Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wishing KSM's fate on others

No less than one on which we posted back in May, last night's GOP presidential debate revealed much about candidates' views on how the United States ought to combat terrorism. Most notable was this exchange (video here), among moderator Anderson Cooper and 2 candidates, Gov. Mitt Romney (below right) and Sen. John McCain (bottom right), which ensued after a college student noted McCain's opposition to waterboarding and then asked, "[C]onsidering that Mr. McCain is the only one with any firsthand knowledge on the subject, how can those of you sharing the stage with him disagree with his position?"

ROMNEY: Well, he certainly is an expert and I certainly would want to get his counsel on a matter of this nature, but I do not believe that as a presidential candidate, it is wise for us to describe precisely what techniques we will use in interrogating people.
I oppose torture. I would not be in favor of torture in any way, shape or form.
COOPER: Is waterboarding torture?
ROMNEY: And as I just said, as a presidential candidate, I don't think it's wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use.
And that is something which I would want to receive the counsel not only of Senator McCain, but of a lot of other people.
And there are people who, for many, many years get the information we need to make sure that we protect our country.
And, by the way, I want to make sure these folks are kept at Guantanamo.
I don't want the people that are carrying out attacks on this country to be brought into our jail system and be given legal representation in this country.
I want to make sure that what happened ...
(Applause)
... to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed happens to other people who are terrorists. He was captured. He was the so-called mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy. And he turned to his captors and he said, "I'll see you in New York with my lawyers." I presume ACLU lawyers.
(Laughter)
Well, that's not what happened. He went to Guantanamo and he met G.I.s and CIA interrogators. And that's just exactly how it ought to be.
(Applause)
COOPER: Senator McCain?
(Crosstalk)
(Unknown): There were reports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded.
McCAIN: Well, governor, I'm astonished that you haven't found out what waterboarding is.
ROMNEY: I know what waterboarding is, Senator.
McCAIN: 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...
(Applause)
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.
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.
COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds to respond.
(Applause)
ROMNEY: Senator McCain, I appreciate your strong response, and you have the credentials upon which to make that response. I did not say and I do not say that I'm in favor of torture.
I am not. I'm not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we're able to do and what things we're not able to do. And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some 35 years.
I get that advice by talking to former generals in our military...
COOPER: Time.
ROMNEY: ... and I don't believe it's appropriate for me, as a presidential candidate, to lay out all the issues one by one...
Cooper: Time.
ROMNEY: ... get questioned one by one: Is this torture, is that torture?
COOPER: Senator McCain...
ROMNEY: And so, that's something which I'm going to take your and other people's counsel on.
COOPER: Senator McCain, 30 seconds to respond.
McCAIN: Well, then you would have to advocate that we withdraw from the Geneva Conventions, which were for the treatment of people who were held prisoners, whether they be illegal combatants or regular prisoners of war. Because it's clear the definition of torture. It's in violation of laws we have passed.
And again, I would hope that we would understand, my friends, that life is not "24" and Jack Bauer.
Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and yet effective. And I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq. The Army general there said that techniques under the Army Field Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn't think they need to do anything else.
My friends, this is what America is all about. This is a defining issue and, clearly, we should be able, if we want to be commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, to take a definite and positive position on, and that is, we will never allow torture to take place in the United States of America.
(Applause)

'Nuff said.

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