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John Wohlsetter from Letter From The Capitol has written an article explaining his point of view that we undermine national security when public officials start detailing their views publicly about torture.  I agree with his conclusions at the end of his post.

Torture: A Bush Official’s Public Musings Undermine National Security

Military official Susan Crawford, in a Washington Post front-pager on torture released Wednesday, stated that she believed aggressive interrogation methods used against the “20th hijacker” amounted to torture.  The reader can read the article and decide whether the acts constitute torture under Title 18, U.S.C. sec. 2340 (1995), which governs America’s implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture (1985).  Crawford, designated by Defense Secretary Gates in 2007 as convening authority on military commissions, surely is entitled to her opinion, and it is an expert one.  The WP reports what she said:

Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her conclusion. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge” to call it torture, she said.

Crawford, to her credit, states bluntly how dangerous she thinks the 20th hijacker was–and still is.  Th WP reports:

“There’s no doubt in my mind he would’ve been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001,” Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo. “He’s a muscle hijacker. . . . He’s a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don’t charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, ‘Let him go.’ “

She added, the WP reports:

That, she said, is a decision that President-elect Barack Obama will have to make. Obama repeated Sunday that he intends to close the Guantanamo center but acknowledged the challenges involved. “It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize,” Obama said on ABC’s “This Week,” “and we are going to get it done, but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted, even though it’s true.”

The reader may read the 3-pager for more detail about the interrogation treatment, and decide if the treatment amounted to torture under the American law cited above.  In the event, the current interrogations procedure prohibit the treatment used in 2002 & 2003.

But to me that answer is beside the point.  Crawford thinks that such treatment undermines our moral authority to criticize others and endangers our troops when captured, who may be tortured as a result.

I am willing to credit her with patriotic motive in coming forward in public–patriotism is a state of mind, and reflects love.  Whether one loves wisely is another matter.  A person can do harm to her country unintentionally, committing acts done when motivated by love.  Crawford has, in my view, done so.

Muhammad al-Qhatani’s interrogation took place at Gitmo, from Nov. 2002 to Jan. 2003; he was held in isolation until April 2003.  So we are talking about acts committed–by officials who thought they were acting under lawful authority–more than six years ago.

Here, in a nutshell, are Crawford’s errors:

1.  Speaking out while still holding her official position.  She should have resigned and then written her book then.

2.  Throwing this mud in the closing phase of the President she worked for, and on the eve of a new administration whose President has enough problems on his desk already.

3.  Terrorist adversaries will torture our captives even if we treat every detainee with room service at the Ritz.  So will other Geneva non-compliant adversaries (like North Korea, North Vietnam, etc.)

4.  Geneva-compliant adversaries, if we ever fight one, will not assume that our use of aggressive interrogation against terrorist detainees means that we will mistreat their troops, and thus will not be motivated to torture our troops.

5.  The certain consequence of Crawford’s going public is to complicate the task of the new President is deciding what interrogation techniques to allow.

6.  To allow how we treated a detainee six years ago to become a public issue, when so much remains to be done in this war, is dangerous and foolish.  It is a distraction we do not need.

7.  The notion that we are irremediably tainted if we mistreat one or more detainees is nonsense.  By that standard we were morally compromised in World War II and other wars.  Errors of judgment do not compromise us morally against adversaries who behead captives with pen-knives, apply electric drills to the body and gouge out eyes.  This is monumental inability to distinguish degrees of moral responsibility.  Yes, we should behave better than the terrorists–AND WE DO.

8.  A prolonged public debate over torture continues an American tradition of airing our sins in public.  No other country subjects its intelligence and defense agencies to this kind of public scrutiny.  The certain consequences of this will be to inflict damage on our ability to fight aggressively against an enemy whose determination to destroy us is manifest and unrelenting.

We nearly fatally wounded the CIA in the 1970s; the Agency still has not fully recovered from such moralist excess, and may never succeed in doing so.  We do not need a repeat episode.  Thanks to Crawford’s foolish act, we may do so again.

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You turn on your TV and there you see Israeli forces firing rockets, shells, and bullets into neighborhoods and schools.  The World cries “STOP, you’re killing innocent people”, yet Israeli forces continue their assault.  Palestinians shout out for help, and the World listens.

But, you’re only getting half the story.

