Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This Is So Sad

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Army General Russel Honoré said the general public shouldn't be so quick to condemn the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique.

"I don't know much about it, but I know we're dealing with terrorists who do some very awful things to people," he said after Friday morning's speech to about 900 students at Flat Rock Middle School in Tyrone. "I know enough about [waterboarding] that the intent is not to kill anybody. We know that terrorists that we deal with, they have no law that they abide by. They have no code, they kill indiscriminately, like they did on 9/11."


Honoré is from Louisiana. He grew up in Pointe Coupée Parish, across False River (a lake, really) from where Grandpère lived. He comes from a large African-American family, and growing up in that area must not always have been easy. He made his way up the Army chain of command to become a three-star general. His arrival in New Orleans several days after Katrina and the flood began a process leading to the establishment of a measure of order into the chaotic situation there.

How sad to find that he thinks torture is sometimes allowed - in my humble opinion, waterboarding is torture. If General Honoré does not know much about waterboarding, perhaps he should not speak publicly about it. But then, it doesn't kill anyone. Is that the standard by which he judges what is torture?

"If we picked up a prisoner that could tell us where the next 9/11 plot was, we could sit there and treat him nice, and that may not work," he said. "We could sit there and give him water and we could be politically correct.

"But if we have to use sources and methods that get information that not only save American lives, but save other people's lives or could prevent a major catastrophe from happening, I think the American people can decide [whether to allow waterboarding]."


The thing is, General Honoré, experts in gathering intelligence tell us that torture does not succeed in obtaining good intelligence information. The person who is being tortured will say anything to stop the pain or distress.

"As long as we're responsible for hunting those SOBs down, finding them and preventing them from killing our sons and daughters," Honore said, "I think we've got an obligation to do what the hell we've got to do to make sure we get the mission done."

Whatever it takes, even if we think that a person might be a terrorist. No matter that hundreds of "terrorists" have been released after extreme methods of interrogation were used against them, because they were found - oops! - not to be terrorists. No matter that torturing people from other countries may put our troops at greater risk of being tortured in the event that they are captured. That's to say nothing of the ethics of torturing people. I'm thankful that he didn't speak those words to the middle-school children.

I'm sorry to learn that a local African-American man who made good, probably despite a good many obstacles in his path, a hero of sorts, a role model for young people, does not condemn waterboarding.

UPDATE: As I read the article, Honoré made the comments about waterboarding after the speech to the children, not during the speech to them.

UPDATE 2: Please go read Keith Olbermann on an acting assistent attorney general, Daniel Levin, who was forced out of the Bush maladministration three years ago, after he went to a military base and had himself waterboarded and afterwards declared it to be torture.

Thanks to Rmj at Adventus for the tip about Olbermann.

15 comments:

  1. The obscenity to me is that this man is defending the use of torture to 900 students AT A MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! Is this what is meant by "providing role models" for black kids?

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  2. Lapin, I believe it was after the speech to the school children that he said this to reporters. It's still so very wrong.

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  3. You are so right, Mimi!! The lives of thousands of innocent children couldn't be as important as the principal that we should never not respect the dignity of every human being!!! Shame on him for saying it! Shame on him for saying it in front of children!! Shame on him for being black and saying it!!! Oh my....

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  4. And until today I thought it was an olympic sport.....
    What a shock! I shouldn't be surprised but my disappointment in the attitudes of other humans continues apace.
    D.P.

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  5. I must admit that I did not know what waterboarding was until the advent of the Bushies.

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  6. Wow. What fear does to people. Fear and ignorance. It is no excuse but it is a reason.

    I fell so ill.

    That Olberman piece was fantastic- as always.

    Where are we as a people, a nation, that this is even up for discussion?

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  7. Waterboarding is the use of terror for political ends.

    A nation (or government) that supports the use of waterboarding (and torture in general) is therefore a terrorist organization.

    But we're the more moral terrorists rather than those other fellers.

    Appalling.

    JP

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  8. Where are we as a people....

    I ask myself that every day. I ask myself where are the Democrats? They're going to let Mucasey be the Attorney General. Then they might pass a law that says waterboarding is illegal. Then Bush will veto it. They think we're all stupid and can't figure this out.

    They're afraid Bush might nominate someone worse. Then, vote that one down, too. Bush is at 32% approval ratings. Grow some.

    But we're the more moral terrorists rather than those other fellers.

    That's choice, JP. You're right. That's the ticket. We're OK.

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  9. They're afraid Bush might nominate someone worse. Then, vote that one down, too. Bush is at 32% approval ratings. Grow some.

    Schumer explains that would leave the DOJ without adequate leadership. Better to save a government agency than to restore the Constitutional justice system.

    Some people have been in D.C. too long, methinks.

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  10. Schumer explains that would leave the DOJ without adequate leadership.

    What a joke! How long has it been since DOJ had adequate leadership?

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  11. Schumer is my senator- one of the, you know who the other one is!

    I have voted for him.

    I will not again. We can't leave the NY senate seats with inadequate leadership after all...

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  12. Fran, I understand your disappointment. I'm disappointed in him, too, but when voting time comes around, what will your alternative be? The choice is too often between bad and less bad.

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  13. OK, I'm probably the only person who's posted thus far who has first-hand experience with a waterboarding victim, right? And a year's experience as a Combat Interrogator in wartime?

    The General is full of shit and, with commanders in the army who took their honor more seriously above him, he would have known that to mouth off on this subject was unacceptable, and would result in a reprimand in his file, three stars or no.

    Torture of all forms, which includes "waterboarding", is useless in Interrogation, and only attempts to soothe the fears of the powerful that they may not be omnipotent. This is an abomination, Mr. Cheney; I know that and you will never admit it, lest you be judged for it.

    It makes you a real hard man to love, Mr. Cheney; I think I should practice on an easier climb first.

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  14. Johnieb, thanks so much for weighing in on this one. You're the expert here.

    The General is full of shit and, with commanders in the army who took their honor more seriously above him, he would have known that to mouth off on this subject was unacceptable, and would result in a reprimand in his file, three stars or no.

    That covers it well, Johnieb.

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  15. Thank you, Mimi; it's not pleasant being an expert to anybody on this topic, you know? Thank you for seeing that.

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