Sunday, May 20, 2007

Gitmo on the GOP campaign trail

It "revealed a stunning failure to understand" "the duty of the commander in chief to lead the country away from the grip of fear, not into its grasp," wrote 2 Marine Corps generals, 1 the former Commandant of the Corps, the other former commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command. It was a contest "to see who could do the best impersonation of Jack Bauer, torture enthusiast and the central character on Fox's hit show '24,'" wrote Rosa Brooks. "It" was the commentary on Guantánamo -- a term clearly understood to include the question of coercive interrogation -- delivered by candidates at Tuesday's Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina. The remarks of a few were measured, many were not, and all have proved hard to shake. So here's a sampling how Gitmo's faring on the GOP campaign trail:

U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona:

The use of torture -- we could never gain as much we would gain from that torture as we lose in world opinion. We do not torture people. When I was in Vietnam, one of the things that sustained us, as we went -- underwent torture ourselves, is the knowledge that if we had our positions reversed and we were the captors, we would not impose that kind of treatment on them.
It's not about the terrorists, it's about us. It's about what kind of country we are. And a fact: The more physical pain you inflict on someone, the more they're going to tell you what they think you want to know.
It's about us as a nation. We have procedures for interrogation in the Army Field Manual. Those, I think, would be adequate in 999,999 of cases, and I think that if we agree to torture people, we will do ourselves great harm in the world.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani:

... I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they could think of. It shouldn't be torture, but every method they can think of -- ... well, I'd say every method they could think of, and I would support them in doing that because I've seen what -- I've seen what can happen when you make a mistake about this, and I don't want to see another 3,000 people dead in New York or any place else.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

I'm glad they're at Guantanamo. I don't want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons. I want them there.
Some people have said, we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo. We ought to make sure that the terrorists -- and there's no question but that in a setting like that where you have a ticking bomb that the president of the United States -- not the CIA interrogator, the president of the United States -- has to make the call. And enhanced interrogation techniques have to be used -- not torture but enhanced interrogation techniques, yes.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson:
Is your primary concern U.S. lives or is it how you're going to be perceived in the world? And my standard is U.S. lives, and I'm going to do everything within my power to protect U.S. lives, period.
I will do it. I'll move aggressively forward on it. If we have to later ask and say, "Well, it shouldn't quite have been done this way or that way," that's the way it is. But the standard must be protection of U.S. lives.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California:

I would say to SECDEF, in terms of getting information that would save American lives, even if it involves very high-pressure techniques, one sentence: Get the information. Have it back within an hour, and let's act on it. Let's execute with Special Operations or whoever else is necessary, and I will take full responsibility. Get the information.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas:
... I think it's interesting talking about torture here in that it's become
enhanced interrogation technique. It sounds like Newspeak.
Nobody's for the torture, and I think that's important. But as far as taking care of a problem like this, the president has the authority to do that. If we're under imminent attack, the president can take that upon himself to do it.

U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado:

Well, let me just say that it's almost unbelievable to listen to this in a way. We're talking about -- we're talking about it in such a theoretical fashion. You say that -- that nuclear devices have gone off in the United States, more are planned, and we're wondering about whether waterboarding would be a -- a bad thing to do? I'm looking for "Jack Bauer" at that time, let me tell you.
... I mean, we are the last best hope of Western civilization. And so all of the theories that go behind our activities subsequent to these nuclear attacks going off in the United States, they go out the window because when -- when we go under, Western civilization goes under.

'Nuff said for today. Gitmo on the Democratic campaign trail tomorrow.