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FROM THE EDITOR
Teddy Bears, Torture, and the High Ground
JR Dieckmann

Last week, British school teacher Gillian Gibbons was pardoned and released from jail by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir with notice that her visa was cancelled and she was to return to Britain immediately. Her crime, allowing her 7 year old students to name a teddy bear “Mohammed” after one of the students in her class.

Most Americans find this laughable but Islamists in the Middle East are always looking for something to be offended by when an “infidel” is involved. You can name your child Mohammed, but not a teddy bear, a sin punishable by death. Aren’t you glad you live in America? So why weren’t the Muslim children punished for being the ones who actually did the naming? That’s easy - because they’re not the infidel, they’re Muslims.

The hypocrisies of Islam are almost as astounding as the hypocrisies of Democrats.

Islamic prosecutors were pushing for a sentence of 40 lashes and 6 months in confinement. Government sponsored protestors were sent out into the streets demanding she be executed with public stoning, beheading, or other punishments common to Islam. She was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment before the pardon. It was only free world attention to the matter that saved her.

In order to administer 40 lashes, it has to be done in smaller segments and spread out over a period of days to avoid killing the subject. Stoning is faster but still involves a great deal of pain and humiliation until death occurs. Beheading is fast if done right but not very pleasant and its effects are usually terminal. Non of these punishments are considered “torture” by Islamists. They are a normal part of Islamic culture.

At the same time Gillian Gibbons was waiting to see what fate awaited her, John McCain was giving a lecture on waterboarding during the Republican debate, an interrogation technique that is proven to work without harming the subject.

McCain contends that pouring water on someone’s face is “torture” and should not be allowed during the interrogation of Islamic terrorists who support the aforementioned actions as a part of their culture. McCain would sooner see Americans die than subject terrorists to having water splashed in their face.

In his answer to a question on waterboarding, and in response to Mitt Romney’s refusal to call waterboarding torture, McCain said:

We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going to do what's being done to Burmese monks as we speak. I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others, and how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me.

McCain then accused Romney of not knowing what waterboarding is and Romney replied that he did. McCain went on:

Then I am astonished that you would think such a -- such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our -- who we are held captive and anyone could believe that that's not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Convention. It's in violation of existing law... And, governor, let me tell you, if we're going to get the high ground in this world and we're going to be the America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years. We're not going to torture people.

Gee, I didn’t know that Pol Pot used waterboarding on prisoners or that Burmese Monks were being subjected to it. The Geneva Convention, to my knowledge, has never outlawed waterboarding and the only law against it was the creation of some liberal judge on the Court. This country does not torture people. That is a fact. McCain’s argument is irrelevant legally and applies only to those in whose opinion waterboarding is considered torture. Opinion does not make fact.

Stephen King had this bit of wisdom to add to McCain’s position:

“If the Bush administration didn’t think waterboarding was torture, they ought to do some personal investigation. Someone in the Bush family should actually be waterboarded so they could report on it to George... I suggested Jenna be waterboarded and then she could talk about whether or not she thought it was torture.”

Frankly, I would have expected something a little more intelligent and creative from the great Stephen King. Waterboard Jenna just so that she could give her opinion on it? Now that would surely settle the matter.

Is McCain right? He says waterboarding meets precisely the definition of torture. If we consult various popular dictionaries we find this:

Torture: Function: noun
1 a: anguish of body or mind : agony
b: something that causes agony or pain
2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.
 
1 The infliction of severe pain as a punishment or a forcible means of persuasion.
2 great suffering or anxiety.
 
1 a. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
   b. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
3. Something causing severe pain or anguish.

One version of Webster’s additionally includes this entry:

Especially, severe pain inflicted judicially, either as punishment for a crime, or for the purpose of extorting a confession from an accused person, as by water or fire, by the boot or thumbkin, or by the rack or wheel.

This last entry refers to “old English” punishments but includes the only mention of “water” found. In this case it refers to drowning. Perhaps this is what McCain saw under the definitions of torture. I have omitted definitions that do not refer to human suffering such as “torturing a word” to change its meaning and so forth.

The one thing that all definitions of human torture have in common is severe pain and often injury to the body. This can include the twisting or breaking of limbs, crushing, burning, drowning, cutting, poking and prodding, and other methods of physical harm to cause severe pain or death. The key word here is “pain.”

The act of waterboarding involves placing a cloth over the subject’s face and pouring water over it to simulate drowning. It is not actual drowning. It causes no real pain. It leave no harmful effects on the body. It does frighten the begebies out of them. It does not match dictionary descriptions of torture but it does get subjects to talk. It works and does not violate Geneva Convention rules which do not apply to terrorists in any case.

Special Forces candidates all go through waterboarding as a part of their training. Does McCain really believe that we should not be using a proven method of interrogation on terrorist that we use to train our own people? McCain seems to bond with those on the left who insist that any discomfort during interrogations is torture. He is the only Republican candidate for president who sees it that way.

McCain says we need to maintain the “moral high ground” by avoiding discomforts such as waterboarding being used on people who see lashing, stoning and beheading not as torture, but a normal part of their society. McCain doesn’t seem to realize that we lost the moral high ground long ago when we began compromising on American values and started worrying more about what others think of us instead of standing up for strength, freedom, liberty and doing what is right.

The way for America to regain the moral high ground is for people like McCain and the Democrats to stop accusing Americans of torture, and start supporting the policies of the country in foreign affairs. It is the unjustified criticisms and denigration of America by politicians on the left and their media that has caused America to lose the moral high ground.

It is also the result of our liberal society which has rejected the moral standards that once made America a clean and safe place to live. We lost the moral high ground when we started teaching sex and anti-American views in our schools along with coddling criminals. If we can’t respect ourselves, then why should we expect others to respect us? There is no moral high ground without respect.

Will our politicians ever understand that every derogatory word they speak about our country is heard and used as propaganda by our enemies to defeat us in the war on terror? The enemy needs not create anti-American propaganda for their war. They only have to repeat what Democrats say in Congress and in the media and that is just what they have been doing. Not only has McCain joined them, he has made it harder for interrogators to protect us from future attacks.

If naming a teddy bear gets you 40 lashes in Islam, what methods would they use to break a subject during interrogations? Does McCain really think that by avoiding waterboarding we can protect Americans from more severe interrogation methods overseas? Does he really think that by being weak and nice to terrorists, it will restore America to the moral high ground? Doesn’t he know that Islamists are laughing at us over our excessive concern for the human rights and comfort of captured terrorists?

Islam does not respect weakness and American concern for their comfort. They respect only courage, conviction, strength, and fear. We cannot afford to appear weak or afraid to use whatever method necessary to get information from them when captured. They will not talk unless we put the fear of fire and brimstone into them.

If they go in knowing that they will not be harmed, they will come out after revealing nothing. This we cannot tolerate nor should we. Perhaps interrogators should take in with them a teddy bear named Mohammed. Would McCain approve of that?

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