Friday, November 18, 2011

The facts about water boarding illegal combatants

The facts about water boarding illegal combatants

via PrairiePundit by Merv on 11/16/11

Marc Thiessen:
It was disappointing to see The Post's editorial on waterboarding this morning replete with so many discredited arguments.  Reasonable people can disagree about whether the United States should resume using enhanced interrogation techniques (as it appears it will if a Republican assumes the presidency in January 2013).  But we should at least debate this proposition based on facts.
For example, The Post writes: "Imagine that a U.S. soldier is captured and subjected to waterboarding. Would Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann consider that torture?  Maybe not, given their disappointing responses to a question about waterboarding posed during Saturday's Republican debate. And if they did object to the soldier's treatment, they've lost the moral authority to argue against it."
Well, no.  It would be illegal for a foreign adversary to waterboard a U.S. soldier, even if the technique did not amount to torture. American troops are lawful combatants.  They wear uniforms or distinctive insignia, follow a clear chain of command, do not hide among innocent civilians, and do not target innocent men, women and children.  Because they follow the laws of war, when captured they receive full privileges as Prisoners of War under the Geneva Conventions — which means it would be illegal for their captors to coerce them in any way, much less waterboard them. 
Terrorists, by contrast, are unlawful combatants.  They do not wear uniforms or distinctive insignia, or follow a clear chain of command.  Not only do they hide among innocent civilians, their primary means of attacking us is to target innocent men, women and children for death.  Because they violate the laws of war, they do not receive the privileges that a lawful combatant receives as a POW under Geneva.  As a result of their own choices, the United States may lawfully coerce them to provide information about imminent terrorist attacks. 
Indeed, it is precisely because they target the innocent that we must coerce them.  When an American soldier is captured and taken off the battlefield, he has been effectively disarmed and rendered unable to cause harm to the enemy.  But when a terrorist like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is captured, and he has set in motion a series of terrorist plots, he has not been disarmed.  Even in captivity, he still holds the power to kill thousands simply by withholding information.  We have a moral obligation to stop him.
The Post writes that waterboarding "has been considered torture since at least the Spanish Inquisition."   As I document meticulously in my book "Courting Disaster," waterboarding as practiced by the CIA bears no resemblance whatsoever to the water torture employed during the Spanish Inquisition, or for that matter by Imperial Japan, the Khmer Rouge or Nazi Germany.  I am certain The Post can make an effective case against waterboarding without comparing the men and women of our intelligence community to Medieval torturers.
There is more.

Thiessen also makes it clear that we did get valuable information that saved lives despite what critics have argued.  But it is the failure of the critics to comprehend the distinction between lawful and unlawful combatants that causes them to be so wrong about the issue.  Those who oppose enhanced interrogation of terrorist continue to be willfully ignorant of the facts.

BTW, when US troops were captured in Iraq, they were brutally dismembered and murdered.

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