Monday, May 9, 2011

Fox News, Enhanced Interrogation, "The Question" - & Totally Missing The Issue

On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Obama's former Dep. National Sec. Advisor Tom Donilon why shooting an unarmed man in the face is legal and proper while waterboarding is not? Donilon tapped dance all over the place. Watch and enjoy.

Since that played, I have heard it replayed endlessly on O'Reilly, Hannity, etc. The question and the response both miss the point, as do the talking heads on Fox who are playing it up.

Donilon blew an easy answer. There is a bright line between an enemy combatant, armed or unarmed, and a detainee.

Under the rules of war, we can kill any enemy combatant who has not surrendered. Whether he is armed or not is immaterial. Bin Laden hadn't attempted to surrender before the SEALS pulled the trigger. But once an enemy combatant attempts to surrender, a whole new set of rules apply. Unless it is believed a ploy (such as the individual is holding up his hands and walking forward while holding the detonator on a suicide vest), we are bound by the laws of war to accept the surrender. The question then becomes, how must we treat a detained person. Shooting them in the head would be murder, pure and simple. Equally unlawful would be actually torturing them - something which, in accord with the clear terms of the UN Convention on Torture and U.S. laws based thereon, waterboarding is not.

The real issue is whether it is moral to place the well being of these homicidal terrorists over the health and safety of Americans whom they threaten with slaughter on a massive scale. It is not, but that is precisely what the Obama administration has done in gutting our ability to interrogate, let alone effectively interrogate, high level al Qaeda detainees. Chris Wallace should have been focused on that. His "question," being endlessly replayed by Fox's talking heads, is simply a red herring.

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