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Old 12-26-2007, 09:32 PM   #1
Ned
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Exclamation General George Washington speaks to the troops about torture.

Why wasn't "W" listening? When did he and his fellow Republicans forget we are a nation of laws, with the Constitution the supreme law, to be obeyed by everyone, especially government officials.

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“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” - George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775
Washington said further,
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Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands.
In all respects the prisoners were to be treated no worse than American soldiers; and in some respects, better. Through this approach, Washington sought to shame his British adversaries, and to demonstrate the moral superiority of the American cause.

Frankly "W" should be ashamed. He has broken the faith with our Founding Fathers and with our Constitution. As Commander and Chief, he is as responsible as the men and women who have committed the torture, as he has sanctioned it, by either his commission and omission.
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:07 AM   #2
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I have to agree completely with President Washington on this. I would add that there is another aspect to it and that is if you treat your prisoners poorly, you can expect your adversaries to treat their prisoners poorly. I know all the arguments put forward that the insurgents don't treat prisoners properly and therefore we shouldn't treat them well however we have to take a much longer view of things. If we mistreat prisoners in this war, then in the next war with a nation state our enemies can use our actions from this war to justify mistreating captured American men and women. So it is in the best interests of the US Military not to torture or abuse prisoners and any officer who orders such abuse is doing a real disservice to his comrades in arms.
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Old 12-29-2007, 12:37 PM   #3
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While I agree with your complaint the argument you are using doesn't address the problem.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq the US military went to great lengths to inform the military of Iraq how to surrender. This is the equivalent of giving "quarter".

Capturing terrorists is not the same as confronting a military unit, and in war your options are limited. So we have to determine what course of action we will take if we capture terrorists.

We can use plan A: Catch and Release--we can ask them to fill out a questionaire and tell us everything they know. Assuming that they are like American soldiers, they will tell us their name, rank and serial number, if they have one and that's it. Not much to talk about.

Plan B: Catch and kill. Since we can't get any information from them anyway, just kill them. Take no prisoners. If they are dead it won't matter what they know or don't know.

I would say that George Washington would hang them, but that probably wouldn't go over very well today.


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In all respects the prisoners were to be treated no worse than American soldiers; and in some respects, better. Through this approach, Washington sought to shame his British adversaries, and to demonstrate the moral superiority of the American cause[
I really don't think that terrorist will respond well to us lecturing them on right and wrong. Although, admittedly, it is just a hunch. The phrase " moral superiority", now those are words that would make people jump up and down.
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Old 12-29-2007, 05:48 PM   #4
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Washington's edict to treat prisoners decently works for enemies who subscribe to reciprosity. The Geneva Convention works similarly.

The Islamist enemy today does not afford "reasonable" treatment of its prisoners, and more importantly, does not agree to minimizing collateral damage. In this, they demonstrate no regard for the natural rights of human beings.

I am confident that Washington himself would "take the gloves off" when dealing with our current foes and would seek to limit whatever "rights" to which they may otherwise be entitled. One can argue (and many do) that this diminishes us. To me, the diminishment occurs in being forced to war. The moral good from that point forward is to win as quickly as possible. Spending time and treasure in an attempt to "legalize" the status of prisoners only serves to delay a successful outcome.

I am 100% certain that Washington would agree that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. For me, this means when in doubt, we get tough.
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Old 12-29-2007, 07:00 PM   #5
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Arrow Torture doesn't work, but the rule of law does.

T., I couldn't disagree more.
  1. Treating people decently has to do with our self-respect as human beings as much as it has to do with who we're treating and how they might treat us, should the tables be turned.
  2. If we as Americans don't do the right thing, how can we expect anyone else to do so.
  3. Every time we violate our own morals and ethics we diminish ourselves.
  4. How are we to expect any sort of decency from our enemies if we treat them any less than we expect to be treated. This is a "catch 22" situation, and we need to stop the circle. Every time we treat an enemy poorly, we give them an excuse to act the same way.
  5. If we act the same way as the "Islamist" enemy we are saying that we are no better then they are.
  6. I don't believe for a second the Washington would "take the gloves off" when dealing with Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and all terrorist organizations. He knew better. He knew that acting like terrorists ourselves doesn't help us win the war, or win the peace once the war has been won.
  7. There is no moral good in being a terrorist.
  8. Our own military experts tell us that torture doesn't work. Using psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected can produce results and reliable information, however, physical abuse, water boarding and other forms of physical torture, is worthless because prisoners under such abuse and torture will tell you just about anything, and so it is pointless. Take a look at this article in the Washington Post, The Torture Myth. Over and over again we hear the same thing from our military interrogation experts, "Torture doesn't work!"
  9. No the Constitution isn't a suicide pact, and I don't believe that prisoners of war, or terrorists should get the same rights citizens get under the Constitution, but they should get the same rights that all human beings deserve. The rule of law with the Constitution at the top of the heap, is the engine which has made our democratic republic work. If you take away the Constitution and the rule of law, we become just another Iran, or Sudan.
For more than 230 years our country has done so very well, because of our insistence on being a nation of laws, and living by them. I for one am not about to throw that away for expediency or any other reason. We didn't stoop to the level of Hitler, and we shouldn't do it now for Bin Laden.

