29, 2002—Ground Zero Plus
Americans Vote For Torturing Al Qaeda Prisoners--A Vote For Terrorism Not
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, July 29-- I voted against torturing prisoners in the Christian
Science Monitor poll this morning. The question was
Do you support US sending Al Qaeda suspects to
Arab states for interrogation?
The paper gave the reader two
1.--Yes--the militants' home
country will make connections the US might miss.
2--No--It's too likely extracting
I answered "No." I
answered the question because in Vietnam I was part of a system that
tortured prisoners. I've witnessed the horror of torture,
conducted both in the heat of battle to get immediate information about
the enemy forces, and, behind the lines when torture became a tool of
power and a means of inflicting pain on another regardless of the
information they offered.
I was surprised, well, shocked, that
more than 2/3rds of the respondents voted for shipping prisoners to
"torture countries." As of today, the Monitor tallied
460 votes for shipping prisoners to Arab countries and 224 against,
statistically representing 67% for the possibility of torture, and 33%
What surprised me most was the vast
difference. I expected at least a 50-50 split, which would represent
a moral dilemma. Instead, the data suggested a landslide, favoring
the most brutal and invaluable type of information.
Torturing someone almost always
forces them to answer whatever the torturer wants to hear.
It is a simple equation--stop the pain and I'll tell you anything you want
to hear--even if I have to make it up.
used to "beat confessions" from suspects. Our Miranda Rights
requiring the police to allow us the right of legal representation, and
the right not to say anything, was affirmed to protect the Truth, not
hinder investigation. Suspects, under brutalization,
would admit to just about anything to reduce the anguish.
I know if I put a gun to someone's
head, cock the hammer, and slowly begin to squeeze the trigger, whomever's
head is at the end of my barrel will start babbling whatever I want to
hear to cause me to release my grip. Legally, this is called
"confessions under duress."
In a nation that protects and
preserves individual rights, whether a citizen or not, I found it amazing
that we would throw out the baby with the bathwater on this issue of
torture. It crumbles our Vigilance as a nation that has stood
for over two centuries as the Sentinel of Individual Rights.
Even our worst mass murderers, our Sons of
Sam, our Hannibal Lechters, our child molesters, our child rapists and
murders--far more vicious in their crimes than Terrorists because they are
citizens of our country--are held firmly under the protection of our
with the poll is the degree of Terrorism we exhibited against the alleged
Terrorists. When 67 percent of us agree to turn our
backs on the rights of the accused, we fall into the same vat as those who
abused us. We do not walk the high road.
Years ago, the memories of torturing others
still haunt me. I won't go into the details here, but I wrote
about them in one of my recent articles. You can scan it for details
at your wish (TORTURE OF VIGILANCE)
My point regarding the Monitor Poll is the
ease with which we, a people who earned a reputation for Vigilance, can
slide into Terrorism. Our blanket of Constitutional protection
appeals to citizens of the world whose rights have been ground under the
heels of oppressive government.
Most of my concerns rest with the children of our
nation. What child would endorse the torturing of others,
unless that child was prompted by his or her parents or guardians to think
the perversion of inflicting pain on another to get information was a
form of justice?
thinking and opinions to favor torture seeds in our children Terrorism
against others. As an adult, I certainly have different
opinions toward others than I have as a parent or guardian or grandfather.
My selfish opinion is often "do unto others as they do unto you--even if
you're not sure that one who is the target of your wrath is guilty or
But as a Sentinel of Vigilance, I am held
to a higher responsibility. I must decide how I want my
opinions to be judged by the children, and whether I want them to believe
that an "eye-for-an-eye" and "a-tooth-for-a-tooth" is a better form of
justice than offering every person every right to defend himself or
herself from unfair prosecution.
The man who
recently abducted, raped and killed five-year-old Samantha
(photo on right) is a
Terrorist. He is no more innocent of Terrorism than a member
of Al Qaeda suspected for planning a bombing attack on the U.S., or being
part of a conspiracy to undermine American security. A
Terrorist grabbed her right in the front yard, admitted to his crime, and
yet falls within all the protections that our original Constitution
spelled out to protect individual rights.
My question is about the Terrorization of human
rights. The two-thirds who voted for "torture" probably have
never seen it administered, or how it's execution can distort the Truth,
bear false information as well as valid, and, in the process, destroy the
virtues of "fairness to all."
Our country was shocked when the headlines
exposed the brutal broomstick attack on the rectum of a prisoner in New
York City, and few would publicly affirm the right of the police to
inflict such cruel and unusual punishment on anyone, for any reason.
Yet, we have two-thirds of a small sample of Americans voting to allow or
to endorse whatever cruelty for suspected Terrorists.
victim of Terrorism
Terrorism is about Fear, Intimidation and Complacency being issued upon
its victims. In the aftermath of September 11, the
fallout continues to rain down on our population in insidious and
nefarious forms. Those who voted to allow the torture of
prisoners obviously are afraid, intimidated and complacent about the
"rights of Terrorists,"--at least those rights of a specific group, the Al
Constitutional Rights are not exclusive, but
rather inclusive. Once we start to separate groups from the
protection of such rights, we fracture the Virtues of Vigilance.
We weaken our own protection, for we set precedents for future leaders to
follow because the population has endorsed the exclusionary nature of
rights for one group, so why not apply that same precedent to another
Our children suffer the most. They
learn that we agree with the "separation of rights" between some and
others. They learn prejudice and bigotry and unfairness.
They learn it is okay to be cruel to your enemies. They learn,
ultimately, how to be Terrorists.
I ask all those who think that it is okay
to affirm the sending of prisoners to Arab countries for interrogation to
reconsider their thinking. Think in terms of the lesson
we are teaching our children by allowing our opinions to flow at the
lowest level of resistance--that of revenge.
Vigilance is all about Courage, Conviction
and Right Action. Vigilance is not a popular platform, for it
means individuals must swim against the current of public opinion.
I might be one of the first to suggest that
we hang all child molesters and child rapists and murderers from the
highest lamppost in Times Square. Let the birds eat out Samantha's
killer's eyes and the vermin consume his body to illustrate the horrific
crimes he committed. That's the easy decision.
But then, when I
think of my children and grandchildren, and all the generations of
American justice who suffered through the tests and trials of our
Constitutional Rights, I am forced to take a more perspicacious view, a
more just view of how one human treats another--even one who violates the
most innocent of victims.
If America is to stand as a model of civilized
evolution, it can't afford to retreat back to barbarism.
It must conjure the power of Vigilance, bolster the Courage, Conviction
and take the Right Actions necessary to show the world we stand on the
high ground, not in the dung pile.
The High Road
No persons are more important than our children.
When our children see us taking the high rather than low road, they learn
about Courage, Conviction and Right Action.
They learn to be a Sentinels of Vigilance, not
Perpetrators of Terrorism.
Below is the link to the Monitor's poll.
Think through your decision before you vote. Then vote for the
security of your children--the security of their rights as Citizens of
( Look on the page for the survey).
Go To July 28--Shadow Wolves--Terrorism
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