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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 29, 2009 / 5 Iyar 5769

Pity for ‘tortured’ terrorist?

By Kevin Ferris


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | How appropriate that the phrase "shock the conscience comes up with regard to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, also known as KSM, mastermind of 9-11.

The phrase acts as a reality check, forcing one's thoughts back to the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and the mass murder of almost 3,000 people: The innocents who had their throats slit by hijackers. The men and women who burned to death. Those who plunged to their deaths from the World Trade Center to escape the inferno.

That was a shock to my conscience.

I compare that with KSM's being subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, including reportedly being waterboarded 183 times - roughly one session for every 16 victims of 9-11.

Sorry, but I cannot work my conscience into being shocked for him, even though I suspect such a judgment will result in some form of eternal damnation.

I'll grant the reports are troubling. All acts of war are. Whether suffering and death is inflicted on our troops, innocent civilians, or even the enemy. There's nothing good or worth celebrating here. Even when necessary, going to war is but one of many difficult decisions that will follow.

Look to World War II. After France fell, there were fears its fleet would fall into Nazi hands. Churchill ordered the destruction of that fleet, killing almost 1,300 allied sailors in the process. At the time, Hitler seemed unstoppable and an invasion of Britain imminent. Clearly a difficult decision, shocking even in its time. One admiral wrote, "We all feel thoroughly dirty and ashamed."

Some feel the same about the interrogation techniques used against al-Qaida suspects. Others go much further, declaring them war crimes and demanding trials for those involved, from the CIA interrogators to the lawyers who drafted the memos to the decision-makers right up to George W. Bush.

Given the context, I have a hard time seeing the crime here. Republicans and Democrats in Congress who were briefed numerous times on the programs apparently felt the same way.

After 9-11, the government had two primary missions: wage war against al-Qaida, and protect the American people. KSM was a legitimate target in that war. Had he been obliterated in a Predator strike, no one would have cried "war crime." Since he was captured, given the level of destruction he'd caused and the lives he'd taken, it was legitimate to learn what he knew in an attempt to prevent further attacks. Had his own conscience been shocked by the enormity of his crimes, perhaps he'd have given the information freely. Since he declined, coercion, though troubling, seems only right. If that coercion saved lives, prosecuting interrogators for war crimes would be a shock to the conscience.

Perhaps President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, after reviewing the facts, will determine there's a case to be made. They and others might look at the recently released "torture memos" and see both a criminal conspiracy and war crimes. Others, myself included, read the memos and see people weighing bad wartime options from a capital that had just been attacked for the first time since the War of 1812.

But if there is a trial, expect an impressive list of witnesses for the defense.

One would be George Tenet, the CIA director under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who told "60 Minutes'' in 2007: "I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."

Another witness would be Tenet's successor, Michael Hayden, who said on "Fox News Sunday'' last week: "The facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work. The president's speech, President Bush in September of '06, outlined how one detainee led to another, led to another, with the use of these techniques."

The writer of that speech, Marc A. Thiessen, quoted one of the recently released Justice Department memos for a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday: "Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques 'led to the discovery of a KSM plot - the Second Wave - to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner" into a building in Los Angeles.

Obama's director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, could be called to the stand. He wrote to the "intelligence community" on April 16: "High-value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."

If Obama and Holder want to look back as if the war is over and suggest some behavior was dirty and shameful, that's up to them. But pursuing criminal charges against those who acted in good faith to defend their country is going to be a tougher sell.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Kevin Ferris is commentary page editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.



Previously:


04/22/09: For good or ill, to be a public figure is to have your image used and abused
03/11/09: GOP lacks leader but has potential
03/05/09: A dangerous naivete in foreign policy
02/25/09: Beware ‘dialogue’ on race
12/29/08: ‘Chicago II’: A governor's story
12/11/08: Operator: Welcome to transition hotline
12/03/08: How Obama will fight a growing front in Afghanistan
11/25/08: GOP ahead of curve for change
11/13/08: Prayers for President-elect Barack Obama
10/03/08: Obama's lowball attacks: Suggesting that McCain is a bigot runs afoul of the high-minded ‘unity’ tripe
09/06/08: It's unlikely that a President McCain would be driven by political ideology
09/04/08: Bold McCain will sharpen the contrasts

© 2008, Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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