Protecting the Homeland

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There’s a question that seems to come up a lot at GOP debates and other campaign events. “Would you torture an enemy combatant to prevent an imminent terrorist attack on the homeland?” The right answer, if crowd reaction is any guide, is “yes.”

The appeal seems to be that somebody who would torture to prevent a terrorist attack is demonstrating the necessary grit to defend the country no matter what, even when it means doing something difficult and distasteful. The thing is, though, torturing an enemy combatant wouldn’t be difficult for a GOP president.

I don’t mean on a personal level. I mean torturing an enemy combatant wouldn’t be politically difficult; it wouldn’t require or demonstrate any grit or toughness. The GOP base supports such a policy, and would be angry with a president who didn’t adopt it. (See, for instance, candidate John McCain.) In that sense, not torturing would demonstrate more grit.

I find myself wondering: would the GOP candidates do something that’s distasteful to their base to prevent a terrorist attack? For example:

  • If that enemy combatant were a woman, would you torture her?
    • What if she were pregnant?
    • Would you be willing, as part of the torture, to target her fetus? Actually harm it? Destroy it?
  • If an intelligence officer could obtain information to prevent a terrorist attack on the homeland, but only by violating his or her marriage vow, would you order that officer to commit adultery?
    • What if the other person was the same sex as the officer?
    • What if the other person was a minor?
  • Would you arrange for an enemy prisoner to have sex with one or more virgins in exchange for information that would prevent an imminent terrorist attack?
    • American virgin(s)?
    • Same sex?
    • Minor(s)?
    • Would you be willing to return the prisoner to his country and force the other person to go with him?
  • If a Middle Eastern or African Christian had information on the location of a terrorist cell, the destruction of which would prevent an imminent attack on the homeland, but the Christian refused to cooperate, would you torture him?
    • What if he refused because he belonged to a pacifist denomination?
    • What if he refused because he believed an attack on America would hasten Armageddon and the Second Coming?
    • What if he refused because his pregnant wife was with the cell?
    • What if the Christian were American?
  • If a terrorist group obtained a crude nuclear weapon and was about to deliver it on either Israel, rendering much of Israel/Palestine uninhabitable, or the American “Green Zone” in Baghdad, and you could prevent one or the other, which would you prevent?
  • Would you use air power to impose a no-settlements policy on Israel to prevent a terrorist attack on the homeland?
  • Would you invade Israel and impose regime change to prevent a terrorist attack on the homeland?
  • Would you raise taxes for a new program that would prevent a terrorist attack on the homeland?
  • Would you implement a military draft to prevent a terrorist attack on the homeland?
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5 Responses to “Protecting the Homeland”

  1. mystiquefree Says:

    Very provocative. I wish you could have the opportunity to pose those questions to the candidate and get a straightforward answer…

  2. babykangaroo Says:

    Let’s ask the Democratic candidates a few questions.

    – If you could prevent a terrorist attack by passing a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and woman, would you?

    – If you could prevent a terrorist attack by implementing a value added tax or removing a graduated income tax scale, would you?

    – If you could prevent a terrorist attack by placing a copy of the ten commandments in a federal building, would you?

    You get the idea…

  3. urbino Says:

    Of course.

    The problem is, the Dems aren’t the ones running on how tough they are.

    Also, nobody’s asking them, “Would you support Roe v. Wade to prevent an imminent terrorist attack?,” and then acting as if the answer actually means something.

    That is, however, exactly what’s happening at the GOP debates and other campaign events: people are asking them if they’ll do something that’s wildly popular among their constitutency if it would save the country from destruction.

    Well, gee, I wonder what they’ll say.

    The only ones not pandering are McCain and Paul. If the other candidates ever had any notion of saying, “No, torture is illegal, doesn’t work, and besides, we cannot win this war if we give up the moral high ground,” McCain and Paul’s numbers have scared it out of them. (Even though it’s 100% true.)

    Just out of curiosity, Joe, if somebody did ask the GOP candidates, “Would you raise taxes for a new program that would prevent a terrorist attack on the homeland?,” what do you think they’d say?

    I honestly have no idea. It’s an absolutely reasonable and relevant question, though.

  4. babykangaroo Says:

    If it were that easy, I’m sure they’d say yes. But we all know that it isn’t. I’m sure they would give some mealy-mouthed answer about how they wouldn’t raise taxes, but would find other areas to cut to fund such a program. They’d never say they wouldn’t pay for the program. Bottom line is that you’ll never get a straight answer from a politician during campaign season.

  5. urbino Says:

    Well, in fairness, both McCain and Paul (neither of whom I support, btw) have given straight answers on torture. The results weren’t the kind to encourage the other candidates to do likewise.

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