Friday, September 29, 2006

Puddle Protocol of the Philippines

Yesterday, while “motor boating” my scooter home in the tail end of Typhoon Xangsane as it brushed past Angeles City, it occurred to me that a “puddle protocol” exists for many of us out-and-about on Filipino rain-soaked streets. Before being a scooter-guy when I almost exclusively drove a car, I was mostly unaware of the “puddle protocol” of the Philippines, as are many drivers unaware of it, chiefly those isolated from the outside world inside the cocoon of their cars. Still, even when I was a “driver of cars” I wasn’t completely unconscious of my surroundings, just not so attuned to it like I am now.

Those of us exposed to the elements are painfully aware of the “puddle protocol,” which basically states that when you pass someone NOT protected in a vehicle, slow down while passing them through water more than an inch deep. That’s it—that’s the protocol. Seems simple, but virtually no one driving snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug inside their air-conditioned cars pays ANY mind to ANYTHING other than how quickly they can get themselves to their destination.

A wondrous thing about the Philippines is that everyone is so friendly here, so personable, BUT, also so oblivious to others they don’t immediately know. I see this big-time from folks driving inside vehicles with opaquely-tinted windows as they IGNORE the puddle protocol; while virtually everyone driving a scooter, motorcycle, or trike follows it flawlessly. The reason “we” kindly keep to the protocol and many of the jerks in their cars don’t, MUST be because of the oblivion so many folks have for one another. Simply put, there is a lack of human empathy between strangers, which is how people in cars here look at those NOT in cars.

Think of it this way, would you walk up to someone and splash a bucket of muddy water all over them? Of course you wouldn't, but that is exactly what happens when people drive uncaringly through deep water. When drivers do it here, they don't see the effects or hear the screams of protest and outrage. On the otherhand, were I to do it on my scooter, I HEAR it, and have heard it, thus, I try mightily NOT to carelessly splash people. It's that simple. We are nice to each other because we are close to each other. People in cars might as well be ten miles away and act like they are when they drive. I'm sure, no, I hope that if they could SEE and HEAR what they are doing that they would be supremely embarassed and stop doing it.

I’ll provide an example of what I’m talking about, especially as it relates to the “puddle protocol.” In the Phils, most often when it rains, it pours; and infrastructure being here mostly what it isn’t, it is almost certain that the roads themselves ARE the drains. That means the streets quickly flood, or at the very least deepen with rainwater. Sidewalks are a rarity, therefore to escape the mud, people MUST walk ON the roadway—they have no choice.

Under dry conditions none of the above is a big deal. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and four-or-more wheeled vehicles of all kinds have no problem tolerating each other’s presence while using the same streets; but what a difference a rain squall makes! Suddenly there are two “camps” plying the roads, those of us getting wet and those who are not.

All vehicles making speeds of more than 10 mph create a bow wave of water that splashes heavily to the front and sides of them. To a smaller extent, there is also a spray of water that gets squirted directly back off rear tires. However, it’s the bow wave that does all the damage to those of us exposed to the elements. There are times that I wonder if people in their cars are even aware of the mayhem they hurl about them as they barrel through puddles and deep rivulets along streets crowded with pedestrians and bicyclists. If they aren’t, it means they aren’t looking, and I suspect most of them just don’t care, or don’t care to look.

As an example, here’s how I handled the protocol yesterday. On extra-rainy days, naturally, trikes are always well-ladened with customers. Instead of simply roaring past a trike, usually puttering along to prevent water from splashing up into their passengers, I come up along them to the left and beep a warning that I want to pass. Hopefully this will cause the driver to slow up a little so I can get around him without having to speed up too much; for if I have to “gun it” to get around him that will cause my bow wave to increase in height and strength. I also move as far to the left from him as I can, while he veers as far to the right, away from me, as he is able. If there is no room to veer away from each other, I attempt to pass as slowly as possible while still passing him with some speed. If he doesn’t want to slow down some to let that happen, then I say a pox on him and let him get wet! Usually, we both follow the protocol though. I watch carefully to my right to make sure my bow wave isn’t going into him, and he does his best to steer away from it.

I am extra careful driving past pedestrians and bicyclists. If passing through a puddle or deep water with people nearby, I slow down to nothing to keep them from getting wet from my wave water. If I happen not to notice someone and I get them wet, I am deeply mortified. I call out a heartfelt, “Sorry!” and promise myself to be more careful.

On the other hand, I watched at least a dozen SUV drivers and even some in smaller sedans, run their vehicles hell-for-leather through the deepest street streams, splashing up 15-foot bow waves and drenching everyone as they flew past—including me! Happily, I wear goggles and a full-body water-tight camping suit that keeps me dry even from idiots like them. I curse them to no end though, as I watch kids, grandmothers and students of all ages get soaked to the skin by the nastiest of water by these self-centered heartless drivers from hell. And the thing is, I KNOW if I were to speak to these people face to face that they would probably turn out to be nice folks.

