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Afghan Taliban set high POW standard

Army private bowe bergdahlThere it is. The Afghans have captured a POW, we’ve been sent his image in RGB with a personal message to the American public. US military spokesmen are calling the video a violation of the laws of war. Secretary of State Clinton is calling it “just outrageous and a real sign of desperation and inappropriate criminal behavior.” She’s probably right about the desperation. But showing no signs of nudity, degradation, brutalization or rigor mortis, Army Private Bergdahl is faring better than any US detainee.

And think of the example we’ve set for the Taliban. Bagram AFB, and other unlisted US detention centers in Afghanistan, are purportedly even worse than Club Guantanamo. What happened in 2001 to Taliban forces who surrendered to the Northern Alliance is still trying to come to light, despite a desperate US cover-up. You’ve heard it by now, although the graves have been moved, the shell casings disappeared, and the witnesses killed. Over two thousand Afghan POWs were suffocated in shipping containers, those who survived were finished off by US special forces as they hastily emptied the containers at Dasht-e Leili.

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  1. Private Bergdahl and the Silence of the Pro-Torture Crowd
    by Jacob G. Hornberger

    The pro-torture crowd sure seems quiet about the plight of 23-year-old private Bowe R. Bergdahl, the American soldier being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Why the silence?

    For eight years the pro-torture crowd has been defending the propriety of subjecting prisoners and detainees to such things as waterboarding, repeated waterboarding, walling, beatings, forced nudity, involuntary sexual acts, and even actions that inadvertently resulted in death.

    And for 8 years, the anti-torture crowd, including those of us here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, have been arguing against all of this, primarily on moral grounds.

    But ever since allegations about the torture began surfacing 8 years ago, weve also been making another argument, a practical one involving U.S. soldiers. We have continually argued that the use of such interrogation techniques would inevitably subject U.S. soldiers taken captive to the same mistreatment.

    Of course, even if the U.S. were treating its prisoners and detainees properly, its always possible that the other side would nonetheless mistreat U.S. personnel taken captive. But one thing is for sure: Once the U.S. government took the torture road, it lost all moral standing to insist on the proper treatment of American soldiers taken captive. And it virtually guaranteed that U.S. personnel would be subjected to the same or similar methods of mistreatment, or worse.

    Suppose the Taliban releases videos showing Bergdahl naked, with Taliban soldiers, both male and female, standing around him and leering at him and laughing at him. Then, suppose that after that the video shows him being repeatedly waterboarded, maybe once or twice a day. Then, suppose it shows him in stress positions for long periods of time and being intentionally denied sleep over several weeks. Suppose hes thrown up against walls and beaten. Suppose hes inadvertently killed during his interrogation.

    What possibly could the pro-torture crowd say? That none of this constitutes a proper interrogation technique? That its unfair? Wouldnt the whole world laugh at such claims? After all, if these things constitute proper interrogation techniques for prisoners and detainees in U.S. custody, why dont they constitute proper interrogation techniques for American soldiers and CIA personnel taken captive?

    The Taliban has released a video in which Bergdahl requests the American people to bring about the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan. Given that the pro-torture crowd has long argued that confessions that U.S. interrogation techniques have produced are voluntary and valid, I wonder if the pro-torture crowd would say the same about Bergdahls statement.

    During the entire time that the anti-torture crowd was making this pragmatic argument against torture, the pro-torture crowd was pasting those support the troops stickers on their vehicles. I cant help but wonder if Private Bergdahl might be saying to himself right now, With friends like those in the pro-torture crowd, who needs enemies?

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