This is topic Tortured Arguments in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
Interesting column on this morning about the issue of torture of prisoners. Not the kneejerk column you might suspect, it slams one side for ignoring and spinning away any complaints at all about prisoner abuse and then slams the other for not offering suggestions as to what to do with actual identified threats. For those who don't want to register at the site, here's the salient portion:

"The administration was certainly correct, in the early days after Sept. 11, 2001, to worry about the appropriate legal designation for those who clearly were not fighting conventional warfare. The administration had a big problem to confront: When it began to capture people suspected of terrorist activity -- which was inevitable -- what would it do with them? There is a lot to support the administration's early view that the Geneva Conventions protections could not cover violent conduct by individual men or groups of men who wore no uniform, who had no allegiance to a particular government, who targeted civilians and who posed an imminent threat to Americans.

"But the administration never bothered to do the serious work that follows from that important judgment. Instead, it invoked broad designations -- illegal combatant, unlawful combatant, terrorist, etc. -- that plainly have resulted in large numbers of unjustified detentions. And it never bothered to set any clear limits on interrogation methods. For every promise of humane treatment, one could find an asterisk allowing for an exception. With an unknown number of detainees dead under questionable circumstances and thousands detained worldwide, the administration cannot seriously claim that it has executed a careful plan as a substitute for the Geneva Conventions.

"Here, however, is where the critics have let the Bush administration off the hook. They have rightly brought to light the excesses of the administration's conduct -- conduct that otherwise might not have been subjected to scrutiny. But it is one thing to criticize clearly objectionable interrogation tactics; it is much harder to confront the question of what interrogation tactics, if any, are not objectionable. If there is a small group of terrorists who are rightfully designated as not covered by the Geneva Conventions, and who may have knowledge of an imminent threat to the lives of literally thousands (perhaps millions) of persons, that question needs an answer. How should this hard-core group of terrorists, as distinguished from the much larger mass of detainees, be handled?"
Posted by eslaine (Member # 5433) on :
I keep thinking that we treat them in the manner we treat criminals, if they truely are terrorists. What did we do with international criminals that are deported to the US for trial before Guantanamo?
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
In a perfect world we would, and it would all work out for the best. This world is not perfect though, and I can see why that mmight not be the best treatment for actual terroists.

I don't know, I will have to think about this for a while.

What does Isreal do with them, if anyone knows? Not that I think we should automatically do the same of course, but it would be interesting to hear what a society that has had to deal with thsi for a long time does in a similar situation...
Posted by mothertree (Member # 4999) on :
I hope we don't use Israel as our model of human rights. Israel has a legitimate fear of declared anihilation on the part of an enemy that outnumbers them 10 to 1. For us to follow their example would be paranoia. Muslim nations haven't declared our way of life to be a form of racism (as they have Israel) and the Muslims of the world only outnumber us 2 to 1.

My question is whether and how they know wnich ones are terrorists and which ones are illegally held detainees.

And if we declared war against them (having declared war against "Terror") are we not obligated to treat them as enemy combatants? That's my feeling on it. I was bothered by the detentions at Guantanamo Bay from the get go, and not just in the latest tide of headlines.
Posted by eslaine (Member # 5433) on :
Official wars are between states.

I don't believe you can declare war on an ideal.

(except as propaganda)
Posted by Synesthesia (Member # 4774) on :
So true, Eslaine...
Posted by TL (Member # 8124) on :
I'm declaring war on injustice. I'm declaring war on crime. I'm declaring war on domestic abuse. I'm declaring war on misspent youth. I'm declaring war on candy.

That's right, you heard me, candy.
Posted by eslaine (Member # 5433) on :
Not Candy!

Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
What did candy ever do to you? Or is this a pre-emptive strike?
Posted by James Tiberius Kirk (Member # 2832) on :
*harbors candy*

You know, I really like this article's title...

Posted by Black Fox (Member # 1986) on :
Its a bit silly to say its all right for one person to do something because of they will surely be annihilated and butchered if one side wins etc. That and its a bit hard for them to declare internationally that the way of living the United States lives is evil, as they sell so much stuff to us! There are advantages to being large.

That and terrorists and insurgents of any kind don't technically count as POWS, technically they are criminals. Any law their nation wants to write for criminals, murderers etc. would fit fine. That by the way tends to be death, especially in third world nations.

