From the November 2005 Idaho Observer:
Question: Should the U.S. torture terror war detainees?
Question: Should the U.S. melt the skin off children?
For most people raised by their families to feel compassion for others and taught by their society to believe that the accused should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, the answer is an immediate "no" to both questions raised above.
However, the U.S. was melting the skin off Vietnamese children, has been accused of melting the skin off other third-world children from U.S.-war-torn countries and is melting the skin off Iraqi children now. Further, whether or not the U.S. should or should not torture its terror war detainess is a subject curently being debated in Congress. And, ask just about any federal prisoner and they will show you proof that torture (the routine administration of constitutionally-forbidden cruel and unusual punishment) is a fact of federal prison life.
One more question: How does one maintain the illusion that "we," in the land of the free, are "defenders of freedom" when the U.S. government has been torturing prisoners and melting the skin off children as a matter of policy for at least 40 years?
Melting the skin off children
First, I think it should be a stated goal of United States policy to not melt the skin off of children.
As a natural corollary to this goal, I think the United States should avoid dropping munitions on civilian neighborhoods which, as a side-effect, melts the skin off of children.
You can call them "chemical weapons" if you must, or preferably by the more proper name of "incendiaries." The munitions may or may not precisely melt the skin off of children by setting them on fire; they do melt the skin off of children, however, through robust oxidation of said skin on said children, which is indeed colloquially known as "burning."
But let’s try to avoid, for now, the debate over the scientific phenomenon of exactly how the skin is melted, burned, or caramelized off of the aforementioned children. I feel quite confident that others have put more thought into the matter of how to melt the skin off of children than I have, and will trust their judgment on the matter.
Now, I know that we may be melting the skin off of children in order to give them freedom, or to prevent Saddam Hussein from possibly melting the skin off of those children at some future date. These are good and noble things to bring children, especially the ones who have not been killed by melting their skin.
I know, as well, that we do not drop "chemical weapons" on Iraq. We may, in the course of fighting insurgents in civilian neighborhoods, drop "incendiaries" or other airborne weaponry which may melt the skin off of children as an accidental side effect of illuminating their neighborhoods or melting the skin off their neighbors. In that this still can be classified as melting the skins off of children, I feel comfortable in stating that the United States should not condone this practice (This may mean, when fighting in civilian neighborhoods, we take nuanced steps to avoid melting the skin off of children, such as not dropping munitions that melt the skin off of children).
And I know it is true, there is some confusion over whether the United States was a signatory to the Do Not Melt The Skin Off Of Children part of the Geneva conventions, and whether or not that means we are permitted to melt the skin off of children, or merely are silent on the whole issue of melting the skin off of children.
But all that aside, there are very good reasons, even in a time of war, not to melt the skin off of children.
First, because the insurgency will inevitably be hardened by tales of American forces melting the skin off of children.
Second, because the civilian population will harbor considerable resentment towards Americans for melting the skin off of their children.
Third, BECAUSE IT F-ING MELTS THE SKIN OFF OF CHILDREN!
And, unless Saddam Hussein had a brigade or two consisting of six year olds, we can presume that children, like perhaps nine tenths or more of their immediate families, are civilians.
These are, admittedly, nuanced points. "But Hunter," I can hear many Americans say, "isn’t it a natural byproduct of a war of preemption, er, I mean liberation, to melt the skin off of children?"
Why yes, yes it is. Melting the skin off of children is an inevitable part of urban warfare, which is one of the reasons that most military planners and foreign policy leaders prefer to avoid putting themselves in positions where melting the skin off of children comes into play.
George Herbert Walker Bush, when contemplating whether or not to engage in the urban warfare that would, in all likelihood, melt the skin off of children by exposing United States forces to a situation where city defenders would be interspersed with those said civilians, chose the course of not putting his forces in a position where melting the skin off of children would prove necessary.
In any event, street fighting in neighborhoods where there are, indeed, children—as is evidenced by their skin, lying over there—may or may not be a wise military decision. But it is certainly true that the whole child-melting decision, pro or con, should be treated with some gravity, and perhaps methods of combat which do not melt the skin off of children should be considered.
Because melting the skin off of children, as it turns out, is a very good way to turn the opinion of the American population against a war in general.
So in conclusion, I am going to come out, to the continuing consternation of Rush Limbaugh and pro-war supporters everywhere, as being anti-children-melting, as a matter of general policy.
