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Unthinkable

Your opinion of the scenario? (Read OP)

  • No method should be spared, the security of our nation is paramount

    Votes: 5 29.4%
  • Saving lives is meaningless if we are abandoning all of our values and principles to do it

    Votes: 4 23.5%
  • I believe there has to be a happy medium between the above two options

    Votes: 1 5.9%
  • Other opinion (please explain)

    Votes: 7 41.2%

  • Total voters
    17

Orion

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WARNING: This thread will contain spoilers about this movie. If you don't want it ruined, don't read ahead!

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The scenario:

The basic premise of this film is that an American-born man with highly specialized U.S. military training and a connection to Russia acquires nuclear material and sets up three nuclear bombs in three hidden locations across the U.S. He says they are in highly populated urban areas and once they detonate they will kill tens of millions of people. They will detonate in less than one week.

His demands are that the U.S. stop funding foreign radical dictators, and to withdraw from all nations involved in the war on terror.

The U.S. CIA sets up an interrogation facility once they catch him and begin using legal interrogation techniques, though the man is highly resistant. After much deliberation, the military, under orders from the White House, brings in a torture specialist. The whole incident is considered off the record.

The specialist then begins to torture the man outside of the legal grounds of the Geneva Convention and U.S. Constitution. (Keep in mind that the man is a U.S. citizen.) Halfway through the movie it is declared that the man's citizenship was revoked and that he is now non-status, making the proceedings more murky.

They cut off his fingers, electrocute him, bring in his wife and threaten to torture her (she ends up getting her throat slit by the interrogator). The movie climaxes when the man's two children are brought in and their torture is guaranteed if the man does not cooperate, but at the last minute he does.

My question is, given the scenario of nuclear fallout, would the U.S. be justified in abandoning all of its principles in order to find the location of the bombs, even if the bombs could potentially be a hoax? Should no method be spared to assure the security of the nation?
 
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Goshin

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Ugly as it is (and make no mistake about it, I was cringing in disgust while reading what was "done"), I'd have to say yes, it ought to be done.

Nukes are ugly too. Their effects are ugly. If they went off, tens of thousands to possibly millions of people would die, many of them suffering torturous injury in the process. Little children would burn to death, and/or die slowly of radiation poisoning. The deaths and horrific suffering of 10,000 - 10,000,000 people outweigh the horrific suffering of 4 people, particularly when one of them is the cause of it all.

It was ugly when we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, too.... but in the calculus of war, we killed tens of thousands to save a million-plus (the estimated cost of a mainland invasion).

Before someone asks me the question.... Yes, if I was the one who had to do the torturing, I would do so. I don't advocate someone else do the dirty work I'm unwilling to do. I might have a hard time living with myself afterward, but I would do what was necessary to save 10k-10M fellow Americans from a horrible death.
 
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rathi

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First of all, the premise is entirely ludicrous. I will argue it for the sake of argument, but it has less bearing on real life policy choices than Star Wars. The best option would be to simply comply with his demands while searching for the bombs. Once the bombs are secure, put the man on trial with his full civil rights as guaranteed by the constitution. Total cost would be some millions in moving troops around and probably some economic shock from the panic. Torture is hardly reliable, it would be acceptable to risk that many lives. Contrary to popular belief, being horribly unethical isn't actually more effective than being calm and rational.
 
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rathi

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Upon further thought, this is truly a stupid premise. We pay our dictators with the annual aid budget, so nothing other than promises could be done in under a week to change that. The logistics of troop removal would limit the amount of soldiers we could pull out in only a few days. The mans bargaining power goes away the moment he turns over the bombs, so there is nothing preventing the U.S. from reversing any changes it made after that point. The net result is would be the cost of transporting troops out of Aghanistan for a few days and than shipping them back.
 

ecofarm

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Torture for confession does not work, but for information it does. Just ask the mob.
 

ScottD

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Torture for confession does not work, but for information it does. Just ask the mob.
Actually legal forms of interogation are more accurate and quicker then torture. Even for information torture sucks.
 

Deuce

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Torture for confession does not work, but for information it does. Just ask the mob.
Actually it's exactly the opposite. You can get people to confess to whatever bull**** you want, even things they didn't do, but any information you get is suspect. People will say anything to get the pain to stop, they'll roll over on friends and family who never did anything wrong in their life. Ask any CIA interrogation types.
 

Goshin

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Actually it's exactly the opposite. You can get people to confess to whatever bull**** you want, even things they didn't do, but any information you get is suspect. People will say anything to get the pain to stop, they'll roll over on friends and family who never did anything wrong in their life. Ask any CIA interrogation types.

There is some degree of truth there. Yes, people will confess to anything to stop the torture. Yes, all information is suspect. That is why you ask questions that you already know the answers to, to see if you're getting good info or not, and cross-check your info using other sources in most cases.

This particular scenario, though, improbable and unlikely as it seems, is a bit different, because there is really only one thing you want to know and it is pretty readily verifiable: where are the bombs?

The narrow focus of the information desired makes the interrogation (with or without torture) a lot more straightforward.
 

ecofarm

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Actually it's exactly the opposite. You can get people to confess to whatever bull**** you want, even things they didn't do, but any information you get is suspect. People will say anything to get the pain to stop, they'll roll over on friends and family who never did anything wrong in their life. Ask any CIA interrogation types.
Obviously you can get anyone to confess, that's why it is worthless for that purpose. What you fail to consider regarding the information is that this information can be checked and acted upon while the subject remains under questioning. If the information turns out to be untrue, the subject pays and the information gets better real quick. You act like we let them go upon their first utterance, and "oh well, it was bad info... we made a deal so he gets to go".

