Monday, April 07, 2008

Terrorism and torture

Here's a weighty topic, and one possibly above my paygrade. But Spot at the Cucking Stool has been trying to tell me for several years now that the US is eveil (in part) because we torture detainees in the war on terror in violation of Geneva Convention. Many of his commenters seem fixated at the notion that detainee torture is widespread in the US military, and that as a soldier I must automatically be part and party to it.

The first thing he has wrong is invoking the Geneva Convention to talk about the military abusing detainees. Not since the early days of the war in Afghanistan have we actually been fighting an enemy that was a party to the Geneva Conventions.

Here's the part that the left constantly get wrong. The Geneva Convention does not apply to Al Qaeda or the militias in Iraq. Here's why.

The Geneva Conventions were designed to cover ethical standards of warfare between nation states. But it does make mention of non-linear combat. From the UN's website-

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

That paragraph deals only with non-combatants. Civilians on the battlefield, as we call them, who take no active part in fighting. They are covered by the Conventions, and the US strives to treat them better than is required by law. Here's what the law says about civilians-

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

But it's not the civilians that the left accuses us of torturing. It's the terrorists that we catch trying to detonate an IED. It's the AQI cell leaders that are moving men and money around Baghdad to launch suicide bombing attacks. It's the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks who admits to planning the murder of 3000 US civilians and wished he had killed more.

By definition, terrorists are not covered by the Geneva Convention. Why? Because the conventions spell out exactly what a combatant must do to qualify for protection under the Geneva Conventions.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

I have yet to see an AQI terrorist who obeys the laws and customs of war. In fact, I have yet to see an AQI fighter follow any of the last three conditions. Anybody want to show me an AQI or Mahdi Army combat patch, or unit flag?

Of course the obvious truth is that the US military is made up of average Americans, and the vast majority don't condone or practice torture any more than the average American civilian. But between military and civilian, there exists an interesting difference in the definition of torture.

Most civilians would construe sleep deprivation as torture. Most servicemembers remember sleep deprivation as a tool of their drill sergeants to train them. Most civilians would consider intentionally inflicting pain to be torture. But most soldiers and Marines remember doing pushups and flutter kicks and the resulting pain as punishment. Most civilians would consider a 10 by 10 foot prison cell to be torture. But many soldiers in combat zones (Air Force pukes excepted) are happy to have a bunk and a footlocker to store your gear.

So not only does the left condemn the US military for torture, which is ofton alleged but very rarely proved, they cite the Geneva Conventions as the pertinent document that forbids torture, even though it doesn't apply to terrorists. So the irony is, that even though we are not legally bound to provide the level of care listed in the Geneva Conventions, we do it anyways because we know right from wrong, even without the lawyers telling us.

1 comment:

maxxdog said...

People conveniently forget to mention that detainess at Gitmo have almost universally gained weight due to a balanced, ethnically considerate diet. They have had excellent medical care, religious needs have been met have been met by handing out korans, wearing gloves to handle them and the direction of Mecca designated for the prisoners.
Would they care to remind me how our people have been treated?
But the clucking fools won't let facts get in the way of their hen pecking.