Friday, May 14, 2004

In the past few days, the Human Rights Watch and a former Afghan police colonel have claimed that there is systemic abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan. It doesn't have me worried, though. It is estimated that only about 300 prisoners are held by the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

And then there was that article in the New York Times detailing U.S. torture of senior al-Qaeda members. Yes, torture. The article's authors used words like "harsh methods," "coercive interrogation methods," "graduated levels of force," "methods," and "techniques." But after reading the third paragraph in which the "technique" of "water boarding" was explained, you realize that they were only kidding themselves. Yes, we torture Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Where's the cruelty in that? There is none. We don't torture him out of vengeance or barbarity; we do it to save lives. If we can save the life of a donkey in Afghanistan by depriving Mohammad of sleep, I say we do it. (I do admit, however, to secretly wishing to torture Mullah Omar once we catch him.)

But where do we draw the line? In Iraq. Most prisoners being held there are not terrorists, but simply insurgents who are entitled to a certain amount of rights under the Geneva Conventions. They are POWs. At Abu Graib, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's minions should have far less rights than the Sunni insurgent from Ramadi. That's a distinction the enemy doesn't make.

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