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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


We don't negotiate with terrorists...

Posted 1/13/15 (Tue)

There’s been an awful lot of chatter about a recent Senate report regarding the “torture” of al-Qaeda prisoners after Sept. 11, 2001.

First it was the announcement of the report and that U.S. military installations around the world should ramp up their threat status in case of public anger.

Then came the report itself and finally, Vice President Dick Cheney defending the practice on NBC’s Meet the Press.

In all the telephone calls, emails, conversations on the street, Facebook posts and media coverage, there seems to be quite a split on whether this is considered torture or enhanced interrogation.

What do you think?

There is that element of the American public that is sympathetic, even to those who kill Americans, and will not change their opinion no matter what.

In stark contrast is the group of people who are defending Dick Cheney, the actions of the CIA and if we had to do it all over again, we’d do it 100 times if necessary.

U.S. military personnal have been taught to take prisoners with dignity, search them, give them food, water, shelter and keep them in small groups so they can’t formulate plans to escape. This is how the U.S. military is trained to treat prisoners of war.

But that is in accordance with the Geneva Convention, a document that protects prisoners of war from inhumane treatment.

ISIS, al-Quaeda and the Taliban don’t recognize the Geneva Convention or the signators that drafted that document in 1929, which also calls for protection of civilians in a war zone.

But now, since the Senate report came out, the Americans have been “relentlessly torturing the tribesmen,” according to ISIS.

Because they don’t recognize the “rules of war,” then perhaps the rules of war shouldn’t apply to them, no matter how sypathetic we want to think we are.

How do you define torture? The dictionary defines it as inflicting severe pain as punishment or to make someone talk.

There’s another definition that should be considered by those who think U.S. military actions at Guantanamo Bay were too harsh.

Torture is watching people jump out of those burning towers 100 stories in the air. Torture is seeing the result of American and British journalists getting beheaded. Torture is listening to news reports of 148 Pakistani children being slaughtered in the confines of a school that should be safe.

Anybody who thinks we are torturing these terrorists, just consider the previous paragraph.

ISIS, al-Quaeda, Taliban and all their splinter groups have no regard for human life. Anybody who is coward enough to kill children in a school shouldn’t be allowed the rules of war.

Anybody who is devious enough to blow up dams to cut off water supplies to large populations just to make them suffer, is twisted.

Anybody who destroys ancient historical and valuable artifacts just because of a different religion, has to be demented.

And finally, here’s the clincher. Quite frankly, their military strategy stinks. Time after time, their offensives are largely by surprise and when confronted by legitimate military units, they crumble because they have no real strategy.

How many times have you heard Dick Cheney and George Bush say “We don’t negotiate with terrorists?”

I don’t see how this is any different. Known terrorists have no right to negotiate anything at any time anywhere.

These people are ruthless, dangerous and they will think nothing of killing Americans, or as we have seen in recent weeks, Australians.

Truth be told, the United States government needs to be more transparent and nobody faults the Senate for releasing this enhanced interrogation report.

However, instead of making a mockery of the CIA, the Senate and the media should have taken a different path in discussing this.

Let’s hope those in the Senate realized they were putting American military personnel in higher jeopardy than they’ve already been in. Let’s hope they realized the American military doesn’t appreciate having to fight “with one hand tied behind it’s back.” Let’s hope they realized that no matter how “nice” or humane we are to these terrorists, if given the opportunity, they will kill us or attempt to destroy our way of life.

It’s unfortunate, but we need to be as ruthless as the enemy. We need to act like the British, pull the trigger and ask questions later. Fight fire with fire, maybe that will stop this twisted ideology.