Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Sam Harris on profiling and the ethics of torture...

Sent via his site...
Dear Sam (if I may be so bold...),
I have read and enjoyed both your recent posts on profiling and the link back to your arguments on torture.
I agree with you on ALL points!
On the torture issue:
Could I direct you to a post I did myself back on 14 May 2011, in which I say that "I used to be full-square against torture.  It’s wrong, no ifs no buts.  But there are “buts” and there are “ifs”. " and conclude: "In short, I think the absolute prohibition of torture, with no ifs, no buts, is a position one can only hold if that proposition remains unexamined."
I find on re-reading my own post that I make some of the same points you have -- albeit in a much less felicitous way than yourself!
You may also find the little story of my father interesting: in the Second World War, he was a Captain in the Australian Army Intelligence, an interrogator of Japanese prisoners of war in Papua New Guinea.... (he was one of the very few members of the Australian Army who spoke Japanese -- as a result of which, btw, after the War, he joined our Australian Diplomatic Service, was posted to Tokyo in 1946, where I was born....).  I touch on whether the methods they used then, to get useful intelligence, would today be considered torture, by the bien-pensants (which would've included me till a while back...)
With best regards to a (rare) liberal supporter of profiling, clear thinker on the ethics of torture and of matters Islamic!

Peter F
Hong Kong

PS: I still consider myself a bit of a "leftie" ("liberal" in US terms), and I thought you needed some support from the liberal-left after the "torrent" of abuse, etc, you've had from that same side, to a couple of your recent posts!