Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape: Some of our service men and women are sent to SERE training, where they are taught to expect torture and stand it as long as possible before giving information. Although there have been some changes, the course has historically belonged to people who have enough information to make their capture a national security issue. (Potential high-level detainees, if you will.)
There are three levels in SERE training; the more critical your knowledge is likely to be, the more levels you have to complete, although to hear some right-wing idiots talk, you’d think SERE is the equivalent of boot camp, with waterboarding every other Tuesday.
Although the answer won’t make our actions right, I have a question that has not been asked: Have all the military members who participated in the waterboarding of detainees been through SERE school (all three levels)? Have they all been waterboarded?
Hurting a select group of military members can in no way justify hurting a person imprisoned by the military. It defies logic. SERE instructors inflict physical and mental pain in hopes that students will be mentally prepared for it, learn some way to tolerate the torment, and hold out as long as possible before giving up classified information. The existence of this training cannot justify inflicting pain in order to obtain classified information.
At the widest application, anyone who has ever experienced pain has the right to inflict that pain on someone else, if they think they have a good reason. In fact, anyone who feels an urgent need for information can torture someone else to obtain it, because someone, somewhere, was tortured, too. (And if that information is three years out of date? Success!)
Now that’s empathy.
Slippery slope, indeed.
NOTE: Nuclear fallout isn’t dangerous, because we had our soldiers run into the cloud.