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10-22-07, 01:01 AM #1
Would you use torture to save American lives?
Former POWs struggle with torture debate
Some flat-out reject abuse, others leave door open in name of security
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Marion Oltman spent the last eight months of World War II in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp, and tears still fill his eyes when he recalls those desperate days.
After working all day to fill craters left from Allied bombing, each prisoner got a boiled potato and a slice of bread with sawdust used as filler. Oltman was given the task of slicing the bread to feed 12 men.
"You don't know what it's like to look in the eyes of guys that are that hungry," the 89-year-old Pekin, Ill., resident said, his voice breaking.
The experience gave Oltman a unique perspective about the treatment of prisoners during wartime. As a national debate continues about the role of torture to get information from suspects in the war on terror, Oltman and others attending an ex-POW conference said that the United States should set an example for the world in the humane treatment of detainees.
"I don't believe in torture," Oltman said this past week at the 60th annual conference of the American Ex-Prisoners of War. "I've seen what humans can do to humans. I've lived through some of it. And that's not right."
Haunted by the past, conflicted over present
But what constitutes humane treatment is less clear — and even those who have been in the hands of the enemy themselves don't always agree. While they say they wouldn't kill or physically harm a detainee, many struggle with the question in a world where it appears terrorists have changed the rules.
Ex-POWs, having faced life-or-death struggles in strange lands, are conflicted men. They believe in American ideals of justice and mercy, but know the lonely desperation of facing a hostile and armed opponent.
Neither Oltman or the other former POWs interviewed criticized the Bush administration directly, saying they didn't know enough about U.S. tactics.
Elmer Morris lost his right arm and eye to German tank fire and his feet to frostbite. The 84-year-old Oklahoman said he has tried to lead a moral life since beseeching God for protection upon awakening in Nazi hands with a gangrenous arm and his feet turning black.
‘We need to treat the enemy right’
Morris flatly denounced torture, then stopped and said, "Take all that back." He would condone "a certain amount" of rough treatment, such as solitary confinement.
"Americans try to set an example to all the nations, and in setting that example, we need to treat the enemy right and be good in that respect, not mistreat them," Morris said.
Congress has prohibited cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of terror suspects. Lawmakers have said that includes simulated drowning known as waterboarding.
The Bush administration has refused to say whether waterboarding is among the interrogation techniques prohibited in an executive order last summer.
A half a world away from the Nazi fight, Buck Turner served on the burial detail, helping carry as many as 40 bodies a day to mass graves at the infamous Japanese Cabanatuan POW camp in the Philippines.
Malnourished, forced to beat one another and assigned to 10-men "shooting squads" that meant death for nine men if one escaped, Turner has a different view.
He doesn't want detainees killed or bones broken, but "if we can put a little pain on one of them and get the information that we need that maybe might save lives, we need to do that."
"Most people don't feel like that," says Turner, 86, of Big Spring, Texas. "But most people haven't been there either and seen what those other people can do to you, and do to your friends."
Some dismiss abuse reports as ‘propaganda’
Pete Wiese, an 83-year-old Washington, Ill., resident, was captured in Italy in 1944 and liberated just weeks before V-E Day. He and the 17 other Americans forced to work on a German farm were so confident of the way their country treated prisoners, they told their guard — headed back to combat — to surrender.
"Never in any other fighting have Americans treated any prisoners other than like they were their own people," said Wiese, who dismisses media reports about current U.S. policy as "propaganda."
Howard Ray, who was 19 and two weeks in Korea in 1950 when he was captured and held for a week by North Korean forces, was appalled by the mistreatment at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in November 2003.
But he dismisses questions about the current situation; it's "something we don't know anything about."
"Does the end justify the means? I don't know," said Ray, 75, of San Antonio. "Can I say that I wouldn't do it? I don't know. It would depend on the situation at the time."
Would anyone here on the forum use torture if it would save American lives?
10-22-07, 05:18 AM #2
It's a no win question. If you say "Yes", you are a torturing nazi/sadist even under the best of circumstances. Say "No" and you are a left wing limp noodle who'd let Americans die.
While we can certainly debate the issue, the absolute best interrogators, the ones who constantly got/get information and hard, actionable, intelligence, are those who go the exact opposite route. "Be nice" really was a watchword with them, and in almost every case, it worked. It worked against American airmen shot down in WWII, it worked against Japanese POW's in the Pacific, and against hard core Viet Cong and NVA regulars.
That having been said, those interrogators also had several benefits this 'hypothetical' does not. Time, for one. And an intimate knowledge and respect for, the 'other guys' culture. That knowledge allowed them to play off the prisoners fears and hopes (the one thing a prisoner HAS to have is 'hope') to get that intel.
The real fear in this type of interrogation is that when you use torture, you get told what the prisoner wants you to hear just to stop the pain.
The 'ticking bomb' scenario, while scary, is an interrogators nightmare. Time is the real enemy here.
This 'nice guy' tactic doesn't always work, a hardened criminal under the full protection of the cj system is likely to ignore you and/or take what they want from you using that approach. Jail doesn't scare them, so you have to work other angles. Nice guy does sometimes work, just not with everyone.
The hard core Islamofacist could be a tough nut to crack.
To answer the question truthfully.......I don't know.
