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Ensuring Lawful Interrogations
I need to reiterate something here because this is going to be a touchy subject. In accordance with AR 360-1, the opinions expressed on A Soldier’s Perspective are those of the individual writer and do not reflect the official positions or policies of the Department of Defense, the United States Army, or the United States Government.” Theses views are based upon personal experiences, research on the facts, and analysis. This blog is maintained as a citizen of the United States and NOT as a US Soldier. Though the author may be a Soldier, in no way, shape, or form am I writing in that capacity. I write this post on my personal time, using my personal computer, and my personal funds and do so under the guarantees of the United States Constitution, Amendment 1.
Now let’s move along to the issue of interrogations and the recent decision regarding interrogations by President Barack Obama.
Much has been made of the fact that President Obama recently signed an Executive Order banning any interrogation methods not expressly covered in FM 2-22.3, Human Intelligence Collector Operations. I will NOT be linking to this regulation, nor will I specifically discuss what is in it. The Executive Branch of our government has already given the enemy enough notice and insight that I do not need to help it along. The following is a hypothetical situation.
In just a few weeks, the United States will experience our annual ritual called the Super Bowl. The teams this year are the Arizona Cardinals versus the Pittsburgh Steelers (I’m rooting for the Cardinals, by the way). It’s probably no secret that the Steelers are highly favored to win. They are a superior team. They have a spectacular offense and defense. The NFL Commissioner recently decided that the Steelers were simply TOO good. They use plays that the Cardinals don’t even know about. They are highly complex and successful.
To ensure that the odds are evened out a bit, the Commissioner decided the Steelers can only play in the Super Bowl if they use the Cardinals’ playbook. Any plays that are not contained within the Cardinals playbook are strictly forbidden. The Steelers are to IMMEDIATELY cease any and all training on all strategies they have successfully used to get to the Super Bowl.
On top of this, if the Steelers wish to use 2 or 3 specific plays in the playbook, the Steelers must request approval from the Commissioner prior to using them. Some of their plays are simply too sneaky and the Steelers can’t be trusted to use them unless it can be assured they truly need them to win. The Cardinals may continue to play as they always have and use whatever tricks and options they choose in addition to the standard plays the Steelers are restricted to.
Under these circumstances, what do you think the outcome of the Super Bowl is going to be? Ladies and gentlemen, we’re playing the Super Bowl EVERY DAY in this country. Only we’re not looking to catch a football down the sidelines or prevent the other team from putting points on the board. We’re playing for our very lives. A touchdown by the other team results in dead Soldiers, Civilians, and poor, helpless puppies and sea kittens.
In establishing his new interrogation playbook, President Obama revoked the previous playbook initiated by the Bush Administration. Now you tell me, does the following sound reasonable to anyone here?
1. Torture is prohibited as defined in section 2340 of title 18, United States Code.
2. Murder, torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault or abuse, taking of hostages, or performing of biological experiments is prohibited.
3. Other acts of violence serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation, and cruel or inhuman treatment, as defined in section 2441(d) of title 18, United States Code are prohibited.
4. Any other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited.
5. We are prohibited from engaging in willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency, such as sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken for the purpose of humiliation, forcing the individual to perform sexual acts or to pose sexually, threatening the individual with sexual mutilation, or using the individual as a human shield.
6. Acts intended to denigrate the religion, religious practices, or religious objects of the individual will not be tolerated.
I mean, is this really a good idea? What’s that? You agree with all six of those points? Then why did President Obama just revoke them? Those were all outlined in Executive Order 13440 signed by President George W. Bush on July 20, 2007. That’s right. Those aren’t Obama’s words although he does restate in less plain terms than President Bush did. That’s right. Much like the Gitmo issue, this EO simply restates what was already US policy. So why revoke it and recreate the wheel?
Well, that wasn’t all that President Bush’s EO 13440 said. President Bush reiterated what the Geneva Conventions already tell us about unlawful enemy combatants – that they aren’t entitled to protections under the law. Specifically, according to Bush, “members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces are unlawful enemy combatants who are not entitled to the protections that the Third Geneva Convention provides to prisoners of war.” Translation: terrorists will be treated as such so long as they continue to fight in violation of the established Conventions agreed to by most nations.
President Bush also gave the CIA latitude to conduct interrogations against said unlawful combatants in any manner the Director of the CIA may deem necessary to “detect, mitigate, or prevent terrorist attacks, such as attacks within the United States or against its Armed Forces or other personnel, citizens, or facilities, or against allies or other countries cooperating in the war on terror with the United States, or their armed forces or other personnel, citizens, or facilities.” These tactics MUST provide “the basic necessities of life, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing, protection from extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.” Additionally, they are not exempt from the six areas listed above.
You read me correctly. The CIA was not above the law and neither was the military. Neither agency or department was given tacit or implied permission to commit those six acts. And when it was discovered that some rogue elements or personnel DID commit these offenses, they were promptly dealt with and a rash of new training was conducted to ensure future compliance.
The media is going through great pains to let the enemy know that they can now breathe a sigh of relief from US pressure. The CIA is now restricted to a particular set of interrogation approaches that the Army currently uses. I’ll get to that later. There are more important areas that need to be addressed first.
As of the 22nd of January, the CIA must close any detention facilities that it currently operates and cannot operate any such detention facility in the future. Where are they supposed to put all of America’s enemies that are covertly trying to kill another 3,000 innocent citizens? Gitmo is out of the question. I guess Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District is going to get pretty populated soon.
The EO on interrogations requires a comprehensive “study and evaluation” on interrogation techniques and their usefulness. It will also “study and evaluate” how our enemies are being transferred to other nations. This has been done. It’s constantly done. The Field Manual in question just underwent an extensive review and update thanks to our not-so-illustrious Senator from Arizona, Mr. John McCain. The result was a much more restrictive and hands-tied approach to gathering information.
Which brings me to the Field Manual. And I refuse to discuss that. Sorry, but I’m not going to give our enemy any more ammunition and information than our Executive Branch has already given them. I love my country and truly care for its protection. Why would I tell the enemy how I’m going to pull information from them? I’m not. So, I’ll stop here. I think you get the point. I will provide this much though:
Below are some of the links to my sources used in this post: