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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Indy columnist Bruce Anderson: torture their wives and children!


    by Sunny on 15th February, 2010 at 4:37 pm    

    If this The Independent now, as a newspaper supposedly holding up liberal ideals, then bring on bloody Rod Liddle - it can’t get worse.

    Bruce Anderson starts off by saying:

    Torture is revolting. A man can retain his human dignity in front of a firing squad or on the scaffold: not in a torture chamber. Torturers set out to break their victim: to take a human being and reduce him to a whimpering wreck. In so doing, they defile themselves and their society.

    There is bound to be a ‘but’ here because Anderson is the resident war-mongering neo-con, employed by (supposed) liberal-left newspapers who like to think they should be balanced. Here’s his argument:

    We and the Americans have long-established methods of intelligence co-operation, which are now even more important than they were in the Cold War. It also makes sense to work with other threatened nations, such as Pakistan, where a brave political elite is bearing a disproportionate burden, and receiving few thanks for doing so.

    Before 9/11, in front of some serious lawyers, I once argued that if there were a ticking bomb, the Government would not only have a right to use torture. It would have a duty to use torture.

    After much agonising, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one answer to Sydney’s question. Torture the wife and children. It is a disgusting idea. It is almost a tragedy that we even have to discuss it, let alone think of acting upon it. But there is nothing to be gained from refusing to face facts, in the way that the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuburger, did last week.

    There is a threat not only to individual lives, which is of minor importance, but to our way of life and our civilisation. Torture is revolting, but we cannot substitute aesthetics for thought.

    If I wanted this kind of balance I’d read the bible of wingnut neo-conservatism - FrontPage Magazine. I thought that kind of crap was only limited to the US, but now we’re getting it here.

    On Sunday, in the Observer, Nick Cohen was having a go at judges for the Binyam Mohammad ruling:

    Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, added a further complication when he said that the Mohamed ruling provided a propaganda victory for our enemies. And I am sure he was right.

    Nick Cohen has earlier justified torture under certain circumstances.

    Now all Bruce Anderson needs to do is condemn Amnesty for not upholding human rights and the circle would be complete.

    [hat-tip @Naomimc]


         
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    Filed in: Civil liberties, Terrorism






    34 Comments below   |  

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    1. Milena Buyum

      RT @pickledpolitics Blog post:: Indy columnist Bruce Anderson: torture their wives and children! http://bit.ly/d4a7z0


    2. pickles

      Blog post:: Indy columnist Bruce Anderson: torture their wives and children! http://bit.ly/d4a7z0


    3. Michael Hanley

      RT @pickledpolitics: Blog: Indy columnist Bruce Anderson: torture their wives and children! http://bit.ly/d4a7z0 << and shit in their beds!


    4. Naomi McAuliffe

      RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: Indy columnist Bruce Anderson: torture their wives and children! http://bit.ly/d4a7z0




    1. cjcjc — on 15th February, 2010 at 4:58 pm  

      I always thought the Indy was a cess-pit.

      Anderson has outdone them all.

    2. Shamit — on 15th February, 2010 at 5:37 pm  

      I wonder what Bruce and Nick would say if they were on foreign soil and were tortured and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit.

      I have a feeling they wouldn’t be too happy.

      Idiots.

    3. Alex — on 15th February, 2010 at 5:45 pm  

      Actually this “torture their wives and children” thing gave me a tiny twinge of respect for Bruce Anderson. Normally the ticking-bomb scenario is just a trick. It uses an emotive, utilitarian argument to justify torture, but what they really mean half the time is “if we need to we get to torture anyone we think deserves it”. By agreeing to torture innocent people, Bruce Anderson is at least being consistent: he’s suspending his moral principles to prevent something worse. Other ticking-bombers don’t suspend their moral principles, because their principles are that they’re allowed to do whatever they want to Very Bad People.

      Of course the other question is: would Bruce still torture the terrorist if he knew he’d hang for it?

    4. Kulvinder — on 15th February, 2010 at 7:10 pm  

      Of course the other question is: would Bruce still torture the terrorist if he knew he’d hang for it?

      qft.

      The problem with ‘what if’ scenarios is the axiom of choice; you can invent any situation to justify your personal opinion without it having any likely bearing on reality. Alex’s question is perhaps the most interesting one to ask Anderson; people like him are all for advocating torture* but they seem less inclined to support it if you alter the ‘what if’ scenario to, in this case, include the death penalty for those who torture. Would they be up for killing the intelligence agents irrespective of whether the bomb threat was actually found to be real?

