Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hanoi Hilton Survivor Favors...Torture?

U.S. Representative Sam Johnson (R-Texas), a decorated Vietnam veteran who survived his stay at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison, has come out against fellow Hanoi Hilton "guest" John McCain's amendment to eliminate the United States' use of torture, reports the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.

Mr. Johnson has circulated a letter to colleagues arguing that the McCain proposal, which sailed through the Senate, 90-9, would needlessly hamper counter-terrorism efforts – a stance that has surprised human-rights advocates.

While I certainly can appreciate and respect the opinion of someone who suffered through torture as Rep. Johnson did, I can't fathom how he can condone the use of torture under any circumstances. We've heard time and again how torture does not help in the gathering of reliable intelligence about anything. In fact, this may explain why so many of the "reliably sourced" terror threats that caused the nation's terror alert system to be elevated resulted in a big fat NOTHING happening. If someone is waterboarding you, you'll say anything - ANYTHING - to get him to stop. Now THAT'S a reliable intelligence gathering technique! Not.

"I feel very strongly about this because I know what torture is. Torture is already against the law, and John's proposal doesn't make it any more illegal," said Mr. Johnson, who spent seven years as a POW and left the service with two Silver Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

He said federal law already bans torture, and the proposed language – which also rules out cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of foreign prisoners – would give enemy fighters tips for withstanding interrogation.

"I'm afraid John's proposal will drastically diminish our ability to gather intelligence," he said.

So, Rep. Johnson claims that torture already is illegal, but then he claims that Senator McCain's proposal will hamper intelligence gathering efforts. Huh? I'm confused. Perhaps Rep. Johnson is, too.

Of course, one may remember that Rep. Johnson is the same congressman who earlier this year advocated the nuking of Syria. And he was speaking at a CHURCH, for goodness sake. Can we really take seriously anything this guy has to say?

Regardless of the ineffectiveness or the illegality of torture, why can our leaders not just come out and say that it is the WRONG thing to do. It doesn't mesh with how America approaches the human rights issue and it's not something we do - anywhere, anytime, to anybody. Is that so difficult? Let's stand for something, for crying out loud!


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