Bush And Obama: Killing vs. Torture

I was listening to my 2nd favorite talk show host, Jason Lewis, on the way to Charlotte last night.  During his show, he mentioned the news concerning the killing of Al Qaeda’s #2 guy.  I’ll get to Mr. Lewis’ main point in a second, it has to do with the double standard in the war on terror.  But first, I wanna more fully clarify my stance on “enhanced interrogation techniques”, oftentimes known as “torture.”

As I type this it strikes me as possible that people hear “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the same way that I hear “kinetic military action.”

Terrorists participate in an especially gruesome form of political expression.  In many ways, proper war is an extension of politics, perhaps better described as failed politics.  However, terrorism is similar in that one group is seeking to impose their will or vision on another group through violent action.  However similar, it is different in that the actions of the terrorist are not governed by the proper “rules of warfare.”

The crimes of the terrorist are different than the actions of a foreign soldier, serving honorably, in noble defense of his country.  In the one case, we see the actions of a well defined system with expectations that are mostly explicit.  In the other, we see ruthless abandon of all that is universally accepted as humane.

Perhaps I’m not clear in the distinction.  Consider this:

A man hits, or fights, another man in anger or disagreement.

A man hits, or fights, a woman in anger or disagreement.

If we’re honest, we should see the two as morally equivalent.  Either fighting is not okay, or, perhaps in some cases, it’s a fine way for two people to express differences.  But we never EVER would say that it’s okay for a man to hit a woman.

It is okay, in cases, for nations to wage war.  But it is never, EVER, okay for peoples to wage terror.

So, now, a suspected member of a terrorist organization is captured.  What to do?  What do we do with individuals that are caught during such activities or are caught in suspicion of those activities?

My take:

  1. Identify the suspected involvement in the organization.  I.E. Foot soldier, mid-level management or master mind.
  2. Determine what information might reasonably be know to this individual.
  3. Employ techniques that are not standard interrogation techniques UNTIL you reasonably believe that individual has told you all he knows.  Even if this may be nothing.

For example, the foot soldier may only know where he was 2-3 days ago, where he was ordered to go tomorrow and who he was to meet.  He might not even know the who in this case.

The master mind?  We expect him to know much more.  And if we have parallel methods of intel gathering, we may reasonably know what he should know and if he is lying.

These are things that I find to be acceptable in the theater of terrorism.

What I find to be torture are those activities, carried out by individuals or groups of people, that go beyond the reasonable gathering of information.  Once an individual has been reasonably interrogated, their knowledge communicated, they should be treated as a prisoner and confined.  Any further techniques used against this person, for personal vindictive or retributive reasons, would be considered torture.

In short, I find harsh techniques a reasonable recourse in line with the crimes and agree that what I define as torture should be punished in American courts.

There, now, to Jason’s point:

Why is it wrong for Bush to capture and “torture” suspects without due process or a warrant but Obama gets a pass when he targets and murders suspects without due process or a warrant?

If liberals really were concerned with the rights of terrorists –men who beat up women– shouldn’t they be protesting Obama in effigy?


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