John Wohlsetter’s has written an article on his blog, Letter From The Capitol, that shows just a snippet of the “other side”, the side most people either: ignore out of ignorance or malice, or are deceived by the “humanitarian plight” of the “Palestinians”.  Surely, this World has gone mad when good becomes evil and evil becomes good, no?

Make no mistake, there can be absolutely no co-existence between Israel and its Arab neighbors who follow true Islam.  Some Arab nations may “tolerate” Israel, but they all want Israel destroyed and every last Jew dead.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch “Islam: What The West Needs To Know”.  In it, former Muslims and Islam experts explain what Islam is really about; some of them even lived it and were former terrorists.  True Islamists don’t hide their beliefs; they shout it out every day on the TV and Internet, but no one listens:  either you convert to Islam, live under them with demi status, or you will be killed.  You’re either in the House of Islam, or the House of War.

Know that the Third Intifada is coming, and it won’t be confined to just the Middle East.

Gaza: Israel Perseveres

The IDF stepped up tunnel destruction along the Philadephi corridor after warning residents living nearby to vacate the areas.  Hamas continued to reject full ceasefire despite taking a pasting from the IDF.  The Australian reports that Hamas may have longer-range rockets whose 70 kilometer range would put Tel Aviv within reach.  Martin Kramer sees Israel aiming to depose Hamas if possible, and allow the Palestinian Authority to take over (the PA having been violently ejected from Gaza in the Hamas coup of June 2007).

In contrast to the Palestinians, who are much of the world’s (especially the UN’s) darlings, NRO’s Barbara Lerner paints a vivid portrait of the Israeli settlers.  They often find themselves demonized as clones of Islamist terrorists, a comparison that goes beyond merely false to childishness.  One need not accept the settlers’ position to notice that they do not fire rockets at schoolhouses (or at anywhere else) nor do they launch suicide bombers and the like.  Their historical claim has been set aside by 20th century politics, in favor of the dubious claims of the “Palestinians” whose “rights” the world discovered only after Israel won the 1967 War and retook land Jordan took in the 1948 War.

Care to move beyond caricature and calumny and take an unblinkered look at who Israeli settlers actually are, and when and why they were transformed from a widely admired little band of brave and selfless patriots into a synonym for evil and a scapegoat for the world? Read on, please. Settlers are Israeli Jews who reject the basic demand of the Palestinians: the demand that large parts of Biblical Israel be Judenrein — cleansed of any Jewish presence for all eternity. Settlers claim a right to buy land and live and work on it, anywhere in the Biblical triangle between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, and between the Red Sea and the Golan Heights, and they act on that right by building and living in communities in places like Hebron, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and Amona.

They claim, just as fiercely, the right to preserve, defend, and keep open to Jews, Christians, and appropriately respectful others, the physical sites and structures where the founders and key followers of the two great religions of the West lived, worked, and died: places like Abraham’s tomb and Joseph’s, and the Church of the Nativity, built over the place where Jesus was born — places that Palestinian attackers have desecrated and tried to destroy in the years after Oslo. Most settlers are deeply religious people who revere these places as sacred sites, but you don’t have to be a believer to think their obliteration would be an irreparable loss to civilized people of all religions everywhere — any more than you have to be a Buddhist to mourn the destruction of the colossal, 1,500-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas by the same kind of Islamist jihadis in Afghanistan in 2001.

Most Americans who sympathize with Palestinians do so because they see them as natives, and see Israelis as newly arrived Westerners. In fact, most Israeli settlers are Mizrahi: Jews who were dispersed to a host of Middle Eastern lands after the Roman conquest of Israel 2,000 years ago, but, unlike the Ashkenazi (the Jews most Americans know), never left the Middle East. They have lived in the region for 5,000 continuous years and have long been the majority in Israel — roughly, 3 to 4 million of Israel’s 5 to 6 million Jews. Tourist brochures to the contrary notwithstanding, relatively few Mizrahi really speak English, but most are still as fluent in Arabic or Persian as they are in Hebrew, and most believe what all Israeli settlers and most American evangelicals believe about Jewish rights in Biblical Israel.

As this article linked to in the Lerner piece indicates, there is a real refugee/settler problem: the grossly inflated count of Palestinians living in UN camps, now counted at about 4.5 million.  No more than a tiny fraction of these are refugees by the traditional legal definition; the remainder are descendants of the 1948 flight, and would not be counted as refugees anywhere else in the world.  Granting these refugees citizenship in the Palestinian entity or the Arab land of their choice–allowing the original refugees (by now, fewer than 100,000) a right of return inside Israel, would end the issue.  The article cites a 2004 poll in which 85 percent of Palestinians found such a solution acceptance.  Alas, do not hold your breath.

