Crossing the Line
As example of how life used to be, I offer the following testimony from personal knowledge. On June 5, 1944, U.S. Navy Task Force Gallery (22.3) captured the Nazi U-Boat U505 off North Africa. This U-boat had sunk thousands of tons of allied merchant ships, certainly in violation of international law, not to mention their unique position representing the heinous Nazi regime. Despite this, the captured seamen were afforded POW status.
The Nazi officers aboard surely had intimate knowledge of U-Boat warfare and design, including order of battle and all facts needed to defeat this Axis threat. But the officers were not tortured to gain that sensitive information that surely would've saved additional lives in this very real war. I know this, because my father was a member of that capturing task force; later in life, I had the unique experience of meeting one of those German POWs, who was later naturalized as a U.S. citizen.
After WWII, many of the Italian and German POW's which we had detained petititioned to remain in the states. For those who left, fond rememberances of America and their treatment at America's hands is generally the order of the day.
Fast forward to 2006, where we have 15% of U.S. citizens believing that torture is justified against terrorist prisoners. Our present administration favors eliminating Geneva Convention rights in our phony War on Terror. A shared humanity is unlikely to be the experience of most prisoners from the Arab world. We have squandered 200+ years of decency and goodwill in the military and political arena.
How did we get here from there?
I am including song lyrics below that came to me as I wrote the above.
From the Leon Russell song, Ballad for a Soldier:
When I was just a young boy, I played with swords and guns, and I dreamed of the day I'd become a soldier, and kill all of the enemy, my country`tis of thee. I sing this anthem sadly, won't you hear me. I watched the cannons blazing, on the giant silver screen. The swastikas were burning and the hero was me. The general gave the order, gladly I obeyed. But the movie faded quickly all at once today. And now I stand alone with the charges made,no where to run, not a place to hide. We`re sad little children playing grown-up games. Guess the time has come, the damage has been done. Stray dogs that live on the highway, walk on three legs. Cause they learn too slow to get the message. Just like the indians in the early days. Battles lost and won, yet it still goes on. It`s just another ballad for soldier. I had no understanding 'til I saw my mother cry,when they told how many babies I had killed that night. A dozen color photographs inside of a magazine, told the morbid story like a movie screen. But I was not the hero I thought myself to be, movies are much different than reality. The general was convicted to get off of the hook, but the President might free me for the chance I took. And we all stand alone when the charge is made, sad way to live, what a way to die. We're all little children playing grown-up games, can we burn the gun before the next time comes. Stray dogs that live on the highway walk on three legs, they move too slow to get the message. Give up and win, that's all I have to say, we haven't really won 'til all the fightin's done, and there are no more ballads for the soldiers.