Michael's Dispatches

Dark Times

72 Comments

06 March 2009

While I work on dispatches regarding torture, it appears that some people are getting what they want; many have asked for proof that torture occurred, and that torture be defined.  These questions are fair and important.  Yet it seems that these questions often are asked with an air of smugness that the questions cannot or will not be answered.  The issue is sharply politicized and so truth will hide under the nearest rock.  My views on torture, partially shaped by battlefield experience, are apolitical.  They are merely pragmatic based on life experience.

There is a gathering storm and it promises to wreak havoc.  It would be sad to see CIA agents prosecuted for following orders, but this subject goes to the heart of darkness and is by nature a swamp where everybody involved will get bitten.  Every American soldier knows that following orders is his or her duty, and to ignore an order could result in imprisonment, or even execution.  But every soldier is also trained that to perform unlawful orders is unlawful.  For instance, if a General orders a Captain to line up unarmed non-combatants and shoot them for no reason, the action would constitute murder.  A war crime.  The Captain could claim he was only following orders, but that might not save him because he is a military professional and knows better.  (A fact from the battlefields: I have many times witnessed American officers and sergeants from the Army and Marines, protecting prisoners from the wrath of Iraqis, but it is a fact that Iraqis often torture prisoners.)  If the soldier were 19 years-old and executed an unlawful order from a high ranking sergeant or officer, maybe the court would have mercy, and I certainly would view the circumstance differently.  But who knows what a judge would say?

And so it appears that we are facing dark times on this issue.  CIA officers might soon be accused of torturing prisoners.

Thoughtful comments are encouraged.  Especially those that rise above the fact that the names "Bush" and "Obama" are involved.  This issue is bigger than you and I, and it's bigger than any President.

CIA Veterans Blast Senate Probe of Operations Under Bush

By Bobby Ghosh
Time.com
Washington Friday, Mar. 06, 2009

.....But even Agency veterans winced at the latest bombshell from Gitmo: the revelation that the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes that may have shown detainees being subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. "It would have been my instinct to say that these [videotapes] are the sort of thing we have to keep," says Ford.

For the CIA staffers who may come under scrutiny in the Leahy and Feinstein investigations, there's some consolation in the fact that their new boss is in their corner. Former Congressman and Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta has promised to cooperate with Congress, saying, "I think that we have a responsibility to be transparent on these issues and to provide them that information." But during his confirmation hearings by Feinstein's Committee, Panetta made it clear he doesn't support the prosecution of CIA staff involved in detention and interrogation of terror suspects, saying they were simply following guidelines issued by the Bush administration. At a media roundtable last week, Panetta returned to the theme: "I would not support any investigation or a prosecution of those individuals. I think they did their job, they did it pursuant to the guidance that was provided them, whether you agreed or disagreed with it."


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gary P. Joyce · 9 years ago
    Harsh interrogation and torture are separate entities. Anyone who was ever caught in E&E training gets a taste of it (least ways, back when I went through it ƒ?? late 60s ƒ?? you did).

    That said, and with all due respect to people like Sen. McCain who was a recipient of torture (not harsh interrogation), I see nothing wrong with that form of questioning. As Dennis Miller has noted, (and I paraphrase) water boarding is a way of getting necessary information out of someone who doesn't wish to part with it; it doesn't kill; and it doesn't leave you maimed for life.

    These wars we're fighting are rough, and the enemy combatants have a 5th century mentality/mindset. Traditional PsyOps isn't going to work on medievalists as it would on someone from, say, oh, the 20th century.

    It's a war. You gotta do what you gotta do ƒ?? especially with the aim of saving our people's lives. Sorry, it isn't nice, sorry it isn't clean, but the men on the ground making the hard decisions don't have the luxury of leaning back, having a cocktail and discussing pros and cons , ad nauseam, before deciding what to do.

    That said torture for torture's sake is abominable. But that (usually, and hopefully, always) isn't the case. This isn't an exercise in S&M porn ... it's seeking information as quickly and efficiently as possible, when all the usual combat "niceties" haven't worked.

    Just one man's opinion.

    Gary P. Joyce (RVN 8/68 to 1/71)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    D K Davis · 9 years ago
    From what I have seen and heard this torture in Gitmo looks rather like an easy trip thru a 1940's boot camp.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barbara Williamson · 9 years ago
    In every war (and I mean EVERY war) America has treated prisoners more humanely than any other country has EVER treated our American soldiers in war camps, regardless of what was decided at the Geneva Convention. To go out of our way to give prayer rugs, a copy of the Quran, religion-approved meals and play prayers over the loud speaker for these barbarians is ASSININE! Did you ever hear of our boys getting Bibles and religion-approved meals?! NO! They would be lucky if what they received wasn't bug infested slop, if they ate at all between beatings and true torture! Didn't you seen the movie about John McCain's ordeal???

    Frankly, since their Muslim terrorist teachings say they should kill all non-believers, and preach hate and "death to infidels" to their children on a regular basis... I don't care what our military has to do to find out how to keep our fighting men and women, and innocent Americans, ALIVE! THAT should be our first priority, NOT THE WELFARE OF TERRORISTS! No, I think "HUMANE" stopped long ago and "STUPIDITY" took over. (And the stupidity started in our own CONGRESS!)

    Why should we all line up as targets just to be sure we're called "humane" by the rest of the world? That's insane! And take a good, hard look at other countries around the world. They are bending over backwards to accommodate Muslims - AT THE EXPENSE OF THEIR OWN CITIZENS! Muslims are taught to believe only in their OWN "religious freedom". All others must die.

    People keep forgetting the horror of 9-11 and those who have since been beheaded (alive on video for your viewing pleasure!) by these b--t--ds! Our God is forgiving, but he does not expect us to lie down and be slaughtered!!! Wake up America, and clean out the 35 terrorist training camps currently located ON AMERICAN SOIL protected by the bogus cover of "religious freedom", before we all become radioactive from being too "HUMANE" to these savages! Remember, they teach it's wonderful to die for allah and these morons think they'll get 72 virgins. (Frankly, I always thought it was very clever of Muhammad - counting on every man's sexual lust and ignorance to encourage them to die for his elevation to power. Brainwash them from birth and you have a neverending army of suicide bombers. What a concept!)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barry Dauphin · 9 years ago
    One of the problems with the torture debate is using the word "torture" without defining its use. What are we talking about? It matters. Is it different from what happens in police stations throughout the country and throughout the world? What about what happens in county, state, and federal prisons? Or French prisons? The Administration says that America doesn't torture. OK, but it simultaneously continues the rendition policy. So we don't torture but it's fine to send someone to Jordan or Egypt where they will?

