Poor little warlord/drug dealer!


I love when the NYT descends into self-parody. Here they seem to lament the fate of Bashir Noorzai, a Taliban ally and heroin distributor, who has apparently lost weight in the John Gotti Suite in the Manhattan Federal pen. And his guards don't speak Pashto! Worst of all, he was lured to New York under false pretenses: he thought he was attending a "political meeting," and the Feds had the nerve to arrest him instead for trying to sell $50 million in heroin to U.S. consumers!

Two unwittingly funny things about the article:

1. This dimwit Islamofascist is being represented by a lawyer named "Goldenberg."

2. Mr. Goldenberg complains that his client "did not know that the [Bush] administration had publicized his name as a most-wanted drug dealer." If he did, "it might have affected his travel plans."

Here's a serious ethical question, though: is it morally permissible to deceive a criminal? I think it is under limited circumstances, because a criminal doesn't have a right to the truth, if revealing the truth means he will get away with his crimes, or commit other evils.

That is (roughly) Saint Thomas Aquinas' teaching. Saint Augustine took the strict view that speaking an untruth was ipso facto sinful. Your thoughts?


To save others from Hitler's murderous wrath I think we could justify even the most outrageous untruths and deceptions. Many did so.

Cry me a river!

I'd go with Thomas Aquinas on this one.

Think of the harlot in Exodus who hid the two Hebrew scouts, Joshua and Caleb. She is recounted in Hebrews as a hero of faith, being made righteous by her faith in God as demonstrated by acting righteously to hide the Hebrew scouts from the soldiers who guarded the city. That was subterfuge and probably involved lying.

Actually, St Thomas said that lying was never justified for any reason whatsoever. Under some circumstances, mental reservation , which is obscuring the truth in such a way that it can still be figured out if someone is perceptive enough, is OK. Mental reservation is not lying. In this case, I certainly think its use was justified.

The difference between mental reservation and lying would take a small article to do justice to, but I would bet that the Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.org has just such an article.

So if government official X suspects govt official Y of leaking classified information and X tells Y and only Y a piece of false information to serve as a way to determine if the leak is Y, would that be lying? I would think not as the end intent is not deception for personal gain or to avert personal responsibility but rather to ferret out criminal wrongdoing by another party.

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On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric Johnson published on July 1, 2005 10:32 AM.

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