Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Interrogation, Waterboarding, Rights, and Reality Checks

I harangued earlier today about how The New York Times was forced to correct a news story's alternatively accurate subheadline.

America is a nation of laws, and individual rights are important. I am glad to live in a country where, for the most part, the rules are laws forged in a public forum, not whims of the powerful.

End-justifies-the-means arguments make me uncomfortable.

That said, I'm very concerned that many people in news, media, and politics, seem to have lost track of what happened in the autumn of 2001.

After 9/11, New York City was missing several buildings, and about 3,000 people. The Pentagon lost office space and people, and an airliner full of people didn't do too well that day, either.

Those who conceived and planned the 9/11 attack are, for the most part, still around. And they still hate the guts of Americans, and anyone else they regard as insufficiently Islamic.

The people who keep Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and similar organizations running are dedicated to making the world safe for their sort of Islam. That sounds noble, until you realize that their version if Islam includes practices like honor killings, and executing teenagers who wear trousers.

Their version of Islam will not be safe from the infidel until America, western ideals of freedom and tolerance, and a teddy bear named Mohammed are wiped from the face of the earth.

When interrogated, I doubt that they'll cooperate because they think the interrogator plays chess with them, or is a fine fellow.

Making their life unpleasant, with the prospect of less unpleasantness if they provide useful information, seems a reasonable approach.

I don't believe that people should be treated inappropriately. But westerners, and non-westerners who like to wear trousers, play soccer, or do other 'un-Islamic' things, are in deadly peril.

After the fuss about Guantanamo prisoners being abused by being forced to sit on grass, and being given food that wasn't to their liking, it's a little hard to take claims of abuse and torture seriously. Particularly when the abusees are fanatics who may have information that could save innocent lives.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.