Anyhow I've beaten this topic and others more than enough, to say enough its a bit tiring. Its more than a bit tiring , not to mention not very good for my emotional health, as it does nothing but anger me. So from now on I promise to never post on topics regarding terrorism, war, or international politics. I think one of these days I'll just become an ultra conservative for the sheer fact that everyone else can be so gosh darned stubborn on ideas they have no grasp upon.
Posted by TL (Member # 8124) on :
Cause ultra conservatives are known for their open-mindedness and flexibility.
Posted by Black Fox (Member # 1986) on :
lol.. that was the whole point of the statement, never mind.
Posted by TL (Member # 8124) on :
Oh, I WILL never mind.

just you watch.
Posted by Occasional (Member # 5860) on :
If we were to treat them as prisoners of war, guess what we would be doing? The exact same thing we are doing. Since the War on Terror hasn't been won they would be treated the way they are now. Prisoners of War do not get lawyers. Prisoners of War do not get let free until the war is over. In fact, I think that by the current standards of things the Geneva Convention is getting followed by fiat.
Posted by Chris Bridges (Member # 1138) on :
I'm guessing you haven't read the Geneva Convention. A few excerpts:

Under Article 13:

Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Under Article 14:

Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour. Women shall be treated with all the regard due to their sex and shall in all cases benefit by treatment as favourable as that granted to men. Prisoners of war shall retain the full civil capacity which they enjoyed at the time of their capture.

Under Article 17:

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

There are also rules about how they are to be fed, sheltered, clothed, etc, and rules on which international organizations are allowed contact. Just the cases that have been verified have violated many of these, not even counting the rumored instances.

I'm open to discussions about how to treat identified enemy combatants who possess knowledge that could save lives, but please do not kid yourself that the Geneva Convention is even being winked at.
Posted by Black Fox (Member # 1986) on :
Of course I'll be honest, the Geneva convention isn't one that will ever be followed to the letter. At one point and time Americans were considered barbaric for targeting officers, as officers were not considered "combatatants." Officers in the United States army still don't wear marksmanship badges for that very reason.

Of course technically by Geneva convention I can shoot every enemy combatant that I pass, be he wounded or not. Its simply if my assault passes him that I must render him medical aid. I was always taught that you should shoot every body you pass , just to make sure.

But then I honestly believe that the Geneva convention is for those who believe that there should be legal constraints on any and everything. Heck I think its technically illegal to use certain weapons against dismounts, that being soldiers not in some sort of vehicle etc. Its one of the main reasons that the .50 cal sniper rifle that we use is an Anti-Material rifle. Anyhow it all ends up being like any law, one that is followed to the letter and never intent. The fact is that such laws are only followed in, "civilized warfare," which of course is something that never existed.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
If we're as bad as they are, what are we fighting for? That's my question. I say follow the law! Follow the Geneva convention! Is this naive? I refuse to believe that civilization is ever optional.
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
If we're as bad as they are, what are we fighting for? That's my question.
Given your assumption, Survival. Safety. Security. Power. Take your pick.
Posted by Black Fox (Member # 1986) on :
The thing is the simply act of war means that you are as "bad" as they are in that sense. We put them down for being killers and what not, so we send in our own proffesionals to enforce good conduct through killing and measured force. If I shoot a man that is shooting me am I on the same level as he is? I believe that yes I am. Do I find that to be a "bad" thing, no. When it comes to the use of physical force there are very few ways to blunt its use without returning , at the very least, equal force. Generally of course one wants to bring overwhelming power against such a source.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
So we're just supplanting one group of assassins with another? The only difference is that the second group is us? To me that's not worth fighting or dying for. To me, unless the purpose is to replace something bad with something better, to increase the freedom, beauty, joy, happiness in the world or decrease the misery, hunger, death, disease, tyranny, or violence, then I have no concern whatsoever for the outcome.

I believe, on the contrary, that there are excellent and vitally important goals to pursue in bringing democracy to Iraq, and I believe they are best served by adhering to the full spirit of the law, with good faith, regardless of the tactics of the enemy.
Posted by Occasional (Member # 5860) on :
One could argue that the Geneva Convention created Terrorists. After all, if you have to follow rules that could keep you from winning than what is the use of having a conventional army? I followed the rules, but ended up losing everything. I guess if you are really negative you could say that it is a lose-lose situation. Don't followt the rules, you lose. Do follow the rules, you lose.

For the record Tatiana, many who believe that we should become "just like the enemy" also believe that it is the only way to protect a better way than the enemy. It is a case of War is Hell so that our lives don't have to be.
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
I hate to break it to you, but ununiformed emenies are not covered by the GC, and never were. That is why it was still legal to execute spies.

Not that I agree with what is happening now, but to say that the GC applies to terroists, even without a "War on Terror", is simply not true.

Posted by Black Fox (Member # 1986) on :
Perhaps you would like to lead a campaign against chemotherapy, or numerous drug treatments. Why would you want to get on the same level as something to defeat it? Individual lives are not as important as the grand system of things, that is why we have police officers, soldiers,firefighters, rescue workers, etc who risk their lives in their chosen proffesions.

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