Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ISSUE: Torture

The debate on how to treat detained foreigners suspected of terrorist involvement continues. The Bush administration wants to specificy exactly what methods of interrogation CIA and other non-military personnel can use. McCain, Powell and Carter, as well as numerous other political and military leaders are opposed to this because they do not want other countries to begin defining the Geneva Conventions in ways that allow them to abuse our captured troops.

Here's an easy way to deal with this; it's called the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

How do we want our troops to be treated when they're captured? Well, then we should treat foreigners the same way. What are legal methods of interrogation for U.S. citizens on U.S. soil? Well, then we should use the same techniques on foreigners.

Here's how the Bible describes a just legal system: "You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born."Leviticus 24:22 (See also Exodus 12:49 & Number 15:16)

Whatever rationale is given for not using this guidance is simply going to alienate and infuriate those opposed to U.S. policies and militarism. It is inevitable because it breaks a basic moral law of the universe.

Here are some quotes from MSNBC.com:

Powell says detainee plan would hurt U.S. (MSNBC.com, 19 Sept. '06)

"Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell said yesterday that he decided to publicly oppose the Bush administration's proposed rules for the treatment of terrorism suspects in part because the plan would add to growing doubts about whether the United States adheres to its own moral code.

"Powell, elaborating on a position first expressed last week in a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), also argued that the administration's plan to "clarify" U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions would set a precedent for other nations that would endanger U.S. troops.

"But [Powell] has reserved his strongest opposition for administration efforts to preserve controversial methods for interrogating terrorism suspects, techniques that others have defined as torture. While it is not clear exactly what techniques the White House wishes to keep, sources have said those previously used include nakedness, prolonged sensory assault and deprivation, the imposition of "stress" positions, and water submersion to the verge of drowning. Bush has said none of those amounts to torture.

"Powell strenuously objected to Bush's February 2002 decision that the United States was not obliged to adhere to Geneva Conventions rules in its treatment of captured al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. Subsequent scandals over military treatment of prisoners at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and over the CIA's establishment of secret prisons abroad, further cemented his views that the decision was unnecessary in terms of prisoner interrogation and is harmful to the armed forces.

"The current dispute is over how the provisions of Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions against inhumane and degrading treatment bind the CIA and other non-military interrogators.

"The administration has argued that the article is too vague and ties the CIA's hands in extracting crucial information from terrorists. Last week, Powell joined dozens of other retired military officers and former government officials in objecting to proposed administration legislation "clarifying" the article to ensure that certain unspecified interrogation methods can continue."

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