Furthermore, I would suggest to the President of the United States that if you find yourself in the position where your on-the-ground forces find melting the skin off of children to be preferable of all available options, your military outlook is truly misguided and discompassionate, and you might perhaps start considering alternative means of stabilizing the country. Thank you for your time.
"We don’t torture." "We must torture."
By The Idaho Observer
In a recent press conference, President Bush flatly denied allegations that his administration approves the torture of terror war "detainees." "We don’t torture," said President Bush.
Within a few days, Vice-President Cheney began pressuring Congress not to adopt the "McCain amendment" to the annual defense spending bill. The amendment would prohibit the U.S. from engaging in the cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of its prisoners—wherever it keeps them—anywhere in the world.
Vice-President Dick Cheney wants the CIA to be exempt from anti-torture restrictions. Two of the country’s most influential newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Times, have recently denounced the vice-president for his desire to exempt the CIA from torture restrictions (see "Vice President for Torture" in The Washington Post and "Legalized Torture, Reloaded" in The New York Times).
A recently released report by Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) sheds new light on our country’s interrogation methods by citing interviews with three U.S. Army soldiers—two sergeants and one captain. They testified that our troops subjected Iraqi detainees to severe beatings and other acts of torture, often under orders from their superior officers. For the full report indicated above, see "New Account of Torture by U.S. Troops."
The ability to torture prisoners is a very high priority for the White House even though it is a public relations nightmare both here and abroad. As early as last June Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice-President Cheney were on record as stating that their secret detentions facilities would remain open and that their "persuasive" interrogation techniques were critical to winning the war on terrorism.
Regardless that just a few days prior, President Bush told the world, "We don’t torture," he reportedly supports Vice-President Cheney’s desire to exempt the CIA and has threatened to veto the ENTIRE defense bill if the McCain amendments were included.
This is a very interesting peek into the world of power politics. In a time of war, Congress supposedly must approve the release of funds for fighting it. In this "high-stakes" maneuver, the White House is telling Congress, "We hold our desire to continue torturing prisoners so high we are willing to show the world that you guys are really just a useless and high-paid debating society that has been stripped of any real power. Furthermore, with or without your cooperation, we will continue funding this war and will continue torturing whomever we want, whenever we want to torture them."
But the president of the United States said, "We don’t torture."
Question: Does the U.S. melt the skin off children—yes or no?
There is some controversy over whether or not the U.S. has been using white phosphorus in Iraq or not. Strangely, the world is convinced that the U.S. is using white phosphorus (WP), napalm and other banned chemical weapons in Iraq—in flagrant breach of every post-WWII war and peace agreement the U.S. has signed with the community of nations.
The entirety of the controversy is within the ranks of the U.S. government because it can’t decide whether its using WP or not.
One photo in particular that is available on the web clearly shows WP raining down on a very civilian-looking Fallujan who is running as fast as he can.
In the March, 2005 edition of Field Artillery magazine, a U.S. Army publication, use of WP was confirmed.
"WP [white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition," the article’s author wrote. "We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE [high explosives]. We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."
A second publication, Infantry Magazine, also alleges that white phosphorous was used near the Iraqi city of Irbil.
On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. siege on Fallujah, Reuters reported that Italian TV station RAI aired a report claiming the U.S. used WP in Iraq—a claim denied by the U.S. military Nov. 8, 2005. "Suggestions that U.S. forces targeted civilians with these weapons are simply wrong," U.S. Marine Major Tim Keefe said in an email to Reuters. "Had the producers of the documentary bothered to ask us for comment, we would have certainly told them that the premise of the program was erroneous."
"He said U.S. forces do not use any chemical weapons in Iraq," Reuters added.
The documentary clearly shows, however, that napalm, another banned weapon, was used on Iraqis in Falluja. The U.S. was on record as denying the allegation when photographic evidence of the siege, as it was in progress, proved otherwise.
"I do know that white phosphorus was used," said former 1st Infantry soldier Jeff Englehart in the RAI documentary. Englehart claims to have participated in the Falluja offensive last year.
"Burned bodies. Burned children and burned women; white phosphorus kills indiscriminately," Englehart said.
Reuters also reported that, "A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said earlier on Tuesday he did not recall white phosphorus being used in Falluja."
According to a UN official Reuters contacted, "The United States did not sign the relevant protocol to the convention" on the use of certain weapons.
There you have it: Photographs, witness reports and military magazines claim the U.S. has used WP in Iraq, but military spokespeople deny or do not recall if WP was used. To top it off, the UN claims that the U.S. did not "sign the relevant protocol," which translates to, "It is not illegal for the U.S. to melt the skin off children."
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