Q&A Friday #49: McCain And How We Treat Terrorists

by John Hawkins | September 15, 2006 1:34 pm

Question: “Do you think that John McCain’ sensitivty to “torture” by our government is driven by the fact that he was REALLY tortured by the Viet Cong? No Red Hot Chili Peppers from the VC…unless they were being stuffed into some unmentionable place.

I respect McCain’s service and the suffering he went through, but it seems that he’s going way, way too far in his quest to make sure that “we’re better than our enemies”. Name one of our opponents since WWII who treated our POWS humanely.” — sterm26

Answer: Is it possible that McCain’s judgment has been so clouded by the despicable torture that he received at the hand of the VietCong that he can’t objectively look at the situation? Yes, absolutely. Whether that’s the case or not, the position that McCain and the Democrats are taking on the tribunals for terrorists is absolutely insane.

What they’re essentially saying is that we’re not allowed to put these terrorists on trial unless we agree to reveal our most sensitive classified programs to the very people who want to kill us.

It’s like a Twilight Zone episode.

Then there’s the Geneva Convention, which in the real world, applies to exactly one country on Earth: the United States. We have terrorists, who haven’t even signed the agreement and follow no rules of war whatsoever, being treated like a uniformed soldier who was caught after a skirmish on the battle field. One of the express purposes of the Geneva Convention is supposed to be to PREVENT exactly the sort of behavior Al-Qaeda is engaging in by promising that soldiers will be treated well as long as they behave honorably.

But because the Geneva Convention is being turned on its ear by judicial activists in the Supreme Court, we have CIA interrogators who are being told they may be prosecuted for using abusive procedures even though the politicians in the Senate refuse to tell them what those procedures are. In other words, politicians like McCain and Harry Reid want the rules to be determined by judges when the men interrogating these prisoners are sued. That’s because they’re afraid of coming across as comically weak on national security if they say they want to ban techniques like sleep deprivation and forced exercising.

The problem is that guys like McCain, Colin Powell and pretty much the whole Democratic Party in the Senate would rather see Americans die by tens of thousands rather than risk having the world think we’re being “mean” to the people who want to kill us. If you ask me, their priorities are way out of whack. Keeping Americans from being killed in another 9/11 is much more important than being tut-tutted by a bunch of European snobs who have mentalities no different than those of their grandparents who stood by and allowed the Nazis to overrun Europe in WW2.

Update #1: If anything, we’re way, way, way too easy on these Al-Qaeda terrorists we’ve captured. Take a gander at this New York Post column from Richard Minitier[1], who just got back from Gitmo:

“The high-minded critics who complain about torture are wrong. We are far too soft on these guys – and, as a result, aren’t getting the valuable intelligence we need to save American lives.

The politically correct regulations are unbelievable. Detainees are entitled to a full eight hours sleep and can’t be woken up for interrogations. They enjoy three meals and five prayers per day, without interruption. They are entitled to a minimum of two hours of outdoor recreation per day.

Interrogations are limited to four hours, usually running two – and (of course) are interrupted for prayers. One interrogator actually bakes cookies for detainees, while another serves them Subway or McDonald’s sandwiches. Both are available on base. (Filet o’ Fish is an al Qaeda favorite.)

Interrogations are not video or audio taped, perhaps to preserve detainee privacy.

Call it excessive compassion by a nation devoted to therapy, but it’s dangerous. Adm. Harris admitted to me that a multi-cell al Qaeda network has developed in the camp. Military intelligence can’t yet identify their leaders, but notes that they have cells for monitoring the movements and identities of guards and doctors, cells dedicated to training, others for making weapons and so on.

And they can make weapons from almost anything. Guards have been attacked with springs taken from inside faucets, broken fluorescent light bulbs and fan blades. Some are more elaborate. “These folks are MacGyvers,” Harris said.

Other cells pass messages from leaders in one camp to followers in others. How? Detainees use the envelopes sent to them by their attorneys to pass messages. (Some 1,000 lawyers represent 440 prisoners, all on a pro bono basis, with more than 18,500 letters in and out of Gitmo in the past year.) Guards are not allowed to look inside these envelopes because of “attorney-client privilege” – even if they know the document inside is an Arabic-language note written by a prisoner to another prisoner and not a letter to or from a lawyer.

That’s right: Accidentally or not, American lawyers are helping al Qaeda prisoners continue to plot.

There is little doubt what this note-passing and weapons-making is used for. The military recorded 3,232 incidents of detainee misconduct from July 2005 to August 2006 – an average of more than eight incidents per day. Some are nonviolent, but the tally includes coordinated attacks involving everything from throwing bodily fluids on guards (432 times) to 90 stabbings with homemade knives.

One detainee slashed a doctor who was trying to save his life; the doctors wear body armor to treat their patients.”

  1. Richard Minitier: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/a_deadly_kindness_opedcolumnists_richard_miniter.htm

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