We Need Not Give Protection To Terrorist Groups

Everywhere I turned today, I saw torture. Not in my mind’s eye, mind you. But in print, and on line.

In print, we have an Judge Susan J. Crawford claiming torture in Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official in today’s Washington Post. The article begins

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”

“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.

“The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge” to call it torture, she said.

For the record, let me state simply

Now let me see if I get this straight. The techniques “were all authorized”, “persistent”, and were “clearly coercive”? Isn’t that the point of interrogation? Yes judge, when I think of torture, I think of “some horrendous physical act done to an individual”. For reference, the Judge might consult this article by Entifadh Qanbar in the New York Sun

I am an Iraqi who has suffered under Saddam’s harsh dictatorship and who actively fought Saddam for many years before the liberation in 2003. In addition, I participated in the reconstruction efforts in the new Iraq after the liberation, and therefore have a unique perspective to offer in understanding the progression of events in modern day Iraq. I had my first taste of Saddam’s brutality when I was imprisoned by Saddam’s Military Security in 1987 along with my brother. In spite of my relatively short stay in a horrifying cell, I witnessed torture and humiliation first hand in what seemed to be an underworld in which pain and degradation have no end.

For Iraqis, these torture chambers and “atrocity sites” are a confirmation of the links between the terror of the Baath regime and that of Al Qaeda. In 1991, during the uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraqis and the outside world were able to see torture cells from the inside and bear witness to the gruesome acts performed within them for the first time.

After the liberation of Iraq in 2003, the world was finally able to obtain an unprecedented glimpse into the Baath torture chambers and the vast security apparatus which served to maintain order and cement Saddam’s power over Iraq.

If you enter a torture house, you would think it is almost identical to a mechanical workshop: it contains drills, blow torches, hammers, and electrical wiring. For Saddam’s agents, these houses of torture contain all the necessary hardware to extract information from the brains of detainees and very creative ways to punish and extract victims. Thus torture cells established by Saddam’s agents were a horrific instrument of spreading terror and maintaining the iron grip of the regime over the country.

This is real torture. Not the trumped up torture of waterboarding or thongs around the head. Pop Quiz: Help me identify a tool of torture.

This?

This?

or This?

or This?

Now, consider this from Ronald Reagan in 1987, in which he explains his opposition to Protocol 1, an addendum to the Geneva Convention. Specifically

I have … concluded that the United States cannot ratify a second agreement on the law of armed conflict negotiated during the same period. I am referring to Protocol I additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which would revise the rules applicable to international armed conflicts.

It is unfortunate that Protocol I must be rejected. We would have preferred to ratify such a convention, which as I said contains certain sound elements. But we cannot allow other nations of the world, however numerous, to impose upon us and our allies and friends an unacceptable and thoroughly distasteful price for joining a convention drawn to advance the laws of war. In fact, we must not, and need not, give recognition and protection to terrorist groups as a price for progress in humanitarian law. [emphasis added]

It turns out that, at that time, the Washington Post and the New York Times were supporters of Reagan’s opposition. I guess the Post and the Times were against terrorists having protection before they were for it.

The Geneva Conventions were established to permit states to opt into a set of rules that create civilized warfare. With terrorists, there are no states. Just a loose confederation of murderers. They are unlawful combatants. The GCIII do not apply.

I wonder if the anti-war left actually thinks that, prior to the Bush administration, no torture has been carried out by the USA? No black sites? No extraordinary rendition?

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