Torture and the Terrorist

There is a great deal of howling and gnashing of teeth regarding the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recent report which details the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used to obtain information from terror suspects over the last decade. The report reveals some practices that many people find objectionable. China and Russia are wagging fingers and calling the United States out for hypocrisy. Senator John McCain stated that our country has lost its honor. I’m fairly liberal on most issues. This is not one. Call me a hypocrite.

The Senate report delves into the treatment of 119 detainees. Not thousands, not hundreds. 119 men. I understand that the rule of law is important to our civilization. I respect human rights and civil liberties, and I am thankful I live in a nation which champions those causes around the globe. I understand the danger of a slippery slope. I don’t like the idea of a shadowy organization beholden to none operating at will, subverting our values.

On the other hand…

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If sleep deprivation and water boarding could have prevented 9-11, would it have been justified? To save thousands of lives, would it be acceptable to force a terror suspect to listen to Brittany Spears music until his ears bleed? How much collateral damage is too much? How many innocent lives are lost every month in the ongoing war on terror? How many American troops have fallen fighting Al Queda?

Remember these guys? I wish they’d been strapped into a chair on September Tenth, a burly Special Forces operator beating them to a fruit-juicy pulp before they decided to hop on planes and kill thousands of people.

terrorists

This is war. It’s a different kind of war than all of our nation’s previous engagements. The enemy crosses borders at will, from the mountains of Pakistan, the rocks and valleys of Afghanistan, to the deserts of Africa. This enemy is motivated by hatred and religious zeal, and is plotting against us right now. This foe will not hesitate to kill innocents, to torture and maim women and children, and his goal is nothing short of the complete destruction of our way of life. He hides behind children, wears no uniform, and melts into the crowds of the market or subway. He likes to blow things up, and is willing to strap a bomb to himself, inflicting the highest amount of damage possible with ball-bearings that fly out in all directions, tearing through flesh and bone. There is no mercy in him.

This is who we fight. An enemy with no fear of death, who in fact takes comfort in the promised rewards of martyrdom in the afterlife. This war is only just beginning, and will continue to rage for the rest of this century.

I fear America has lost its stomach for war. If war were not necessary, this would be a good thing. Peace comes through strength, though. War is brutish and ugly, and sometimes the only choices are between two evils. In World War II, bombs killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. In Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden, the United States unleashed firestorms. The goal was to win the war. It was awful, yet brutally effective.

I don’t mind that these terrorists were subjected to torture. Some things should remain secret. I sleep better at night knowing there are soldiers standing at the gates against the barbarians.

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