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Originally Posted by trojan View Post
Washington's edict to treat prisoners decently works for enemies who subscribe to reciprosity. The Geneva Convention works similarly.

The Islamist enemy today does not afford "reasonable" treatment of its prisoners, and more importantly, does not agree to minimizing collateral damage. In this, they demonstrate no regard for the natural rights of human beings.

I am confident that Washington himself would "take the gloves off" when dealing with our current foes and would seek to limit whatever "rights" to which they may otherwise be entitled. One can argue (and many do) that this diminishes us. To me, the diminishment occurs in being forced to war. The moral good from that point forward is to win as quickly as possible. Spending time and treasure in an attempt to "legalize" the status of prisoners only serves to delay a successful outcome.

I am 100% certain that Washington would agree that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. For me, this means when in doubt, we get tough.
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Old 12-30-2007, 12:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trojan View Post
Washington's edict to treat prisoners decently works for enemies who subscribe to reciprosity. The Geneva Convention works similarly.

The Islamist enemy today does not afford "reasonable" treatment of its prisoners, and more importantly, does not agree to minimizing collateral damage. In this, they demonstrate no regard for the natural rights of human beings.

I am confident that Washington himself would "take the gloves off" when dealing with our current foes and would seek to limit whatever "rights" to which they may otherwise be entitled. One can argue (and many do) that this diminishes us. To me, the diminishment occurs in being forced to war. The moral good from that point forward is to win as quickly as possible. Spending time and treasure in an attempt to "legalize" the status of prisoners only serves to delay a successful outcome.

I am 100% certain that Washington would agree that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. For me, this means when in doubt, we get tough.
Trojan, while various group in Iraq and Afghanistan don't respect the rule of law and thus frequently act in a manner consistent with being outlaws, that is no reason for us to resort to torture or for us to forget about the rule of law. When we ignore the rule of law we weaken the moderates in the Islamic world because they can no longer point to the US as a beacon of law and order. This makes it much harder for them to speak out against the extremists.

The proper way to handle terrorist is to capture them, try them and when applicable, execute them. Treat them as the criminals that they are. There isn't a single good reason to torture them. As history has shown time and time again, all that torture does is reduce the civilized person to the level of a barbarian. It never gets accurate information, it only gets the answers that the torturer wants. That is to say, the victim of torture will say whatever he or she believes will make the torture session end. This happened in Vietnam, it happened with the Stashi, the KGB, the Gestapo, the Spanish Inquisition and any other time torture has been used. Torture degrades, dehumanizes the torturer at least as much as it does the victim of torture and thus is not a good thing to have soldiers involved in.

And lets not forget one of the most important lessons of military history, everyone pays attention to what happened in the last war. This means that if we stoop to the level of the extremist, our next enemy will not hesitate to go there as well. As has been pointed out many times before, if you treat your prisoners with mercy, they have a tendency to surrender more quickly, thus reducing the number of killed and wounded that the US Military has to suffer. If you have a reputation for killing most of those captured and torturing the reminder, no one is going to surrender, they will fight to the bitter end taking as many people with them as possible. We are better served on many levels by taking the high moral road and treating our prisoners justly and mercifully.

The cost of using torture is way too high for the minimal returns that it produces. It degrades our society, it puts our troops at greater risk of suffering from torture if captured, it weakens our allies who speak of moderation and it strengthens our enemies resolve.
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Old 12-30-2007, 01:44 PM   #7
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The proper way to handle terrorist is to capture them, try them and when applicable, execute them.
And I think we did just that with 9/11. This assumes you catch them in the act in our country.

You still have to determine what is the course of action your morality or sense of right/wrong will apply when you capture a terrorist overseas say in Iraq. You have to choose Plan A or Plan B. How would you instruct the military?
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Old 12-30-2007, 05:49 PM   #8
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We're just going to have to agree to disagree. I'll never convince y'all that we are in a genuine war, every bit as horrid and crucial as the "Good War." You'll never convince me that if we show kindness to human snakes that they won't just revert to biting us as a matter of course.

But, I would like to know if we have the right, legal and moral, to engage in tactics that we did in the Good War. Can we fire bomb whole cities (Islamabad anyone?) as we did Dresden and Tokyo? How about nukes? What about the routine killing (murder?) of the recalcitrant Japanese on the atolls of the Pacific? We are dealing with similarly committed fanatics today. Shouldn't we just destroy the buildings, mosques included, from where they snipe at our lads?

If you say these tactics should not be allowed, what do you say to the millions who would not have been born had the Good War been extended in a more conventional fashion?
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