Friday, June 24, 2005

Response to Dems Silence

I got this question from a reader in response to this post.

Does the treatment described at Guantanamo resemble anything humane?

In a word, yes. But before I give the rationale, I'll offer this bit of insight.

The commenter asked if I was offended by the question or the answer to it. Neither. They are both rational things that intelligent people can discuss and disagree upon. And they are also matters where I think I have the right answer (otherwise why hold the opinion or argue it?)

Further, the commenter asked what was slanderous about Dick Durbin's remarks which they were kind enough to provide. Just to be really clear, it is impolite in western society to compare people to genocidists unless they are exterminating innocents without the least rational justification. So if the commenter is suggesting that it is a compliment or, chuckles aside, somehow accurate to be compared to the Nazi SS, the Khmer Rouge, or the KGB, we are perhaps not on the same page to have an appropriate conversation. It's a no-no to pull that kind of comparison, even if Abu Ghraib was taking place at more places than Abu Ghraib.

So back to the humanity of Gitmo. Yep. I have not the least problem with this. They feed these people better fare than the soldiers doing the feeding. They consider their cultural sensitivity in the diet. They provide these extremists with religious counsel and copies of their religious text at government expense which would be illegal to do if done for U.S. citizens under our current law. The soldiers are given lessons in how to properly deal with these people's religious peculiarities, and they actually run into trouble for screwing it up. Yes, I'd call that humane.

But in all fairness to the commenter, that wasn't what was meant by the question.

First, a bunch of mitigating factors that have no bearing on my basic opinion: these are terrorists who fought our soldiers on the battlefield. They are illegal combatants, hiding among civilians as shields and refusing to identify themselves as the killers they are. They believe in killing American civilians, rather than an honest recconoiter with the military we establish to prevent civilian strikes. They have information on the workings of terrorist organizations. which leads me to my point.

These people have no rights under any treaties or U.S. laws. Much like a spy caught in the Pentagon, Kremlin, Downing Street, or anywhere else, they have a right to whatever treatment they get. These people mean to kill us in our homes. They know about operations designed to do just that. And we have not just a right to extract such information from them by whatever means, we have a responsibility. And I would be most upset if I found out that our government didn't do that. We aren't paying them to babysit. So yes, they will be uncomfortable. They will be unhappy, they will be in physically unpleasant situations with their own excreta about them if they decide to do that. American babies, including mine, have that happen to them several times daily. The stuff washes off. And I am not responsible for someone choosing to tear their hair out. It's not pretty if we do it, but what ones does to themselves is not our concern.

But when Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) Chairman of House Armed Services Committee notes that the detainees have gained about 5 pounds on average at Gitmo, and I hear reports about their requests not to leave when they were about to be transferred to another facility, the sympathy level is pretty low.

Unpleasant does not equal inhumane. Discomfort does not equal torture, and physical restrains with chains do not equal physical harm. For sure, the terrorists hate it. Anyone would. But the argument is not about comfy they are. It is about preventing a catastrophe caused by the next terrorist attack coming up the pike.

To think anything less is to go soft on terror. It is to their benefit that they fell into our hands. But we will get every last bit of information our of their minds to keep our people safe.

That's the argument!


Blogger Terry G. said...

Thanks for your response. Sorry if it seemed I was "yelling" for an answer, didn't want my post to go unnoticed... a few thoughts:

How do we know these prisoners are terrorists? How do we know these people _deserve_ this treatment? Has a judge determined this? A panel? A jury? No. A battlefield is a confusing thing, these people may be enemy combatants at the very least. That does not mean that they are aligned with the Islamo-fascist terrorists, like Al-Qaeda, intent on wrecking havoc on American soil.

I reject the notion that because a person does not fit into certain legal categories they do not deserve to be treated humanely. Call it the Golden Rule, if you want.

Weight gain for some does not equate to humane treatment for all. A better argument, please.

The Nazi's believed they were being cultural sensitive by providing specialized housing districts for the Jews. Ghettos they were called. It's a bit of a slippery slope, I think. Regardless, it's reported that we purposefully offend Islamic culture as part of the intelligence gathering process. I'm not sure we can have it both ways.

(A book is a book is a book, by the way. You can get yr. hands chopped off in Saudi Arabia for dropping a Koran, so, what can you do?)

It is not a compliment to be compared to the Nazi SS. I am offended that it's possible for a neutral observer, being read a description of the treatment of prisoners at Guatanamo, might consider that treatment as coming from the hands of the Stasi rather than the CIA. The people working to protect us deserve better, they are undermined by the inhumane acts they are being asked to undertake.

After 2 years, how relevant might any of this intelligence be? Not that there is any basis to believe that these, erm, "unpleasant" tactics are at all successful in gathering actionable intelligence.

Being smart about how to combat terrorism is not being "soft".

1:46 AM  

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