Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Torture, War, and Drawing a Line

WHO IS THE ENEMY America is at war with radical groups of Islamic fundamentalists who have gained control over the religion of Islam.  This enemy has adopted [terrorism] as their weapon of choice.  America is  at war with an enemy that has a medieval and uncivilized view of the world. They do not, for example, value human life as highly as the rest of humanity does.

WHY IS THIS ENEMY DIFFERENT The rules of war are very different with this kind of enemy.  I will quickly run down a partial list describing why. The enemy has; no defined territory, no political connections, no uniforms, no superior weapons, no naval or air power, no artillery, no tanks, no headquarters, no overall military direction, and no advanced communication systems. By having none of these they are indeed a different kind of enemy.

IS THE WAR CONFINED TO AN AREA  Radical Fundamentalist Muslims have declared war on everyone who does not accept and believe in Islam. They terrorize and murder using stealth, secrecy and suicide attacks to carry out their designs. They believe that killing infidels is promoted and justified by their religion. These Muslims are brutal extremists with no regard for human lives - be they infant, aged, men, women, or children.  It is an it is an honor to forfeit their own lives as they murder innocents. 

WHY ARE WE IN IRAQ  America has had to counter with a  stategy quite different than any we have used before.  We have observed with great concern, terrorism in other parts of the world, particularly as used against Irael.  Finally it arrived on our own land. The tragic events of 9/11 were a terrible wake up call. Retribution was called for but America was not prepared. President Bush immediately initiated new defense strategies, and vowed to go after terrorists where ever they were.  Our intelligence at the time, and that of our friendly allies, was confused, and it was not clear just exactly who our enemies were.

Therefore, President  Bush warned the entire world that America was going to punish nations that were known to aid, shelter and protect terrorists. Not long after the initial statement, Saddam Hussein put Iraq in jeopardy by doing all of those things and then bragging about it.  America elected to make a pre-emptive strike against Iraq and thereby declared war upon all Iraqis.  The war in Iraq was controversial from it's beginning.

ROGUE PRISON ABU GRAV  We killed and captured terrorists. Many were held in Abu Grav, a former Iraqi prison. Others were transported to Quantanamo in Cuba.

Sadly, and to our shame, a few individual
American military guards at Abu Grav committed
unauthorised mental and physical crimes against their prisoners.

They were discovered and punished. Their officers were admonished and removed, and the Abu Grav prison management was corrected -  but not before the incident called negative attention to our other prisoner of war facility at Quantanamo.

TRADITIONAL HANDLING OF PRISONERS OF WAR We are at WAR with Iraq AND with terrorists. Prisoners are inevitable in any war, and they must be held somewhere. Quantanamo was the selected location. 

Traditionally, prisonerrs of war have been subjected to SOME form of punishment.

     (1) The traditional capture involves rigorous questioning
           to determine if the enemy individual knows anything
           that might save one American soldiers life.

     (2) Following the extraction of this information
          it has been traditional to hold the prisoner
          until the end of the conflict.

WHEN DOES RIGOROUS QUESTIONING BECOME TORTURE  Our enemy does not hesitate to commit suicide in order to kill innocent people anywhere. They have erased the old rules of war and now there are no rules at all. For example; the Geneva Conventions no longer apply.  Americans are divided on interrogation techniques.

       (1)  One side believes we should do ANYTHING
             to a terrorist prisoner to obtain information
             that MIGHT save one American life. That is
             ANY technique or method necessary
             to obtain enemy information.
             Our [support and win-the-war] conservatives
             and political moderates tend to this side.

       (2)  The other side believes we should NEVER use
              ANY level of torture to interogate prisoners
              under ANY circumstance. Our [anti-war, liberal,
              peace-at-any-price] citizens tend to demand

WHICH IS YOUR CHOICE  Given these options, position (2) defeats the purpose of war. We tell our soldiers to shoot the enemy dead, but if they are captured, we tell our military not to inflict harm in any way.  The policy is not logical.  

Seen in that light position (1) is not only correct, but required when we are at war. Americans must be prepared to accept vigorous interrogation techniques, no matter how repulsive, if necessary to extract information that might save lives.

We can count on this enemy to torture, maim, behead, or otherwise kill our captured soldiers, and we know from experience that  they do not hesitiate to apply the most heinous torture possible until the prisoner is dead. 

In WAR some level of torture is necessary.  American interrogators MUST be given guidelines that describe EXACTLY how far they can go, and the guidelines should  not allow a person to be tortured to death. 


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