The U.S. Tortured, Claims Advocacy Group
In the wake of 9/11, the United States tortured "detainees," reports the New York Times. Allegations of torture lead to -- who else? -- President George W. Bush.
The Constitution Project, which the Times describes as a "legal research and advocacy group," issued a "sweeping, 577-page report" on Tuesday claiming that former President Bush and high government officials engaged in "considered and detailed discussions... on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our [American] custody."
One wonders how the group's report will be received by average Americans in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, which may have been the work of a jihadist or jihadists.
Why wouldn't President Bush have sought "considered and detailed discussions" about the optimum means of extracting vital intelligence from captured Islamic terrorists and enemy combatants ("detainees" is so PC)? Think back to the days following 9/11. The homeland was facing unprecedented threats to the safety and lives of innocents across the republic.
Remember that 9/11 was the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. Jihadists were -- and still are -- engaged in attempts at unconventional warfare aimed at American civilians in their cities.
Following 9/11, President Bush and federal government officials couldn't be sure if the New York and Washington, D.C., attacks were isolated events or the opening salvos in a much broader campaign to kill Americans. Mr. Bush would have been derelict in his duty not to explore a wide range of means and methods to pull information from captured jihadists.
Moreover, Mr. Bush, given the asymmetry of the conflict and multiplicity of terrorist threats to Americans, was justified in sanctioning interrogation methods that the Constitution Project chooses to term "torture." President Bush was charged with making decisions that could better safeguard Americans or lead to, perhaps, many thousands of deaths.
As commander and chief, Mr. Bush didn't have the luxury of abstractions. Innocent Americans' lives hinged on the courses of action he chose. Hard realities are hard realities -- and war, particularly unconventional war, is a hard, ugly reality.
Reports the New York Times:
The use of torture, the report concludes, has "no justification" and "damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive." The task force found "no firm or persuasive evidence" that these interrogation methods produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means. While "a person subjected to torture might well divulge useful information," much of the information obtained by force was not reliable, the report says.
"Torture" -- that would include "not only waterboard[ing] prisoners, but slam[ming] them into walls, chain[ing] them in uncomfortable positions for hours, strip[ping] them of clothing and [keeping] them awake for days on end" -- damaged the nation's standing with whom? With the assorted thug and gangster regimes that populate the UN?
As to U.S. interrogation methods compromising the nation's "capacity to convey moral censure when necessary," the criticism lacks proper context. The U.S. is engaged in irregular warfare with any enemy that holds a vile religious ideology that they seek to impose through violence; that despises Americans for who they are, their virtues, and for what they value. Islamic jihadists are the aggressors.
The U.S. using tough means to pry information from captured jihadists isn't the equivalent of the Chinese brutalizing Tibetans. Or Castro torturing (genuinely) and killing Cubans of conscience. Or what the Russians have done to subject peoples in their recent history. U.S. interrogation methods haven't diminished its moral authority, unless the argument goes that America's fight against Islamic jihadists is morally no more justifiable than Chinese oppression of Tibetans.
Will U.S. interrogation methods "potentially increase the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive?" How does this even begin to pass the smell test? One need only ask any survivors how American prisoners of war were treated by the Japanese in WWII. How about North Korean and Chinese treatment of American P.O.W.s during the Korean War? Or ask American P.O.W.s about their treatment at the hands of their North Vietnamese captors.
The nation's enemies aren't playing tit-for-tat. The torture and brutalizing of American P.O.W.s is the norm in the nation's conflicts and not subject to America's handling of enemy combatants.
Finally, the Constitution Project report states that American interrogation methods can't be said to have led to the disclosure of anymore or better information from jihadist prisoners than passive methods.
As the New York Times article points out:
While the task force did not have access to classified records, it is the most ambitious independent attempt to date to assess the detention and interrogation programs. A separate 6,000-page report on the Central Intelligence Agency's record by the Senate Intelligence Committee, based exclusively on agency records, rather than interviews, remains classified.
Without access to classified government records, the Constitution Project's report is gapingly incomplete. The report's writers are drawing conclusions without the fullest and deepest knowledge of the efficacy of the U.S.'s interrogation methods.