The Conscience Of The (Marine) Colonel

NATO AIR

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Torture's bitter fruits:

http://online.wsj.com/article/

PAGE ONE

The Conscience of the Colonel

Lt. Col. Stuart Couch volunteered to prosecute terrorists. Then he decided one had been tortured

By JESS BRAVIN

March 31, 2007; Page A1

Washington

When the Pentagon needed someone to prosecute a Guantanamo Bay prisoner linked to 9/11, it turned to Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch. A Marine Corps pilot and veteran prosecutor, Col. Couch brought a personal connection to the job: His old Marine buddy, Michael "Rocks" Horrocks, was co-pilot on United 175, the second plane to strike the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The prisoner in question, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, had already been suspected of terrorist activity. After the attacks, he was fingered by a senior al Qaeda operative for helping assemble the so-called Hamburg cell, which included the hijacker who piloted United 175 into the South Tower. To Col. Couch, Mr. Slahi seemed a likely candidate for the death penalty.

Lt. Col. Stuart Couch

"Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands," Col. Couch says.

But, nine months later, in what he calls the toughest decision of his military career, Col. Couch refused to proceed with the Slahi prosecution. The reason: He concluded that Mr. Slahi's incriminating statements -- the core of the government's case -- had been taken through torture, rendering them inadmissible under U.S. and international law.

The Slahi case marks a rare instance of a military prosecutor refusing to bring charges because he thought evidence was tainted by torture. For Col. Couch, it also represented a wrenching personal challenge. Laid out starkly before him was a collision between the government's objectives and his moral compass.

These kinds of concerns will likely become more prevalent as other high-level al Qaeda detainees come before military commissions set up by the Bush administration. Guantanamo prosecutors estimate that at least 90% of cases depend on statements taken from prisoners, making the credibility of such evidence critical to any convictions. In Mr. Slahi's case, Col. Couch would uncover evidence the prisoner had been beaten and exposed to psychological torture, including death threats and intimations that his mother would be raped in custody unless he cooperated.
The rest of the article can be found @ http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=182257
 

pegwinn

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I don't condone torture. Having said that, I will stipulate that my personal view of torture is likely far different than most.

Nato's Source said:
Col. Couch had his own misgivings. On his first visit to Guantanamo in October 2003, he recalls preparing to watch an interrogation of a detainee when he was distracted by heavy-metal music. Accompanied by an escort, he saw a prisoner shackled to a cell floor, rocking back and forth, mumbling as strobe lights flashed. Two men in civilian dress shut the cell door and told Col. Couch to move along.
For example, this passage is equated with torture. It isn't. In my opinion, torture requires physical abuse at a minimum. This passage amounts to mind games and not much more.

Nato's Source said:
In the following weeks, Mr. Slahi said, he was placed in isolation, subjected to extreme temperatures, beaten and sexually humiliated. The detention-board transcript states that at this point, "the recording equipment began to malfunction." It summarizes Mr. Slahi's missing testimony as discussing "how he was tortured while here at GTMO by several individuals."
The most damning statement in my view is this one. Here, I would say that the beating is the worst of it. It alone alone constitutes torture in my view. The rest if performed separately from beatings do not. Of course, if he was beaten while in isolation... but you get the point.

Nato's Source said:
With the Slahi prosecution on ice, Col. Couch continued work on other cases -- including another "varsity program" prisoner, Mohammmed al-Qahtani, who, according to army report overseen by Gens. Schmidt and Furlow, had been made to wear women's underwear, leashed, forced to perform dog tricks and berated as a homosexual. Col. Couch refused to use statements obtained during these interrogations. But he determined the prosecution could continue based on a separate source of evidence compiled by the FBI before Mr. Qahtani's Guantanamo interrogation.
Our next case. Not torture. All are valid mind games designed to break the will.

Nato's Source said:
Today, Mr. Slahi is detained in private quarters at Guantanamo Bay, with a television, a computer and a tomato patch to tend, according to people familiar with the matter. "Since 2004, I really have no complaints," Mr. Slahi told a military detention board.

