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Dirty Hands

Dirty Hands

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Dirty Hands

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  1. Dirty Hands The Clash Between Private and Public Ethics

  2. New York Times • German Court Challenges C.I.A. Over Abduction • By MARK LANDLER • Published: February 1, 2007 • FRANKFURT, Jan. 31 — A German court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for 13 people in the mistaken kidnapping and jailing of a German citizen of Lebanese descent, in the most serious legal challenge yet to the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret transfers of terrorism suspects. • Prosecutors in Munich said the suspects, whom they did not identify, were part of a C.I.A. “abduction team” that seized the man, Khaled el-Masri, in Macedonia in late 2003 and flew him to Afghanistan. He was imprisoned there for five months, during which, he said, he was shackled, beaten and interrogated about alleged ties to Al Qaeda, before being released without charges. • His ordeal is the most extensively documented case of the C.I.A.’s practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which terrorism suspects are seized and sent for interrogation to other countries, including some in which torture is practiced. Khaled el-Masri, at a hearing in Berlin in June about his abduction and transfer to Afghanistan.

  3. Conventional Wisdom About Politicians’/Political Role • Public Officials act on public’s behalf; this requires they seek/acquire power in order to act effectively • Virtuous politicians must use violence/threat of violence • Public officials cannot be excused from acting – they likely have the resources to address public problems • If true, implies we must either remake politics to fit conventional morality or remake private morality to fit political reality

  4. The Problem of Dirty Hands • “Do you think that you can govern innocently?” (Machiavelli) • Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli • 1469 - 1527 (aged 58) Florence, Italy

  5. The Problem of Dirty Hands • “Do you think that you can govern innocently?” (Machiavelli) • Politics creates situations where actions may be required by public officials that are not required in everyday life. • In order to do the right thing for the public, an official must violate private morality – they must “get their hands dirty”

  6. Walzer’s Two Cases • Political Candidate • Politician in Colonial War

  7. Walzer’s View • “Weak” deontological position • Some constraints on public action needed • The role of guilt • Must guilt be publicly expressed • (cf. McNamara, Fog of War) • Feeling moral guilt sign of “good” politician • Criticisms of Walzer: • Issue of “collective guilt” • Is Machiavellian assumption true – must we remake private morality to fit political reality?

  8. Dirty Hands and Terrorism “…we may have betrayed a fatal preference for clean hands in a dark world of terror in which only dirty hands can get the job done.” • “When democracies fight terrorism, they are defending the proposition that their political life should be free of violence. But defeating terror requires violence. • “To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war.“ • “These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil.” • Lesser Evils, Michael Ignatieff,NYT, May 2, 2004

  9. Possible Rules for a War on Terror • “The question is not whether we should be trafficking in lesser evils but whether we can keep lesser evils under the control of free institutions.” • Declaring a National Emergency – Congress grant President one week to act unilaterally, renewable for 60 days, then requires super-majority • Torture -- Absolute ban on torture; failing this, Congressionally approved regulations on torture • Detention – No one should be held by US – anywhere -- without access to public review of detention by independent judicial authorities