Misleading statements, (empty) threats of physical violence, harassing and disrespectful language, nap deprivation: the CIA is accused of employing these and other ethically troubling techniques in the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh "Bluto" Mohammad and other al Qaeda operatives in the War on Terror the Great Unpleasantness.
This being a cruel world, however, we must recognize that there is a time and place for everything. We can employ one of the liberal's favorite tools, situational ethics, to define when the use of violence, lies, threats and torture-ish techniques are morally acceptable.
Judging from the stated and unstated attitudes of President Obama and Attorney General Holder, there are instances in which the use of such coercive tactics may be ignored or even condoned. The following situational guidelines for coercion and threats of violence are offered in the interest of clarity.
THE ACTOR (the coercer)
Unacceptable: trained intelligence officer; security expert; Special Forces operative; law enforcement agent.
Acceptable: card carrying member of SEIU, the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the Teamsters or other labor union; community organizer with ACORN; "poll watchers" from the Black Panthers Party.
THE TARGET (the coercee)
Unacceptable: Radical Islamists; sworn enemies of the United States; al Qaeda-trained operatives; non-uniformed enemy combatants.
Acceptable: Capitalists; corporate managers; small businessmen; townhall protesters and members of other Organized Mobs; voters.
Unacceptable: Potential destruction of a major American city; death of random innocent civilians; threats of harm to military personnel, installations or capital ships; loss of life, liberty or property of U.S. citizens.
Acceptable: union contract negotiations, involving work rules, pay rates or benefits; protection of vote fraud initiatives; intimidation of "Health Care Reform" protesters; stifling of right-of-center political discourse.
Careful use of these guidelines should avoid any conflicts with Obama Administration objectives.