      Alternatively - and to people who advocate torture without considering children - i always like asking in a situation where there was a nuclear bomb in london with the only person who knew its location being a 9 year old boy; whether they’d advocate buggery of said child in order to ‘reveal the truth’.

      And whether they’d be first in line to commit the rape.

      Watching them try to juxtaposition paedophilia, rape, and terrorism all in the name of greater freedom and a better society is quite something; but then as i said, ‘what if’ scenarios can be altered any way you like.

      *Interesting i never imagined there’d be two journalists advocating it. Are we being primed by the security services for some nasty revelations?

    5. marvin — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:34 pm  

      So you torture the wife and kid, and save a million people?

      It’s a no brainer. And yes, I’d hang for it, if society deemed the exchange of 1 million lives for inducing terror and pain in two innocent people unforgivable.

      These scenarios would of course be so unlikely as to never arise. Torture of innocents is hypothetically wrong in almost every situation, except the one stated. Torture of actual terrorist to stop the ticking bomb with mass civilian casualty? No brainer.

      But again, scenario is very unlikely, torture is barbaric, and of questionable use to a wild eyed fanatic anyway… But hypothetically if God asked, would you trade 1 million people for the safety of the 2 innocents from torture? Really, all of you would let the 1 million die, from your principled stance???

    6. Sarah AB — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:45 pm  

      I’m reminded - particularly by Marvin’s comment - of Ursula K Le Guin’s story, ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ones_Who_Walk_Away_from_Omelas

    7. Shamit — on 15th February, 2010 at 8:46 pm  

      “But hypothetically if God asked, would you trade 1 million people for the safety of the 2 innocents from torture? Really, all of you would let the 1 million die, from your principled stance???”

      Interesting.

      1 million vs 2 lives - I would always go for 1 million especially if I am responsible for their safety like a British PM is. But why torture when I can use Sodium Pentothal - and the various advanced versions of it.

      So your argument here is mute I reckon.

      Soviet Union

    8. Refresh — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:36 pm  

      [Shamit, you beat me to it]

      Marvin

      Would you advocate the torturing of TB if it meant getting to the truth and saving 1 million lives?

    9. Rumbold — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:37 pm  

      It, as others have pointed out, is a pretty stupid hypothetical question, and it is a shame that Bruce Anderson felt obliged to answer. That situation is never likely to arise in so neat a fashion.

    10. marvin — on 15th February, 2010 at 9:52 pm  

      What I find particularly amusing is the knee jerk outrage. Outrage before they can have even processed all of their complexities of the argument.

      The narrator becomes the hated, evil, other, neo-con, war monger. Yet could we all let people so many people die, in this far-out hypothetical scenario?

      Framed in this way I think vast majority of people would be in the positive for the hypothetical torture of 2 people to save 1 million. It’s foundation Philosophy class staff.

    11. Kulvinder — on 15th February, 2010 at 10:06 pm  

      Really, all of you would let the 1 million die, from your principled stance???

      Noone said you’d get the information you needed, its not that easy, rather you tortured the woman and the child as a means to an end. For what its worth that ‘principled stance’ was essentially enacted by the US, UK and other nations (definition in article one part one). And the Geneva convention obviously bans ‘collective punishment’; which depending on the situation considered could also count.

      You are right the types of situation discussed are far from reality, but those conventions above exist not because torture has ever been used to dissuade such an extreme situation but because it always progresses from such discussion to the mundane triviality of arbitrary violence.

      But hypothetically if God asked, would you trade 1 million people for the safety of the 2 innocents from torture? Really, all of you would let the 1 million die, from your principled stance???

      I’m confused by the inclusion of god as it complicates matters; Catholics would argue that abortion does exactly what you say and Christian extremists act to kill abortion doctors on the very premise that the death of one human is offset by the saving of countless others.

      Still all things being equal yes i would ‘choose to save’ one million people over two, but im unsure what exactly that has to do with anything.

      The point of the argument against torture is that those who seek to advocate the use of torture play out fantastical situations whilst in reality the violence will be used for far far more trivial matters.

      ‘They’ also said Saddam Hussein had a ticking nuclear bomb, and that it was imperative to act in self defence; look where that got us.

