What Is Torture?

This is the question du jour- actually more like the question of the year(s). In 2002, President Bush wanted to know the answers to that question and some questions related to that primary query. How do you define torture- is it something that produces excruciating pain and fear, or does this definition extend to discomfort?

Were the captured terrorists on the battlefield due the Geneva protocols, since they were not part of a Nation- State’s army, wore no uniforms, and behaved according to no code of ethics? These people came from various places, much like mercenaries, but unlike mercenaries, they did not wear a country’s uniform. The only way in which they were similar was in their hate for the West, and the United States in particular.

The fighters, as has been said, had no code of ethics, where they might protect the innocent as best as they could, rather, they used these innocent women and children as human shields in the way of cowards. They were not warriors- far from it- but like dogs cowering behind protection, they would boast in their videos that they could defeat their enemy. What pompous asses they were and are.

So what do you do with creatures like these? President Bush asked several lawyers to draw up legal opinions on the treatment of these terrorists, keeping in mind the Geneva Protocols regarding armed combat. The trouble with this, was that the Geneva Convention didn’t really address this situation- it was outdated with respect to the treatment of what should be called “extra- national” combatants- people who might fight for a cause but not a country.

There had always been an extra element of danger as regards the absence of a uniform- a person had no Geneva Convention protections, because then a person was treated as a spy, and the treatment was much rougher, and could (and often did) include torture. So were these people spies, because they wore no uniform? The legal minds, as they often do, split hairs. The Taliban and Al- Qaida fighters were somewhere in between, hiding among the innocent populace like cowards, but they definitely were not covered by the Geneva Convention and its rules.

So, since they were not one thing- spies- and were not regular army, the legal minds felt that perhaps, while we don’t torture, we could tweak their questioning somewhat. Now came the wrangling of just what constitutes torture. Is it physical pain, disfigurement, permanent disability? That was an easy yes, so scratch that- but what about perceived pain, anticipatory pain, or mental distress? Those are harder problems to deal with, because they are subjective- what bothers one will not bother another.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? This is what lawyers do, and these lawyers did their job, to the best of their abilities, to try and realistically find answers to these ambiguous questions. This was not an easy job, because no matter the final answers they gave, someone would object, as we can see now.

It turns out that the real objections are political, not moral- just observe Nancy Pelosi, who knew in 2002 that these methods were being used, and her question then was not some moral objection, no- her question was, ” Is it enough?” In the wake of 9/11, she wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t be struck again- but now, with several years distance between her and 9/11, she has conveniently “forgotten” her acceptance, and just wants to use this problem for her own political gain.

The lawyers are the ones caught in the middle here, and they are not deserving of this- what they did, they did as well and faithfully as they could, not with venom and spite, seeking to gleefully inflict pain, but to find where the definition of torture lay, and how far we, as a nation, could go in trying to protect ourselves and still keep the moral high ground. This was a question that, considering the paradigm shift in warfare and terrorism that had occurred, needed to be defined and delineated for future use.

Now, I personally do not believe that water boarding is torture- it is extreme discomfort, but then these people deserve some extreme discomfort. I do not believe that putting a caterpillar in a box with a prisoner is torture, even if he is extremely scared of the insect. I believe that these people are getting some of what they deserve, because you have to understand one thing-

These people were not just picked up off of a street, they had been fighting and killing our armed forces, sometimes in cowardly ways. They would torture, and they would behead our troops. The treatment we have put them through doesn’t even come close to their activities. If you are too squeamish to handle the details, perhaps you need to read the comics, and do not read the news, because there need to be people who will do the rough stuff that is needed to protect our nation, or we won’t have a nation.

That is a fact that most liberals fail to grasp- we will not keep our selves safe by trying to be universally liked- that is a strategy that just does not work. Sometimes you have to show that you are willing to be disliked, in order to be secure. All these lawyers did was to try and find the limits to which we would go to be secure.

They cannot be faulted for that.

Blake

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