The VigilanceVoice

July 29, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 320

Two-Thirds Of Americans Vote For Torturing Al Qaeda Prisoners--A Vote For Terrorism Not Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
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 vividly clear. 

      Do you support US sending Al Qaeda suspects to Arab states for interrogation?

        The paper gave the reader two choices:  
        1.--Yes--the militants' home country will make connections the US might miss.
        2--No--It's too likely extracting information will
                                      include torture.
        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% against.
       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.   

        America 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 Constitution.   

       My concern 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?

       Allowing our 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 not."
       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.

Abner Louima 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 Qaeda.
      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 group?
      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 Vigilance.       ( Look on the page for the survey).

Go To July 28--Shadow Wolves--Terrorism Hunters

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