Tuesday, September 02, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
RIP, C of E
I don't quite agree with this argument because the apostolic ministry depends in part on content for its authority. Remember Athanasius contra mundum? St Maximus the Confessor vs. the Byzantine emperor? The nominalist arbitrariness of the liberals — Charles Bennison's half-truth 'the church wrote scripture and can change scripture' — is, like 'AffCaff' rubbish in general, a deliberate distortion of the truth. Bend the faith a little and you get liberalism: Christianity without Christ.

Here is a sad example (scroll down to 'What Does It Mean?') found recently of the moral vacuity one can find even in parts of Anglo-Catholicism in the Anglican Communion (even when it affects traditional trappings): crossing a line from the Anglican virtue of tolerant conservatism, Christian charity including to those afflicted with homosexuality, to the moral relativism of liberal Protestantism. Compare this to the statement linked here on 30th August from a group of America's Eastern Orthodox bishops, or to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Federally supported torture and hostage-taking; echoes of 1984
Another of my formative books — I read it at the same age I read The Quiet American.

Lee Penn: In the novel 1984, Orwell wrote:

"Every new political theory, by whatever name it called itself, led back to
hierarchy and regimentation. And in the general hardening of outlook that set
in round about 1930, practices which had long been abandoned, in some cases
for hundreds of years - imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as
slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions, the use of hostages
and the deportation of whole populatioins - not only became common again, but
were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves
enlightened and progressive."

It can't happen here, you say? Wrong. It is happening here, now.

First, this story:

U.S. Adopts Aggressive Tactics on Iraqi Fighters
(washingtonpost.com)


Much of the story covers regular war operations against combatants. But
here's the problem:

"Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division,
said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday
night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi
lieutenant general. They left a note: "If you want your family released, turn
yourself in." Such tactics are justified, he said, because, "It's an intelligence
operation with detainees, and these people have info." They would have been
released in due course, he added later. The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said,
the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and
surrendered."

The real god of America is pragmatism.

How we have progressed:
In 1980, it was "America held hostage," as Iranian terrorists kidnapped US
diplomats and dependents for political reasons. Now, in 2003, it's
"American-held hostage," as we kidnap the faimilies of Iraqi suspects.

Catholic apologist Mark Shea nails this one on the head:

"I'm hearing from lots of hard-headed practical people that it's ducky to lie
and say the guy's family is being taken hostage (when really it's all just a
normal intel exam) in order to achieve the greater good of catching the bad
guy. So why is it not also okay to lie and say it's just a normal intel exam
when really they're being taken hostage? If the ends justify the means, why not?
And if they do, then why bother with Catholic morality at all? It seems to me
we're really saying "Catholic morality is a pleasant thought, but we are, of
course, dispensed from it when it interferes with real world American policy
needs." It also seems to me we're being asked to believe, "Americans will lie to
Iraqi bad guys and tell them their family is being held hostage (when really
they are just in for routine questioning) in pursuit of the greater good, but
they would never lie to the press or us and say the family would have been
released 'in due course'." That's a leap of faith unjustified by broad
experience with the species homo sapiens. I'm odd this way, but I find "ends justify the
means" thinking corrupt and corrupting, even when Americans (who are, of
course, exempt from original sin) do it. I tend to think that when you get used
to
lying to bad guys, you will also find it rather easy to lie to anybody else
once you've decided that the greater good demands it."

And there is this:

We Have Ways of Making You Talk

Quotes:

"Actually, we know from other documents declassified over the years that when
it comes to questioning hard cases, dependency is a whole lot more important
than 'trust.' Suspected bad guys are isolated and dependent for every bit of
information they receive, even the time of day. The interrogators have the
power to grant or withhold permission for every bodily function, including
sleep. It's amazing how fast most people break down under such circumstances. If
that doesn't work, the treatment can get rough. But you have to read between
Jacoby's lines to figure that out.

and

"As one of Jacoby's subordinates in the U.S. Navy explained to me, the idea
is to keep most of the important players out of the United States. Apparently
there is no shortage of black holes in which to soften up the bad guys,
although only a few are publicized. "The most interesting thing about
interrogations is how the U.S. government and military capitalizes on the dubious status (as
sovereign states) of Afghanistan, Diego Garcia, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and
aircraft carriers to avoid certain legal questions about rough
interrogations," my friend told me. "Whatever humanitarian pronouncements a state such as ours may
make about torture, states don't perform interrogations, individual people
do. What's going to stop an impatient soldier, in a supralegal location, from
whacking one nameless, dehumanized shopkeeper among many?"

and

Admiral Jacoby's rationale is fascinating: first of all, because there might
be something the interrogators missed, or can find out if there are new
suspects captured somewhere else sometime. And you wouldn't want Padilla to
have any sense of hope if they need to question him again: "Any delay in obtaining
information from Padilla could have the severest consequences for national
security and public safety." Secondly - and this is what's really
creepy - because Padilla might reveal "sources and methods." That is, he might talk about
precisely those means that were used to make him talk, therefore he can never be
allowed to talk at all.
If the courts buy this line of argument, then we Americans can kiss
our sweet rights goodbye. And reading the admiral's brief, you have to ask
yourself if that isn't really the goal: to give the president and his people
the power to treat all Americans like José Padilla, unless and until we give the
answers expected of us."

Anyone who has read Darkness at Noon, or who knows how the KGB got the Old
Bolsheviks to abase themselves at the Moscow Trials of 1937, will know how all
this works. The Russians called round-the-clock interrogation, with sleep
deprivation, "the Conveyor." It sounds like that is the least of what we are
doing now.

and for our Federal prisoners at home, there's this lovely little device:

Torture at the Push of a Button (washingtonpost.com)

"Last week accused sniper John Allen Muhammad raised a point of legal
procedure and received a shocking response -- literally. Muhammad objected to a
medical test that had not been ordered by the court or discussed with his
attorney. In response to his refusal to cooperate, the guards activated a stun belt
that sent a powerful electrical charge through his body. ... At $800 each,
stun belts are the closest thing to a fashion craze in the correctional field. For
the well-appointed prosecutor or prison guard, they're a must. The devices
are battery-operated and fit around the waist of a prisoner. The guard holds a
simple remote control that sends an eight-second, 50,000- to 70,000-volt surge
through a prisoner, causing immediate loss of muscular control and
incapacitation. When shocked, many individuals will defecate or urinate on
themselves. Some can experience fatal cardiac arrhythmia. ... Stun belts have been defined
as a torture device by Amnesty International, which describes them as "cruel,
inhumane and degrading." ... Despite such human rights objections, stun
belts are used in 30 state prisons and all federal trial courts. For prisoners,
they have the same effect as a taser gun pointed continually an inch from
their heads. At any moment, a guard can flip a switch and turn you into a
quivering, incapacitated freak. Indeed, the stun belt's ability "to humiliate
the wearer" is cited as a "great advantage" by one company's literature --
impressing on a defendant that "the mere push of a button in someone else's hand could
make you defecate and urinate yourself." A court recently found that accidental
triggerings occur regularly."

Go back and read that Orwell quote again ..... 1984 is in progress, now.

Kyrie eleison. [End.]

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