January 21, 2010

Marc Thiessen v Christiane Amanpour and Phillippe Sands on CNN

Three days ago I excerpted Marc Thiessen article on National Review in which he summarized part of his new book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack. As expected, the post generated a spirited debate among commenters. A speechwriter for President George W. Bush, to prepare for writing them Thiessen was allowed to speak with two of our top CIA agents who actually conducted interrogations and debriefings (two separate activities) of captured terrorists. Obviously he didn't put the classified information they told him in the speeches, it was rather for background information so he would have an understanding of what we were really doing as opposed to what critics said we were doing.

Unsurprisingly, leftist critics of Bush are aghast that he would dare to write a book defending his administration. Christiane Amanpour had him on her show, and she and Phillippe Sands attacked his positions.

I think that Thiessen made Amanpour look like foolish because she clearly didn't know what she was talking about, and gets the better of Sands on the facts. Both Amanpour and Sands are determined that terrorists should have the protection of the Geneva conventions, which they either do not understand or are misrepresenting (Amanpour probably misunderstands, Sands is probably misrepresenting). See my posts here and here for information on the conventions.

But enough of my opinion. Watch the interview yourself and decide who's right (h/t Powerline)

Part two is below the fold

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 17, 2009

Steven Crowder goes to Gitmo

Via Hot Air: Watch it, love it, and learn the truth about Guantanamo Bay:

Posted by Tom at 10:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 10, 2009

Pelosi Knew About the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

Last week we saw a rash of stories that pretty much proved that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knew all about the waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques that we were using against terrorists. Both the Washington Post and Washington Times had stories to this effect on Friday. From the Post:

Intelligence officials released documents yesterday saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was briefed in September 2002 about the use of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda suspects, seeming to contradict her repeated statements that she was never told the techniques were actually being used.

In a 10-page memo outlining an almost seven-year history of classified briefings, intelligence officials said that Pelosi and then-Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress briefed on the tactics. Then the ranking member and chairman of the House intelligence committee, respectively, Pelosi and Goss were briefed Sept. 4, 2002, one week before the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The memo, issued to Capitol Hill by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, notes that the Pelosi-Goss briefing covered "EITs including the use of EITs" on Abu Zubaida. EIT is an acronym for enhanced interrogation technique, and Abu Zubaida, whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was one of the earliest valuable al-Qaeda members captured. He also was the first to have the controversial tactic of simulated drowning, or waterboarding, used against him.

She knew. I think most of these Democrats who now act so indignant over our use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques knew about them all along.

The story in the Times adds that "a classified CIA briefing of Mrs. Pelosi included specific details of the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," or EITs, on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah.

She knew.

Via Jeb Babbin at Human Events, here is the relevant page from the briefing schedule that shows she was briefed on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:

Pelosi Knew

From the Post article linked to above, Pelosi's defense was issued by her spokesman

"As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002. The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used," said Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesman.

From a Friday story on Fox News, Pelosi offers a lame defense that is immediately swatted down:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted Friday that she was briefed only once about the "enhanced" interrogation techniques being used on terrorism suspects and that she was assured by lawyers with the CIA and the Department of Justice that the methods were legal.

Pelosi issued a statement after CIA records released this week showed that Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 on the interrogation methods. The briefings memo appeared to contradict the speaker's claims that she was never told that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation methods were being used.

"We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," Pelosi said on April 23.

The emphasis seems to be on "were used," even though she conceded in a statement released Friday that she was told they would be used.

"As I said in my statement of December 9, 2007: 'I was briefed on interrogation techniques the (Bush) administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal,'" she said.

But even that statement is at odds with the official record of the briefings recorded in the CIA memo dated to Sept. 4, 2002. That memo says Pelosi received a "briefing on EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques), including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities and a description of particular EITs that had been employed."


Another Washington Post story from Saturday goes farther:

A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday.

Pelosi has insisted that she was not directly briefed by Bush administration officials that the practice was being actively employed. But Michael Sheehy, a top Pelosi aide, was present for a classified briefing that included Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, at which agency officials discussed the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida.

A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy. Pelosi herself acknowledged in a December 2007 statement that she was aware that Harman had learned of the waterboarding and had objected in a letter to the CIA's top counsel....

