Monday, April 27, 2009

Readers condemn, and hail, torture column

Sunday's column about waterboarding,torture and American values brought some warm responses, and some hot ones, too.

A Vietnam veteran from Lancaster, S.C. wrote:

Thank you for your column of 26 Apr. Some revelations and admissions are deeply painful and embarrassing yet need to be recognized to initiate the healing process.

As a Viet Nam combat vet, the last eight years have caused the worst rage, shame and heartbreak I have ever experienced over the way my country's honor has been sullied.

We will prevail.We always have, and always will.The rule of law,however frustrating and distasteful, MUST be followed. Only then can we regain the reputation of fairness we once held.

P.S. It saddens me to admit that I was fully prepared to scream at your article. (Conditioning,I hope you understand.) Sometimes,like right now, I truly enjoy being wrong.


A Charlotte reader wrote, in part:

After I read your “Torturing the rule of law” I thought how many readers who only look to the Observer for their news may actually believe and be swayed by your piece…..the source for which was one rogue former FBI supervisor who the N.Y. Times found and wrote their biased article around. That is the same NY Times whose new motto is “all the news that’s fit to print and if we don’t like the actual facts we’ll make them up.”

How many people would never know that our commander and chief narcissist Barak Obama’s own CIA Director Leon Panetta advised against releasing the details of our interrogation programs?

How many people would never know that Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, advised against it because it would enhance recruitment of terrorists, cause a backlash against our own soldiers, and help the enemy prepare for our future interrogations and intelligence gathering efforts?

How many people would never know that George Tenant, CIA Director under George Bush and Bill Clinton, believed the enhanced interrogation techniques saved American lives. He said on 60 Minutes “I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.”

How many people would never know that the events of the past week have already seriously demoralized the CIA and given fresh encouragement to our enemies?

How many people know these techniques were reviewed and approved after 9-11mastermind Sheik Khalid Mohammed bragged that more attacks were imminent?

How many people know these techniques were made transparent to the appropriate members of congress of both parties and that they were kept fully appraised of them?

Those Democratic members included Jay Rockefeller in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the house. How many people know these programs were approved and funded by votes of both parties?

…..Anyway, good job on keeping the whole, complete and balanced story secret. When the newspapers close up you can get a job with one of our intelligence agencies.

As the Wall Street Journal wrote over the weekend, “Perhaps we need an investigation not of the enhanced interrogation program, but of what the Obama administration may be doing to endanger the security our nation has enjoyed because of interrogations and other anti-terrorism measures implemented since Sept. 12, 2001.


Another reader thought:

I do not take issue with your condemnation of torture. It is barbaric and ineffective. I do take issue with your view of "what makes us different". These assertions are not only an abuse of history, they are dangerous. The U.S has been and is currently involved in some horrific crimes. How are we to stop these crimes if we cannot acknowledge them.

Contrary to your claims the U.S has always followed its own laws selectively. There are thousands of examples, it happens on a daily basis. But let me lay out three more egregious cases. The FBI in conjunction with local police assassinated a Black Panther activist in Chicago while he was sleeping, after he was drugged by an informant. U.S law states that U.S weapons can only be used for defensive purposes and any violation of this requires an immediate halt in arms transfer to the violator. When Indonesia invaded and then launched a genocide in East Timor it came with full American support. Most of the units involved in the genocide where armed and trained by the U.S. The invasion itself began just hours after the U.S President and Secretary of State visited Indonesia and its dictator. More recently the U.S has continued to supply Israel with weapons while American arms were being used to commit war crimes in an offensive operation in Gaza. Like I said, there are thousands of other examples, these are only three cases.

You portray the U.S in the international arena as a benevolent power, a policeman and a donor. What country's experience with the U.S where you thinking of when you wrote those words? Was it Hawaii where U.S business interests usurped the government from the native population, was it the Philippines where our dreams of empire manifested themselves in broken promises, repression, thousands of dead civilians, and yes mass torture, was it Haiti where the idealist Wilson sent a nation into the stone ages where it still languishes, was it Cuba where the U.S seized power from the independence movement and established a U.S protectorate, or was it more recently? Were you thinking of Iraq where we starved half a million children to death after we soured on the dictator we had armed, or elsewhere in the Arab world where we continue to prop up repressive dictators? Or perhaps you were thinking of Africa. Perhaps you were thinking of Ethiopia where the U.S backs a brutal tyrant, or maybe Equatorial Guinea where the man who declared himself President, as well as a cannibal and a god, has been declared a "good friend" by our Secretary of State…...


Another reader wrote:

Thank you for reminding us that we are a nation of laws and that those laws should be upheld.

I hope you do not pick and choose which laws you think are "Valid"
Immigration laws are commonly ignored and it seems most people think that is OK.

Speed limits are routinely ignored.

Drug usage is common.

We can not and should not demand that some laws be obeyed while ignoring others.
All the laws should be enforced.

(also, I hope you do not think that it is valid to prosecute a lawyer for giving an opinion as the Attorney General did- when a lawyer is asked to give an opinion, that is what he does)

In the case of torture, we should not allow the International community to dictate what we do in the USA unless we also insist that other nations are held to the identical standards - as in China, for example.


