Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An Officer's Obligation by Matthew Alexander

Matthew Alexander writes about torture from an officer's perspective in An Officer's Obligation and provides what should be required reading for all the talking heads at Fox News, David Broder at the Washington Post, Bill Kristol, and Karl Rove. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity should be required to read this on-air, Beck without any of his cutesy facial contortions and sad-sack put on.

They are fond of talking about the Constitution, about our soldiers, about how Obama has put the soldiers at risk by banning the use of torture, by releasing information on the practices of the Bush Administration, that the liberal right and the Democrats are somehow anti-veterans because of their deliberate mis-reading of a report written during the Bush Administration that states that returning veterans might be at risk of being recruited by right-wing extremist terrorist groups.

They so (deliberately I believe) misunderstand the military, the veterans, and the Constitution, that I'm not sure they could understand Mr. Alexander's point when he says:

Military officers have a sacred responsibility that is embedded in their oath of office: "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same..."
He goes on to explain how:

The Constitution specifically prohibits cruelty to any person in the Eighth Amendment ... unusual punishments inflicted"). Those officers who ordered, authorized, or were complicit in the torture and abuse of prisoners violated their oath of office. The United States has a rich history of military ethics dating back to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. According to General Washington, "Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any prisoner...by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country." He said this in 1775, during a time when the birth of our nation hung in the balance.
Probably his most important point, is as he speaks about the capture and interrogations of detainees in Iraq, men who did not provide valuable information. Mr. Alexander speaks about the value of these detainees as opportunities for his men to learn to improve their skills, to become better interrogators. He said:

We are Americans and we are smart enough to win the battle of wits in the interrogation room. We cannot afford to doubt our abilities. We should focus on improving our methods within the legal framework of Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution. And military officers have a heightened responsibility to effect change and to lead our interrogator corps to its full potential. We are smart enough.
Mr. Alexander understands, in a way that the talking heads and politicians do not, that interrogation is about trust, not torture. That as a country of law, be are no better than terrorists is we use their tactics is we give up the law in order to protect it.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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