Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Stress Positions Versus Torture

I saw this yesterday at Jeralyn’s place and meant to blog about it then, but didn’t. There’s a good discussion about this very issue going on over at QandO and I agree with Dale and Jon: we shouldn’t be doing, or condoning, this kind of behavior. I don’t know the difference between stress positions and torture, and if the perpetrators don’t know, they shouldn’t be applying stress positions either.

This sort of thing is exactly what endangers our soldiers and builds public support in the Middle East for killing them. That part of the world is already conspiracy minded as it is; no need to be feeding the fire with actual events.

Lawyers will have to sort out the legalities here, but in the mean time a good rule of thumb is to default to doing nothing when you don’t know how you’re behavior might be spun. I should add, though I shouldn’t have to, that it’s wrong as well. For that reason alone we shouldn’t be doing it.

Greg Djerejian has more support for the "do nothing" hypothesis. He says it's a training problem, among other things.

Thursday, 6 January 2005

Tortured Reading

Both James Joyner and Glenn Reynolds recommend this post at Belgravia Dispatch regarding the whole Gonzales-Gitmo-Abu Gharib flap. My general point of view (similar to that expressed here a couple of weeks ago by Robert) is when you’ve resorted to semantics—“stress positions” versus “torture” and the like—you’ve already lost the battle in the court of public opinion, even if legally you might be in the right.*

On Gonzales in general, I have to say that I never thought I’d favorably compare John Ashcroft to anyone else (although it could be argued he was at least an upgrade from Janet Reno), but at this point I’d rather have the Prude over the Enabler any day.

* I’d term this the Clinton Rule, after our former president’s efforts to marshall semantics to his defense when accused of lying under oath, regarding such terms as “alone,” “is,” and “sexual relations.”