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U.S. Torture? By: Buzz Patterson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 19, 2005


With the White House agreeing recently to support Senator John McCain’s amendment for a law banning “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” of prisoners, news has now arrived  that the U.S. military has been running torture facilities inside the U.S. for decades.  McCain’s amendment prohibiting “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" of foreign detainees was seen as specifically targeting interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and black C.I.A. sites.  These shocking new allegations of subversive torture facilities within the U.S. will no doubt cause law- makers to dramatically broaden their efforts.

Actually, tongue-out-of-cheek now, if that were to happen it would be a severe blow to U.S. military training.  The sites I’m referring to are the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (S.E.R.E.) courses run by each of the military branches for their servicemen most susceptible to being captured by our enemies. Air Force pilots, Army Special Forces, and Naval aviators among others receive the benefits of this training.

With all of the teeth-gnashing and caterwauling from the Left, it’s high time we put the “torture” discussion into proper context. The interrogation practices the New York Times refers to as “abhorrent,” Democrats liken to Nazi stalags, and McCain’s bill purports to eliminate, have been a routine part of U.S. military training for years.

Without revealing the specific techniques the U.S. military uses in training its own people which are classified, I will tell you they share striking similarities to those used by the C.I.A.  Grabbing the prisoner for attention, slapping him to create fear, forcing him to stand for long times and in cold cells, splashing him with cold water, blaring loud music or distorted noise, and “water boarding” are all common methods of “coercive interrogation.” With “water boarding” the prisoner is placed on an inclined board, his feet above his head, his face is wrapped and water is poured over him which induces a drowning sensation.

The whole point of these sorts of interrogation is to break the human will without breaking the mind or body. Contrary to what the September 10th Democrats and the New York Times would have you believe, I can attest they work like a champ. And I’ve never had the A.C.L.U. or Center for Constitutional Rights ask to represent me.

My buddies and I knew we’d eventually get through the program and go home -- which is a decidedly better situation then that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Then again we weren’t mass murderers plotting to destroy America.

Now let’s define the distinction between a prisoner-of-war and an unlawful combatant or detainee. This is for you on the Left.  Hopefully the guys over at the Daily Kos are paying attention.

A soldier captured on a battlefield wearing a uniform is a prisoner-of-war and is entitled to all of the rights of the Geneva Convention. His wears his uniform because it distinguishes him from innocent civilians.  He’s identified himself as being a legitimate target and his uniform says “shoot me” not them. When he is captured his detention is primarily to prevent his return to combat.

The Jihadi captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan is an unlawful combatant.  Why?  Because he cheated. He hid behind civilians, he targeted civilians and he eliminated the distinction between himself as a legitimate target and the innocent people around him.  He’s also had the habit of waving the white flag of surrender or acting as if he’s dead before he shoots our guys.  This entitles him to absolutely nothing under the Geneva Convention.

As Americans, though, we treat unlawful combatants as well if not better than any POWs in the history of warfare.  In the case of Guantanamo, for example, terrorists who would otherwise be killing or plotting to kill are guaranteed three “culture friendly” meals a day, prayer rugs and Korans, five broadcasts of Muslim prayer each day, painted arrows pointing to Mecca in each cell, access to a Jihadi library and superb medical care. The Pentagon spends $12.68 a day to feed prisoners at Gitmo compared to $8.85 a day to feed U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East.

Their detention is not only based on preventing them from returning to combat but for interrogation purposes as well. Why? Because they have chosen to live and fight outside the laws of warfare.

Indicative of the Left’s moral relativism prisoners-of-war and detainees are one and the same.  What they call “torture” is actually anything from cheap high school pranks to “coercive interrogation.”

The disgraceful incidents committed by the sadomasochists at Abu Ghraib were not interrogations nor were they torture. Humiliation, intimidation and uncomfortable environments don’t nearly rise to that level and neither does aggressive interrogation.  They amount to nothing more than thousands of U.S. servicemen have experienced in their routine training over the years.

In reality, McCain’s law will accomplish only to further constrain American interrogators already the most humane in the history of warfare and provide fodder for future false allegations of abuse from the Left.

Water boarding influenced 11 of 12 senior Al Qaeda leaders to cooperate -- with Khalid Sheikh Mohammad giving up actionable intelligence after only a few minutes.  If we limit future interrogations which could provide timely intelligence we will no doubt be commissioning another 9/11-type investigative body who’ll be asking the same questions the last one did in the not too distant future.

Buzz Patterson is the best-selling author of Dereliction of Duty and Reckless Disregard. He also hosts his radio show, The Buzz Cut.

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