Republicans have accused Pelosi and other Democrats who attended the earliest classified briefings of knowing what CIA operatives were doing and offering their support for the methods, including waterboarding. They argue that Pelosi, who served as the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee until January 2003, objected only after the use of the techniques became public several years later.

Also on Saturday, David Freddoso reported on NRO's The Corner that he

...spoke to a senior Republican aide who feels that the speaker is getting an awfully easy ride on this -- that the briefing of the Speaker's aide clearly demonstrates that she knew what was going on in 2003, even if Pelosi is disputing exactly what was mentioned in the 2002 briefing.

"Look, the claim that a Pelosi staffer was briefed on these techniques but not Pelosi herself is absurd," he said. "That's just not the way the system works. Staff are not briefed on anything a Member wouldn't be briefed on."

She knew. Why does her defense make no sense? Dr Krauthammer nails it:

If you are told about torture that has already occurred, you might justify silence on the grounds that what's done is done and you are simply being used in a post-facto exercise to cover the CIA's rear end. The time to protest torture, if you really are as outraged as you now pretend to be, is when the CIA tells you what it is planning to do "in the future."

What I Think Happened

In the days after 9-11 most Americans thought we would get hit again, and soon. The attack had so taken us by surprise that we realized just how much we didn't know. We can track aircraft and missiles coming at use. With them, you have some idea as to what to expect. Terrorist attacks are not just bolts from the blue, but you don't even know what form it will take. Will the next one be a car bomb? An attempt to breach a dam? A bio-chemical attack? Or another hijacking? There was just no way to tell.

Our political leaders knew that the public would forgive them for one attack, but that would be it. The public never held anyone accountable for 9-11 because they - we - realized that no one could have really predicted it (I'm leaving the 9-11 Truthers whackjobs out of this).

But by the same token political leaders realized that the public would not be forgiving the next time. The would demand to know why stern measures had not been taken to prevent it. And, frankly, in the days after 9-11, any poll would have shown strong support for "enhanced interrogation techniques."

So at the time the Democrats wanted to protect our country and they did what they thought was the right thing to do. They were briefed on and approved the use of stern interrogation techniques. Now, however, they're pretending like they didn't have anything to do with it.

Nancy Pelosi and some of her fellow Democrats are playing the same game with EITs that they did with Iraq; support it when the polls show support for it, oppose it when the polls show support lagging. We're on to the game, though, and aren't going to let them get away with it.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

The Gitmo Investigation Fraud

So now the Democrats have decided that the most important thing to do in the War on Terror is to provide Al-Jazeera with more anti-American propaganda. As such, they've demanded an independent investigation to look into alleged abuses at Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, where we are holding several hundred terrorists.

Of course, as it is Al-Jazzera covers in detail the attempt by far-left Congressman John Conyers' and other Democrats to impeach President Bush. That network is full of stories about our supposedly regular torture of prisoners at the camp. Don't think they don't follow what goes on over here.

The Democrats aren't the only ones in the business of trying to make us look bad, as the UN is trying to get in the game too, demanding access to the prison "to check out conditions there." That's rich. This from the same organization that has Cuba, Egypt, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Zimbabwe as members on it's Commission on Human Rights.

I've gone over many times the fallacy of treating the prisoners there as if they were criminals, and interested readers need only select "Guantanamo Bay and the Geneva Convention" at right for the full story.

Right now I'm going to deal with this latest Democrat diversion.

And let us have no doubt, for it is indeed a diversion from the War on Terror. Let me stop right here and point out the obvious; about half of the Democrats are sincere in wanting to win the War on Terror. We and they may disagree on this or that, but it's all an argument within the family.

But Ted Kennedy, Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, Jim McDermott and crowd, they do not seem to care at all if we win. To them it's all a diversion from their plan to put us all under the rule of the EPA (this is HUMOR, trolls).

I've got other posts to write, and since the editors of National Review say it best, I'll just quote them:

It is argued that a commission will help clear the country’s good name. Put aside that the portion of the foreign audience that hates us won’t be swayed by a commission’s findings one way or another. A commission will, in political terms, never clear the Bush administration of anything. The Robb-Silberman Commission cleared Bush officials of the charge that they pressured intelligence officials to hype intelligence about Iraq’s WMD. Democrats and swaths of the media dismissed the report for exactly that reason.