Another reader:

Enjoyed your op-editorial this week. I found two problems. 1) In paragraph five, the sentence beginning with "But we also understood..." has a parallel error, and 2) the article as a whole doesn't answer the real question: why would experienced public servants, at the highest level, torture in the first place?

Answer: to justify the most disastrous foreign policy blunder in our history. They needed something, anything, to connect Sadam and Osama, or Sadam and Al-Qaeda. As long as the discussion is about the need for torture, or whether or not torture violates the law, the torturers will literally get away with mass murder.


And finally:

Thank you for the well written article on waterboarding and "enhanced" techniques. This illegal, inhumane, and demonstratively ineffective behavior serves to make us all less safe--especially our troops abroad. As Americans, we must repudiate what has been encouraged by the Bush/Cheney regime and knock the smirks off of their smug faces. America has demeaned itself to the world and violated the very philosophies for which we stand.

16 comments:

redneckbillie said...

If it takes torture to keep our country, citizens and soldiers safe, then so be it. These people are terrorists, not Mr. Rogers. They know only one thing - kill Americans and they do so w/bombs on their bodies walking into restaurants, military checkpoints, they use women and children to do this because terrorists are also cowards. They cover their faces because they are afraid to show us their faces as they behead, on tv, innocent, kidnapped US and other country citizens, soldiers even news reporters. Torture is the only language they know as they were ensconced in Gitmo w/their fancy religious food, korans, prayer rugs and so forth. Did you know most gained alot of weight in Gitmo? Because they demanded this rich food, I doubt the real Allah would approve. They kill their wives and other female members of their families as honor killings if they even look at a male. They make the females servants and beat them if the terrorists are not happy with them. I bet that the Big O (Obama) would resort to torture if one of these men kidnapped one of his kids. And what about the torture our fellow citizens suffered and still suffer if they were lucky enough to survive, at 9/11? Yet, even there, the US is being tarnished, Chinese steel is being used to save money instead of US Steel.
How sad. No wonder our country is going down the sewer. We should ask, what would our forefathers do? If they played nice w/English solders, we would still be under the Queen.trationd

Anonymous said...

Most uninformed folks think we are hated throughout the world because of our freedom. Unfortunately it's because of our hypocrisy. We can't tell the world do as we say but not as we do. That is whey terrorism grows. If you think torturing terrorists is going to make them less of a threat shows your ignorance. Torture just gives them more propaganda for recruiting. Those that are willing to die to fight America aren't going to stop because of torturing, it will only cause thier ranks to swell. If we can't live and practice our own laws of democracy, how can we expect anyone else to want to adopt the same beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Why are the rank and file repubs so gullible and ignorant? They think that Fox noise is news....it's just a repub propanganda machine. Thank goodness the repubs who are intelligent, are more and more leaving that awful and corrupt party. Thank goodness they'll never be in control again. Just change your party name to the "no ideas party" They have more in common with the Taliban than they know.

Anonymous said...

Liberals are such morons, for the most part. First, waterboarding isn't torture. We actually waterboard our own troops so they can be conditioned. They report a lot of anxiety but no pain from waterboarding. Libs have drunk the Kool-aid and think that anything that doesn't make the terrorists happy is torture. Second, the world doesn't hate us, just terrorist harboring countries like Islamic countries. Most of the world loves the U.S. Just travel and you'll see how they feel. Read their papers. World hatred is just another liberal Kool-aid that most libs have mindlessly bought into.

Anonymous said...

Bad guy plans to blow up your kid's school while he's in it. You ask him when, he laughs. You ask him harshly, he tells you "you'll find out". You do whatever you can think of and he continues to laugh and spit in your face. You know he'll give up the info if he can be more harshly interrogated. Which do you do? Make a mass murderer uncomfortable or let your kid die? Seems pretty simple to me.

Anonymous said...

Liberals talk about their warped idea that there are no moral absolutes. Whatever you decide is moral, is moral and what you decide isn't moral, isn't. Then they get on a site like this and whine and moan about how our moral standing in the world is decreasing because we refused (until Obama) to coddle these murdering terrorists. What morals are you morons talking about now? Yours? Mine? The terrorists? Child molesters?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you can say most of the world loves us, some countries do and some don't. When I studied abroad (right after the start of the Iraq war), I traveled to Italy where I had to pretend to be Canadian just so I could enter bars and clubs. I also ran into the same experience in Amsterdam. We were also advised by our school administration to tone down "being American" and not to wear any American apparel like sports merchandise so we can fit in and not cause any issues.

Anonymous said...

People hate the Dallas Cowboys. people hate Duke, people hate UNC, etc. There are many people that hate the U.S. because we're the strongest and because we're the greatest. No amount of terrorist lovefests are going to make those people like us. People hated us before George Bush got out of college and it had nothing to do with him. If they hate us for defending ourselves, then too bad!

Anonymous said...

You don't have to torture to make the connection between Osama and Saddam, you just have to produce the indictment against Usama Bin Laden that the Clinton Justice Department obtained in 1998. I am with redneckbillie, if it was torture, which I think clearly it is not, I could not care less. Why still pretend that there is some great debate as to whether this worked or not, it did, quite well. Hard to say exactly how many Americans are alive today because KSM had water poured on him, but it would be very difficult to contend that lives weren't saved. Release all the memos then make your "moral" case.

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