother. (I’m not convinced by his argument that of the three methods, only one is morally acceptable.) Doesn’t the principle of double effect arise in these matters of warfare, too?
    http://www.ncbcenter.org/page.aspx?pid=940

  141. Acardnal:

    The rule of double effect emphatically does NOT apply, because that only applies where the action in question is morally good or neutral. This is a frequent misunderstanding that, unfortunately, supporters of abortion will use in their arguments.

    And I’m sorry if you think I’m dense, but once again, you’re making the argument from “necessity.” It’s OK to use waterboarding because you need to — in order to get necessary information.

    I reiterate, that argument is inadmissible, for the most obvious reasons. What you would be offended to have me suggest you would consider…today, you would nevertheless be justified in doing, tomorrow, because of necessity.

    Once you start saying, we are entitled to do X in order to save lives, X can be anything, can’t it? Especially when the choice is saving innocents versus a putative wrong to an obviously hateful criminal — i.e., a terrorist. The dialogue for a screenplay rights itself. Cue leading man, sweaty and face purple with righteous indignation: “If it’s a choice between causing this @#%! a few hours of excruciating pain, versus seeing that schoolbus full of children be sacrificed, I know what *I’d* choose!”…

    He thunders, as he brings the ball-peen hammer down on the first finger of the terrorist’s hand.

    Please don’t protest that you didn’t mean that. When you say necessity makes what’s wrong, permissible, you don’t get to be add, only those wrongs that don’t make you throw up. You are opening the door to whatever works — that’s the necessary implication of doing what’s, quote, “necessary.”

  142. stilbelieve says:

    With all the verbal attacks Ms. Palin and her family have had to put up with from the Democratic Party spokes people (a Party which gets its electoral power from church going Catholics, including the clergy [who I have never heard come to Sarah's defense ever]), and the liberal Democrat fawning media, I think she deserves a pass on this comment. After all, you have to keep in mind the mind set of Islamic fascist who find honor in murdering infidels, particularly Christian “infidels.” Certainly, water boarding, which has been only used on a few people has produced information that resulted in saving innocent peoples’ lives. And certainly, being water boarded would give that person the opportunity to really see if they are willing to die for their belief; or prefer to live instead, in which case that would not only save the lives of others, but provide an opportunity to reexamine their belief and possibly lead to a conversion.

  143. Heather F says:

    What do I do?

    I bomb whatever military installations I can bomb and shoot down anything trying to get off the islands. It’s a tiny island nation. It can be blockaded. If I absolutely have to nuke something to show I really mean business, I nuke something that isn’t a city.

    The “we dropped warning leaflets” excuse doesn’t hold water. Just because you warn someone that you are going to torture them, kill their family, bomb their civilians, or whatever unless they do what you want, it doesn’t actually make it any less wrong to do so. “Look, I warned you, see what you made me do” isn’t a valid excuse for doing evil.

    And yes, I do consider the atomic bombings to be terroristic. So were other deliberate targeting of large civilian population centres by both sides. They were acts of violence directly targeted at non-combatants in order to weaken the morale of the enemy.

  144. acardnal says:

    We haven’t even discussed the “lesser of two evils” approach. LOL.

    There are reports, though some say it’s a myth, that British PM Winston Churchill knew that Coventry was going to be bombed by the German Luftwaffe before it happened. He knew before hand because the British were reading the German’s encrypted messages. Churchill did not warn those who lived in Coventry because it would have tipped off the Germans that their encryption method (Enigma) had been compromised. Consequently, death, injury and property damage ensued. I wouldn’t want to live with that kind of guilt nor be in a position of such a moral dilemma that he, Roosevelt, Bush, military figures and other leaders must deal with.

    These situations are fascinating to discuss in class rooms. They cause me to deliberate. I think, however, that despite the best efforts of moral theologians and ethicists to codify moral principles, that not every situation is black and white. There are often too many variables. And many are open to interpretation just as the law and the U.S. Constitution are open to interpretation (lots of 5-4 decisions there!) I’ve read enough to know that there are disagreements among moral theologians just as there are among lawyers. And there are too many of them!

    War is hell. A consequence of Original Sin. Even in God’s divine plan, destruction and death of the innocent have occurred at His direction. One can think of the current movie “Noah,” but I prefer to think of King Saul:
    King Saul suffered because he did not obey God’s instruction via the prophet Samuel to kill all the Amalekites. So Saul killed all the babies, women, children, poor quality livestock and men, but he left alive the king and best livestock. Unfortunately for King Saul, he did not kill ALL the Amalekites. He was disobedient to God’s command. Consequently, Samuel told Saul that God rejected him as King, and both he and his kingdom suffered.