    Too much of the torture debate seems more like moral preening than like trying to address very tough and difficult issues. In fact the debate is hardly a debate. The so-called torture opponents often cannot tolerate a debate without completely demonizing those who see it differently and try to take a nuanced approach to this dilemma. And it is a dilemma. Did waterboarding KSM elicit information that averting terrorist acts and prevented the death of innocent civilians? It seems it did. Should we lose sleep over that when our own servicemen often undergo waterboarding as part of military training? It will be difficult to have a debate or figure out a policy process that has a more unifying effect on the country until we can actually have a process where we can recognize the moral complexity of the issue.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    S. Sirag · 9 years ago
    Admittedly I'm a civilian with no combat or intelligence experience. However, what I see playing on the stage right now is a witch hunt cynically pursued by politically motivated operatives who don't care that they are perpetuating a torture myth at the expense of our troops and image around the world. You say that even "the perception that we torture" is coming back to bite us. Who are the people splashing that perception around with little regard for actual fact and careful definitions?

    I'm not denying that actual torture may have occurred, and I do not support actual torture. However, I don't think that being uncomfortable constitutes torture, and hold roughly that if at the end of the day your limbs, members and psyche are intact, you haven't been tortured.

    This is time for a careful, sober and internal assessment of the ethical, moral and practical implications of our methods, not a kangaroo trial in which 80% of the assertions are political untruths to be exploited by our enemies.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert Tappert · 9 years ago
    What constitutes torture? Certainly not the stories we have heard come out of Gitmo. Or placing women's panties over enemy soldiers heads, etc.
    We have capitulated to the liberal side of this argument so far that the only thing our soldiers can do is to place the enemy into a well guarded facility to feed them, make sure their every need is attended to, help them feel as if they were back home, and allow them the opportunity to sue our soldiers, government for the terrible crime of having stopped them from killing or conspiring to kill us.
    Frankly, I'd rather we waterboarded them all, try them and move on. Maybe the next one won't pick up that rocket launcher or strap a bomb to his body.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Mitchell · 9 years ago
    CIA interrogators et. al., are trying to acquire information from terrorists in order to save the lives of Americans - civilians and military. They don't send video tapes to network news outlets depicting an innocent hostage being slowly beheaded. It is certain that Islamo-fascists and their ilk have no mercy on captured Americans - civilians and military. Naturally, two wrongs don't make a right, but I see nothing wrong with interrogating captured terrorists for the purpose of extracting information that will save American lives - civilian and military. Does anyone in Congress care? Of course not. Those elected officials who consider themselves above the law do their best to ensure that the "feelings" of terrorists are always a top priority. I have been deployed to Guantanamo Bay and can honestly say that the detainees were treated like honored guests. Aside from incarceration, they were fed meals that complied with Muslim standards; they were all given Korans; the public address system at Camp Delta blasted out Muslim prayers several times a day; they were given healthcare that they definitely would not have received in their native countries.
    While I was there, a female MP was delivering meals to the detainees one day. There were vulgar obscenities coming from many of the cells, but the female MP maintained her composure and continued to do her duty. One of the detainees urinated into a cup and threw it in the female's face. She still maintained her composure and performed her duty. That is the mentality that the CIA has to deal with. I shudder to think how they would treat female American Soldiers if given the opportunity.
    Many elected officials in the halls of Congress ignore stories like this because they have an agenda to remain in power and build on it. They want these terrorists to have the same rights as American citizens with civilian showcase trials. They have either sold or lost their souls.
    I say we should stay out of the CIA's business. They do what is necessary to protect and defend the U.S.A. They are not Nazis who tortured Jews for sport in WWII. They are not the monsters who tortured brave men like John McCain during the Viet Nam conflict (Congress never declared it a war). They are definitely not the thugs who execute innocent Americans on television. They are people who do what needs to be done. I am happy they are there, doing their part to ensure the safety and security of our nation. Let them do their job.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stevend · 9 years ago
    Michael,

    To repeat what I said in an earlier thread, I learned a lot from you regarding Abu Grahib incidents and how they negatively impacted the original Iraqui occupation efforts. If you are saying that this type of investigation is important to maintain the moral high ground in theatre, then I believe you.

    That said, I have my doubts about this investigation. From my perch in the USA, I see the Feinstein/Leahy investigation differently than you. This is political theatre meant for American consumption. It is not being done for the Arab moderates.

    If Leahy/Feinstein include in their investigation a high profile review of how Al Quada treats its detaineees, then I will take it seriously. Otherwise, this is more bash Bush, far left nonsense.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cat K · 9 years ago
    Focus on Torture is a political football. Think of the other side's behavior first! Beheadings, countless honor killings, etc etc. So there's no reason to self-destruct over this issue - unless of course you have a "hate on" & need to attack USA - instead of being honest and realistic about the unmentionable group that we can't mention because there is no war with them, except they might attack us at home again and then we might fight back but I can't say with whom.
    So why pretend be shocked here that people get upset when you pull apart the USA on the topic of torture ("Ooooo When I say that the USA is bad, it makes me feel so good" & maybe "Please deposit Saudi check directly into my acccount!")
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mad Mike · 9 years ago
    I hate say it, but it looks to me like Congress (Leahy and Feinstein) are on a witch hunt. Torture does need to be defined and separated from interrogation. There is a difference. I hope that cooler heads will prevail, but I am not holding my breath. Kudos, however to Leon Panetta for standing by his people at CIA.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Tatu · 9 years ago
    To some, playing Christina Aguilera music loudly is torture equivalent to what Pol Pot and Hitler did - I think it tragic that the CIA destroyed the tapes, as I feel that they will suffer more for the cover-up than for what they did during the interrogations. The problem is they cannot predict what the standards will be during the witch hunt that they know is coming.

    My standard is that anything that is not permanent is not torture - as long as the subject recovers fully, it isn't torture. I have recovered from sleep deprivation - I have survived my children's music blaring loudly. I probably would not have survived a Gulag or Nazi concentration camp without death or serious scars.