10-22-07, 07:25 AM #3
- Join Date
- Jun 2006
Ask the family of the person beheaded, head chopped off, or any way it's put! The towel heads take no prisoners, Gitmo is full of the things laying up using the tax payers money. Our former POW that is in politics will say what he has to, obtaining votes.
The ya or na questions that is so political in the American way of life is so pathetic it stinks. Torture a few of these a-holes and see if you will get a straight answer. If she knew that (no pun intended??) upon answering a question with no answer at all, that the finger nail's would be pulled out and anything up to the head being cut off,WTF?
I agree with the previous Marines answer, NO WIN SITUATION!!! Too many civilians and ole murtha, old and senile making the decisions. Should be an ammendment to the constituation, no one in public office past the age of 50.
See, this is a good question to debate, the further you go on the subject the more debatable it becomes. My answer, do what ya gota do to GETERDUN!
10-22-07, 07:48 AM #4
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
- Kansas City, Mo
One of my CAP brothers ( who I won't name ) related this story to me :
One morning, the CAP captured a female VC. They radioed in to CACO to report the capture, and were told to treat her nice. The PF Trung Si ( Sgt ) told the CAP that she had intel, and that he could get it out of her. When this was reported to the rear, they were instructed NOT to ask her anything, because the MI types in the rear were much better at getting good intel.
Long story short, the PF Sgt "interrogated" her anyway. It was not pretty, and, if done today, would result in prison time. However, the PF learned that the CAP was to be hit that night by a VC battalion. ( A CAP is 8 or 10 Marines. ) They managed to get Puff on station that evening, and wound up not only with many, many kills, but they also stayed alive.
When it comes to American lives, there are only two points to be made :
Red is positive.
Black is negative.
One thing the CAP experience taught me is that you have to understand the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Good guys, you treat good. Bad guys, you treat bad. REMFs don't know who the bad guys are, but the men with mud on their boots do. Whoever writes up the Rules of War (which is an oxymoron in itself) has forgotten the first rule, which is kill the other guy first.
10-22-07, 09:23 PM #5
Play by the enemies' rules. Our current enemy has no rules. Give every option a chance, but show no restraint if all else fails.
Our current enemy's hopes are not the same of normal people like in past wars. They hope to become martyrs. That's it. Make them miserable.
10-22-07, 09:40 PM #6
Its not that cut and dry anymore. Sure quick expedient means would yield good intel on a tactical level. But we have already released hundreds of suspects that after years of 'rendition' proved to be harmeless. I would not gamble that they are still harmless.
Strategically I think we have lost more than we have gained.
10-23-07, 12:54 AM #7
- Join Date
- Dec 2004
- Sapulpa Oklahoma
Well as said it a damn if you do and damn if you don't. I would only say thatif you do then do it right get the info early after they have been there a while the info they have is just made up.
I feel that if we have them locked up then they sould not have all the rights to all this extra stuff like karon and food that they like.
We treat them so bad, **** on them give them as little as needed and no more. That a hell of a lot more than they would give our guys and gals
10-23-07, 10:37 AM #8jetdawggGuest Free Member
You can get bad intel either way. I just don't think it is worth it.
10-23-07, 11:44 AM #9
Yeah, I got hard on for these particluar individuals. The US never recognized the Taloiban Govt in Afghsnistan. The world and our Once NATO allies are seeing that we are splitting legal hairs to torture thes guys.
Osama was successfull in splintering NATO. And we are playing right into his hand.
10-23-07, 06:32 PM #10
- Join Date
- Sep 2007
to torture or not to torture
I have the greatest respect for the CAPs. One of my good college friends came back really messed up. I'm pretty sure than nearly all of them in the Hoi An area were wiped out during my time with the ROKMC there.
However, the one guy that I knew who did in prisoners according to the tale told later stateside with 5th Recon Btn., he was courtmartialed busted from E-5 to E-1.
The reason I oppose torture is that if we have to become like a fascist in order to defeat a fascist, then what's the point. We've become like them and they win.
I swore to uphold the Constitution. I wasn't there to defend politicians or any faction, but to uphold the Constitution, all of it, not just the parts I like better. I had several opportunities to torture a prisoner for information and I have to admit the thought crossed my mind. But I would never seriously consider torturing a prisoner. I think somehow we've lost some of the good qualities of my father's generation, perhaps rightly called "the greatest generation."
10-23-07, 07:30 PM #11
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
i would, in half a heart beat.
10-23-07, 07:40 PM #12
YOU DON'T TORTURE HUMANS,,,,,, But those who decide not to be human,,,, ie Japs,, SS,, Cong,, Isolamoidiots,,,,, To He11 with them. If you have a hard time with that,, Think what they would do with your little sister.
10-23-07, 07:46 PM #13
I still say just hang 'em ASAP. If they raised a rifle towards us, kill them. Don't let them be a Al Qaeda recruitment posters.
Last edited by yellowwing; 10-23-07 at 08:15 PM.
10-23-07, 07:46 PM #14
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
- Kansas City
Right on sparkie!!!!!!!! I agree 100%!!!!!!!!!!!
10-23-07, 08:37 PM #15
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
That's right, argue for & against. The Corp made me what I am. That is a man to decide in a split second if my buddies & I live or die. We will do the ethical thing and that is to fight to keep our Country free. All the liberals can go out behind the tree, as they will never keep this Country free using their rules. If we prevail then we remain the USA if they do who will give a s...
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