  145. Kathleen10 says:

    My question goes largely unanswered. It is darn near impossible to discuss this and not get graphic, it’s really hard, because if on the one hand you have the terrible kind of torture, barbaric acts, mayhem and murder that we have by now all “seen”, then what am I missing? I can’t square that with not using a technique designed to get information from someone who has information that may save the lives of, your mother, your spouse, your child, your grandchild. Don’t make it impersonal, take it all the way to your loved ones. I think what worries me is not about waterboarding. What all this hoohah about waterboarding implies, is that we may not have the sheer will to come through things and be victorious. Yes, victorious. I want the victory, for the US and her allies. Islam is different from other religions in one especially unique aspect. A Christian’s heaven “is not of this world” but Islam is a movement to take over the globe and put Sharia law in place everywhere. It is moving toward that end by immigration and having large families. We see Islamic groups starting to become politically active. Why not? A lawyer and a sharp sense of outrage can get you very far in the US. We are sitting ducks for this insanity, and yes, it’s insanity to basically allow a group that has caused nothing but chaos and trouble and genocide and murder and kidnappings and bombings to do just that, takeover by simply moving in. It’s an example of national insanity and ultimately self-destruction. If Islam does take over one day, I daresay not one of us the day after would be talking theory. A little while in that world and my suspicion is waterboarding would move into the “acceptable” category because of the huge number of atrocities seen, if you were alive or coherent enough to think. Nobody wants waterboarding, but when I weigh innocent lives on one end of the scale and waterboarding on the other, innocent lives far outweigh. It is me? I pray that God enlightens us all (me included) as we go through this increasingly complicated life. I ask Him to please protect us as we face this very real danger.

  146. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    It would be good if Mrs. Palin explained what she meant (even as it would be good if the Holy Father explained exactly what he meant, for example, by what is officially translated “self-absorbed promethean neopelagian”). For she may, of course, have something to apologize for.

    Meanwhile, what might she have meant? When she says, ““if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists”, it is hard to imagine that she does not know that “we” do not arbitrarily “baptize” unwilling “terrorists” in the sense of St. Matthew 28:19. Nor do “we” say, ‘accept Christian baptism, or else… [we will torture you, kill you, or some other dire threat].’ But there are many and various contemporary reports of people who seem to think they are exemplary Muslims offering others – including Christians – an analogous choice with respect to formal confession/conversion.

    Might the sense be something like, ‘We do not and would never Baptize the unwilling, or forcibly “go through the motions” of doing so, or try to bully people into accepting Baptism, but, if I were in charge, we would use water on the unwilling in a way which I, Sarah Palin, am convinced is not torture, in a sort of “baptism of fire” ‘?

    Might she have meant to defend as legitmate one use of force, by implicitly criticizing another, illegitimate one (‘forced conversion’)?

  147. Uxixu says:

    Stu:

    It was not meant to be “lawful captives” but “lawful combatants.” This is in regards to the international Rules of War. Uniformed military of a nation-state (signatories to the treaties) could not/would not be subject to enhanced interrogations. By their nature as guerrillas, the jihadis do not gain this protection. Bringing up abortion is conflation, though perhaps unintentional by my slip.

    The Panetta quote is underscored by robtbrown’s post. It’s a collection of numerous different sources with corroboration and multiple sources of information giving different pieces of a huge puzzle. KSM and the others had invaluable amounts of intel to be given that they gave voluntarily after their resistance was broken by waterboarding.

    cajuncath: you need to do a bit more research on the war crimes trials for Imperial Japanese who were convicted of waterboarding as it’s misleading. They actually drowned their victims. Having medical personnel nearby to supervise and make sure they weren’t hurt was completely opposed to the Imperial Japanese in that regard, who regarded surrender and capture as a disgraceful and contemptible status. Waterboarding was the least of the crimes of Yukio Asano (amongst others) , who additionally administered beatings and kickings and putting out lit cigarettes on his victims. It’s just not truthful and smacks of calumny to equate that with that used by the United States against captive Al Qaeda.

  148. jflare says:

    “In short, it’s worth wondering if the dropping of the bombs was only “necessary” because of the immoral hubris of the allies.”

    Fr Fox, I never cease being amazed by how people will castigate Roosevelt or other leaders from the World War II era for daring to make decisions that we find difficult to accept, yet never seem to remember the context of the situation.