I expect it could be a question of people not projecting themselves into the shoes (or bare feet) of the people just outside the darkened, chilled windows of their comfortable cars. Pondering the situation, it occurs to me that their callous “rainy day attitude” is a microcosm of many disjointed societies, principally the way the prosperous disregard the unfortunate.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Letters from Bootcamp, Installment IV

July 22, 1975– Dear family,

How are things back there in 3-hours-ahead-land? Its 10 o’clock at night here right now, that means its 1 o’clock back there. You’re probably all sleeping.

Gail, go ahead and finish that painting; I’m not sure which one you are talking about though. Those pictures of Kevin Raquepaw are pretty ridiculous. That’s why I like them. I’ll probably send them back home sometime for safekeeping. I’m going to keep that picture of the family in my wallet so I won’t forget what everyone looks like. Would you believe I was beginning to struggle to bring an image to mind of what you all looked like after just 3 weeks? Send some more pictures of things back home. They’re fun to look at. I got grandma’s letter yesterday; tell her she’ll be getting one from me soon. Keep sending word on the garden and trees, etc. How are the grape vines and willow trees I planted? It’s good to hear Dad is coming along now. Dad, you take the same advice you gave me and don’t let it get you down. One thing I’ve found that helps around here is not taking everything absolutely serious.

We had our first phase physical fitness test (PFT) today. The platoon placed last in the series. We did pull-ups, sit-ups in two-minutes and the 3 mile run wearing combat boots. To max it, you have to do 20 pull-ups at 5 points a piece (for 100 points), 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes for 100 points, and run the 3 miles in 18 minutes or less for 100 points. They take off 1 point for every 10 seconds over 18 minutes. I only did 12 pull-ups (bummer!) for 60 points, 80 sit-ups for 100 points (right on!) and ran the 3 miles in 18 minutes 20 seconds, which placed me 4th out of about 165 guys who ran in my heat. That gave me a combined total of 258. The average score for our platoon was only 170. To graduate, you only have to do 3 pull-ups, 45 sit-ups in 2 minutes and run the 3 miles in 28 minutes or less. Heck, Kevin (my 14 year old brother) could do that. So the physical requirements for the Marine Corps really aren’t as tough as everyone thinks.

Our platoon still hasn’t come around, although now I’m pretty sure they’re not going to recycle us. It was just my luck to get stuck in a platoon like this one out of all the platoons here. After today there’s only 64 more days before graduation, which is Sept 24.

Last night I had actual outside guard duty. My post was to walk around some Quonset huts to prevent or to discourage privates from going AWOL, and to stop vandals too I guess. My watch lasted from 2330 to 0100. If anybody came on or near my post I’d have to sound off, “HALT! Who is there?” Then they’d say who they were, such as “Corporal of the guard!” Then I’d say, “Corporal of the guard, advance to be recognized!” We had to wear field jackets over our utilities and ammunition belt and canteen over the jacket. We also carried our rifles. They don’t fire because the firing pin has been filed; we just use them for drill and handling. Those rifles are a big responsibility. Their actual value is only $185 a piece, but down in Mexico, not far from here they fetch $1500 to $1800 a piece. I’ll say one thing for guard duty, it’s no fun, especially when you have no idea what time it is or how soon you’ll be relieved.

Being a rat, I get to look over everything in the duty hut wastebasket. I found a roster of the entire platoon with our GCT scores on it. I believe it’s a general knowledge test. I’m sending it home for you to keep for me. It’s pretty interesting to compare my scores with everyone else’s or to compare who I thought was intelligent and who was kind of slow. If SSgt Trevino, my platoon commander, found I had it after he threw it away, he’d kill me. (I was proud because I had some of the highest scores).

Well, the constipation problem cleared up, but now I’ve got a new one—blisters. I’ve got to go to sickbay tomorrow to see about them. They aren’t that bad, after all, I ran 18:20 for 3 miles with them. The DI said that they could get infected, so I’ve got to go.

I’m beginning to get used to the routine here now. Would you believe Mark Colpean has 6 or 7 blackmarks now in his folder? I’ve got just 2.

After next Saturday, I won’t be getting a chance, I don’t believe, till the following Saturday to write many letters. That’s when the platoon has mess duty up at Camp Pendleton. Well, it’s getting late.

Love, Phil

(Reading the letters from this point forth, it seems that by this stage in my training I was feeling very much at ease with the regimen. I think I was beginning to realize that not only was I mostly “smarter than the average bear;” I was also physically superior to most of the other recruits. I excelled at pretty much everything that was thrown at me, so if I could hang tough and get through to the end, I knew I would be just fine. This Marine stuff wasn’t all that hard after all it seemed.)


