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Avoid tarnishing our honor
First off I would like to thank Mr. Braxton for his reply to my letter. I do think however Mr. Braxton, that you missed the point. I did not respond to your first letter based on your assumption that Mr. Obama had no plan to protect the country. I responded based on your assertion that Mr. Bush would be vindicated and your stance on torture. I for one feel that Mr. Obama can and will protect this country. I also feel he will start to repair the damage done over the last eight years.
Your comment about my “claim” to be retired Army leads me to believe that you questioned that fact. If so, that is your right. I can only assume that you feel that way because I don’t blindly follow George W Bush. I choose to make my own decisions about right and wrong. However, your stance now calls into question the various “claims” you made in your response as well as the “claims” you have made over the last several years. I will agree with you on the fact that I apparently did not receive the same training you received in the Army. I don’t recall seeing “Water boarding 101” in any training manual or on any training schedule. I guess that is just my loss.
As far as your “claim” that water boarding is not torture and it is a safe and effective technique to gather information. I choose to differ with you on that point as well. In 2005 John McCain was quoted in an article for ABC news as saying the water board technique is a “very exquisite torture” that should be outlawed. I for one think that he knows a thing or two about what torture is.
A quick review of Army FM 2-22.3 Human Intelligence Collector Operations dated September 2006 discusses how prisoners are to be treated. It states in part that prisoners will be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and in accordance with the laws of War. Both of those documents state that prisoners will not be physically or mentally abused, that prisoners will not be physi-cally or mentally coerced and that torture is counter productive and produces unreliable results. Just for the record the definition of coercion is: force or threats used to make somebody do something against his or her will.
On page 5-21 of the above FM it states how prisoners are to be treated. You will see that water boarding is listed as being one of several prohibited actions.
On page 5-25 of the manual, torture is defined in this manner - Torture is an act committed by a person under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain and suffering, other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions, upon another person within his custody or physical control. (Extracted from Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 2340A).
I think your example of using “water boarding” to induce the fear of drowning just may fall under the category of inflicting severe mental pain and suffering.
Whether you agree or not, it is a prohibited action by Army doctrine. I understand the need to gather information to fight terrorism and I think all legal means should be used. Who should decide if and when to stoop to prohibited actions? You, me, Mr. Bush, the soldiers on the front line? These laws and doctrines were put in place to prevent these things from happening. That is what makes us right and honorable. We do the right thing even if nobody is watching us.
Thankfully we live in a great country where we can have differing opinions and can voice those opinions openly. We have earned and kept that right based on the brave service of our military. The service of all Veterans including you and I and the service of our current active military is an honorable sacrifice that we chose to make. Let’s not let that honor get tarnished by using prohibited methods.
Charles Adkins Vine Grove