THE GREATER GOOD
Dick Cheney has been all over the news lately justifying the atrocities committed during the Bush administration: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, enhanced interrogation and the death of thousands due to an unnecessary rush to war. He keeps posing the administrations action as for the greater good. Unfortunately many conservatives blindly buy into this philosophy.
The problem is that propounding the greater good of a society always leads to the sacrifice of rights and liberties of a few. Using the argument of the greater good we could justify slavery: a situation where a few slaves are worked for the pleasure and well being of the rest.
Deductive reasoning is an essential component of logical argument. Deductive reasoning simplified states: A is greater than B, and B is greater than C, therefore A is greater than C.
An argument can be logically valid but unsound if it contains false premises; in such a case it will lead to a false conclusion.
Republicans are masters of false premise: their political arguments have always been premised by the manipulation of facts: half truths, false statements, innuendoes and appeals to patriotism. They spin every situation with sound bites meant to enrage their uninformed base to illogical protest. (We have witnessed that the whole purpose of the tea party was to be outraged.)
Morality is a complicated issue: it boils down to how we treat each other. Cheney argues that the ends justify the means. He constantly poses the quandary of the terrorist bomb set to explode as justification for enhanced interrogation. However, it has been documented that there was no eminent attack concerned with the water boarded victims – it was a fishing expedition to confirm information already in CIA possession.
Cheney hides the dirty secret of U.S. torture with the noble sounding phrase “enhanced interrogation.” But, once you cross the line into torture of prisoners where do you draw the line? The progression is unimaginable for most civilians: isolation, white noise, sleep deprivation, stress positions, beatings, water boarding, psychotic drugs, rape, electric shock, surgery, amputations, burning…
Using deductive reasoning, if we can justify enhanced interrogation techniques in one case we can logically carry that scenario further: enhanced interrogation techniques could be used by police on criminal suspects and anyone suspected of contemplating or having knowledge of a crime (the optimum word here is suspect.) Once a government justifies this type of action it tends to become normal ops.
A post script by the Ol’Buzzard
For eight years of my military career I was a U.S. Navy S.E.R.E instructor; so, I am familiar with enhanced interrogation techniques (torture) of which all are outlawed by the Geneva Convention.