    During Ranger school training for POW camp we learned that most guys did not break during the beatings - and these were pretty severe - one CSM had his ribs cracked during the experience - not many guys broke. After the beatings we met with a "red cross" representative and some unwittingly gave up all the information they were trying to get in the beatings. Torture is probably not the most effective way to interrogate, but we should let the experts propose what is required and the executive branch has to approve the techniques through directives and regulation. Lawmakers can argue the specifics of the reg and investigate that, but as long as the CIA and others are in compliance, they should be given immunity from prosecution.

    Again, I wish the CIA kept the tapes - they should be studied, just like any battle - what techniques worked, which ones were ineffective? The cover up will be worse than the crimes and heads will probably roll - at least in our culture, that is only a figure of speech.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Edwin L. Dailey, Jr. · 9 years ago
    Identification of the harsh treatment is of the most importance, otherwise we know not about what we are talking. In the childish writing of the all consuming "Torture" all kinds and sorts of images come to mind.
    I personally think morally that " once an initiation of force in comitted towards me I am morally correct in destroying the person initiating.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Waterman Vietn · 9 years ago
    As one of the other commentors pointed out, torture is not defined. To some, going without sleep for 36 hours would be considered torture. As a former instructor at SERE School, we were 'tortured' by the instructors. On the Left Coast they use waterboarding and on the East Coast, the 'smoke' test was used. In my estimation, sleep deprivation and white noise are pretty effective, and so is waterboarding. None of these inflict permanent injury on the recipients, but I am sure the bleeding hearts would rather have a platoon of troops wiped out by an IED than inflict any discomfort on the enemy. There are always going to be sick bastards who think that inflicting physical discomfort on the enemy is good.

    I have seen a SEAL feed a VC a meal, give him a beer and cigarette and be nice to him. In that case, it worked. He expected to be killed and wouldn't shut up after he realized that was not going to happen. There are varying degrees of effectiveness and not all respond the same. The secret, if there is one, is to know which type of treatment will elicit the proper response. Just torturing somebody for the pure hell of it is bad and should not be done.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Billie R. Paxton · 9 years ago
    Let our enemy set the rules. If they behead, we behead, etc.

    I'm all for them receiving bacon and eggs for breakfast and stuffed pork chops for dinner. For exercise, they can clean kennels and walk the dogs.

    Come up with a type of hog/dog blood bomb and spray system. Drop the bombs on the moscs. Going into a hell-hole city? Send in "sprayers" ahead of the troops.

    I'm sick to death of us walking on egg shells around this sub-humane debri.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ron Bock · 9 years ago
    How hypocritical it is to be up in arms about physical torture when people mentally torture one another every day. We torture our children by not teaching them responsibility. We torture our children by not educating them. We torture one another by not listening, not caring, not encouraging. We are negative to one another. We mock and ignore and slander. We spit out vengeance and bitterness. We torture by belittling. We torture each other and our families on a daily basis. It's what we are good at.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lady Liberty · 9 years ago
    A sign of the times that two harsh realities prevail:

    1. America, the most humane country in the world, is constantly being castigated for the sins of the throat cutters and the stone throwers. Why might that be?

    2. Still no definition of "torture". Why might that be?

    And now the ones who are being toyed with after the fact (or should I say being tortured?) for stopping violent creatures from harming innocents will bear the brunt of the confused moral calculus this Congress has not defined but will now deploy.

    Strange focus for strange times. The ironic solution for such a calculus is that violence will flourish, but the real peace achievers won't.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    neverquit · 9 years ago
    When the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbollah, and every other Jihadi organization under the Crescent Moon signs the Geneva Conventions, puts their "soldiers in uniforms, and come out from hiding behind their women and children fight like men; only then would I agree not to "torture" any of them caught by any means necessary.

    It is folly to believe that fighting this enemy with both hands tied behind our backs is proper tactics and the morally up-right thing to do. It is folly to believe that we lower ourselves to the enemies level by using torture. The enemy will use any means necessary to defeat us. If we do not do all we can, employ every tactic possible, including those tactics not even though of yet, then we do not deserve the freedoms we have.

    Men who take up arms against using the most destructive and devious tactics in the process, are not deserving of our humanity, nor the protections of our Bill of Rights. Mr. Yon, you have my utmost respect and admiration, and I respectfully, and vehemently disagree with you on this issue. God speed Sir.

    neverquit
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JC Gorman · 9 years ago
    The individuals conducting this investigations should first define torture so that the American people know what they are talking about. The Congress is not the ideal institution to do this and these individuals (Leahy & Feinstien) are so far Left that most people will not believe their conclusions. The review of the memos and guidelines used by the intelligence community and the hearings should be held by non-politicos. The country is so divided on so many issues that pouring gas on this could cause a fire to big too control. If this investigation were an isolated thing I'd say go ahead but after the eight years of unrelenting Bush hatred, which went beyond reason, I have NO trust in anyone connected with with liberal politics. The complete gang-up on Gov Palin, whom I don't support, really exposed how coordinated and vicious the media, liberals and politicians can become. I and many Americans just can not trust any findings and recommendations which might flow from their "investigation." This could be seen as the latest way to attack America by proxy in the name of reform. There will be no Justice for anyone in the intelligence services if Congress runs wild with their hidden agendas and political pay back style of operation.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Hammons · 9 years ago
    I'm angry that they are giving these criminals POW status. Take away the POW status and the torture stuff goes away. If I remember correctly Saboteurs and Guerrillas can be summarily executed under the Geneva and Hague Conventions.

    No one should be calling these creeps soldiers, of any kind. They are murderers, not holy warriors. They not only torture soldiers and innocents, but maim, rape and steal whatever at will without any restraint. Tell me about how our treatment of them has resulted in an improvement of anyone's treatment, even their own? Or how our treatment of them has raised our status in the eyes of the world? No, we are just seen as weak and ineffective.

    The world would be much better off if we would quit being so politically correct and just get the job done, the sooner the better.
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    Patrice Wollam · 9 years ago
    If the powers that be are referring to "waterboarding", then I have to take issue with ANY probe or prosecution into these matters.

    First, torture MUST be defined, and defined in detail. MANY believe that, for instance, waterboarding is NOT torture. When our troops undergo waterboarding as part of their training, it should NOT be classified as torture.

    Second, waterboarding was not deemed illegal when the occurrences of said actions took place; therefore, NO probe or prosecution should ever take place.

    THIS ENTIRE MATTER IS POLITICAL !!!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Naomi · 9 years ago
    This truly is a witch hunt by liberal Democrats. They can't be satisfied that they have control of our government but have to continue to spew hatred and division. God help us!
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    CMAR II · 9 years ago
    JC Gorman: "The individuals conducting this investigations should first define torture so that the American people know what they are talking about."

