Monday, December 15, 2014

Michael Josephson: Questions that must be asked about the use of brutal interrogation techniques

  1. Does our position reveal anything about our personal and our nation’s fundamental character and values?

  2.If it does, should we focus primarily on efficacy (does it work) or ethics (is it right)?

  3. If “what’s right” turns on our belief as to whether it works, are we comfortable telling our children our flag stands for the principle; “the end justifies the means” when security is at issue?

  4.Is the Golden Rule naïve and impractical in important matters?

  5. How influential is the fact that other countries have and will use such methods (is there any validity to the idea that America stands for a higher standard of justice and respect)?

  6.Is it consistent with our values to use a different standard of humanity and respect when dealing with non-Americans?

  7. If it’s justified to use brutal methods that are illegal (unconstitutional) when dealing with suspected murderers, rapists, and political fanatics at home, should we alter our constitution to allow the same standard domestically?

  8. Does it matter whether we are dealing with the potential killers themselves or people who may have information that could help us stop an attack?

  9. There are six factors in determining whether a particular interrogation technique was effective: did it yield 1) true, 2) important 3) previously unknown information that 4) led to prevention of an attack or apprehension of a dangerous person 5) that could not have been obtained by less harsh (brutal) methods.

  10. If extreme, harsh methods are used that causes enduing psychological harm, intense fear, and or severe physical pain what level of certainty should the interrogator have that the method will yield valuable information from a particular subject (e.g., a basic principle of the American judicial system is that it is better to let 10 guilty men go free than to punish one innocent person). What is the tolerable number of innocent people who can be subjected to these techniques in pursuit of valuable information.

  11. If the techniques work should we continue to use them?

  12. If safeguards are established for the use of these methods, how can we monitor their use?

  About the author: Michael Josephson is one of the nation’s most sought-after and quoted ethicists. Founder and president of Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS! project, he has conducted programs for more than 100,000 leaders in government, business, education, sports, law enforcement, journalism, law, and the military. Mr. Josephson is also an award-winning radio commentator.

  This article was published by the Josephson Institute.

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