Maureen Ramsay on torture

“What is inherently wrong with torture? Investigation as to what is wrong with torture, independent of its bad effects, may throw some light on why torture is practised and how academics obscure the purpose of torture when they debate its justification as a way of extracting information to save multiple lives in a ticking bomb … Continue reading “Maureen Ramsay on torture”

The torture prorogation?

It was bad enough to prorogue Parliament to avoid an election, but doing the same to try to silence questions about Canada’s role in torturing detainees is far more dubious. As an article in the Ottawa Citizen explains: When Harper prorogued last fall it was to avoid a vote of non-confidence. This time, it will … Continue reading “The torture prorogation?”

Open thread: torture prosecutions

As many articles have described, the appropriate response to allegations of torture by Americans is controversial. Some argue that prosecutions are the only moral course, that they will restore US standing and draw a sharp line under the past. Others argue that, while justified, prosecutions would be a major distraction for the Obama administration, and … Continue reading “Open thread: torture prosecutions”

“Chuckie” Taylor and torture prosecutions

An American court has convicted the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for committing torture, sentencing him to 97 years in prison. “Chuckie” Taylor led a paramilitary unit during the time when his father was in power. His father is currently on trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. If … Continue reading ““Chuckie” Taylor and torture prosecutions”

Torture, psychology, and the law

For the darkest day of the year, a couple of torture-related items seem appropriate. Firstly, there is this New York Times piece, which argues that senior officials from the Bush administration should be charged with war crimes, for authorizing and enabling torture. The editorial argues that there is no chance that prosecutions will be sought … Continue reading “Torture, psychology, and the law”

CIA given license to torture

President Bush vetoed legislation that would have forbidden the CIA from using certain torture techniques, such as simulated drowning. It seems a clear sign of what we have lost due to excessive concern about terrorism – the understanding that governments are the most dangerous entities in the world. While they generally lack the desire to … Continue reading “CIA given license to torture”

Republican torture ‘compromise’

Despite the thin rhetoric to the contrary, it is clear that the current American administration tolerates and abets torture, indefinite detention without charge, and other basic violations of human rights. This is an astonishing error on their part. It contradicts international law, including laws that have helped to protect Americans captured by foreign regimes. It … Continue reading “Republican torture ‘compromise’”

Henry Shue on Torture

Henry Shue’s presentation to the Strategic Studies Group tonight ended up being much more challenging than I expected. The topic was torture and “why no middle way is possible.” That is to say, something that I profoundly agree with. That said, I found his justification to be very problematic. He began by asserting that torture … Continue reading “Henry Shue on Torture”

Pullman on religion and authority

Over my last few commutes, I read Phillip Pullman‘s short and unusual book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. It’s part of the Canongate Myth Series, in which “ancient myths from myriad cultures are reimagined and rewritten by contemporary authors”. The book isn’t easily categorized, but includes a few thought-provoking passages, particularly about … Continue reading “Pullman on religion and authority”

Politics by spin in Canada

Olivier De Schutter, the right to food envoy of the United Nations, recently released a report highlighting how many Canadians suffer from food insecurity. In response, Canada’s health minister Leona Aglukkaq described him as “ill-informed” and “patronizing”. To me, this response seems like part of a worrisome trend in Canada. Instead of thinking about real … Continue reading “Politics by spin in Canada”