Monday, April 02, 2007

The Conscience of the Colonel

I paid cash for Saturday's Wall Street Journal -- a big deal as I rarely buy newspapers anymore and never the WSJ.

However, I had to read the page 1 story about Lt. Col. Stuart Couch. Couch had been appointed to prosecute an al Qaeda operative, Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

An old friend of Couch's was co-pilot on United 175, the second plane to hit the WTC. Slahi had allegedly helped orgaize the al Quada cell which included hijackers of that flight.

The article states:
To Col. Couch, Mr. Slahi seemed a likely candidate for the death penalty.

"Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands," Col. Couch says.

[N]ine months later ... Col. Couch refused to proceed with the Slahi prosecution. The reason: He concluded that Mr. Slahi's incriminating statements -- the core of the government's case -- had been taken through torture, rendering them inadmissible under U.S. and international law.

The article closes
Col. Couch says he's still frustrated that the actions of the U.S. government helped ruin the case against Mr. Slahi. "I'm hoping there's some non-tainted evidence out there that can put the guy in the hole," he says.

Col. Couch has no delusions about the innocence of Mr. Slahi. But the Colonel understands that justice is not served by coerced confessions, and that when we torture prisoners, the terrorists win.

Terry's son understands this as well.

(My thanks to Bryan at Why Now? for the link to the full text of the WSJ piece by Pierre of Candide’s Notebooks.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the Colonel understands that justice is not served by coerced confessions, and that when we torture prisoners, the terrorists win.
Terry's son understands this as well.

How's that work ? Where's the "win" here for terrorists ?

There are a many decisions and policies effecting foreign policy and human rights which you can legitimately and with supporting evidence, be claimed as handing a "win" to terrorists.

How the hell would this qualify as one ?

This guy was captured. He was removed as an asset of the organisation. That was a loss for aQ.

He gave up intel which probably damaged the organisation in a similar fashion of lost manpower and probably to a degree greater than the loss of one man. That's a further loss for aQ.

If he hadn't been tortured - as someone with knowledge of 9/11 surely would be - would his having been tried successfully been a loss for aQ ? If so how ?
If not, how is it a win for them that he has not been ?

Any aQ member captured by the Americans is lost to them forever and will enevitably give up details of the organisation to its detriment.

I can't understand how you could imagine that a court transcript or condemnation by a jury of his non-peers would hold any relevance for aQ and it's followers.

So how exactly would this constitute a win for them ? He's in the same situation he was the day he was captured. Fucked and removed from the face of the earth to their detriment.

Praise allah for that ?

6:18 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Anonymous asks:
"Where's the "win" here for terrorists ?"

My reply:
The goal of terrorists is to terrorize, to have us shape our lives around the fear that they may strike again.

When we abandon our core values -- such as the belief that torture is wrong, or our faith in the due process of law -- the terrorists have succeded. In this sense, the terrorists have won.

And, while there may have been some gain in torturing Slahi, and there may have been loss to al Quada by information he might have divulged soon enough after his capture to be useful, we have still given up our core values out of fear they may strike again.

The terrorirsts, in this sense, still win.

I meant nothing more, and nothing less.

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