    If we want to argue that Hiroshima or Nagasaki only were necessary because of American arrogance, it’d be good to demonstrate how the Japanese could be considered innocent victims. I don’t think the actual historical record will back that claim very well at all. If anything, an honest examination of history most likely will demonstrate that Roosevelt probably issued his ultimatum in no small part to cause the Japanese nation to even begin to be required to act with some semblance of civil intent.
    Let’s not forget, before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, they’d already invaded Korea and Manchuria. I’m pretty certain that historical records show that the Japanese were anything but kind to their “new subjects”. From knowing about that and being aware of the casualties that we’d suffered both on D-Day and on Iwo Jima, I think it foolish to assume that the Japanese would’ve been willing to consider other options. Perhaps some of the populace did wish to capitulate, but a fair number of them either didn’t or weren’t willing to confront Japanese authorities on the matter.

    Ending the war in the Pacific is anything but the black and white notion that we seem to hear the most these days.

    We used the atom bomb mostly as a means to persuade Japanese leadership that we could beat them to a pulp if we needed, but we’d rather they’d surrender instead.
    Such things happen in war.

    I consider waterboarding much the same way: I never met anyone in the military who genuinely hated people in a manner to wish to inflict bloodshed, except perhaps for very young troops. For the most part, our military efforts then and now have aimed at keeping the required bloodshed to the minimum that we can.
    For some reason, people don’t seem to understand that.

  149. jflare says:

    “If I absolutely have to nuke something to show I really mean business, I nuke something that isn’t a city.”

    Sadly, Heather, that idea probably won’t solve any problem. It might mean that 200,000 civilians in one place don’t die immediately, but it could well mean that 10,000 other civilians may die either from being too close to Ground Zero or from fallout. … And that assumes that none of the 200,000 civilians in the city will die from radioactive fallout, but some of them almost certainly will, depending on precisely which way the wind blows at the time.

    Even if you COULD avoid nuking the city, you must understand that nuking some podunk installation in the middle of nowhere won’t be guaranteed to cause your opponent to give up. Given our own efforts to prepare for nuclear war here in the ‘States, there’s a possibility that your opponent will simply acknowledge the loss of the base, but keep fighting. Similar kinds of things have happened before.

  150. Bob B. says:

    Things have really changed since Vietnam.
    Having gone through intel school, I remember an interrogator who said to our class that he never had to even touch a prisoner to get the information needed. He convinced us.
    Of course back then, it was difficult to be selected for the school (there were many tests, background and character checks, etc) and the caliber of the soldiers was high. Virtually all of my class went to Vietnam.
    As for the CIA, they were the idiots who flew Air America bush planes and even a silver Huey (wop, wop, wop) that was brilliantly obvious and heard for miles in Vietnam. They thought they knew things, but would open their mouths and prove otherwise (enough said).

  151. robtbrown says:

    Fr Martin Fox,

    As an unrepentant Thomist I am stingy with the word “necessarily”. The question about nuking Japan was whether it facilitated the end of the war and minimized US casualties. Both are obligations implicit in the President’s oath of office.

    Contemporary war is not professional armies meeting in a field. As I said above, it is a function of industrial/technical capacity. Hiroshima was both a military and shipping center. The US triumph in WWII was because of our industrial capacity. A friend’s father who was in a MASH unit in the European theater said that a local told him they knew the US would win: For every tank they had, you had 10.

    The practice of Moral Theology is not merely establishing behavioral prescriptions and proscriptions. It is also applying them, deciding perplexing moral questions. The history of war is not merely a matter of professional armies meeting in a field. Rather, it includes a history of armies using the trebuchet to propel various projectiles into walled cities. Patton understood the importance of capturing capitals, rather than just defeating armies.

    It’s one thing to say that nuking Hiroshima was immoral, but, as noted above, it had to be considered in light of the options. A wartime commander is surrounded by options, all of which may be in some way considered immoral.

    BTW, although Hirohito wasn’t hung, the other prominent Japanese leaders were. MacArthur understood that he needed the emperor for his symbolic value, but he made sure Hirohito knew who was in charge. The general was asked whether he was going to visit the emperor and said he would wait for the emperor to visit him.

  152. Supertradmum says:

    The greatest evil of the last one-hundred plus years, has been the invention of Total War. In the early 19th century, war was still a professional activity between fighting armies, which in Christendom, actually developed rules, such as not fighting on Sunday and not including civilians. This type of war with rules of engagement changed during the French Revolution and the genocide in the Vendee, moved to the horrors of the Armenian massacre, and the total war of WWI and WWII.