The Pentagon has investigated its detainee practices repeatedly. Air Force Lt. General Randall Schmidt’s investigation into Gitmo — it is his forthcoming report that Newsweek falsely said would contain the toilet-flushing incident — will just be the latest. There is no reason to believe that violations of the rules at the facility, including of the minute procedures for handling the Koran, haven’t resulted in discipline for the violators. And numerous congressional hearings have been held about the detentions there.

An independent commission is not just unnecessary, it’s a cop out. Democrats should simply say what they would do with the detainees, and offer a congressional resolution to that effect and vote on it. Do they oppose tough interrogation techniques for the 20th hijacker? Then they should put themselves on record against them, even if it’s only in a symbolic resolution. Do they think terrorists deserve Geneva Convention protections? That we should attempt (futilely) to try the detainees in the American courts and — failing that — release them? If they are such fans of “accountability,” Democrats shouldn’t blanch at putting such positions in black and white and voting on them.

Of course, they will do no such thing. They instead want to hide behind a commission that at best will duplicate investigative work that has already been done and at worst replicate the 9/11 Commission at its lowest, most politicized moments. The response to calls for such a commission should be simple: “Hell, no.”

Ditto that.

Posted by Tom at 8:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

"Right On" on Gitmo

Better a day late than never. Yesterday the editors of the Washington Times summed up what I've been saying for some time now regarding the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay:


"What we are seeing today," said William Barr last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, "is an extreme ... effort to take the judicial rules and standards applicable in the domestic law enforcement context and extend them to the fighting of wars." Mr. Barr is referring to the current effort to treat Guantanamo detainees like American criminals, with full access to our courts. We agree with the former attorney general that "nothing could be more farcical, or more dangerous."

If the critics are right, and detained terrorists have an inalienable right to access U.S. courts, then they have created a new standard -- one which has no precedent in the Geneva Conventions, the Constitution or U.S. history. Even worse, as Mr. Barr suggested, it is a standard that would effectively make victory in the war on terror impossible.
...
This history conforms with the Geneva Conventions, as long as the detainee qualified as a legal combatant. If not, a detainee's rights as defined in the Geneva Conventions are considerably less. The reasons for this are simple. Article 4 of the convention on treatment of prisoners of war identifies a legal combatant as someone who fights under a recognized state which adheres to the Geneva Conventions; wears a fixed insignia or uniform; carries his arms openly; and conducts operations in accordance with the laws of war -- which rules out terrorists.

As the administration rightly determined after the invasion of Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists fail to meet any of these standards. Therefore, they are illegal combatants and not protected as prisoners of war in the Geneva Conventions. A soldier is different from a terrorist because a soldier is supposed to follow certain rules; terrorists are not -- and the Geneva Conventions acknowledge this difference. If they did not, then there would be no incentive for soldiers to adhere to Article 4.

Even if, for the sake of argument, we accepted that terrorists are POWs, they would still not be entitled to adjudicate their case before a U.S. court. There is nothing in the Geneva Conventions that requires or even considers such an option. The conventions do say that a POW is subject to the laws of the "Detaining Power" -- yet the Constitution does not say anything about allowing combatants access to U.S. courts.

Last year the Supreme Court acknowledged that this war is different, and that determining a combatant, legal or otherwise, is not as simple as it used to be. Lower courts are divided on how to interpret this decision, but the fact is that every Guantanamo detainee has had a chance to contest his detention as a combatant before a military tribunal. It's enough for now just to note that this is beyond what the Geneva Conventions require for a POW.

"Not good enough," insist the critics, who want nothing less than full constitutional rights bestowed on foreign enemies of the United States. The Geneva Conventions do not acknowledge such a right, the Constitution does not acknowledge such a right, so why would this administration acknowledge such a right?

No reason that I can think of.

Posted by Tom at 9:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

Screaming at the Windshield

Which is what I was doing while driving into work today. I was listening to the Laura Ingraham show and she played Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill) tirade about how our holding prisoners at Guantanamo was the same as what the Nazis and Soviets did:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

(complete text here, hat tip lgf)

Now you can see why I was so furious that I was screaming at the windshield. Laura was beside herself, and so were the callers to her show.

According to lgf, Durbin launched into this rant during a debate on an energy bill. Talk about inappropriate. But what do we expect from someone who will stoop to the level of comparing what we do to concentration camps or the Gulag?

Ok, so just what was it that had the good senator so upset?