    12. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 15th February, 2010 at 10:23 pm  

      First off I have to ask how and why do you tourture “innocent” people …in the hypothetical question with the 9year old ..if he knows where the bomb is he isn’t “innocent”
      The same with the wives and children.
      I do get how reality works … but I think people who stand up for “turture” must be violent people themselves. We live in a modern world where they can invent chemicals to grow eyelashes, cameras to repiece defragmented light images from distant galaxys .. a million technical and scientific advancments … in every field ..and they can’t come up with one drug to make people talk?
      give me a break!
      To many people watch to much TV!

    13. Refresh — on 15th February, 2010 at 10:39 pm  

      Marvin, you’ve yet to answer this one (not so hypothetical) question, would you have advocated applying ‘coercive’ techniques to get TB to tell our parliament and his public the truth so we could have saved 1 million lives?

      For what its worth, I do not for a minute think you would be interested in saving *those* lives. And yet you ask us to show some humanity towards a columnist who is advocating torture, as a duty.

      Bear this in mind, our reputation as a country, for human rights advocacy has been hard won and has only really been in place over the last 60 years or so. I realise it gets in the way of your broader Rumsfeldian ambitions. And so it should.

    14. MiriamBinder — on 15th February, 2010 at 11:01 pm  

      Its a ludicrous proposition really … You cannot save 2 million no matter what you do. However you can prevent the torture of two … deal with what you are faced with.

      Essentially it comes down to this, is the defence of all you hold dear worth selling all you hold dear down river?

    15. BenSix — on 15th February, 2010 at 11:12 pm  

      marvin -

      Come to that, it’s tricky to construct an argument that prohibits the targeting of civilians. You will, I don’t doubt, engage in civil discourse with Hamas apologists?

      Yet could we all let people so many people die, in this far-out hypothetical scenario?

      Framed in this way I think vast majority of people would be in the positive for the hypothetical torture of 2 people to save 1 million. It’s foundation Philosophy class staff.

      Don’t want to be rude, but — you’ve never taken classes in foundational philosophy, have you? To accept that argument, you’d have to accept utilitarianism, or some other strand of consequentialist thought. “Greatest Happiness 4 Greatest Number” isn’t a universally celebrated maxim.

      Ben

    16. Sunny — on 15th February, 2010 at 11:38 pm  

      from your principled stance

      Next thing you know Marvin will be pointing out that there’s nothing wrong with chopping people’s legs off if it stops them from thieving.

      Oh wait, no, that would be Sharia. That would be “uncivilised”. Can’t have that!

    17. Kulvinder — on 15th February, 2010 at 11:45 pm  

      ..if he knows where the bomb is he isn’t “innocent”

      ‘doli incapax’

    18. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 16th February, 2010 at 12:18 am  

      I think the point of hypothetical has been lost here …
      I see everyone attacking marvin and he is the only one who just did all he could to save you all from nuclear destruction.
      any of you above just let the world blow up to honor the “human rights” of the killer! What a shame no one is alive to remember what good people you are ….

      Hypothetically I agree with anderson …. and if you actually read all he said around those 5 other words that sparked this post …..
      Hypothetically whats an alternitive?
      You are ruler of a kindgom …you KNOW there is a bomb and you have the suspect but he wont give …. no matter how much you ask polietly … what do YOU do? or in your own personal hypothetical world is everyone nice and reasonable?

    19. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 16th February, 2010 at 12:33 am  

      haha kulvinder
      how so?
      He is the only one who knows where the bomb is …. even if you change that to he is the only one in custody …. If he doesnt tell of his own freewill, while he has the chance, that makes him a potential murderer no matter what his prior involvment might have been. His refusal to tell is what makes him guilty

    20. dave bones — on 16th February, 2010 at 12:39 am  

      Its not hypothetical at all. If you know someone is a terrorist who may well have information about forthcoming attacks how do you get it out of them? I don’t know. Sodium Pentothal? Would that work?

      It might be easy having principles hypothetically but its not hypothetical situations which have to be dealt with.

    21. MiriamBinder — on 16th February, 2010 at 1:06 am  

      It is all hypothetical regardless of how you try and twist it. Until you are actually faced with the situation it is and will remain hypothetical. That is what hypothetical means.

      Having said that, if you are willing to sell your principles down the swanee in order to defend your principles … why bother trying to defend them in the first place as they really cannot mean all that much.

    22. Kulvinder — on 16th February, 2010 at 1:20 am  

      how so?