    We shall never see rules of engagement again, especially with the world growth of terrorism and guerrilla warfare. We are no longer a Christian nation fighting with the old rules of Christian just war theories.

    As a Thomist, I was against the recent wars of attack without being attacked first-preemptive strikes or wars are not allowed under just war theory and are condemned by Aquinas. In other words, defense is allowed and not offense first.

    I am no longer a supporter of Palin, as she has crossed a line of professional politician, imo, and has become irresponsible. There is no excuse for a Christian to use sacramental metaphors for something as horrible as any type of torture. She is playing into the hands of her and the USA’s enemies.

    We need leaders with wisdom and grace, not foolishness. Prudence seems to be missing in this lady.

    BTW, for various reasons, I know that America has a first-strike policy for nuclear war. That is another example of a lack of prudence.

  153. SKAY says:

    Kathleen10 said–

    “Islam is different from other religions in one especially unique aspect. A Christian’s heaven “is not of this world” but Islam is a movement to take over the globe and put Sharia law in place everywhere. It is moving toward that end by immigration and having large families. We see Islamic groups starting to become politically active. Why not? A lawyer and a sharp sense of outrage can get you very far in the US. We are sitting ducks for this insanity, and yes, it’s insanity to basically allow a group that has caused nothing but chaos and trouble and genocide and murder and kidnappings and bombings to do just that, takeover by simply moving in. It’s an example of national insanity ”
    Exactly.

    taqiya

    “Muslim scholars teach that Muslims should generally be truthful to each other, unless the purpose of lying is to “smooth over differences.”

    There are two forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted under certain circumstances, taqiyya and kitman. These circumstances are typically those that advance the cause Islam – in some cases by gaining the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them. ”

    I heard someone say to pray that our enemies will be converted or confused.

  154. The Masked Chicken says:

    I realize that I am late to the party, but I wanted to make a few comments:

    1. The comparison between waterboarding and dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima is a poor choice. The use of nuclear weapons on civilian populations (and I would even contend military populations) is objectively gravely evil and never justified. We know this in hindsight. It is wrong to argue, however, that because the use of nuclear weapons is now known to be objectively evil, that Truman was subjectively imputable for using them. In 1945, only one atomic bomb had been detonated prior to the one at Hiroshima and the physics was only partially understood. They were taking bets on whether or not the Trinity bomb would blow the atmosphere off of the earth. They, simply, didn’t know how much energy would be released (and don’t quote me E = MC^2, because they has no idea how much of the U-235 was going to fission). Enrico Fermi figured out the amount of energy released by letting go of some paper as the shock wave hit and determining how far the paper traveled after the bomb was detonated.

    In 1945, there was also a very poor understanding of the effects of ionizing radiation. They knew that direct exposure of fissionable material could kill, as witnessed by the deaths of Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. and Louis Slotin from exposure to radiation during accidents involving a plutonium core, but these accidents happened in late 1945 and 1946, after the bombs had been dropped. As late as the 1950′s, the physical chemist and DNA-mapper, Rosalind Franklin, died from radiation exposure due to standing in her x-ray crystallography beam for long hours to align it. Radioactive material was taken for granted into the early 1960′s, with some glow-in-the-dark items being made from small amounts of radium.

    3. The correct understanding of the flaws of Consequentialism, whereby the goodness of an act is judged by the consequences it produces, was about 10 years away in the writings of G. E. M. Anscombe, although the moral principle that an evil means may not be used for a good end was certainly known. Unfortunately, the moral permissiveness, the, “goodness,” of the act of dropping an atomic bomb, was not actually known on August 6, 1945, so no correct moral calculus could be made with any certainty.

    In a nutshell, Truman might have been almost in the dark as to the realities of the fission bombs. He might have considered them simply as super-bombs. It was a few days after the bombs were dropped that scientists got to look at the sites first-hand.

    It is counterfactual reasoning to argue what the best strategy for stopping the War might have been. What is known is what happened. With the more modern knowledge of nuclear physics, the question can really only be asked during the modern era if this type of weapon should ever be used by moral men.

    Possible ignorance on Truman’s part does not correspond to the known problems of waterboarding, so the comparisons are really poor.

