Monday, July 28, 2008

Moral Dilemmas

Mmm we all love a good dilemma don't we? Here's today's: Would you kill someone? Would you have someone kill for you? Would you torture someone? Would you pay someone a lot of money for information, even if you knew that money was going to finance awful things? Where is your line, and when is the situation right to say yes to these things? The way these questions are phrased you are the Pres and you're talking to me the operative.

The name of the game is this: You are the President of the United States, and you are giving instructions to a CIA operative. The instructions can be either yes or not yes. No in between, yes or no, do it or not. I'll put my vote into parenthesis just so you know how I score in this test. There isn't really a 'right' answer and that's what makes this hard.

Question 1 - Would you have me as a CIA operative associate with terrorists so that I can gain information that could save American lives? (Yup)

Question 2 - Terrorists aren't going to give me this information for free, can I use a lot of the governments money to pay this terrorist for information if he's going to use the money to get his family out of the terrorist ring? (Yes)

Question 3 - What if I don't know how the terrorist is going to use the money? (Yes)

Question 4 - What if the terrorist is going to use the money to finance an attack on an adversarial nation to us, say Iran? (Yes)

Question 5 - What if the terrorist is going to use the money to finance an attack on an allied country? (Not Yes)

A couple definitions. Assassination - a CIA operative killing someone. Act of War - a soldier killing someone.

Question 6 - Let's say pre 9/11 an agent has eyes on Osama bin Laden (who attacked the USS Cole) and he's in one of 5 tents. Would you as the President send a cruise missile and take him out? Remember at this time 1% of America knows who bin Laden even is, this would be an act of war. (Yes)

Question 7 - Still pre 9/11 same scenario but the other four tents are filled with the royal family of an oil rich country who we are allied with? (Not Yes - a real situation)

Question 8 - Same scenario as question 7, but post 9/11? (Yes)

Question 9 - Can I torture someone for information that could lead to American lives saved? (Yes)

Question 10 - We have a prisoner in custody who has been taking flight lessons, but he's not so concerned with landing the plane. Pres gives the order to have him tortured to find out his plans. An operative, the only one who can translate Arabic in the room, says he cannot participate in the torture and leaves. He is tortured and his video will take 24 hours to have translated by someone else. 18 hours later 4 planes crash into the twin towers, the pentagon, and the ground, killing 3000 people. When the video is translated you find the prisoner gave every detail of the attacks. Should the operative be prosecuted as dereliction of duty? (Yes - also a real situation)

My answers seem straightforward but trust me they weren't and there were many discussions on what would be the best. But this conversation is best debated and not dictatorialized so I will stop here and just let you think about it. Interesting questions though and something else to consider when you are electing a president. Can he make these decisions? One woman I encountered said Not Yes to every single one of these questions (except torture, she said that was okay as long as we weren't doing in the United States, so dang hypocritical if you ask me), and my friend and I decided it would be awful if she ever became Pres because we would all die.


Abbey said...

I'd like to know what our current presidential candidates answers' would be. Especially one in particular.

Heidi said...

I know. One of them I just don't see dealing with this kind of stuff very well.

Kara said...

This was a very interesting moral dilemma, I'd actually been thinking about this the past week because I recently got back in touch with one of my high school friends who's in the National Guard and just got back from a 2 year stint working in Guantanamo. His opinions on torture and treatment of prisoners were really thought provoking for me. Then I was looking back at different interviews with both McCain and Obama and, like a lot of other things they claim to be different on but actually aren't, they're both pretty vehemently against torture, particularly McCain. Understandable, given where he spent most of the 60s.