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here—I almost hesitate to put them in the RECORD, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

"One a couple of occasions, i entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more.

On another occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. ..... On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor."

It was at this point that Senator Durbin compared what our interrogators did to worst of the twentieth century:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Tough stuff, to be sure, what we do to them. Reasonable people may even argue as to whether the techniques we employ are appropriate.

But to compare what we do to the Nazis or communists did is beyond inappropriate, it is madness and insanity. No, it is more than that.

Why Durbin and the others go off the deep end is because of one of three things, or maybe a combination of them.

Rush Limbaugh today said that Durbin was just desperate to be heard. No one has been listening to these liberals, so the rachet up the rhetoric. This is possible.

More likely he just doesn't care enough about the War on Terror to think through what he is saying. I've heard just about all of the usual suspects recently tell us that we need to close Gitmo. None of them, however, offer any alternatives. Joe Biden casually suggests letting some of the prisoners go. But it's clear from his comments that he hasn't thought the issue through either, and he's supposed to be such a great intellectual. So many of these people just don't stop and think, "ok, so how would I get the information we need? How would I win the WOT?" etc.

Do they even Care?

There is still another explanation, and that is that they just do not care whether we win or not. I've said this before and I'll say it again; there is a certain type of liberal to whom the WOT is a giant distraction from the important work of putting us all under the rule of the EPA.

This is why I think some of them, like John Kerry, so favor turning the WOT into a police action, and why they opposed the invasion of Iraq. Without Iraq, they could keep the issue on the back burners, out of the daily news coverage.

Now they're mad because they realize that the average American trusts the GOP a lot more than then when it comes to national security matters. So rather than contribute to the debate, they seek refuge in what they're comfortable with; "civil rights" type arguments. They've been trying to turn the WOT into a civil rights argument, when it should be about national security. No one (in the US, anyway) has been listening to them, and now some, like Senator Durbin, has gone off the deep end.

We will watch with a combination of sadness and amazement as it continues.

And then we'll get back to the business of winning this war.

Update

Check out the chart that Dr. Sanity put together which compares"...what the media is Obsessed by (on the LEFT) , compared to what they appear Indifferent to (on the Right)"

Posted by Tom at 8:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

Put the Democrats on the Defensive

I wrote a post this morning on the controversy over Guantanamo Bay.

Given what I saw today on the news, it would seem that another is in order.

We've heard from the usual suspects that we need to close the facility; Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Jimmy Carter prominent among them. Unfortunately, a few Republicans have joined them, Mel Martinez prominent among them. Chucl Hagel has also made some predictably stupid comments also.

But perhaps the most stupid comment goes to Nancy Pelosi, who told reporters that “I think that we need a fresh start, ... a clean slate for America in the Muslim world.”

The Washington Times' take on Pelosi's latest idiocy:

That would be quite a trick. Radical Muslims hated us before September 11. There was no prison camp at Guantanamo when the ayatollah's seized American hostages in Iran. Islamist hatred of the West didn't begin with Guantanamo and it won't end at Guantanamo. Closing it down would do nothing to stem the grievances Islamist terrorists hold against the West.

Exactly.

As Mark Steyn pointed out in a recently, Robert Mugabe's thugs destroyed a Mosque, razed it to the ground in fact, and nary a peep from the Muslim world.

But enough of this. We are on the defensive, and this is not a good thing. And that is what I really want to talk about

If you're going to win anything, be it a war or a football game, you aren't going to win it playing defense. This holds true in politics as well. Maybe especially true in politics.

And let us not doubt that in order to win this war on terror we need to win it on the political front as well as the battlefield. Those who talk about "keeping politics out of military decision-making" simply do not know what they are talking about.

I'm not going to make the full presentation about war and politics here, for I've done that before and interested readers can go here.

Suffice it to say here that you can win on the battlefield, yet if you lose the political battle you lose the war. Anyone who doubts this need only consider the Tet Offensive.

In 1968 the Viet Cong staged a series of attacks on US and ARVN forces during the Vietnamese holiday of Tet. Although we were taken by surprise, and suffered some early setbacks, in the end we virtually annihilated them as a fighting force. However the battle was portrayed as a defeat back home in the press. It would have been understandable had the press simply criticized the administration and military for having had assured the public that such an attack was not even possible. However, the press (I of course speak in general terms) went farther, and presented it as a US defeat. US public opinion turned started to turn against the war at this point. Thus, the Tet Offensive is generally considered the turning point of the war.

