RANGER AGAINST WAR: Tortuous Route to Torture <

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tortuous Route to Torture

Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong
--Thomas Jefferson

What is left when honor is lost

--Publilius Syrius (100 BCE)

Democracies die behind closed doors

-- Judge Damon J. Keith, Federal Court of Appeals

If we aim to be an honorable nation, we can't get there from here.

Egyptian cleric Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr spoke out publicly for the first time about his alleged torture at the hands of Egyptian officials during his four years in custody there. Italy says it will try the 26 U.S. personnel (25 CIA; one USAF Lieutenant Colonel) tied to Nasr's kidnapping from a Milanese street
in absentia. This will be the first criminal trial of the U.S. policy of extraordinary rendition of terrorism suspects.

In one sense, this is not news, as it is an everyday truth that torture by proxy and by U.S. personnel is the order of the day.

But in another sense, the logic of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons still escapes my comprehension. Why the executional gymnastics and contortions when we have a very simple procedure in place for dealing with criminals, a category to which terrorists also belong?

If a person is a "suspected" terrorist, then why doesn't the Department of Justice request extradition through the normal legal process of warrants, charges, trials and punishment or acquittal, if the charges are found to be unproven?

America was founded upon this very simple legal approach, one which would guaranty a uniformity of treatment for all who came under criminal prosecution. It was an effort to eliminate favoritism or undue harsh or prejudicial treatment of any category of suspect. So simple, even a Ranger can grasp this concept. Now that is elegance of design.

The honor of America requires an honesty that goes beyond that of marginal individuals,
like Nasr. the entire basis of American jurisprudence has been that it is better to release guilty men than it is to convict an innocent man.

It doesn't appear that Nasr is a snow-white virgin, but by compromising our moral position, we can never prove this in a regular court of law. And we have handed a a victory to the terrorist organizations, both by joining them in lawless behavior, and by jeopardizing the possibility of legal conviction.


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