Over on Hot Air, Michelle gives a talk about McCain, Warner and Graham and about how they are attempting to extend the Geneva conventions to terrorists. For a more in-depth discussion, you can go to Right Thinking from the Left Coast, as Lee’s dedicated the past two weeks to blogging about torture.
Lee’s got good points. So does Michelle. And I’ve weighed in a bit on the comments on RTftLC. After listening to some very good debate on the subject, I think the most reasonable course of action is three-fold.
1) Extend Geneva convention protections to prisoners of our military. Our military should behave as if every terrorist and insurgent captured is under these protections. The reason this is important is to show what a civilized nation does to its captured enemies. Streamlining this process and removing the guesswork will prevent embarrassing episodes like Abu Grahib from ever happening again. This particular proviso should also bar CIA interrogations of prisoners in US Military custody. There’s a reason for this in section 3.
2) Define what constitutes torture, humiliating treatment, and degradation. Walking on a leash is pretty much textbook degradation. Panties on the head? It’s humiliating to a degree, but not torture. Pulling out fingernails? Yes, torture. Slapping? No. Anything that seriously impairs or damages a subject to the point to extreme pain or belief in a life-threatening compliance (waterboarding) should be banned. Cold rooms? Loud music? Sleep deprivation? None of those do serious physical or psychological harm to the subject, so those are defined as interrogation techniques that are acceptable use by the US Military. Have the US Congress and the US Executive branch agree on these terms.
We’ve already addressed this as a nation, both in UN treaty and our response to said treaty. I think it’s clear we’ve been lax in our enforcement of what we’d say we’d do. So the best way to show a strong hand and committed response to this topic is to define it. There should also be language in the statute that gives some wiggle room for new interrogation techniques and how those should be viewed by the US government.
3) Now, if you examine a terrorist, you’ll see that they are an irregular force, mainly civilians, who are dedicated to attacks on civilian targets, disruption of economic and humanitarian infrastructure, and carry out these attacks from civilian disguises. We are making a mistake to treat these people as enemy soldiers. We should treat them for what they are– spies.
The essence of espionage is embodied in Al Queda. Intelligence gathering, planning, non-military attacks– these are all targets that sabotuers engage. Last I checked, capturing enemy spies was the CIA’s business.
So let the CIA capture and hold these people indefinitely. The punishment for espionage, as a maximum, is death. And as they are irregular enemy agents, they are not privy to the rights of our nation, nor are they privy to the protections of the Geneva Conventions, signatories or not.
So make this public. Call Al Queda operatives spies. And let the world know what we do with spies. Just ask the Israelis, or Russia. They’ll tell you what you do with spies.