'Torture'---- Showdown, and facts about the Memo

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Bonnie, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    what's at stake in this controversy is nothing less than the ability of the U.S. forces to interrogate enemies who want to murder innocent civilians. And the Democratic position, Mr. Gonzales shouldn't be afraid to say, amounts to a form of unilateral disarmament that is likely to do far more harm to civil liberties than anything imagined so far

    The dispute here seems to stem formt he Bush Administration's decision, in early 2002, that Taliban and al Qaeda detainees didn't automatically qualify for prisoner of war status. This caused a fuss in some quarters. but it was in accord with the plain language of the original Geneva Conventions, which require POWs to have met certain criteria such as figthing in uniform and not attacking civilians. The Administration understood what critics don't want to admit--namely, that POWs may not be interrogated, period. The Geneva Conventions forbid positive reinforcement such as better rations to coax them to talk.

    This interpretation of the Geneva rules was hardly novel to the Bush Administration. It was a bipartisan consensus in 1987 when Ronald Reagan repudiated a radical document called Protocol 1-the-so-called "international law" that the International Committee of the Red Cross now says requires POW status for al Qaeda. The New York times praised the Gipper at the time for denying "a shield for terrorists", and the Washington Post also editorialized in support

    Viewed in light of that history, it was natural--and --law-abiding--that in March 2002 the CIA asked the White House for guidance on permissible interrogation techniques, frustrated that the likes of al Qaeda operations chief Abu Zubaydah were refusing to give up information. Thus was born the misleadingly labeled "torture memo", which did indeed discuss the outer limits of what the CIA might be able to do.

    The charge was absurd from the get-go. This was an internal discussion, not a policy directive; only a handful of people were even aware of it; and it was about al Qaeda, not Iraq. And, sure enough, former Defense Secretaty Jim schlesinger's later report found Abu Ghraib abuses not only bore no resemblance to any interrogation method contemplated for Iraqi prisoners, they weren't related to interrogations at all. It was sick behavior by individuals on the "night shift."

    As for al Qaeda, let us describe the most coercive interrogation technique that was ever actually authorized. It's called "water boarding," and it involves strapping a detainee down, wrapping his face in a wet towel and dripping water on it to produce the sensation of drowning.

    Is that "torture"? It is pushing the boundary of tolerable behavior, but we are told it is also used to train U.S. pilots in case they are shot down and captured. More to the critics' apparent point, is it immoral, or unjustified, in the cause of preventing another mass casualty attack on U.S. soil? By all means let's have a debate...........

    If the gonzales critics are really worried about civil liberties, they might ponder the domestic political response to another 9/11. do they really think Roosevelt's internment camps and Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus were merely products of a less enlightened age, adnt hat Americans wouldn't respond to a dirty bomb explosion in a major with mass detinations of men with Islamic surnames, closed borders, or worse? This civil-liberties catastrophe is exactly what "water-boarding" is trying to prevent.

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