    I think JC Gorman frames the issue perfectly.

    The reason CIA agents are destroying interrogation tapes is because they have no idea what the investigators **or foriegn lefty governments** will consider torture.

    Are we talking about waterboarding? Okay. That seems to have happened to individuals who I can't work up any sympathy for. Rape and beatings? The military and CIA seem to consider that a crime already.

    Making them stand for long periods? Keeping them awake? Are we really going to define torture down that far? How long can you make someone stand before it's torture? Sec. Rumsfield rightly noted that he had no chair in his office at the Pentagon by choice.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    submandave · 9 years ago
    I agree that torture is not a political matter, but the Democrats consistently use the allegation of such as a political tool. They define down the word to include playing loud music and use its penumbra to cast grey aspersions. It may be a fact that the CIA destroyed 92 interrogation tapes, but omitted are some equally important facts that are necessary to judge the relevence of this.

    Q. Was the destruction part of a routine scheduled purge (e.g. the tapes were deemed as having no further value and were, therefore destroyed)?

    Q. When were the tapes destroyed relative to specific allegations and/ot investigations?

    Q. Was the destruction directed by a single authority or spread thrughout the responsible department? The former would lend greater credence to a concerted effort to cover up while the latter could indicate a more routine and benign action.

    Q. Is there any relationship between the tapes? If they were in chronological order, for example, it again might indicate a routine practice. If the tapes destroyed covered only some interrogations over a period of time or seemed to be those conducted by the same agents, it would not look as innocent.

    To get such overt political posturing from Congressional Democrats is, while disappointing, not unexpected. Unfortunately, the exact same statement can be made concerning the reporter's lack in interest in these obvious questions that could cast the destruction in an entirely differen light.
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    Dale · 9 years ago
    Overcoming the 'thoughtfulness police' - There is a time and a point where you have to stop letting the bully push you around. I'm tired of hearing that strict regimental dictated living arrangements of Guitmo equate to torture. The opponents in the world we live in strap bombs onto women and men and send them into masses of innocent non-combatants and then have no trouble sleeping and repeating this method year in and year out but yet we are so concerned with rules of ettiquete, food laws, ...etc. I am sorry but war is more than just that of physical collision and the voice of the nation needs to reflect a mature understanding of what it means to truly fight and resist your opponents.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Glenmore · 9 years ago
    I have observed that politicians, media, and even bureaucrats are routinely irresponsible with sensitive information. If I was in charge of those CIA interrogation tapes and they contained anything sensitive - not illegal, not torture, not even 'wrong', but just sensitive - and I was not legally prohibitted from destroying the tapes, I would very certainly consider doing so. There is definitely a price to be paid from such a 'cover-up', but from the outside we have no way to know whether the price for not 'covering-up' would have been higher.
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    Steve Gregg · 9 years ago
    When I was being interrogated in SERE training and later when I was an instructor interrogating SERE students, I'm sure that the interrogations would not meet the letter of the law with respect to police work. But then, we weren't police. I'm sure that CIA interrogations of jihadis would not meet the letter of the law with respect to police work, but then CIA agents are not police, either. It's worth noting that the FBI has a rule against taking video of interrogations, relying only on the signed statements of the culprits which are produced from them. The FBI also does not publish the initial interview forms which FBI agents use to note all information told to them by subjects in the field, only the final report is made public.

    Those arguing that the destruction of interrogation tapes proves torture by the CIA are confusing intelligence work and military work with police work, all of which fall under different domains of law. A harsh interrogation does not violate international law as it applies to war though it might violate domestic law with respect to criminals. Those pressing the case for the jihadis are attempting to shop their case to the court which will give them the sweetest deal, ie the domestic court, where they have more rights and guarantees than the proper regime of international law where they belong. The Japanese and German POWs of WWII did not have access to US domestic courts to try their cases and determine their guilt. They were imprisoned until they ceased hostilities. The jihadsi should be imprisoned until they cease hostilities. They should be treated as combatants, not criminals. That includes pro-active interrogation to collect information to ward off future attacks on America, not reactive interrogations to collect evidence for prosecution.

    Destroying tapes of interrogations is not proof of torture. That accusation is a fallacious argument. There are many good reasons to destroy those tapes. For example, they would reveal the identity of the interrogators, who would be subject to attacks on them and their family. The methods of interrogation would be revealed, which jihadis could use as a teaching aid to better resist it. By that I mean the intellectual gamesmanship between interrogator and interrogated. The most effective way to interrogate somebody is to just start talking to them normally, as demonstrated by Marine Major Sherwood Ford Moran in the Pacific Theater of WWII:
    http://home.comcast.net/~drmoran/home.htm
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200506/budiansky

    The Left is using false accusations of torture for several bad reasons. First, making false accusations that can not be refuted is a tactic to advance their agenda. When they accuse the CIA of covering up torture by destroying the tapes, it is a slander that can not be disproved, as you can not prove a negative. Second, if such accusations can force publication of interrogation tapes not destroyed, the Left can use them to make any number of accusations short of torture, thus advancing their agenda. Third, this is an attempt by the Left to criminalize policy differences so that future Republican administrations will be crippled by threats of gratuitous lawsuits by following Democrat administrations. It's a way of ruling the country by threat and diktat, rather than debate and consensus.
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    Valerie Blount · 9 years ago
    If this administration doesn't believe the last admin was within the law during this dirty, dirty war, let them adjust tactics according to their beliefs and continue this battle for freedom. If "torture" was administered unlawfully in the past let it be dealt with....by the system in place within each branch of the armed forces, as has happened in past wars.

    Am disgusted with the continuing bipartisanship demonstrated by politicians interfering with our soldiers trying to keep America out of harm's way. Do we really think tea and crumpets will get a terrorist to tell us of a possible mission to kill our people? Come on, get real. Let's just not become the barbarians we are fighting...and draw a line. I have faith in those who are in the position of getting information that will save our lives. Call me too trusting....but there are those who will do what must be done and I'm grateful for them and am not willing to cast a stone.
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    Rich H. · 9 years ago
    Torture needs to be defined. Put a name and a face on it to make sure everyone understands exactly what it is and can be, and what it is not and never will be. John McCain was tortured. I wonder if the NVA still have videos of those events? I think we can still see his physical scars, and I bet his wife and family see the mental ones.

