Friday, October 2, 2009

Navy - Air Force. Let the Flame War Begin!

Navy and Air Force play this weekend, thus gems:

And, just in case you thought this is just some sort of cheap on an actual Cadet video.




Enhanced Interrogations: Part 4

Continuing from HERE HERE HERE and HERE and HERE.

4. EITs, if used, will morally harm those who interrogate utilizing them. Such work will degrade them. (Interrogator Degradation Objection)

Re: This risk seems higher if the techniques are used for purposes lesser than prevention of grave harm in high risk scenarios. If so used, interrogators will necessarily see that the techniques they are required to use are badly out of proportion in the harms they cause to individuals as compared with the import of the information extracted and harms prevented. They will necessarily see that the practice institutionalizes the presumption that individual physical and mental integrity (both their own and detainees) is considerably less valuable than the information, and what can be done with the information, even when these are of little significance. Seeing this will doubtless erode them psychologically, emotionally, and morally. They will see themselves as part of an inhumane machine. They will become desensitized as they routinely make use of the techniques.

This eroding effect is predicated upon the assumption that a policy that makes easy use of these techniques will necessarily bring with it much greater instances of use. This exposes interrogators more frequently, as is necessarily the case, if they are the folks doing the work.

But, if criteria for consideration of EIT make the threshold high, instances will be few. So the eroding effect is less likely.

A related risk may arise if we choose to disallow the use of enhanced interrogation techniques in high risk scenarios: If an interrogator is in position to prevent large scale harm, and it is also true that his most likely avenue of success is to use an enhanced interrogation technique, and he is forbidden from doing so, for the sake of the affect it will have upon his character, or the impact it would have on the character of those of his profession, it seems reasonable to assume that he will object that he (or concern for him or his professional group) should not be placed above concern for the many others who are at greater risk and obviously outnumber him or the professional group. Doubtless, he will also feel considerable guilt and other negative self-regarding emotions for not having tried to prevent the harm, this even if the harm does not occur. For, even if it does not occur, he will know that it could have occurred and that he could have prevented it, and but for a bit of luck, he would have been responsible for failing to do something that was within his power to prevent the harm. The corrosive effects on his character or that of those in his profession should be apparent.

5. A related argument: Such techniques severely degrade human beings, in the person of the detainees, so much so that they should never be considered as options. (Detainee Degradation Objection)

Re: This objection carries more weight when severe techniques are considered, such as drilling prisoner’s body parts, pulling fingernails out, or “the ropes.” A case needs to be made that the techniques actually under consideration under the actual conditions prescribed (ticking time bomb scenarios and the like), rise (or sink) to the level of barbarism/degradation claimed. There does not appear to be an egregious lack of proportionality in such cases. To prevent large scale loss of life due to terror attacks, a person is being waterboarded, subject to lack of sleep, or extended standing, etc. Prima facie, this does not seem to be a morally outrageouos trade-off as the absolutists seem to believe.

Because that lack of proportionality is..well.. lacking, and it is arguable that detainees have in fact forfeited some level of consideration, one can argue that they are not being degraded, in any obvious sense, no more than imprisoned criminals are unduly degraded by being incarcerated.

Find the Comet and Name the Nebula

Two pictures taken over a 24 hour period.