The Political Offensive

The reason why it is important to stay on the offensive is that the person or group who is on the offensive gets to determine the agenda. They determine what gets discussed and what does not.

For example, right now we are in a position of defending our treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. This is fine up to an extent, but what we ought to do is flip it around and demand of our oppenents answers on how they would fight the war.

So how exactly would you go about getting information from these prisoners? How, indeed, would you get information at all? Where would you keep them, and what of the difficulties at all alternatives to Gitmo?

Rich Lowry gets it exactly right:

The administration should defend the facility there unabashedly. It should force Democrats to argue that the 9/11 hijackers shouldn’t have women stand too close to them and that rice pilaf isn’t good enough fare. It should make Democrats explain how to fight a war on terror without detaining enemy fighters, and work to stem the panic, rather than surrendering to it.

Bill Clinton won in 1992 because he stayed on the offensive. His staff set up their famous "war room" and countered every Republican attack immediately, then turned it around and went on the attack themselves. It worked brilliantly and put him in the white house. We should take a page from that book and do the same.

Posted by Tom at 9:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Should we Close Camp Delta?

You don't have to go very far in the news to come up with a story about Camp Delta, the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Several prominent senators have called for the prison camp to be closed. Many in the Muslim world are all atwitter. Vice-President Cheney has launched a staunch defense. It has achieved the status of "embattled" in the media. We are told that the camp has become a public relations liability, and that the best solution is to close it down.

The arguments in favor of closing are not totally without merit. The camp has become something of a lightening rod for those who oppose our efforts. "Human Rights" groups (given the behavior of some of them recently, quotation marks are required) focus on it, and the media dutifully report their findings. Closing the base, it is argued, would deprive those who oppose us of a propaganda tool.

A quick google search revealed articles in which Jimmy Carter, Tom Friedman, Joe Biden, and others have called for the closure of the base.

What is interesting is that in not one of the stories is an alternative proposed. This is either bad reporting or poor thinking on the part of those who want the prison closed. I'm inclined to think the latter. They appear to be talking first, thinking later.

Here are my reasons why we should keep Camp Delta open for business:

Since none of the people who want the base closed that I read about saw fit to offer alternatives, I'll go through them.

Move it to the continental United States. I can see the left salivating over this possibility. They would all converge on the base, set up camp outside, wave their protest signs for the media (who would dutifully cover them), and all sing kum-bay-ah. The place would become a magnet for every leftie group with a gripe, which is to say, all of them. We'd even have the "free Mumia" people there before long.

In addition, this would give the left a greater opportunity to use their favorite weapon; the lawsuit. I'm no lawyer, but you don't have to be one to see that a base in the U.S. proper would give a laywer more tools to work with.

Move it to a foreign country. Yeah. Know any that would be willing to take the political heat? I don't either.

Move it to Iraq. This would certainly keep the media and human rights types away, but I doubt that the Iraqis would like this. It would give the insurgency a propaganda tool and we don't need this. So this option is out also.

Disband it entirely and disperse the prisoners. I don't see how this solves anything. It would make it harder on our interrogators. The world would figure out where we'd sent them, and we'd have the same problems as in the first two options presented above.

Propaganda and Storms

Those who oppose our efforts will find something to complain about no matter what we do. If not Guantanamo Bay, then it will be something else.

Further, if we close the base now our opponents will simply smell blood and will go after bigger fish. They will not be satisfied. They will redouble their efforts on other fronts, mostly to try and get "fair trials" for the illegal combatants we are keeping prisoner. A few posts ago I went through how the prisoners should not and must not be treated as criminals, but as prisoners-of-war (albeit illegal ones).

Lastly, as I indicated above, I'm not sure that closing the base will put the issue to rest. Consider Abu Ghraib; this is still used by those who oppose us, even though the United States dealt firmly and swiftly with the abuses there. This CBS story about Guantanamo saw fit to mention Abu Ghraib in it's opening paragraph, for example. I suppose one could make the argument that keeping Guantanamo Bay open will also keep Abu Ghraib in the news, but my guess is that they'll be there anyway. They will never forgive us for Aby Ghraib, why should they forgive us for Guantanamo Bay? We may as well accept that the issue will always be with us, and fight back as best we can.

