[T]he argument that a captured terrorist is capable of launching attacks "by withholding information about planned attacks" is nonsense on stilts. A simple rule of thumb can demonstrate: if killing captured Terrorist Bob right now will not in any way prevent X, then we are not doing what we are doing to Bob because he is capable of doing X. A helpless captive, whatever information he may know, is not capable of carrying out any attacks. Indeed, the fact that we don't kill Bob immediately to stop the putative attacks is proof that it isn't what he is capable of doing, but rather what we want to coerce him to do, that is at issue.
Catholic blog Vox Nova has also covered Thiessen.
From a follow up post:
Arroyo and Thiessen are both Catholic public figures, and Arroyo in particular is a TV personality on a Catholic TV channel, making the scandal all the more grave. They are clearly “obstinately persevering” in support for an intrinsically evil act. Worse, they actually try to justify it on Catholic grounds. Thiessen has made it his life’s work to claim that some forms of torture are virtuous.
Arroyo, again and again, invites defenders of torture onto his show, and instead of confronting them with clear Church teaching, voices his agreement. As Burke says, this is “public conduct” that is gravely sinful. I would go further and argue that it is even more scandalous than support for legalized abortion. Most public supporters of abortion do not go on television extolling the great virtues of abortion for women and society. Their argument is more with how it should be treated under the law. But the Arroyo-Thiessen-Sirico cabal are (i) claiming to the faithful Catholics while (ii) making public pronouncements on the positive value of torture.
When is somebody going to come out and state the obvious? I’m not personally calling for canonical action against Thiessen, Arroyo, and Sirico, but I am calling for consistency. Archbishop Burke, I think we need to hear from you…
Yet another Catholic blogger, John da Fiesole, takes on Thiessen. After reviewing Church teaching, his bottom line:
Torture is always wrong. The Catholic Church teaches that torture is always wrong. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that torture is always wrong.Interpretations to the contrary are wrong.
Christians should be unequivocal in our opposition: torture is immoral and should be clearly and forcefully denounced. We continue to shame ourselves and our Creator by refusing to speak out against such outrages to human dignity. If that means that we will be slandered as radical pacifists, then we should wear the label proudly.
Here's another Catholic blogger, Kyle Cupp:
Contrary to Thiessen, I oppose all coercive interrogation techniques, whether or not those techniques fall into the category of torture. Why? Because coercion is a sin against the person; it reduces the one coerced into a mere means to an end, and does so by stripping him of his capacity to make free, moral decisions. To be sure, we may take away a person’s liberty by putting him in prison, but the prisoner is for that imprisonment no less of a free, moral agent, capable of making free, moral decisions. But to coerce a person is to render them less than a person.
And a final Catholic anti-torture blog, Coalition For Clarity:
The burden of proof of any assertion that waterboarding is somehow not torture is on those people making that assertion. There is nothing about waterboarding which magically makes it avoid using physical or moral violence in a coercive and inhumane way; in fact, in an interrogation situation where the person experiencing this particular horror is wholly in the power of those inflicting it waterboarding takes on a particularly torturous hue. If Marc Thiessen swears that despite all appearances waterboarding isn't torture, it's up to him to prove it.
Where is National Review? Or is that a stupid question at this point? The total corruption of the American Catholic hierarchy for access to Republican political power is becoming harder and harder to ignore.
(Photos: wax reproduction of a stress position used in the Peruvian Inquisition in the Museum in Lima; and a stress position directly authorized by Marc Thiessen's former boss, former vice-president and unindicted war criminal Dick Cheney.)