    When I was a kid I jumped in to water too deep when I knew I could not swim. I was pulled out by a lifeguard. I remember it to this day over 45 years later, but I do not wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night freaking out over it. Sound remotely similar to water boarding? I'll bet that those animals who experienced water boarding go back every day to their prayer rugs and three hots and a cot and just really sweat it out with Allah, right?

    The real moral highground is that we stop the animals from more attacks on innoncents and eventually WMD. It is unfortunate that we have to dumb down our tactics to the level to satisfy the lowest common denominator in the world just to avoid the "controversy" and possible retaliation. It seems to me that the retaliatory tactics we are trying to avoid are already being employed, but under a different category that is more convenient to talk about and try to understand by the high minded among us.

    The heroes out there in the military and intelligence who are on the line protecting us deserve better consideration from us. If everything all works out in the end of this global nightmare we can debate about it, but it will be in a much safer and secure world to have that debate. Just read some of the stories and talk to real people who survived after the bombs were dropped on Japan to end WW II, and I mean both US military and Japanese civilians. Most will abhor the nature of that beast that was unleashed, but they are here now to debate it, whereas had we stuck to"conventional" means then, most likely multitudes more would not be. I have done that bit of data collection personally on each side and it is always insightful.

    Michael, keep up the great work out there in the danger zone with the best the US and our allies have to offer. Know that the work you are all doing is immensely appreciated. Our prayers are with all of you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John N · 9 years ago
    We should lay aside for a moment the intentions of our elected politicians, who as political creatures never reveal their true purposes to us, and not consider the current controversies regarding the Senate investigations and the destroyed CIA tapes, but simply focus on the issue of torture itself. Is it a reprehensible and abominable act, or is it a necessary evil? Again, I agree that this issue is clouded by misperceptions, and we should first clearly and explicitly delineate what torture is, and then discuss where we draw the line. But assume for a moment that that has already been done, and we know what torture is, then the question still remains: what do we as nation feel is morally acceptable conduct? Is torture to be condoned?

    The weakest argument I think that is made by opponents of torture is the Golden Rule: we should not do to our enemies what we ourselves would dread to face. We would never wish in a million years to be the recepient of the same war-fighting capabilities that our armed forces bring to bear in combat, from long-distance sniping to laser-guided bombs dropping without mercy. But on the flip side, we should not hold our own standard of conduct to that of our enemies, because we ARE better than they are. We don't fight and kill for conquest, we don't rape and pillage, and we don't sell our enemies' women and children into slavery, like our ancestors, the rational and philosophical Greeks did.

    Try not to view this issue through the lens of this current conflict. We won't always be fighting Muslim fanatics, and our future enemies will not always be as barbaric as these ones are. But what we do now will be our legacy, and if we compromise our values out of revenge for what these animals do to us, we will have to accept that decision and endure the consequences for generations to come. Did we torture and kill captured Nazi POWs? No, and we are proud of our conduct during that horrible war. Yet even today we endure the guilt of My Lai, one single terrible incident that our enemies (both foreign and domestic, by the way) have manipulated public perception into believing this was business as usual by American forces in Vietnam. On top of that, do we know that torture is the best method of extracting critical information? I feel that any politician or proponent of torture that says there is no other effective way, or that it is an either or situation of either we torture or lots of Americans will die, suffers from a lack of imagination. If we could invent the atomic bomb and split the atom, I think we can crack the mind of a terrorist detainee without cracking bones. Where there's a will, there's a way.

    We also have to consider the perception of our enemies. In this respect, the perception that Americans torture can have as many blessings as curses. A detainee may be more willing to reveal information if he believes that torture is common practice. On the other hand, other terrorists may be less willing to surrender if they think we do what Jack Bauer does in 24. In my opinion, I think it would be most effective if our enemies didn't know what we were capable of, but as a nation, we need to decide what is morally acceptable, and live with that legacy for years to come.

    I fought and served in Iraq, and the future matters to me. I look forward to a future where I can tell my grandchildren that I fought in this war that we were victorious in, not one where I have to say that I served honorably in a war we lost. Do we want to tell our children in the future with pride that during this conflict we didn't adopt a policy of torture (since then it will be public record what we did), or do we want to walk the tightrope of moral equivalency, such as we commonly do when we defend this nation's greatness and history while at the same time having to explain our legacy of slavery? Just something to think about.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    O.C. · 9 years ago
    Michael,
    I agree with your position regarding torture, but you are trying to create hype and conspiracy regarding the destruction of the video tapes. Do you know what was on tapes? There is NO evidence that the destruction of these tapes was improper. In fact, regulations routinely require the destruction of classified material. Stick to reporting facts and leave the moonbat stuff to the MSM.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    apd148 · 9 years ago
    Michael,

    I've seen a lot of comments from your readers, but really, very little from you. You say you're opposed to torture on pragmatic grounds. That sounds like my kind of reasoning. Can you spell out the "pragmatic grounds"? Are you opposed because it doesn't work? Because the political fall-out is worse more than the info obtained?

    Please don't take this as a challenging or confrontational message. My personal belief is that torture is abhorrent, but that torture needs to be defined, and like most difficult issues in life, the answer is usually "well, it depends." I respect your experience and would appreciate a little more insight into your position. It might make me change mine.

    Having said all that, there should be no prosecution at this time. It's politically motivated, pure and simple.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tim Sumner · 9 years ago
    The Geneva Conventions do not define torture and Congress passed twice on the chance to define it, in 2005 (Detainee Treatment Act) and 2006 (Military Commissions Act). I'm skeptical that they will attempt to codify it now but we will see. It goes to the question whether they want to define the limits of our interrogations by our intelligence services.

    On a separate note, despite some reports to the contrary, I believe Time is wrong about those allegedly destroyed tapes being of Gitmo interrogations; I think they were actually of those conducted by the CIA elsewhere.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Max L Perry · 9 years ago
    Prisoners videotaped while beheaded, calculated destruction of civilians, the more the better in their way of thinking, women treated as sub-human, a stated direction of changing the world to Islam or killing the infidels, which is any non-muslim. This is a dedicated terrorist we have never before confronted. Do our traditional morals still apply? Morals based non God's Word in the Bible, which we no longer allow in our government because of "seperation of Church and State", but which are non-the-less trotted out when it suits the occaision by the same groups which call for the "separation".
    It would seem our nation certainly and perhaps even the world is at a crossroads. The direction we go will have great impact on the continuance of the United States as we have known it. The "change" is already occuring and indeed being accelerated today. Will the U.S. have any solutions for any nation when we are so adrift in ours?
    Because of the extreme hate of Islam toward Christians as well as non-muslims, the methods to gain critical information for the protection of the U.S. armed forces as well as citizens is not only allowable but neccessary.

