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May 25, 2007


I think those pictures are vital to understand the conflict between liberal democracy and Islamist terrorism. Also relevant are new video frames that The Jawa Report has just released of a 12 year old boy in Afghanistan slowly beheading a Taliban hostage, very gruesome indeed (http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/188003.php).

Psychopaths (now technically called ‘Anti-social Personality Disorder’), are one of only a few personality types who enjoy inflicting suffering on others. They lack empathy, so they do not understand the ‘golden rule’ of reciprocity. They also enjoy these actions. In teenagers, an early sign of Anti-Social Personality Disorder is the torture of animals. Many Nazis were psychopaths, Saddam was, and many Islamist terrorists are. It can be expected that within the senior ranks of any ruthless dictatorship, psychopaths will be prevalent and influential. The Nazis showed that it is possible to indoctrinate large segments of a population into this type of thinking. Subsequent research has confirmed that under certain specific circumstances, most people can be induced to do what psychopaths do (The Milgram experiments).

The virulent contamination of thought and behavior in this way is one of the most dangerous things that Islamists do. The indoctrination to hate is one thing, but the teaching and cultivation of psychopathic behavior seems worse. Al Qaida uses torture as an end in itself. They may get information out of a person, or they may release the victim in a state of disability in order to instill terror in others. However they mainly torture to inflict pain, injury, and suffering for it’s own sake.

Contrast this with the interrogation pressure that the CIA has used. It is specific, it is goal directed, and is designed to inflict as little physical or psychological harm as possible. Here are three common-sense factors: (1) how badly do we need the information, (2) let’s apply only as much pressure as necessary, and (3) let’s minimize lasting damage. Many religious experts agree that such pressure is justifiable in the pursuit of achieving the greatest good for the most people.

In a recent “60 Minutes” interview, former CIA Director George Tenet said of aggressive interrogations, "I know that this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots." About Gitmo, he said, "I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us." Tenet added, "We don't torture people.”

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