Gary Bauer

A Thought Experiment: You walk into your home to find an armed intruder threatening to shoot your spouse and children, trapped with nowhere to run. Fortunately, you have a gun.

You try to negotiate, but the intruder is in no mood to talk. His intention is murder.

You have seconds to decide. What do you do?

For many, the answer is clear. You fight to save your family. And most of us would call that self defense. Most Christians would agree that any action would be not only morally permissible, but also morally required.

Now imagine another scenario: You are a CIA interrogator facing an avowed terrorist who was caught in the act of preparing for murder. You know he has information about a plot to blow up an unidentified building in a large American city. Innocent lives hang in the balance.

For hours you have attempted to extract the life-saving information from him, but to no avail. The last option is one you believe will work: water-boarding, but you have only a few minutes to decide. What do you do?

Again, for most of us, the answer is clear. You do what you have to do to save those innocent lives, which in this case means water-boarding the terrorist. You are saving other people's families.

In the continuing debate over the morality of enhanced interrogation, an essential consideration is often overlooked: intent. For Christians, intent is integral to determining whether and when certain techniques, including water-boarding, are morally permissible.

Historically, various forms of harsh interrogation have been employed as a means to punish, humiliate, intimidate, exact revenge or force a confession. Consider Cuba, where for half a century torture has been used to punish, humiliate and intimidate those who speak out against the ruling Marxist regime and for democratic values and basic human rights.

Gary Bauer

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families.