    We battle not against flesh and blood!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    coastdaze · 9 years ago
    Probably many of us have seen at least some photos or even videos of the terrorist torture tactics that have been perpetrated on various citizens...beheadings, body desecration, etc. Horrible is too light a word for it. It's almost past my capacity to understand how one human being can be so cruel!

    There are so many rumors circulating, please let's leave the so-called CIA tapes, etc. in the rumor-mill and stay with facts. And speaking of facts...there are most likely so many "black opps" going on that we may never know the truth about many things. I just hope that in our comments we stop dissing the U.S.A., our homeland, so much. While not perfect, it's the best thing on earth at the moment even with our failings. If you find a better place to live, then I hope you get a chance to go there and be blessed.

    I am reading Washington Irving's biography of George Washington, our first President. We've fallen a long way from where we started. The only reason there is hope is because there is a God who cares and is in ultimate control.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    NRHI · 9 years ago
    One wonders if being known as the baddest dude might make some of the terrorist thugs fear confronting the USA. Isn't this the same as the argument over capital punishment? What can we use to deture these bullys and fear us to the point they stay home and tend to their families? There is the story of the general who dipped bullets in pigs blood in front of the muslim insurrectionists facing the firing squad and when one was let go to take the story got back, the terrorists thug gang broke up and peace was restored. In my youth we feared God before Dad, Dad before the principal, the principal over the bully. We had self restraint because we knew we would face God and his judgment. That was the basest deterrant. Our Christian God tells us to turn the other cheek and to witness to others so as to turn them to our God. These terrorists have a different "god" that rewards them for destroying people that do not toe to their totalitarian imams.

    Our God also tells us an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I abhor "torture" (what is it?) unless absolutely necessary to secure vital information for an imminant need, unless we have good knowledge that the individual involved has himself/herself used torture or plotted/committed violent acts against us. Then I have no reservation to using whatever it takes. If a captive was a plotter or the 19th man for 9/11, e.g., go at it. If the captive got on an airplane with explosives in his heel with intent to bring down a plane of innocent passengers and crew, I think it O.K. to seek whatever information that person has as to other persons planning, plotting, financing, equipping or teaching such conduct. In that case, use what it takes. We are dealing with a sub-human "individual" who will destroy us if possible. We put down mean dogs that attack their neighbors. We need fast and sure and public retribution. Take the rapist out and castrate him in the public square. He won't do it again. The Saudis publically cut off the stealer's hand. While I wouldn't go that far, I think unconscionable violance must be met in kind to set fear and stop it like NOW!

    As far as the tapes, so what? If they contained classified materials that may disclose or put in harms way the persons shown or discussed on them, or if they were of no further utility, it was a good thing. This new administration has shown it will reveal anything that might cast dispersion on its predecessor. The leadership in congress has shown it is a sieve of critical information. Anything for a political advantage, regardless how small. It is a constant trickle of disparagement.

    The liberals have castigated GWB since election day in 2000. They would destroy our life as we know it for political advantage and control. They continue to flog the dead dog. They constantly must have a bogeyman to raise obsene amounts of cash and whip the savants into a continual frenzy to further their ends. This week it is El Rushbo. Their next target will be anyone who might pose a future opposition. We are dealing with fanaticals who have a vastly different view of America.

    Michael, as a war reporter you are the best. Please return to what you do best. Thanks.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    michael t. egan · 9 years ago
    it's not torture if it saves american lives.
    i'm happy that our brave cia soldiers destroyed eveidence.
    saves their families from toture by the conmmunists that parade around under the "elected official" banner, while compromising our national security.
    v/r...........mikee
  • This commment is unpublished.
    William T Broughton · 9 years ago
    I agree with all those who have noted the necessity of a clear definition of torture for any public policy conversation. Until terms are defined, will it not be the case that anyone can easily say, "They tortured; we don't"? Self-serving politicians enjoy the opportunities for lofty sounding language that is, in essence, contentless and non-committal. Thankfully, I am willing to bet that serious discussions of what does and does not constitute torture have historically been the subject of honest debate within the institutions of our republic that use deadly force. If politicians are really eager to ensure that torture is not employed, why are we not hearing them engage in a meaningful conversation?
    To my knowledge, the only specific technique that has been banned is waterboarding, which does not seem to me to qualify as torture. It does not appear to be life threatening, it does not cause physical pain or impairment. It would seem that the emotional distress it creates in the subject would normally be overcome in the natural course of events. Ironically, with all the media hype about it, waterboarding may have been rendered ineffective as a technique because it is so widely described. Much of the power of an interrogator would seem to lie in the element of ignorance regarding the techniques used. Instead of micro-managing with proud superiority by banning a specific act, would it not be more helpful to affirm the ethical principles that we want as Americans to bring to bear when we or our fellow citizens are faced with dealing with enemy combatants who may possess knowledge vital to the security of our nation?
    Civilian oversight of the military is a powerful moral force in our republic, and moral lapses in the conduct of any American soldiers, espionage agents, or law enforcement officers need to be dealt with justly. Historically, however, congress has often used allegations of misconduct more to further their own political careers than to work for justice. Courts have been much more reliable, whether civilian or military courts. Further, our fellow citizens who serve honorably in the military, espionage, and police forces have consistently provided the best, albeit not perfect, handling of most serious ethical problems that arise in their ranks. Does anyone really think that congress' handling of the Abu Grahib issue contributed more positively to bring justice to bear than our own military's response?
    America, with its judeo-christian roots, has historically risen above the ethics of many, if not most, of the enemies she has faced in warfare. If a dialogue regarding torture can help us to maintain that tradition, I support it, but I give no credence to statements on the issue, like many heard from politicians, that are undefined accusations that reek of self-aggrandizement. Don't our fellow Americans who put themselves in harm's way on behalf of us all deserve better than that?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Karl Garcia · 9 years ago
    Mr. Yon,

    Torture exists along a continuum of strategies designed to elicit information from someone resistant to our cause. On one end of the continuum, an agent may attempt to gain the cooperation of someone by friendly means (fraternization, promises of leniency or rewards, etc.); at the other end of the continuum, through strategies that induce mental and/or physical distress; and all points in between. Any of these methods can be used to obtain the cooperation of someone with information that would secure and protect civilian lives, the lives of military personnel, and/or our National Security. An individuals threshold of pleasure or pain, as well as their commitment to their cause is varied, so what may be torturous to one may not be so for another.