It is at good to see the Vice-President defend the camp to staunchly. Those of us who agree with him should help him as best we can.

Posted by Tom at 7:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 10, 2005

Here we go again on Prisoners of War

Here we go again, Guantanamo Bay is in the news. This time we are being instructed by no less than Jimmy Carter that we need to close down the prison there.

Yeah. There's a guy I'll take foreign policy advice from.

So here's the deal; we're being accused of two or three things, depending on which leftie you listen to. One; that the prisoners there should be given rights as accords prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. Two, that some are "not guilty" of anything and should be released immediately. Three, that we have abused the dears and so Rumsfeld and Bush should be tried as war criminals....blah blah blah.

What utter nonsense, and for these reasons:

One, they do not and should not qualify as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

Yes I said "should not", and for very good reasons that will become clear very shortly.

First, let's revisit the Geneva Convention. I wrote about this some time ago, but here goes again.

The full title is "Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War". It was adopted in 1949 and entered into force in 1950. Some lefties have tried to amend it in a blatant attempt to tie the hands of the United States, but thankfully they didn't succeed.

Anyway, the convention very specifically details exactly who may be considered a prisoner of war. Let's take a minute and go through Article 4, which is the section that defines who is a prisoner of war:

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

B. The following shall likewise be treated as prisoners of war under the present Convention:

1. Persons belonging, or having belonged, to the armed forces of the occupied country, if the occupying Power considers it necessary by reason of such allegiance to intern them, even though it has originally liberated them while hostilities were going on outside the territory it occupies, in particular where such persons have made an unsuccessful attempt to rejoin the armed forces to which they belong and which are engaged in combat, or where they fail to comply with a summons made to them with a view to internment.

2. The persons belonging to one of the categories enumerated in the present Article, who have been received by neutral or non-belligerent Powers on their territory and whom these Powers are required to intern under international law, without prejudice to any more favourable treatment which these Powers may choose to give and with the exception of Articles 8, 10, 15, 30, fifth paragraph, 58-67, 92, 126 and, where diplomatic relations exist between the Parties to the conflict and the neutral or non-belligerent Power concerned, those Articles concerning the Protecting Power. Where such diplomatic relations exist, the Parties to a conflict on whom these persons depend shall be allowed to perform towards them the functions of a Protecting Power as provided in the present Convention, without prejudice to the functions which these Parties normally exercise in conformity with diplomatic and consular usage and treaties.

C. This Article shall in no way affect the status of medical personnel and chaplains as provided for in Article 33 of the present Convention.

Now, anyone should be able to clearly see that the terrorists that we have captured do not fall into any of the above categories. Regarding section 2, a person must meet all four requirements, not one or two. Thus while a terrorist may be part of a heirarchy, they do not wear a uniform or " fixed distinctive sign"(our soldiers wear the US flag on their shoulder which the lawyers say counts), they do not carry arms openly and certainly are not part of an army from any recognized government. Heaven knows that hiding behind women and children, using Mosques as forts and ammunition depots, and sending forth human suicide bombers violate just about every law of war their is.

Want more? Here goes; in past wars, people caught out of uniform but armed were shot as spies on the spot.

They were lined up against the nearest wall and shot. This was done as a matter of course by all armies, including ours. I have read where German soldiers attempted to hide from our advancing troops by taking off their uniforms. When caught they were shot. You can be sure that the British and Russians did the same, as, for that matter, did the Germans sometimes when they caught partisans.

We would have been perfectly within our rights to have just lined them up on the nearest wall in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever and shot them right then and there.

But Why Does It Matter?

It matters because the purpose of the Geneva Convention was to protect the civilians. That's right, the civilians, and to protect them from the ravages of guerilla war fought by irregular forces. Rich Lowry explains:

The convention was designed to disadvantage combatants who don't obey the laws of war by fighting out of uniform, lacking a discernable chain of command or targeting civilians. The distinction is meant to encourage combatants to honor relatively civilized standards of conduct in combat and foreswear such dangerous tactics as hiding among civilians.

Gore's absurd reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention to protect terrorists makes a huge intellectual concession to al Qaeda, former Baathist fighters, and other criminal groups — that their men are indistinguishable under international law from American GIs.

Lowry was in part responding to one of Al Gore's famous outbursts. Howard Dean fills the role of ranting lunatic these days, but that's for another post.