    2. Of course, we know exactly what waterboarding is. Mrs. Palin should never know the experience. The problem may be in her irreverence, but, first and foremost, it is in her paradoxical use of language in the sentence. The statement,

    “Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists,”

    turns a life-giving act, whereby sins are forgiven, into a near-death experience whereby sins are retained. She meant it as a joke, but as an expert on humor, I can tell her that she failed, because of a phenomenon in humor processing called, “humor competence,” whereby one registers all of the attributes needed to allow something to be called a joke. In this case, she fails because she uses a loaded term, baptize, which has different meanings than the one she expects her audience to use.

    In a non-denominational church, where baptism is seen as a mere symbol, this joke might play, because it would be seen as a direct confrontation between Islam and Christianity, by proxy, but in churches where baptism is not merely symbolic, but an actual sacrament, her joke fails, because the use of the term in a destructive sense in terms of the physical life of the baptizand is contrary to the intent of the sacrament, even on a physical level.

    Thus, her joke has a restricted audience set and fails to be perceived by many other audiences as being a permissible alternate world in which the play on words can live.

    A famous Protestant apologist once made fun of Catholics in a similar manner and I had to spend a lot of time explaining to the blog commentators that this was a poorly constructed joke in that it was very restricted in its range of play.

    Has Mrs. Palin been blasphemous? Deacon Greg may be right to say that in an objective sense, Mrs. Palin has blasphemed, but I am reasonably certain that he does not know Mrs. Palin, personally, and so cannot know what her understanding of the nature of baptism really is. Thus, in ignorance, like Truman, she may not be subjectively guilty.

    Obviously, what needs to happen is for someone to sit down, calmly, with Mrs. Palin and explain why her statement failed in several ways. That she would sit for this would be tantamount to a conversion experience to the Catholic faith, or something close to it, because it would take such an understanding to convince her, in her heart-of hearts, that she has done something wrong instead of doing something merely morosely witty.

    I don’t see that happening, given her type of Evangelicalism. The best we can hope for is that she comes to sense the pain that her remark has caused in others and refrain, in charity, from making such remarks in the future, whether she believes them to be blasphemous or not. One need only quote St. Paul to her:

    Romans 14 (RSV):
    “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
    for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
    So each of us shall give account of himself to God.

    Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

    I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean.
    If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.
    So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.
    For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit;
    he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
    Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
    Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats;
    it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble.
    The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves.
    But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

    The Chicken

  155. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    jflare,

    If you are suggesting that even an ‘open air’ demonstration – and ‘open air’ testing – of an atomic bomb is arguably a culpable activity, I suspect a good case could be made for that. Perhaps no ‘open air’ detonation of such a weapon/device could be sufficiently ‘discriminate’ where predictable ill-effects are concerned.

    If I am not mistaken as to the tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians who committed suicide in the course of island-hopping operations, it is conceivable that using the atomic bombs in fact saved as many or more Japanese lives as they took. If it was immoral to use them, then that can be no consideration.

  156. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Masked Chicken,

    How is it that with decades of experience with radium, people did not have a sharper general sense of the dangers of radiation by the 1940s?

    Mrs. Anscombe (strictly, Mrs. Geach) protested against Oxford giving Mr. Truman an honorary degree – I cannot recall what, if anything, she published about this: was this a conclusion she only arrived at, well after 1945?

    There is an enormous lot I do not know about varieties of Reformation/Protestant/Evangelical baptismal theology, but I have the impression that baptism is always taken very seriously. Of course, people do joke about serious things. (I suppose the Porter scene in Macbeth and Mistress Quickly’s account of the death of Falstaff in Henry V are striking examples of this.) Maybe I am simply mis-estimating Mrs. Palin and the circumstances, but there seems a certain incoherence to any, even ‘non-deminational, Evangelical’ straightforward reference to Christian baptism, here.

  157. acardnal says:

    People misuse scripture for their own purposes. We all make judgements. Even Pope Francis passes judgement.

    He said this about the Mafia:
    “I feel that I cannot conclude without saying a word to the protagonists who are absent today — the men and women mafiosi. Please change your lives, convert yourselves, stop perpetrating evil!”
    He urged them: “Be converted, you still have time, so as not to end up in hell. That is what is waiting for you if you continue on this path.”
    http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=9607

  158. acardnal says:

    Forgiveness is conditional. We must repent/convert in order to be forgiven. One cannot continue to persist and live in a sinful condition.

  159. jflare says:

    “The greatest evil of the last one-hundred plus years, has been the invention of Total War. In the early 19th century, war was still a professional activity between fighting armies, which in Christendom, actually developed rules, such as not fighting on Sunday and not including civilians.”

