Is it ever right for Americans to inflict cruel and degrading treatment on suspected terrorist detainees?

That’s the question asked in a Christianity Today commentary by Gary A. Haugen, the president of International Justice Mission, which bills itself as a human rights agency that rescues victims of illegal detention, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression around the world.

And Haugen does more than ask the question. He answers it, too.

“We read credible reports – some from FBI agents – that prisoners have been stripped naked, sexually humiliated, chained to the floor and left to defecate on themselves,” he writes. “These and other practices like ‘waterboarding’ (in which a detainee is made to feel as if he is being drowned) may or may not meet the technical definition of torture, but no one denies that these practices are cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

Let me introduce myself: I, Joseph Farah, hereby deny that these practices are cruel and inhuman.

I would suggest that in wartime conditions, the interrogation of prisoners who may have information that could save the lives of millions may by necessity involve such practices.

For a man of God to suggest these practices are “inhuman” is surprising. Humans have been doing this and much worse to each other since the beginning of time. The Bible would suggest that such behavior is just what we should expect from fallen human beings.

Cruelty? Which is more cruel – a few hours of degradation for a terrorist or the annihilation of a million Americans because we did not coerce information from him about a nuclear weapon planted in an American city?

Think about it.

Perhaps Haugen and the editors of Christianity Today are too squeamish for this kind of work. That’s why we’re not asking them to interrogate terrorists at Guantanamo. Maybe they think they could sweet-talk the information out of them. You can’t. So we send trained interrogators who use only techniques that they themselves have faced as part of their training for the job.

That’s right. Maybe you have never heard this simple fact before. Our military interrogators are subjected to the same degrading techniques as part of their training. It doesn’t kill anyone. It doesn’t result in permanent scarring. It doesn’t result in mutilation. It results in no permanent physical damage to the prisoners or the interrogators who endure the same kinds of “abuse.”

It seems Haugen and, perhaps, Christianity Today have their priorities screwed up.

Why are they losing sleep over a hardened terrorist prisoner getting slapped around?

Aren’t there real injustices going on in the world that should be occupying their attention?

Do they need me to suggest it’s time to focus on the mission statement of International Justice Mission? Illegal detention, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression around the world? Those are precisely the kinds of abuses we fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are at war with an evil ideology that would make all of those horrors a way of life for much of the world.

Well-meaning Christians have to understand that fighting this kind of plague often requires getting one’s hands dirty. It’s messy business. It’s not pretty. War is ugly. It’s not a church picnic.

Christians need to get their heads out of the sand. They need to understand the world can be a horrible place. They need to comprehend that we don’t yet live in the millennial kingdom. There’s some serious work to be done here on earth – life-saving work, freedom-expanding work.

Christians need to check their wimp factor at the door.

For those who want to fight torture and oppression, it’s time to get on the right side in this titanic conflict between the West and Islamo-fascism – the real purveyor of worldwide torture and oppression.



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