"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Saturday, December 20, 2014

We Need to Prosecute American War Criminals - Torture is Unacceptable

I offer the video above, because it's important to know that there are great Americans who actually care about the rule of law, who display the courage that those in uniform too often claim without merit, and who lead the charge against the criminals who break our laws and against domestic enemies who threaten our nation.  The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is one organization that is calling for the prosecution of American criminals. 

This is in sharp contrast to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which, according to their executive director, thinks that our president should pardon war criminal torturers.  The ACLU, though it does much good, has a tendency to get it wrong when the going gets tough or when it benefits their organizational worldview or reserve of political capital, to abstain from defending the rights of Americans (see their failure to defend Americans sent to concentration camps in the 1940s, and take a look at their tortured denial of our second amendment).  While the ACLU does good, and is an undisputed positive in America, they could learn a lesson from the CCR on being fearless when doing right is most important.

In the trenches, I have also seen my peers, not unsurprisingly, defending torture.  I won't get into the moral argument, or entertain the fantastic fictional "what if" scenarios, or even get into the ridiculous splitting of hairs over whether water boarding is torture or not, or explain that they are in fact arguing that it was okay for North Koreans to torture Americans in the Korean War.  Instead, I will simply point this out.  United States federal law makes torture illegal.  Period. 18 U.S. Code § 2441 on war crimes defines torture as:
The act of a person who commits, or conspires or attempts to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession, punishment, intimidation, coercion, or any reason based on discrimination of any kind.
Torture is unlawful.  Water boarding, very obviously, is torture.  American military officers who advocate breaking federal law are not only prime examples that online CBTs on LOAC are useless, but they also make clear that we have many in our ranks who are unfit to wear a military uniform.  In my experience, these same numerous wolves in sheepdog clothing have just as much unconcern for violating the rights of American citizens, as they do when it comes to torturing those we capture on the battlefield.

The rule of law is supposed to mean something in America.  America is supposed to be better than Somalia, where thuggish warlords rule the land.  America is supposed to be a lamp on the hill.

War criminals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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