As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

So says President Barack Obama in his inaugural speech. Obama, last week, signed an executive order closing the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba. This is where we keep locked up some really bad people. Our most famous bad guy is a fellow named Said al-Shihri. We released him into Saudi Arabian custody to be rehabilitated. I’m not sure what kind of rehab program it was, but it turns out he was the perfect student – top of his class! He’s no longer just a suicide bomber/terrorist – he’s the al-Qaida chief of operations in Yemen! No longer does he have to take orders from others; he’s the big shot now.

Al-Shihri is not the only one returning to his former way of life. It seems that these terrorists we picked up on the battlefield must have missed the action and excitement of shooting at American troops. Sixty-one of those released found a way back to the field of battle in order to pick up where they left off.

We seemed to have lost track of the point. These people want to kill us. I’m not sure what the difficulty is in understanding this. Maybe I should write slower. These … people … want … to … kill … us. They … want … us … dead. I hope that helps.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is another winner kept at Guantanamo – the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, massacre on American soil. Three thousand human beings lost their lives that day. He is also the uncle of the terrorist Ramzi Yousef who failed to bring down the Twin Towers in 1993. Repeat after me: These … people … want … to … kill … us. They … want … us … dead.

This brings us to the question of torture. Susan Crawford, a retired judge for the Army, explained why she did not recommend a case against terrorist Mohammed al-Qahtani for prosecution:

“The techniques they used were all authorized. … You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge” to call it torture, she said.

Who is Qahtani again? Oh yes, he would have been the 20th hijacker. While we were unable to keep the other 19 hijackers out of the country, we managed with the 20th. Qahtani would have died with all the other hijackers doing his duty for Allah.

The Washington Post goes on to describe techniques used to get Qahtani to talk to interrogators:

Qahtani “was forced to wear a woman’s bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation” and “was told that his mother and sister were whores.” With a leash tied to his chains, he was lead around the room “and forced to perform a series of dog tricks,” the report shows.

How degrading! Show the man a modicum of respect. The interrogators insulted his mother and sister. Keep in mind that if he had thought that his mother or sister had actually had a relationship outside of what he thought as acceptable, he himself would have murdered them as a way to keep his family “honor” intact.

And yes, interrogators did use more coercive tactics to get him to talk. But I still don’t see the problem here. The main purpose of government is to keep its citizens safe. Let us keep in mind three things.

  1. These detainees are not American citizens.

  2. These detainees are people found on the battlefield endangering the lives of American and allied service members.
  3. These … people … want … to … kill … us. They … want … us … dead.

The Post goes on to quote Qahtani’s lawyer, Gitanjali Gutierrez:

“There is no doubt that he was tortured. … He has loss of concentration and memory loss, and he suffers from paranoia. … He wants just to get back to Saudi Arabia, get married and have a family.” She said Qahtani “adamantly denies he planned to join the 9/11 attack. … He has no connections to extremists.”

Oh, he’s innocent. There’s a shocker for you. We have prisons all over this country full of people proclaiming their innocence. He wants to go home, get married and have a family. That’s very sweet. I applaud his lawyer for coming up with this defense. Never mind that his wife-to-be wouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without a male escort, get an education or be an independent-minded person since she’d always be afraid to earn the death penalty by her husband’s hand … but let’s put that aside for now.

Is torture the preferred method of doing business? No. Should it be an option that is left open? Absolutely.

When I walk over to the gaping hole in the ground in Lower Manhattan left there by the Twin Towers, I think about the people who lost their lives that day. Business people going about their business. Tourists interested in taking a photograph on top of the Towers. Messengers running to and from the Towers delivering packages. I also remember the firemen and policemen running straight into the Towers with no regard for their own personal safety – concerned only about those inside. I remember the moment when the Towers came crashing down and realizing that those firemen and policemen hadn’t the chance to get out.

The terrorists are not afraid of dying. They blow themselves up in the hopes of taking us with them. My concerns are not with them. My concerns and prayers are for those whose lives have been cut short by those who do not value life and only value death. If we would have had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to torture before 9/11 and had been able to prevent the massacre, I would have been for it.

If torture can prevent another 9/11 – so be it.

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