19.11.10

Terror. Justice. Indefinite detention.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/11/18/obamas_handcuffs?page=0,0
The government should not have the right to just incarcerate people without trial indefinitely. If the price of due process is that some terrorists go free, then so be it. People released from Guantanamo have gone back to their bad old ways. So be it. That's the price we pay for being the good guys. Or at least trying.

People criticizing the recent near-total acquittal of whatsisname voted for military trials with rules for discarding evidence gained through torture.

Blow to Obama. Due to torture conducted under G.W. Bush.

DO. NOT. TORTURE. Might solve an easy simple problem in the field, but once it's a prison setting you're running into too many problems.

Your platoon finds a bunch of houses. You know there's weapons caches and bombs and stuff around. You find a bad guy. He won't talk. You beat him and scare him and fake killing his friends around the corner. He confesses and you find the crap and you and your buddies live to fight another day instead of dying in a booby-trap or a house-borne IED. I have never faced that choice and don't know what I would do if faced with it.

Once you're in an official prison it's a bit late. Torture isn't an either-or choice. It's a sliding scale going from the Israeli "shaking" to slamming into fake walls to temperature and noise and drugs and whatnot. Where that line is crossed is fairly nebulous, with the exception that there's no doubt in my mind that waterboarding is torture. I should know. I was surf tortured. I spent a fair amount of time doing flutter kicks with a water hose directed at my mouth from a distance of a few inches. When I moved my head to breathe the hose moved. I've been extremely close to drowning a few times. Tunnel-visioning, peripheral vision going dark and the circle of light getting smaller and smaller - type.

So no, I've never been waterboarded. But I know the feeling of drowning and extreme discomfort.

Once you're in that prison the knowledge gained by torture is probably out-dated already - or swiftly going out of date. Plus the PR issues. YOU SIMPLY CANNOT KEEP THIS STUFF SECRET in a free press checks-and-balances world. Good luck stopping the New York Times. They'd eat that **** up and laugh all the way to the Pulitzer Prize awards ceremony.

Plus the legal issues. Plus the whole treaty issues. Plus the "final solution" issues of what to do with these idiots when no country on the planet wants to detain them indefinitely and you don't have enough "evidence" to realistically convict.

Solution: don't hold people any longer than you ABSOLUTELY need to. Don't set up secret prisons. Work with other governments if you REALLY need to disappear people who are obviously trying to fight armed forces and kill innocent civilians but you don't have enough to convict in a civil framework. We're friends and allies with plenty of unsavory governments. Use them rather than do the torture ourselves. Sure it's a nasty solution but it's a damn sight better than just letting them go or indefinitely imprisoning them ourselves. (Detending them?)

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