Marc Thiessen, the former Bush speechwriter, is a torture apologist, attempting to whitewash his advocacy of crimes against humanity. I’m obviously not a religious person, but even I can see through his self-serving misreading of Catholic doctrine to justify waterboarding.
To justify killing in self-defense, Catholics point to Thomas Aquinas’s principle of double-effect: the intended effect is to save your own life; killing is the unintended effect. By the same logic, Mr. Thiessen argues, “the intent of the interrogator is not to cause harm to the detainee; rather, it is to render the aggressor unable to cause harm to society.”
While Mr. Thiessen points out that the church does not forbid specific acts, his antagonists say the church’s guidelines are hardly nebulous. The blogger Andrew Sullivan has noted that the catechism condemns “torture which uses physical or moral violence.”
The philosopher Christopher O. Tollefsen, whose essay attacking Mr. Thiessen’s views appeared Friday in the online magazine Public Discourse, pointed in a phone interview to the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor. There, Pope John Paul II wrote that there are acts that “are always seriously wrong by reason of their object,” including “whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity.”
The belief that waterboarding is morally or physically violent seems to unite all the writers who have criticized Mr. Thiessen, a group that includes the conservative blogger Conor Friedersdorf; Mark Shea, who edits the Web portal Catholic Exchange; and Joe Carter, who blogs for First Things, a magazine popular with conservative Catholics.
“Thiessen has been vigorously criticized by both so-called liberal and so-called conservative Catholics,” said Paul Baumann, who edits the liberal lay-Catholic magazine Commonweal. “That is one good indication of how erroneous his view is. “
[Click to continue reading Beliefs – Marc Thiessen Gets an Earful for Waterboarding Views – NYTimes.com]
I’ve yet to see Marc Thiessen get waterboarded, I’d pay for a viewing of that. And not waterboarding as a lark, but real waterboarding where the victim doesn’t know when the torture is going to stop. Even Christopher Hitchens waterboarding experience was partially for show; he was able to stop the torture by a signal.