    For all that my high school history books likely would state matters more or less along these lines, I don’t think this is terribly accurate. I think a more thorough examination of history over the world would demonstrate that the “gentlemanly battle” rules of the last 200 years or so came about in no small part because king, noble, and peasant alike had grown weary of the unceasing bloodshed that’d been inflicted during the various wars leading up to the “modern” era.

  160. The Masked Chicken says:

    “How is it that with decades of experience with radium, people did not have a sharper general sense of the dangers of radiation by the 1940s?”

    They did not know (much) about DNA. The first commercial electron microscope was made in 1939. The neutron had only been discovered in 1932, so that alpha decay, which involves the ejection of a helium nucleus (2 protons and 2 neutrons) could not have been understood before this (Rutherford, by virtue of the famous Gold Leaf experiment, knew of the existence of alpha particles, but their exact nature was unknown until the early 1930s). The understandings of both radiation and the effects of ionizing radiation were in their infancy. They knew that there were biological effects, but, in the case of radium, they could have been thought to be the result of an unknown gas or other substance. Up until the early 1960′s public exposure to radioactive sources were thought to be not too significant because we did not have good data on biological exposure (where were we going to get it from – expose people to radiation and see what happens?). At least some of this information was obtained from the Nzxi sterilization experiments that used x-rays and long-term data was obtained from the Castle Bravo studies from the accidental irradiation of people from the nuclear test at Bikini atoll in 1954, so, no there was not a great deal of understanding of the effects of radiation at the time.

    “Mrs. Anscombe (strictly, Mrs. Geach) protested against Oxford giving Mr. Truman an honorary degree – I cannot recall what, if anything, she published about this: was this a conclusion she only arrived at, well after 1945?”

    Yes, in the 1950′s. She published a pamphlet in 1958 outlining her reasons. It is well worth reading because it summarizes what many are arguing in this post. It may be read, here:

    http://www.pitt.edu/~mthompso/readings/truman.pdf

    Part of her argument, however, was based on the understanding that the atomic bomb did not allow for escape. This was not so clearly known in on August 6, 1945, although some might have held that opinion (certainly, the Allied Powers were giddy about the possibility of its use). Thus, her opposition to Truman’s honorary doctorate, while containing many parts, was, partially, based on information the world came to understand in the aftermath of the bombings.

    “There is an enormous lot I do not know about varieties of Reformation/Protestant/Evangelical baptismal theology, but I have the impression that baptism is always taken very seriously. ”

    Taking something seriously does not exclude its use in humor. One example is gallows humor.

    The Chicken

  161. I’m still mulling over all the comments re waterboarding. As for Ms Palin someone said, “Has Mrs. Palin been blasphemous? Deacon Greg may be right to say that in an objective sense, Mrs. Palin has blasphemed, but I am reasonably certain that he does not know Mrs. Palin, personally, and so cannot know what her understanding of the nature of baptism really is. Thus, in ignorance, like Truman, she may not be subjectively guilty.”That was the next conclusion i came to re Palin’s comments.Did she realize how offensive,possibly blasphemous her comments were? I doubt it. Palin would never intentionally offend Christians and she definitely wouldn’t say something knowing it was even close to blasphemy.How can one hold her accountable for something she didn’t know and didn’t intend? She should be informed but until she is,I give her a pass.
    Bill Maher mocks God,Christianity,Catholics [especially] on a regular basis.He makes a living from it and he KNOWS how offensive and blasphemous he is.Doesn’t care.In fact it’s his intention. Pelosi,Biden,Sebelius among others,all Catholic. They know what the Church teaches re abortion,contraception,same sex marriage etc and they formally co-operate with those grave moral evils.So am i going to jump up and down much about Sarah Palin? No. Should she apologize? Yes.Somebody is going to have to sit her down and explain to her why she needs to apologize. Liberals will suddenly find religion/morality to go after her and i’m not going to help them.

  162. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Masked Chicken,

    Many thanks!

    I recall hearing of shoe stores where they had x-ray machines people could effectively ‘play with’ to view the bone structure of their feet (!).

    I need to reread and follow up what I’ve read about the Nazi experiments, but suppose thay had some data of one sort or another which led them to expect effectiveness. And so I suppose the answer to “where were we going to get it from – expose people to radiation and see what happens?”, would be to notice what had happened following exposure. I have always heard that someone in my family died of cancer following radium treatment of a mole (sometime in the first half of the Twentieth century), but do not know how retrospective this analysis was (presuming ther details are correct).