Answer: NEITHER OF THEM! Although Obama seems to be more practical, he’s still holding on to an ideology and we can see this through the whole torture debates. Here is their philosophical positions as I can see it:
OBAMA: Since we are a democracy and a nation of law, torture is inherently wrong. We are a nation that does not torture and we will not torture. Along with this, I would think that Obama’s philosophy is that if there comes to a “ticking-time bomb scenario” (which is hardly likely), then torture might be the exception. However, in a situation like this, everyone needs to know about it. Previous presidents have taken away rights of people and declared it publicly (Lincoln and FDR, for example). With everyone knowing about it, there’s no need for secrecy and everyone can understand what the situation is. Thus, if there comes to a situation where rights of man are to be taken away, not only will people know about it, but everyone should know about it. If not, then the world (and our own citizens) will look at the US with distrust, contempt, and the problem.
CHENEY: We are a nation of law, but there are cases where to protect the safety of everyone, you have to sacrifice the liberties of the few. Thus, torture is instrumentally (or perhaps primae facie) wrong. Yes, we don’t torture and we shouldn’t torture, unless. . . These torture techniques (actually, Cheney calls them “interrogation techniques”) has helped saved lives and it keeps America safe. Now with this, no one should know about this. If this gets released to the public, then it will just embolden the enemy. Our enemies will know about these techniques and they’ll train to get used to them or the information will be a great recruitment tool for more al-Qaeda members. Thus, if there comes to a situation where rights of man are to be taken away, no only will we not tell the world, but we shouldn’t tell the world. The less people know about it, the better.
This, I take it, is their philosophical positions. Now, Obama has somewhat gone back on his philosophical consistency by not releasing the photos. His justification is similar to Cheney’s: our enemies will know about it and it will just embolden them.
For me, I lean heavily toward Obama’s position. With this, I wish he did release the photos so that the world would know what we did and then we can move on. As for prosecuting the people who legitimated the torturing, I’m still up in the air about it.
I agree there are inconsistencies in both arguments. I lean more towards Obama’s position as well. I believe however, that torture is ALWAYS wrong and that there isn’t a need torture. I see the moral preservation of our nation as more important then any short term win, such as remaining international political capital vs. ‘good-guy’ status. This may sound cold but even in the event of the ticking ‘time bomb’ scenario, the lose of our morals and values as a nation would be worse then the lose of life. I am afraid that with Obama’s position he has hurt his political capital slightly by seeming to contradict himself. Though I’m sure there are reasons for his stance and there are those that are happy such information isn’t in the public eye for ‘security’ reason. If we stopped torturing and used more human and more effective means of information gathering, then there would be nothing for the ‘enemy’ to prepare for in the even of public access to the photos.
This whole torture debate is so meaningless. The CIA has released documents for decades stating that inflicting physical harm on somebody you’re trying to get information out of is completely ineffective. The only technique that has even been proven to work that was used is sleep deprivation, and that’s really more of a psychological torture than a physical torture. Maybe the government should have left the interrogations to the people that have actually been doing them behind closed doors for years rather than the army who has lowered it’s admission standards even to allow volunteers who show drug test results high enough to disqualify them for a job at sears.
Really the whole debate behind this debate is whether America, or any successful democracy, can take an absolute stance for or against anything. The strength of a country like America is that it can take a philosophically evolved view of any problem that could arise. We don’t have to look at every problem from a Kantian aspect that things are either universally wrong or right.
A lot of people are against torture completely, even in the example of a ticking bomb (which by the way, is the worst example ever if thought of in reality, it’s just getting people to think of torture as a segment in 24 rather than an actual occurance). Imagine a situation where we have a high ranking member of a terrorist organization that is planning to detonate a nuclear device in Washington D.C. in custody. Imagine that this terrorist had been beaten by his father as a child and thus developed a psychological reaction to physical pain similair to stockholm syndrome. All we would have to do is hit him a couple times and he’d sing. Wouldn’t this make the aegument for torture a little easier to accept. We need to accept as a country that there can be an exception to every rule. We’re already bombing hundreds of people on a regular basis while we hold that killing is morally unfogivable. We need to understand that even though at this time we believe that torture is completely wrong, there may be an instance in the future that we would condone torture. We can all come to the agreement that the use of torture by the Bush administration was wrong without actually making a hard line view against torture in general. We have seen a streak of moral issues lately that people have felt they need to decide yes or no. We need to all keep an open mind on every issue and weigh each instance individually.
The real reason why Bush and Cheney approve of torture is that they are mean and they consider the average person a forgettable detail of history. Cannon fodder. Bush got it from his father. Cheney, well he’s Cheney and enough said.