    The debate on torture should not be decided as good-bad or moral-immoral; the realities of the current geo-political climate are far too complex for that. Our country is engaged in conflicts that are being fought along several fronts; philosophical, theological, economical, and material (armed conflict) so a variety of strategies are necessary to ensure victory. The strategies to obtain vital information must be maleable enough to be effective; in other words, when it comes to "torture" the ends sometimes justify the means.

    If the current methods for obtaining information vital to our cause have proven effective, we should continue to have them at our disposal until we have achieved victory. Maintaining the moral high ground is effective only when both sides embrace a similar moral or ethical code and dealing with terrorists or their sympathizers does not seem to fit this ideal. A gentleman cannot usually persuade a thug to see things from his gentle perspective; so he must adapt if he is to survive; as should we.


    With the kindest regards for you and all you do,


    Karl Garcia
  • This commment is unpublished.
    alexa kim · 9 years ago
    Hi Michael,

    Wow, you did set off a firestorm. Clearly, some of us your readers feel we must defend what we believe very strongly.

    As an example, First Amendment fanatics want no controls or limits of any kind. But for the very next amendment, the Second, they want every restriction applied.

    Of the two in the wrong hands and put to suicidal purposes, which is the mightier, the pen or the sword?

    Humans, not just Americans, feel deeply threatened when we are told that we must surrender a weapon. Torture, from its spectre to its manifest, is a weapon.

    Here's the issue for me: America stopped being special a long time ago. She has been made to feel guilty for all previous wrongs (real or imagined) and for being unique, strong and unapologetic. I think the chief reason the accusers get away with this is because America takes justice seriously, more than many other countries do.

    But lately, America has also been viciously criticized that unless she is more like every other country on the planet, she is an arrogant jerk who is the worst terrorist known to man.

    Give me the clues that you believe I am currently in need of. You allude to pragmatism but offer no examples. Perhaps that is intentional, as any specific can be dissected and interpreted.

    And so it is with Torture.

    When human behaviour undergoes the transformation species-wide that the tool "torture" is rendered ineffectual, then perhaps I will buy in. If it didn't work, it would have gone the way of the pedal powered plane.

    But life is dependably messy and the simple pronouncement that we will not do X, because we think it means we are just like our enemies if we do, is inviting divine incredulity at maximum, derisive contempt from our enemies at minimum.

    If I have to admit that I am just like my enemies just so we can get off that dot and argue the real dangers to Civilization, then fine, call me names (figuratively speaking).

    I refuse to fall for that facile taunt anymore.

    But I am ready to reconsider if my enemies were to prove themselves ready, willing and able to renounce torture, doing so publicly, and demonstrating it organically for a convincing period of time -- without being asked.

    They can start by doing the following:

    (1) release a healthy Gilad Shalit (I am neither Israeli or a Jew),
    (2) conduct warfare, of any kind, using every dirty trick in the book, just as they currently do-- but, do not use women and children as shields, and
    (3) not allow anyone to be brain-washed into becoming a self-destructing vector to commit mass murder.

    Consider:

    3,000 murdered civilians, civil servants and service members on 9-11-01...
    6,000 plus wounded, scarred and maimed on 9-11-01...
    17 murdered sailors from the USS Cole on 10-12-00...
    six murdered civilians and numerous wounded at the World Trade Center on 02-26-93...
    tortured and murdered Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem on 06-15-85...
    241 murdered, maimed and wounded Marines in Beirut on 10-23-83...
    and on and on.

    Terrorism is torture. I want to hear more voices aimed at the enemy, calling them on it, and THEN I WANT US ALL TO LISTEN TO THEIR ANSWER.

    If I am to take my valuation of human life seriously, then I will prioritize the first to whom I care to prove it, to be those I love the most: My Troops and the troops of our friends who fight with us.

    Here's a suggestion for Gitmo Feces and Urine Tossers Longing to be Martyrs:

    The self-killed can't be tortured.

    To My Troops guarding them:

    Stop interrupting.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    alexa kim · 9 years ago
    Interrogation tapes SHOULD be destroyed because even if they contain no evidence of "torture" of this much we can all be sure: the ACLU will find a way to define whatever is on the tapes they don't like as torture.

    And because an image can turn public sentiment around on any subject, if it is skillfully edited that is, the CIA is very smart to destroy the tapes.

    Remember Rodney King? I saw the entire tape of that arrest, not just what the vile MSM cherry picked to display. The police were not the racist monsters the edited tape made them out to be. Rodney King was not the helpless, innocent simpleton he was made out to be.

    When America can no longer be trusted to protect those who serve her in such profound circumstances such as to have to get information out of someone else in order to save lives, for crying out loud, then the agents are entitled to protect themselves.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dane · 9 years ago
    Michael,

    I have sent you a message or two since your post praising president Obama for saying the US will no longer torture asking you to specifically state WHAT you define as torture. If you do not do that then there is no way I can say (in my opinion) whether I think you are right or wrong in "your" opinions. I mean is water boarding torture? Is sleep deprivation torture? Is taking away a detainee's copy of the Koran torture? Was it torture when Col. West fired his sidearm next to an Iraqi prisoner's head.Come on, Michael you have to be specific.

    Beware of Lawrence of Arabia syndrome Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark Colwell · 9 years ago
    We must not become like our enemies, lest we become our own worst enemies. If people tortured pursuant to guidance from the top, much of the responsibility may be mitigated however not all... in any case we need to know if we are guilty of torture and the extent to which we are guilty.

    We struggle against destructive and evil ideologies that mean us harm, however we would be mistaken to believe that this threat was only external and not internal as well. There are few evils greater than torture and the rational that would justify it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    maddy · 9 years ago
    Michael,

    I highly respect you as a journalist and your experience as a past special forces soldier and as an embedded party in many campaigns and I contribute to your cause and bought your book.