Oh, and today Palestinians in southern Lebanon fired several rockets into Nahariya (an action that Hezbollah surely cleared first), wounding two in a nursing home.

Israel is showing remarkable perseverance despite the horrific shelling of the UN school, with a result clearly not desired by Israel.  Hamas’s leaders are ready, it seems, to use their women and children as consumables.  Notably, the leadership is not personally suicidal.  Hiding in hospitals, schools and Damascus shows that the leaders have survival instincts.

As this Jerusalem Post editorial notes in detail, media coverage is a major problem, partly because Israel found that in 2006 news reporters revealed information about Israeli military moves that helped Hezbollah, and partly because putting foreign journalist names on information supplied from Hamas confers added respectability on the reports.  Hamas is blocking supplies from Egypt and then complaining of a humanitarian crisis, which the media reports in a manner that suggests Israel is guilty of blocking such supplies.

TAS pundit Lisa Fabrizio sees a world gone mad in excusing militant Islam’s barbarity, while condemning Christianity and savaging America and Israel:

In a sane world, one faced with a religious cult that has been responsible for countless incidents of brutality and monstrous assaults on innocent life all over the world, we might see that world unite to rid itself of those responsible for these atrocities. As in WWII or the Gulf War, the civilized nations would put aside their differences and come together in the name of decency to defend the decent.

But in a mad, mad world, the perpetrators are lauded as “freedom fighters” and defended by “human rights” groups. Now, with renewed hostilities in the Gaza Strip, much of the world has incredibly decided that the fault lies with Israel, a people who in sixty short years have gone from earning the sympathy and respect of the world for enduring the Holocaust to being on the receiving end of its hatred and enmity.

In a world that claims to defend the lives of the innocent, any culture that encourages its women to become suicide bombers and straps bombs to its children and the mentally ill would justly earn the scorn and contempt of good men everywhere. Yet, in a crazed world, this behavior is incredibly excused by blaming it on the victims of such ungodly acts.

In a compassionate world, the use of schools, hospitals and places of worship as staging areas for terrorists would be decried as the barbaric and savage practice that it is. Every international agency and NGO would scream to high heavens about these heinous abuses of the “rules of war.” But in a world gone mad, these tactics are defended as necessary to counteract the “disproportionate response” of the Israelis; as if the aim of legitimate warfare is not to gain such an advantage over one’s enemies.

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center notes overt anti-Semitism engendered by Israel’s not only defending itself, but affirming its right to exist:

My fear is that the rage we see in the protesters marching in the streets is far more profound and dangerous than we would like to believe. There are a great many people in the world who, even after Auschwitz, just can’t bear the Jewish state having the same rights they so readily grant to other nations. These voices insist Israel must take risks they would never dare ask of any other nation-state — risks that threaten its very survival — because they don’t believe Israel should exist in the first place.

Just look at the spate of attacks this week on Jews and Jewish institutions around the world: a car ramming into a synagogue in France; a Chabad menorah and Jewish-owned shops sprayed with swastikas in Belgium; a banner at an Australian rally demanding “clean the earth from dirty Zionists!”; demonstrators in the Netherlands chanting “Gas the Jews”; and in Florida, protestors demanding Jews “Go back to the ovens!”

How else can we explain the double-standard that is applied to the Gaza conflict, if not for a more insidious bias against the Jewish state?

Hier sees a dismal repeat endgame:

The pattern is always the same. Following a cease-fire brought on by international pressure, there will be a call for a massive infusion of funds to help Palestinians recover from the devastation of the Israeli attack. The world will respond eagerly, handing over hundreds of millions of dollars. To whom does this money go? To Hamas, the same terrorist group that brought disaster to the Palestinians in the first place.

The world seems to have forgotten that at the end of World War II, President Harry Truman initiated the Marshall Plan, investing vast sums to rebuild Germany. But he did so only with the clear understanding that the money would build a new kind of Germany — not a Fourth Reich that would continue the policies of Adolf Hitler. Yet that is precisely what the world will be doing if we once again entrust funds to Hamas terrorists and their Iranian puppet masters.

Team Obama is holding its cards close, understandably.  Its voice come January 20 will speak volumes.

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