Segments in this Video

Introduction: Confidentiality in the Military (03:47)


Fred Friendly summaries part one of “Under Orders, Under Fire” and introduces the topic of confidentiality in the military. He explains there is a panel of professionals talking about the ethics of actions in various hypothetical situations.

Torture as a Tool (04:05)

Charles Ogletree talks to panelists about what they would do to enemy soldiers to obtain information about captive American prisoners of war. Most agreed they would do whatever necessary, including torture, to save the soldiers.

Impact of Torture (02:55)

J. Bryan Hehir says torture affects the person tortured and the person doing the torturing. He considers happens when there are no limits. Frederick Downs states that "the other side" does not care how American POWs are treated, and sometimes methods of torture are okay if it means rescuing men.

Exceptions for Torture (04:44)

The panelists say they do not condone torture, but in some circumstances it might be required. They agree they would need the moral strength to live with their actions. According to the Geneva Convention, torture is not allowed, but there are sometimes exceptions.

Reacting to Torture (03:20)

Ogletree presents a situation where a lieutenant sees another lieutenant torturing people and asks what should happen. Robert C. Stuart says torturing is not acceptable. If the lieutenant was murdering others, he hopes he would have the moral courage to put an end to the situation.

Confidentiality (06:47)

When a soldier sees someone doing something wrong or follows through with an order to do something illegal, he or she needs to confess and turn him or herself into the proper authorities. If receiving counseling from a clergyman, the confidentiality of the confessional needs to be upheld. Hehir says a breach of confidentiality endangers the institution.

Torture is Criminal (04:03)

General Evelyn P. Foote says when an officer performs an illegal action or a private follows an illegal order, it must go to court. No matter the ranking, soldiers in the military must distinguish between what they should do and what they are ordered to do.

Reporting War (09:23)

The panel discusses whether journalists should only film what is happening or if they should warn Americans about enemy actions. It is important to get all perspectives during war; reporters are Americans first and journalists second.

Soldiers and Reporters (05:32)

Journalists reporting war are not combatants and have an obligation to the soldiers and the American public. Soldiers and reporters have different expectations and will react differently. Members of the military have done a better job thinking through the ethics of behavior in a violent environment.

Presidential Orders (09:44)

If America is losing a war and there is one military target, and the POTUS gives the order to bomb the target, the panelists agree that hitting that target is morally correct. Most panel members agree that nuclear devices should not be used.

Conclusion: Confidentiality and the Military (00:38)

Friendly concludes the topic of the ethics of confidentiality and loyalty in the military and introduces the next video.

Credits: Under Orders, Under Fire (Part II) (00:48)

Credits: Under Orders, Under Fire (Part II)

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Under Orders, Under Fire (Part II)

Part of the Series : Ethics in America
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The carnage of My Lai raises the issue of confidentiality between the soldier, his religious confessor, and military justice. Generals debate the clash between military tribunals and the right of confidentiality with Chaplain Timothy Tatum of the U.S. Army War College, the Reverend J. Bryan Hehir of the U.S. Catholic Conference, and others.

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL160436

Copyright date: ©1989

Closed Captioned

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