    Let's do a little what if? I am your father and your are captured by AQ, or the Taliban and they behead you. Your comrades in arms capture one of the perpetraitors. He has the knowlege of who committed this dastardly, bloody, unholy deed. How do you suggest they get that information out of him, so we can arrest him and bring him to justice, so me and your family and friends can have some closure regarding your death at the hands of terrorists?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jed_Dog · 9 years ago
    Torture needs to be explicitly defined. I am tortured everyday when I go to work. Extreme torture is something different. Waterboading is not extreme. Listening to Barney music is torture but not extreme. The Obama administration needs to define what is or is not acceptable. However this can become a slippery slope and could go in many directions. Maybe we need to outsource the extraction of info to our Iraqi friends. They have the experience and would be more than happy to help us out. If you took a survey of all terrorist in the world and asked if they got caught, which nation would they rather be caught by, (France excluded)? I bet they would say USA. I think it would be in their best interest to write Obama and tell him to leave this one alone.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    M Leonard · 9 years ago
    Aside from physical torture, what other methods are available to obtain information from an enemy who does not wish to cooperate? I haven't heard any talk regarding chemical interrogations and wonder if this option has been explored. I'm sure that if a non military type like myself can think of it, someone in the intelligence community must have. Are drugs effective? If so, what drugs work best most of the time? Would this cause the same outrage as the dreaded water boarding? I imagine that the use of drugs would have to involve medical personnel (unless intel types could be specially trained) and that this could be considered a violation of their medical oaths but no one has answered the overriding question. How do you get the informaiton? I don't expect the intelligence community to give up their secrets, but if there is something that is as (or even more) effective then torture then we use that. If not, it appears that we're stuck with the unpleasent alternative if we want to gather the information. Personally, I agree with the poster who believes that the moral high ground is a great place to be if you are fighting relatively moral enemies which we are not. Eighteen years of law enforcement have taught me that the only thing some people understand is force and fear When dealing with those types of creatures, one has to speak in a language that they understand. It may not be pretty but reality seldom is. I am also a firm believer that there are some things that the general public (including myself in that) have no business knowing as they will not understand the necessity. I think that a poll of the vast majority of true average Americans would show that they could give a damn if we torture captured terrorists or not so long as their sons and daughters come home alive.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Alan Smith · 9 years ago
    Here is how I see this dilemma: Your family is being held against their will in an unknown location, and will be killed by the captors in 24 hours. You have their leader in your grasp. Your family will die if you don't quickly extract information about where they are held. The leader isn't talking. What do you do? That about sums it up for me. I would do anything to keep my family safe. Wouldn't you?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Pattillo · 9 years ago
    Michael,
    1. "Pragmatic" means devoid of principle. Or did you just mean "practical"? Americans must learn that there is a radical difference between these two things.
    2. If Michael and the posts which reply - both pro and con - do not define what they meann by torture, this debate is useless. Why can't everyone specify: A. extreme pain to elicit crucial information; B. pain inflicted beyond what is judged necessary to gain crucial information; C.pain exacted in vengeance or retribution.
    3. Michael, I think you should address those who seriously critique your position and ignore those whom you deem insincere or hypocritical. There are serious posiitons in favor of "torture" as in A. above, and you should answer those.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike a Southern Rebe · 9 years ago
    Mike - I truly enjoy reading your articles. I believe you give a true picture of what is happening in the "so-called war on terror" quoting Helen Thomas. The comments on the subject of torture are very interesting. It is a difficult subject to discuss without allowing the hypothetical dooms day situation. However these dooms day situations would be reality if AQ ever gets a dirty bomb. They would have no problem with getting a volunteer to explode such a device in the USA.
    However, I believe all this posturing by Leahy and the Democrats has nothing to do with torture. It is all about their obsession with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield. Every since President Bush was elected or "stole" the election, Democrats like Conyers, Pelosi, Durbin and others have tried to find some way to impeach and try them for war crimes. They have never forgiven the Republicans for impeaching their boy Bill. It is all about power and the peacenik base of the Democrats. This is the same crowd that includes Kerry and other anti-war leftists. This entire group including the ACLU are out to turn this country into a European liberal weak country. Don't forget Carter and Stansfield Turner who basically hamstrung our CIA and other undercover agencies. This is their agenda. We will end up paying a terrible price for this administration and their Code Pink base.

    Mike a Southern Rebel
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CB · 9 years ago
    From a theological perspective: Torture is a denial of the Imago Dei (the image of God.) Christian orthodoxy maintains that human beings are in the image of God. It follows that what we do to one another we also do to God hence the "golden rule" (do to others what you would have them do to you.) Interestingly, this rule seems to find place in all of the worlds great religions and essentially points to the consequence of one's losing one's own humanity through the demeaning of others. Let us be clear, this "consequence" is about nations as well as individuals. None of this is easy. The heat of the battle, the fear of failing to get information that might save lives, the impending dangers of seeing and approaching one's enemy with sympathetic eyes are some of the most difficult struggles that face those who are called to serve our country. As hard as it is, nevertheless, the struggle for hearts and minds more than the will to destroy our enemies is most worthwhile in securing our nation's future that we might truly be a people "under God."
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Howard E. Morseburg · 9 years ago
    Once again we have a descriptive word, smug, which Michael uses to describe those of us who "approve of torture" and it distorts the attitude of many of us who "are not defending torture" but merely questioning the outright condemnation of all techniques used in obtaining information from captured enemy.

    I'm not smug. I resent such an implication. Abu Gharib, for example, was not torture or anything close to it; it was abject stupidity by a few members of the military blown all out of proportion to its signifigance, a media blowout. I'm not smug about that either. Compared to what went on in Nazi concentration camps, it was like a flea on an elephant. Compared to what Hussein's men did there, the slaughter of innocents, hundreds of thousands of them, it was a single rain drop in a deluge. Torture? Where the Hell are our brains, where we sit down?

    Moral high ground? If we lose the war and the enemy captures ten thousand of our troops, how many do you think will make it home without scars? What happened at our Embassy in Iran? How many Lebanese Christians suffered all types of inhumane tortures before they were killed?

    What's going on in Havana today, what about the imprisonment of 50 librarians and journalists? Those in the U.S. who make the biggest stink about our supposed torture are wearing Che t-shirts. No, I am not smug, but I question all of this discussion, as I think that it too is harmful to the men winning the war and coming home.

    In retrospect, I saw one ship hit by an aerial torpedo explode and take 580 men with her, back in 1944. Had there been a captive that held the time and place of attack, how much effort should have been made to extract such information from him? Nah, I'm not smug, but I'm not dumb either. Decision time will give me my answer.

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