But again, the point of the Geneva Conventions was to provide a reward for combatants who obeyed the rules; good treatment if captured. And we don't just mean 3 squares a day, we mean good treatment. Very concerned about German treatment of our boys during WWII, our government went to great lengths to provide German POWs with a nice standard of living that was usually greater than that of American civilians, who scraped by on ration books (I saw a whole Discovery or History program on this once. It was amazing). We gave the Germans so much food they couldn't eat it all. We captured very few Japanese, as they prefered to fight to the death.

So in case someone needs it spelled out, if we were to give these terrorists Geneva Convention protections it would be reckless endangerment of civilians. Rather, they are propertly classified as "illegal combatants". So the next time some leftie demands that we give them Geneva Convention protection, ask them why they want to endanger civilians.

But Some of Them Are Not Guilty!

This is one that we hear almost every day; that x number of people that we are keeping in Guantanamo Bay have not been charged with anything and have (gasp) not even had a hearing! Oh horrors.

The response is simple: We are in a war, fool, not a police action. In a war you take prisoners, you do not arrest suspects. Just because they are illegal combatants does not change anything, either. There is no contradiction here. Illegal combatants can be detained throughout the course of the war and need not be charged with a crime. How long will the war last? How should I know?

You Are Abusing Them!

First, they're lucky that when we captured them we didn't line them up against the nearest wall and shoot them.

But that said, we shouldn't abuse them either. And we don't, not as a matter of policy. The people who perpetrated Abu Ghraib have or will be tried and punished. Others who abuse prisoners will face charges as well.

On one level, the left is just unhappy that they weren't able to get their Watergate; they wanted to "prove" that Rumsfeld and Bush personally ordered the abuses of Abu Ghraib.

But on another, there is a fundamenal disagreement over just what constitutes "abuse." It is good to have such debate and discussion, as long as it stays within certain bounds. One has to wonder, however, when we read about the lengths to which our military goes to "respect the dignity of the Koran". Perhaps such things are just to be expected in our modern age.

I said at the start of this war that it was really about willpower, and so it is. We must have the strength to do what we have to do in the face of pressure from the usual suspects. But whatever we do, let's not take our policy advice from Jimmy Carter.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

The Geneva Convention and Guantanamo Bay

We hear a lot these days about the "Geneva Convention", with arguments flying back and forth about how they do or do not apply in this or that situation. I thought it might be useful to do a bit of research on what the convention actually says.

The full title is "Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War". It was adopted in 1949 and entered into force in 1950.

The allegation is that the U.S. is not obeying the Geneva Convention with regard to our treatment of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq. We call the prisoners there "detainees" and "illegal combatants", which annoys the liberals considerably. So what does the convention actually say about this?

Article 4, Section A2 provides that:

Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

For a "militia or volunteer corps" to qualify for protection under the Geneva Convention, its members must adhere to all four of the above conditions. This is why those prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay are in fact properly called "illegal combatants".

If combatants adhere to these provisions they are rewarded by decent treatment if captured. We've all seen the World War II movies which feature German prisoner-of-war camps. The Germans treated our people fairly well, unless you were Jewish or tried to escape. Likewise, the U.S. went to great lengths to ensure that captured Germans enjoyed treatment that sometimes even exceeded that required by the convention.

It is also important to remember that the treaty is a two-way street. It basically sets up a reward system for good behavior. "If you play according to the rules, then if you are captured we'll treat you well." The reverse is also true: if you don't play according to the rules, all bets are off. This is the reason why spies can be shot. Even military personnel, if caught out of uniform, count as spies.

Some people, like Al Gore and Joseph Biden, say that we should still grant Geneva Convention protections to insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists. This is sort of like rewarding your child with dessert even if he doesn't eat the main course. Or like starting a meeting late because a few people can't make it on time; doing so punishes those who show up on time and incents people to show up late. If we follow the Gore/Biden suggestions (demands, really), they we would be encouraging our opponents to adopt terrorist tactics. As if we don't have enough trouble as it is.

At Abu Ghaib we may be in violation of Article 3 (1)(c) which states that "Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;" The difference, which those on the left are perpetually blind to, is that we will prosecute our own, and our offenses are infinitely smaller than those of the terrorists or many other nations.

A summary of the provisions of the convention can be found on Wikopedia here.

Posted by Tom at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack