Thursday, September 10, 2009

Puzzled... Rantings on Morality and Defense of Country

This is my first post on my new blog. I just wanted to let everyone know that this blog will include ponderings on absolutely everything. My rants and raves will include a broad spectrum of issues related to being a married college student. For awhile I have been fascinated by the Hippo and that is why I used that animal in the name of my blog.

What is quite puzzling to me and quite frankly I can't understand is why some people seem to care more about the welfare of terrorists who want to kill us than the the defense of the United States and the governments right to defend all of its citizens. Our great country was attacked on Sept.11 by terrorists who used planes as weapons to kill thousands of people and it is our right as a nation to fight back against the War that was brought to us on our soil. The CIA agents and soldiers under George W. Bush did a superb job of defending us and keeping us safe for about eight years and now the Obama administration is going to penalize those agents for using techniques that prevented us from incurring another terrorist attack. This was all done in defense of our country with physicians watching the terrorists' health very closely. It just doesn't make sense to me how some people would rather play God and think that they are acting morally by not letting the CIA agents do their job to their fullest capabilities and preventing some so called unjust harm to terrorists, but yet find it acceptable in the name of morality and peace to simply let the terrorists win and kill the innocent. Is it really moral to allow an attack to happen when you have both the means and the capability to find out the information regarding an attack and possibly prevent an attack from happening? Aren't these people in effect playing into the hands of the terrorists by being willing to play the terrorists' game? Is it really moral to hold a terrorists life of higher value than many innocent people, just so the person can claim the so called moral high ground? That just puzzles me and does not make sense. For a person to put terrorist lives above innocent lives is not moral in any way to me. Maybe a perverted washed down liberal sense of morality that has invaded our churches for years.


Woodsterman (Odie) said...

I look forward to checking in here as you progress with your rants.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Well, I haven't met anyone who thinks it's acceptable to simply let terrorists win and kill innocent people, but there are those of us who condemn the use of evil means to fight terrorists. The evil done to us by others doesn't give us the right to respond to them with evil. There are some actions that are evil in themselves, in all times, places and circumstances, and these actions cannot morally be done even in the service of good. It doesn't profit us to save many lives if we condemn our souls to hell in the process.

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

Hey Cupp, you're living in fantasy land.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Call me Gandalf!

Teresa said...

I prefer to be a realist and live in the reality of the times.

Teresa said...

But what about Gandalf commanding the harsh treatment of Smeagol, or Gollum?

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Gandalf preached mercy and pity towards Gollum. Frodo, who at first wished Gollum dead, came to pity him, and counseled Sam to treat him well (no burning elven rope!) and Faramir to spare his life. Gollum was a real threat to their safety and even to their lives, and therefore the lives of all those in Middle-earth, yet Frodo insisted on not only not killing Gollum, but treating him with respect and not in a way that caused him pain.

The main moral theme of the novels is that evil cannot be used in the service of good. Hence you have Gandalf and Aragorn and Elrond saying the Ring cannot be used to fight Sauron. Faramir goes so far as to tell Frodo that he wouldn’t use the Ring even if his beloved country would be utterly destroyed and he alone could save it!

It is the traitor Saruman who suggests to Gandalf that evil means can be used in the service of good ends. Gandalf knows better. He knows that to do evil, even for a good cause, destroys the soul and makes the evildoer a slave to evil. The possessor of the Ring is soon possessed by it.

Teresa said...

I understand what your saying. But, I do believe when Gandalf first met Gollum, he was not as gentle and understanding until later on in the book.

I would say by not availing the CIA agents to all the necessary resources and means to avert another terrorist attack than that is not much better than doing nothing. And, it also might have the same result as doing nothing-letting people die due to there being another terrorist attack. To me, evil has much to do with the intent. The CIA were not using the tactics for evil, but for good and to prevent lives from being harmed, or killed. Defense is a responsibility of every administration and if the administration doesn't avail themselves of every possible resource in order to prevent an attack, and an attack occurs, then the administration would have failed.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Good intentions might lessen the culpability for committing an evil act, but no amount of good intent can make an act that is itself evil into a good act. Some actions are evil period, regardless of intent. There are some actions, therefore, that I would not have the CIA or anyone else commit even if the USA would be destroyed and they alone could save it. I would not ask another to endanger his soul to save our lives.

I’m not sure what treatment of Gollum you have in mind, but it’s been a year or so since I last read the books.

Good discussion. And I never tire of talking LOTR! :)

Teresa said...

Yes. This was a good discussion :)

Kevin has a better memory of LOTR than I do, so I was half-way relying on his memory of the story. I love the LOTR, too!! Those books got me enthusiastic about reading.

Angry said...

Hi, just passing and saw your light on.

It's been shown that torture is among the most unreliable methods of extracting information.

I have a big problem with the ends justifying the means. If it's okay for me to utilise any means at my disposal, in order that I affect an end that I view as being the only and rightful outcome. Then I can't condemn suicide bombers, aircraft flying terrorists and the like for doing the very same thing.

I would much rather fight my enemies with clean hands and conscience from higher moral ground, rather than climbing into the cesspool with them and, after the battle is over, never being able to wash off the filth of what I’ve done.

Teresa said...

There is a big difference between doing acts for an expressly evil purpose and with evil intent, and participating in various acts for a good and just purpose in order to prevent an evil thing from occuring. So, are you against self-defense? That would be the ends justifying the means. Or, why is your use of violence if necessary to protect yourself considered acceptable when defending yourself but not for soldiers or CIA to protect America in self-defense?

Actually, the CIA documents just released proved that Cheney was absolutely correct, and that the CIA did gain a huge amount of invaluable information from the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques. The reports pointed out that before particular techniques were used the terrorists were staying silent. After the EIT's were applied, then the terrorists started spilling legitimate information left and right.

Clean hands vs. survival, I 'd rather choose survival and be alive. Self defense is a God given right. By not availing yourelf of every means necessary to fight off and combat evil you would be falling right into the trap or hands of the enemy. I mean doing exactly what the terrorists want. These terrorists follow no rules like an army formed by a STATE. They have no particular uniform either and that is why the Supreme Court was wrong to rule that the Geneva Convention applies to terrorists. The Geneva Convention specifically mentions a uniformed army, or military and an army sponsored by a particular STATE, which neither one of those apply to al-qaeda.

Angry said...

"There is a big difference between doing acts for an expressly evil purpose and with evil intent, and participating in various acts for a good and just purpose in order to prevent an evil thing from occuring."

That's exactly what I was trying to say, Teresa, thank you. As you've indicated above, it's a matter of perspective. One man's 'evil purpose and evil intent' is another man's 'good and just pupose'. They're either both justified, or neither are.

The fact that the CIA, as a result of torture, got useful information doesn't alter the fact that torture is among the most unreliable methods of extracting information. I find it interesting how EITs are encouraged and justified when a country sanctions it against an enemy, yet it becomes torture if that enemy sanctions its use in return.

I'm not suggesting that one can't/shouldn't defend one's self. But running covert actions in a foreign STATE ('following no rules like an army') in order to affect changes in that STATE against the will of its citizens for self interested reasons is also terrorism... but without the terror.


Kyle R. Cupp said...

An act of self-defense may be just or unjust, depending, for one thing, on whether the act is itself evil. To say that the intent of self-defense justifies all is to say the moral law doesn’t apply in the sphere of self-defense. To say that the moral law doesn’t apply to particular spheres of action is really to say that there is no absolute moral law that applies in all times, places, and circumstances.

Teresa said...

I definitely think that self-defense by its own words is just, since the person/s is defending himself/herself against an attack that was brought to them by another person/s. This country came under attack on 9/11 due to a lack of security and due to certain tactics that were not availed for the CIA agents use during the previous 8 to 10 years, so that they could gain information effectiveely in order to prevent the United States's national security interests. The CIA's actions are a form of self-defense against the terrorists who murdered 3000 people on Sept. 11 2001. God and Jesus even preached about retribution and justice. This is both justice and retribution for the 3000 that were killed that horrendous day. Now, unfortunately many have gone back to a pre-9/11 mentality. I mean the left is really playing right into what the terrorists want, which is causing distraction. The left has managed to distract this country from its responsibility to defend itself against her enemies while causing disension over the so called morality of a terrorist. The terrorist displays no sense of morality in evil-the promotion of mass killings pretty much anywhere in the World, and especially the West. There were many rules and strict guidelines that the CIA had to follow while using these tactics. The CIA agents were not rogues, and even a New York Times article said that-one the most liberal newspapers in the country.

Kyle R. Cupp said...


Two questions:

1. If the Ring of Power actually existed, would you support its use for purposes of self-defense? Asked another way, would you side with Boromir who wished to fight Sauron with the Ring or with Faramir who refused to use the Ring even as a last resort?

2. Are there any actions done in the name of self-defense that you would not support?

Teresa said...

1)If the ring was an evil entity, or used for evil purposes, as it was in the book, I would not use it. For the only way to destroy Sauron was to destroy the ring as well. Both the ring and Sauron were connected and thus had an evil connection to each other. The ring in its very nature was evil and took over the soul of every person that hung onto it. No, I would not use the ring because it was in fact an evil entity.

Here is also a site that has an interesting article on torture and EIT's:

Teresa said...

2)Here is what I consider to be torture. I consider number 1 to be torture due to the length of time. The others I agree with fully, that these are torture.
1. Both arms are locked to the sides of a metal stool so you cannot move, or stand up. I was forced to sit like this on a very small stool for fifteen days.

2. Both arms are locked to the steam heating unit. With a row of five units, the hands are placed in a hook between the first and second units, and a hook between the fourth and fifth unit. One can neither sit nor stand, and is forced to remain in a bowing position. After some time, the arms turn black and purple. This torture lasted for two months.

3. The back is locked to the steam heating unit, and you is deprived of sleep all night. Guards beat you if you close your eyes or become drowsy. I was tortured this way for two months. My legs became numb, and my wrists were bloody from the tight handcuffs. The scars can still be seen today.

4. Both hands locked behind the back to a steam pipe, and one is forced to sit on a very small stool. The legs may be in a very confined state. After some time, the arms turn blue and purple, the legs feel numb, and very painful. I was locked up this way for several days, after which the stool was removed, and I had to sit on the concrete floor.

5. Both hands and feet are shackled to the corners of a bed, so that you are in the spread eagle position. You cannot move even a bit, not even to use the toilet, and the whole body becomes very agitated. I was locked this way for several days.

6. In Masanjia, there is a triangular room, specially designed to persecute Falun Dafa practitioners. Inside there is a long, narrow stool with a low back. One's back is locked to the back of the bench, making it impossible to either stand or lay down. I was locked in this room for over three months.

7. Both arms are locked to the stand hook of the heating pipe in the corridor. This hook is higher than most people, and one must stand on tiptoes to remain stable. It may have been specially designed to persecute Falun Dafa practitioners. When the torture continues for some time, it is very hard to endure. I was tortured this way for a week.

8. I was locked to the heating pipe in the coldest corridor, wearing only thin trousers. I was deprived of sleep, and I could only sit on the ice-cold concrete floor, which caused me to lose consciousness. I was tortured this way for ten days.

9. "Back lock." One arm crosses the front of the body, while the other crosses behind the back, and the hands are locked together behind the back. The neck is tied to the feet with rope, making it impossible to raise the head. One's body cannot sustain such a position, and after over forty minutes, I was sweating all over, and my heart could not bear it any longer. I was only unlocked after they realized that I would die if the torture continued.

10. Binding with ropes. The police used rope to tightly bind my crossed legs and arms, then fastened my neck to my lap with a towel, to prevent me from raising my head. For over seven hours you are not allowed to use the toilet. One police also tore up Master's book, and Masters portrait, and forced me to sit on them, then tore Master's book into small strips and stuck them to my face, repeatedly saying, "Just for you, 'Dafa disciples.'" Another guard stomped on my crossed legs, and kicked my head, then lay down comfortably beside me to watch me suffer. After over seven hours, my legs turned black and purple, and I could no longer move. The pain was even worse than the bones being torn apart. As a result of this torture, my whole body lost feeling, and I could not take care of myself. My mother came and attended to me for over one month before I gradually recovered. To this day, my wrist and leg are still affected.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

Your position, then, Teresa, if I understand it, is at one level the same as mine. It is the moral absolutist position – as opposed to the moral relativist* position – that the moral law applies to the situation of self-defense. Some actions are by nature evil and cannot be done even for reasons of self-defense. Not everything is permissible in self-defense. We differ in what actions we consider by nature evil, but we agree that some actions are evil and cannot be done in any situation. You would seem, then, to agree with what I said in my first comment.

You also have the answer to your questions, the questions you raised in your blog post. Why do some of us oppose some of the actions of the CIA (and other government entities and people) in the war on terror? Why are we seeking to hold them accountable? It’s not because we want the terrorists to win, but because we believe members of our government broke the law (both civil and moral) in the name of keeping us safe. We hold the position that our government ought to defend us justly by using only just means, not any and every means available. You seem to agree with this general point, that not every means of self-defense is necessarily just, but disagree with us that the actions in question, what you call EITs and we call torture, are by nature evil.

*To say that all means of self-defense are permissible is to deny an absolute moral standard or law that applies in all times, places, and circumstances. Those who say that any and all means of self-defense are permissible are full-fledged moral relativists.