Memo to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, chief roadblock to the nomination of Pentagon General Counsel W. James Haynes II for the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals: If you, senator, will push through the nomination of this supremely qualified attorney, I will volunteer to undergo any five of the interrogation techniques recommended by Haynes that you, senator, seem to so obstinately oppose.
Make that any ten of them.
No, I’m not a masochist. The point is that Sen. Graham’s objections are much ado about nothing. While fulminating against “torture,” Graham has blocked the nomination of a lawyer responsible for limiting the interrogation methods to be used against “unlawful enemy combatants” (read: “almost certainly terrorists”) to ones mild enough that I, a humble scribe, would not mind being subjected to them.
To confuse those interrogation techniques with torture is akin to confusing a church-picnic three-legged race with a marathon.
Here’s the background: As the American military sifted through prisoners/terrorists taken in the course of liberating Afghanistan, it sent a tiny proportion of them — based on their danger to Americans and the value of the intelligence apparently to be gleaned from them — to the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for further interrogation. As these prisoners were not regular soldiers, the interrogators wondered what rules applied to the questioning of them. The interrogators sent through the chain of command a request for approval of a number of techniques. The Justice Department, not the Defense Department, pronounced most of the techniques legal. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved them (with a number of appropriate safeguards) on Dec. 2, 2002.
And by the way, “waterboarding” was not, repeat not, among those approved by the secretary.
Enter Haynes. Receiving complaints from other observers and policy-makers about some of the techniques, he was instrumental in convincing Rumsfeld to allow a full review of the legality and the wisdom of all of them. The review was conducted over the course of nearly three months by a broad cross section of legal and military personnel, of intensely varying opinions (at least to begin with).
As a result of the review led by Haynes, nine of the original 35 approved techniques were disallowed for ordinary use at Guantanamo. (Secretary Donald Rumsfeld eventually cut two more from the list.) In other words, Haynes’s work was responsible for going the extra mile to keep the interrogations well within humane bounds.
Of the 26 techniques that were recommended by the working group, 18 already had been part of the officially approved armed forces field manual for many years.
The other eight were and are well within reason.
To get a sense of how careful, how humane, are the approved interrogation techniques, consider some of the nine that Haynes’s review rejected for being too harsh:
“Prolonged Standing: Lengthy standing in a â€˜normal’ position (non-stress). This has been successful, but should never make the detainee exhausted to the point of weakness or collapse. Not enforced by physical restraints. Not to exceed four hours in a 24-hour period.”
“Physical Training: Requiring detainees to exercise (perform ordinary physical exercises actions —STET) (e.g., running, jumping jacks); not to exceed 15 minutes in a two-hour period; not more than two cycles, per 24-hour periods. Assists in generating compliance and fatiguing the detainees. No enforced compliance.”
“Isolation: Isolating the detainee from other detainees while still complying with basic standards of treatment.”
Again, though, those techniques were not recommended to Rumsfeld. Presumably, Sen. Graham’s objections stem from the procedures that were approved. But (dear reader), consider three of the harshest of them, and see if they seem out of line — out of line, that is, for questioning hardened combatants who, after a great deal of research by trained personnel, are believed to possess information that could mean the difference between saving or losing hundreds or thousands or many thousands of American lives:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?