In a confession, there no consequence to lying... they get what they want and end of story. In information, there is consequence to lies.
 
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BmanMcfly

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The premise is pretty lame, but this is clearly propaganda film to justify torture for the masses.

Some guy walks up to a cop station (for the sake of argument) and demands an end to the war within a week... it would never happen... the type of person that would want to end a war wouldn't get his hands on multiple nukes... nevermind one. But EVEN IF someone was crazy enough, they would probably have one of them detonate to show that he isn't just some drunk looking for attention.

Oh and the best part... the guy is ex-millitary and everyone is supposed to accept that he could get his hands on several nukes. Like it was part of his standard equipment, m16, flashbang, pistol, and a nuclear bomb with a timer.

If I were to let that slide for the sake of the question :

There is a REASON why you don't torture people, and that's because it emboldens the enemy, it encourages them to 'return the favor', if you beat a man long enough he'll tell you his the queen of england if he thinks it will get you to stop. Much like those drones, which are highly accurate, but ultimately inneffective to win a war because everyone that gets bombed might have relatives who otherwise would not have joined the fighting.
 
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Boo Radley

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Just to repeat: 1) Premise is stupid. 2) Other methods are more effective.

Seeking ways to excuse that which can not be excused is not productive. Seems more like the type of exercise brutal regimes that we have denounced partake in.
 

The Uncola

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It's NEVER ok to torture. For any reason. Period.
 

Orion

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Whether or not the premise is stupid is irrelevant. Play the game and answer the question.
 

Southern Man

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I think the premise is stupid and the torture described over-the-top just to get a rise out of folks, especially those who support enhanced techniques. I'd have simply water boarded the guy and found out what needed to be known in ten minutes.
 

Orion

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I think the premise is stupid and the torture described over-the-top just to get a rise out of folks, especially those who support enhanced techniques. I'd have simply water boarded the guy and found out what needed to be known in ten minutes.
The man was being water boarded in the beginning and it wasn't working.
 

BmanMcfly

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I would have simply kept it up. The technique is very reliable, especially with ice cold water.
Did I catch that right... that you believe the premise is stupid and torture is bad but you'd have water-boarded him into submission??
 

Orion

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People, this isn't a debate about what torture technique works and what doesn't, it's more about if extreme torture is warranted in a doomsday scenario that could kill millions. Saying the premise is stupid is not really answering the question.
 

ScottD

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People, this isn't a debate about what torture technique works and what doesn't, it's more about if extreme torture is warranted in a doomsday scenario that could kill millions. Saying the premise is stupid is not really answering the question.
Well let me rephrase it, would you:

A) Use torture, a technique that is slower and less reliable then legal interogation, comprimises our morals, and makes us look weak to the world, or would you

B) Use legal interogation methods, save millions of lives, keep our morals, and look strong in the eyes of the world?

Seems like a simple answer to me.
 

justabubba

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It's NEVER ok to torture. For any reason. Period.
if a criminal apprehended my daughter and held her hostage
be assured i would not hesitate to inflict whatever pain was necessary in an effort to force him to tell me her whereabouts
i do not believe i would be able to inflict harm on his innocent family members to extract that same information, to maintain consistency with the movie
 

BmanMcfly

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People, this isn't a debate about what torture technique works and what doesn't, it's more about if extreme torture is warranted in a doomsday scenario that could kill millions. Saying the premise is stupid is not really answering the question.
Of course it's not warranted... doesn't mean that it won't be done.

The unchanging fact is that if you torture someone long enough and hard enough he'll tell you anything he thinks you want to here if it will end the pain, even for a moment. The intel recovered is generally unreliable anyway, and it goes against any human decency.
 

BmanMcfly

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Well let me rephrase it, would you:

A) Use torture, a technique that is slower and less reliable then legal interogation, comprimises our morals, and makes us look weak to the world, or would you

B) Use legal interogation methods, save millions of lives, keep our morals, and look strong in the eyes of the world?

Seems like a simple answer to me.
B - Just because Bush signed a piece of paper saying that certain techniques were not torture but 'enhanced interrogation' doesn't make it any more legal or right. Can a bank manager sign a paper that would allow him to come into the bank on the weekend and empty the safe and bring it to his own house??
 

Boo Radley

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Whether or not the premise is stupid is irrelevant. Play the game and answer the question.
It's been answered. Doing something ineffective is hardly doing what is best. Other methods are simply more effective. There is no reason to torture other than simply wanting to torture someone. And that is before we even get into the moral issue. Like I said before, these arguments are no different than brutal regimes denounced by us make. Do we really wnat to be more like them, or less? I suggest we need to be very different from them.
 

Goshin

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It's been answered. Doing something ineffective is hardly doing what is best. Other methods are simply more effective. There is no reason to torture other than simply wanting to torture someone. And that is before we even get into the moral issue. Like I said before, these arguments are no different than brutal regimes denounced by us make. Do we really wnat to be more like them, or less? I suggest we need to be very different from them.
The premise is that standard interrogation techniques were not working, nor was waterboarding. I find the latter improbable... from what I've been told by people with firsthand knowlege, waterboarding is extremely effective in getting information.

The difference between this scenario (improbable and contrived as it is), and the brutal regimes you're talking about is that we're not talking about torturing someone as punishment for being a political dissident putting up anti-gov posters; we're talking about someone threatening millions of innocent lives with nuclear weapons and the effort to stop that from happening. The end result and purpose is very very different.
 
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