He has asked to be resettled in the U.S., an option Pentagon officials have not ruled out. Col. Davis declines to comment on plea negotiations. A lawyer representing Mr. Slahi, Nancy Hollander, says that if charged with a crime, Mr. Slahi would plead not guilty.
This is the part that gets to me. If Slahi was innocent, he should be released back to his own country. IF guilty, he should be shot. In either case he should not be quartered at my expense. And he damn sure ought not to even think about coming to America.

I admit to being of many minds about an issue like this. First, if a Colonel of Marines says he was tortured, then I want to believe it. I don't want to believe that a Marine would not do the right thing. It happens, but not too often. I have no problem with stating that I don't condone torture. I have no problem with the concept of violating thier belief system and exploiting it. Things like threatening to bury them with pigs, things like burning the Koran, etc. And, I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that there is a part of me that thinks all them bastards need killing for what they have done, and will continue to do if we lose this war.
 

maineman

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my biggest concern about the treatment of detainees is that we should be quite certain that we are perfectly OK with the pronouncement to any and all future enemies of the United States, that it is perfectly acceptable from our standpoint, if they treat captured American servicemen and women in exactly the same way... because, if they DO, we will not have a leg to stand on if we complain about such treatment.
 

pegwinn

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my biggest concern about the treatment of detainees is that we should be quite certain that we are perfectly OK with the pronouncement to any and all future enemies of the United States, that it is perfectly acceptable from our standpoint, if they treat captured American servicemen and women in exactly the same way... because, if they DO, we will not have a leg to stand on if we complain about such treatment.
I don't have a problem with that. In fact, the majority of the time when Americans are captured, they are treated worse than "that". Personally I am more inclined to simply soak the suspected terrorist with drugs and dredge out everything they know. Then if they are terrorists, kill them out of hand. IF they are not terrorists, send em back with an RFID chip. If captured again, kill them out of hand.
 

Igor Peters

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From the article.
"In Mr. Slahi's case, Col. Couch would uncover evidence the prisoner had been beaten and exposed to psychological torture, including death threats and intimations that his mother would be raped in custody unless he cooperated."

If I were a tough arab terrorist, a few death threats and a couple of beatings wouldn't face me. :eusa_naughty:
On the other hand....
The assurance that my dear old mommy would be gangraped by a platoon of goons in the service of the CIA if I didn't confess to everything.....:shock:
 

maineman

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I can recall my first up close observance of arab rage was when two young guys thought that a Fijian UN soldier had disrespected their mom. All hell broke loose!
 

pegwinn

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I can recall my first up close observance of arab rage was when two young guys thought that a Fijian UN soldier had disrespected their mom. All hell broke loose!
The same could be said about rednex, blacks, poor whites, jarheads, squids, armydogs, the hairforce, and of course the dallas cowboys. Disrespect of Mom equals bootstompin ass whoopin. It seems to be universal no matter faith, politics, favorite football team, or favored beer. Must be the feminine side trying to come out :badgrin:
 

maineman

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The same could be said about rednex, blacks, poor whites, jarheads, squids, armydogs, the hairforce, and of course the dallas cowboys. Disrespect of Mom equals bootstompin ass whoopin. It seems to be universal no matter faith, politics, favorite football team, or favored beer. Must be the feminine side trying to come out :badgrin:
you don't normally see those groups you mention open fire from numerous machine gun emplacements when mom gets disrespected, however
 

pegwinn

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you don't normally see those groups you mention open fire from numerous machine gun emplacements when mom gets disrespected, however
You aint been to my part of Texas lately huh? :rofl:
 

pegwinn

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LOL ... don't you live in Waco?:lol:
Naw. Lil town south/southeast of Lubbock.
MCB Texas, Camp Gwinn.


Fortified and armed up. Just waitin on the nex fool to talk 'bout my Momma.
 

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