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The Torture Report December 18, 2008

Posted by neoavatara in Politics, World Politics.
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Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee said top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.

Clearly, there were abuses on interrogation, and Gitmo may have been the single most disastrous symbol to America in the last century.  That said, Mr. Obama should move slowly on how to go forward.

Anger is reasonable.  Hasty action is not.  Guantanamo will be closed in short order, but the handling of prisonsers, especially the most dangerous ones, is not a move to be taken lightly.  For example, if you bring Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, back to the States for trial, and he is acquitted (a not unreasonable assumption, since his lawyers could negate any testimony that KSM himself provided because of these harsh interrogation techniques), then what do you do with him?  Let him go?  Is that an option? Maybe it is for Mr. Obama, but it is not a a resonable choice for the man who was more repsonsible than Osama Bin Laden for killing almost three thousand people on American soil in 2001.

Additionally, Mr. Obama should have his legal staff closely look at what harsh interrogation techniques are legal.  This actually may be more important for the future security of this country.  If you want to keep this country safe, you must have some kind of harsh interrogation; Al Qaeda operatives are not going to give up intelligence because you give them tea and biscuits.  So an intensive legal review by the new Attorney General and White House Counsel will be essential for outlining future methods of interrogation.

This is not an issue to be blinded by anger.  Clearly the Bush administration abused interrogation techniques, and went to far.  That is a common consensus.  And closing Gitmo is a necessity.  But beyond that, how you go about maintaining security and still maintaining basic human rights is a difficult balance, not to be left up to blowhards on either side of the political spectrum.



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