Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another JAG officer takes a stand on torture highlighted another JAG officer taking a stand on principle against the use of torture.

"It was with sadness that I signed my name this grey morning to a letter resigning my commission in the U.S. Navy," wrote Gig Harbor, Wash., resident and attorney-at-law Andrew Williams in a letter to The Peninsula Gateway last week. "There was a time when I served with pride ... Sadly, no more." [...]

It was in the much-publicized interview two weeks ago between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, who is the chief legal adviser at the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions, that led Williams to resign.

In the interview, Graham asked Hartmann how the uniformed legal community should respond if the Iranian government used waterboarding to torture a U.S. solider into disclosing when the next U.S. military operation would occur.

Hartmann responded: "I am not prepared to answer that question." [...]

Williams, 43, felt that Hartmann was admitting torture is now an acceptable interrogation technique in the United States -- an admission that did not sit well with him.

"There was this saying in the Marines: 'We don't lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate people who do,' " Williams said. "And that sort of echoed through the Navy."

I'm glad to see that there are officers like Andrew Williams and Ian Fishback who will stand up and say, 'This is not right. This is not what our military stands for.' I hope more join them.

Mr. Williams' complete letter is available here.

If you've not read Captain Fishback's letter to Senator McCain which he shared with the Washington Post, it is a must read item which I encourage you to read and book mark. It is so hard to choose an excerpt but this I think strikes at the heart of what he said.

Give them [the soldiers] a clear standard [for treatment of prisoners] that is in accordance with the bedrock principles of our nation.

Some do not see the need for this work. Some argue that since our actions are not as horrifying as Al Qaeda's, we should not be concerned. When did Al Qaeda become any type of standard by which we measure the morality of the United States? We are America, and our actions should be held to a higher standard, the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Others argue that clear standards will limit the President's ability to wage the War on Terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques, it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable.

We are held to a higher standard.


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