      ‘the law’

      though i suppose when you’re defending paedophilic rape such issues are besides the point

      hypothetically

    23. earwicga — on 16th February, 2010 at 2:24 am  

      Why torture doesn’t work:

      http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=ie7&q=why+torture+doesn%27t+work&rls=com.microsoft:en-gb:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&rlz=1I7ACAW

    24. Kismet Hardy — on 16th February, 2010 at 6:08 am  

      Talking of shit newspaper stories, did anyone else have the displeasure of reading the ‘article’ about ‘Amir’ in The Sun today?

      It’s the most made up piece of bollocks you’ll ever read. As a lazy journalist myself, I know only too well how easy it is to ‘feature’ a person who doesn’t want to be named or photographed, which makes it easy to make up any quote under The Sun. I mean jesus boggling hell, what Asian sword-wielding druggie gang member would use expressions like ‘our status in the criminal hierarchy’, ‘religion is important to us only as a way of defining who we can trust’, or provide conveniently link-friendly assessments like ‘the reality is… with Islam comes fear, and with fear comes power.’
      ?!

      Read the piss-poor excuse for a stab at serious journalism here:
      http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2853450/How-Muslims-took-over-the-British-underworld.html

    25. platinum786 — on 16th February, 2010 at 8:56 am  

      I wouldn’t ever support torture, regardless of who does it. It’s inhumane, if takes me down to the level of he/she whom i would be torturing.

      Why does the 6th largest economy in the world need to resort to torture to get information out of people? Why don’t we spend money on intelligence? Why not focus on the wahhabis who are the root of this evil? Of course, that’s right, it’d upset your oil baron friends.

    26. bananabrain — on 16th February, 2010 at 9:21 am  

      i think mr anderson has the hots for jack bauer. as far as i am aware, 24-style “ticking bomb” scenarios are *extremely* rare, so even if this principle was morally acceptable (which it isn’t, let’s not kid ourselves) it would almost never actually be necessary. either way, bruce anderson’s views are not likely to be relevant.

      i spy a “slow news day”, i think. why not create some lazy controversy at the indy?

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    27. Arif — on 16th February, 2010 at 2:58 pm  

      Many many years ago, the first Amnesty-inspired letter I ever wrote happened to be to Saddam Hussein to plead for him to release children he was imprisoning because of the political danger he believed was posed by their parents.

      It is interesting how his spirit returns to haunt us in the UK as commentators to to make us turn, bit by bit, into the monsters we abhor - in the name of fighting them.

      Remember Bruce - just as you do not want to undermine your aesthetic preferences by admitting willingness to torture innocent children, but feel forced to by an unimaginably fearsome enemy - maybe those Muslims you fear do not want to “martyr” themselves, but some are convinced to do so from fear of an unimaginably fearsome enemy.

      Once that enemy openly advocates circumstances where innocent children can be tortured, how much more fearsome they will seem.

      Already both sides cheering on the “war on terror”/”war against Crusaders” seem blinded to each others humanity and make ever more slippery judgments of innocence and guilt. Perhaps it suits both sides to feed the other’s propaganda machines by making ever more outrageous statements.

    28. damon — on 17th February, 2010 at 5:37 am  

      Bruce Anderson’s comments were obnoxious, and probably made just for effect.

      Meanwhile, for those who support the War in Afghanistan …. ”What to Do With a Captured Taliban Commander?”
      Put him in an old fashioned POW camp somewhere?
      Do you ask him where Mullah Omar might be hiding out?
      Should he be allowed family visits?

      http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/02/hbc-90006562

    29. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 17th February, 2010 at 6:05 pm  

      kulvinder
      That is your question I am answering! …
      Obviously there are parts of the hypothectical question you leave out.

      cut and paste original….
      in a situation where there was a nuclear bomb in london with the only person who knew its location being a 9 year old boy; whether they’d advocate buggery of said child in order to ‘reveal the truth’.

      I read there … There is a 9 year old in custody WHO KNOWS the location of a nuclear bomb that IS DEFINATLY GOING TO BLOW! and “buggery” is the way to get the location out of him ….

      but it seems the wording of your own words really means - a random 9 year old who may or may not know where a bomb that may or may not blow is or isnt located … and rape may or may not bring the truth out …

      Hypothectically - lets ask Anderson (and Marvin) - If there is a choice between tourturing “innocent” people or even terrorists - and using a drug to make them tell where a bomb that is gonna kill millions is located … what would it be

    30. Nyrone — on 21st February, 2010 at 2:00 pm  

      What has happened to the Independent?

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