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January 06, 2005

The Torture Debate

...has broken out in a thread not particularly well-suited for such a discussion. I'm starting this post so that those interested in the debate can hash things out.

I'll check the comments and move the best points into this post.

Cedarford makes this point, which I'd never heard before:

Part of the problem is the Left, the Euroweenies, and the International Red Cross think the US is bound by 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Convention, which requires treating terrorists as protected civilians unless they are actually attacking you.

The terrorist is required to comply by having some actual identifying characteristic under that Protocol WNEN attacking...as in Mohammed Atta wielding a boxcutter shouting "Death to Infidels".

Fortunately, Ronald Reagan refused to sign on to that 1970's lunacy.

But the Left, Euroweenies, and International Red Cross think he was very, very wrong....

Therefore they continue to lecture us that we are defying the Geneva Conventions by not giving POW status to unlawful combatants, based on a treaty we never signed...

It seems that that protocol would give to terrorists the legal right to the precise advantage they seek-- to wit, being able to attack and then quickly melt away into a civilian population and hide amongst them, disguising their status as illegal combatants.

Why on God's green earth would we reward such underhanded dishonorable behavior by granting it legal sanction?

Bring It On Update: Byron York says the Democrats are quite serious about making torture the central issue in Albert Gonzales' confirmation hearings:

While a number of committee Democrats clearly plan to hit Gonzales hard, Democrats have kept close counsel on whether they actually intend to try to sink the nomination, or whether they will, after making a certain amount of noise, ultimately acquiesce in Senate confirmation. What has Republicans newly concerned is that the "chatter" β€” mainly about minority plans to oppose Gonzales on the issue of his role in determining the treatment of U.S. detainees in the war on terror β€” suggests a serious effort. "People are going crazy now," the Republican says. "All these letters, People for the American Way, the former military commanders writing in. There's a lot of energy, and it's energy that is typically associated with an effort to kill a nominee."

Gonzales, and the White House, appear prepared to defend the administration's reading of the Geneva Convention and the argument that parts of the treaty do not apply to the war on terror. In a statement prepared for today's hearing, Gonzales says, "After the attacks of 9/11, our government had fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to any country, is not a party to any treaties and β€” most importantly β€” does not fight according to the laws of war."

More troublesome will be questions about Gonzales's role in the so-called "torture memo" controversy, in which Justice Department lawyers, reporting to Gonzales, explored the internationally accepted definition of torture and how it applied to detainees in the war on terror. In recent days, Republicans have come to believe that Democrats will likely recite a list of abusive prisoner-treatment techniques and then ask Gonzales whether each one constitutes torture. "There could be some horrible cross-examinations," another GOP source says. "Like, 'So, if you attach battery cables to a person, is that torture?' You can go through a whole series of questions." As of Wednesday, the White House was said to have been engaging in last-minute preparations for that line of questioning.

Here's the dirty little secret about the American public and torture: We all say we don't want to torture people (well, I don't, but a lot of people do), but most people actually do want us to torture the right people in the right situations... we just want to keep it hush-hush.

As they say, everyone wants the sausage, but no one wants to see how it gets made. And the American people have accepted the principle of knowing blindness and/or calculated obfuscation on this point.

The Democrats can make an issue of this, as their base demands. The majority of the public, however, condemns torture publicly but supports it -- in the appropriate situation-- privately.

All the Democratic screaming about this issue will just convince the American voters of what they already pretty much believe: The Democrats just aren't serious about protecting America from Al Qaeda, and they're just not to be trusted to make the hard and sometimes brutal judgments needed to do so.

So, as two presidential candidates said this past year: Bring it on.

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posted by Ace at 03:11 PM

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