July 26, 1975– Dear Mom, Dad, Gail, Kevin, and Mary Kay:

Sorry it took so long to write. Did Grandma Spear tell you our platoon took first place in drill? I can’t believe it! Ask grandma, I haven’t got time to go into it.

We have mess duty now at Camp Pendleton at the rifle range mess hall. We get up at 0500, go the mess hall, stay there till 1900, come back to the squad bay and hit the sack at 2030. That’s 16 hours of work. My job is a real doozy. I’ve got to clear up and replenish the DI’s tables. They get pretty mean sometimes, but I’ve developed ways of avoiding their yelling usually.

Today I wasn’t even allowed to go to Mass. Out of all the Catholics, I was the only one worried about it. I kept thinking they’d let us go to church right up to the last minute. They don’t stop for anything at that mess hall. Next Sunday I’m going to go to the confessional and ask the priest about it.

It’s been about a week since I’ve had a mail call. I sure am hungry for news of back home or from anywhere. We’re pretty cut off out here.

When we moved to Camp Pendleton from San Diego, I got to see California or part of it for the first time. If you asked me, I’d say they screwed up what I saw. It’s all too built up and over developed; its man-made ugly.

In five weeks, after this 1 week of mess duty, 2 weeks of rifle range and qualification, and 2 weeks of Infantry Training School (ITS) we go back to San Diego for 25 days; then I come home.

How’s dad? How’s Gail’s softball team? What’s the Pacer’s mileage now? Are you running Kevin? If you’re not, don’t wait any longer; run now not tomorrow. Don’t worry about the sun or if it’s raining or anything, just go and run. How’s the Cross-Country team doing? Are they meeting yet?

Well, I’ve got to hit the rack now. It’s 1905.

Love and write soon, Phil

P.S. Sorry it’s messy, but I didn’t have much time.

(Notice my quick comment referring to my platoon actually WINNING our initial drill competition! Unfortunately, I described my excitement over it and the account itself in a letter to my grandmother, a letter that no longer exists. Just the same, I described the improbable event in a post last year; I encourage you to check it out. It’s called: “Sheer Exhilaration.”

Notice how upset I was that I wasn’t allowed to attend Mass. I could not believe it. I was literally in shock. I had NEVER missed Mass before, and to me, I had committed a big sin by not going, even though it wasn’t my fault. When I was finally given the opportunity to go to confession about 4 weeks later back at San Diego, I confessed my sin to the priest. He practically laughed at my distress and told me not to worry about it. I was stunned. I have to say that his nonchalant attitude at what I thought was a big deal forever changed me. Remember, I was just a good Catholic kid steeped in the teachings of the church and NO ONE misses Mass if at all possible.

This was just my first full day of mess duty. It sounds harmless enough, but the moment of my complete and utter breakdown took place during this week of sheer hell! I’ll talk more of that most likely in the next installment of "Letters from Bootcamp.”)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I LOVE my Dentist

At least three or four times a month I get email queries from people asking what I think about living and retiring in the Philippines. After I tell them that I love it here, I usually go into my personal list of pros and cons. Truthfully, when I add them up, there are MANY more cons than there are pros; but I always say that even so, those few pros FAR outweigh the abundant cons.

Just today, another “pro” occurred to me while I lay back in my dentist’s chair with my mouth wide-open. I was thinking, ‘if I HAVE to go to the dentist, this is THE way to do it.’ You see, BOTH my dentist and the assistant are attractive Filipinas, and EVEN when my teeth are being drilled, probed or scraped, its okay; because no matter what, I have those two gorgeous sets of delightful brown eyes to gaze up into. Call me crazy, but that’s all I need to keep me happy and to make it AAAALL better.

Aside from the “wonderful scenery” available in my particular dentist’s office, there is another even more important benefit—the low cost of treatment. I was reminded of exactly that today when I ran into a fellow Michigander, a cop from Detroit, and we got to talking about his dental plan. It turns out that even though I don’t have a dental plan at all over here, and pay as I go, I still pay a heck of a lot less than he does. Although, he was thrilled to tell me that he gets TWO free cleanings every year.

Today, I had a crown adjusted along with two teeth requiring drilling and fillings. I think I made my Detroit friend a little jealous when I told him that ALL that work cost me LESS than $16. I was there today because last week, my dentist—not a dental hygienist mind you—cleaned my teeth, and while doing so, discovered the two dental caries. She charged me a whole $9 for the cleaning. It almost doesn’t seem plausible, unless you live here that is.

Late last year one of my more important “grinders” began to ache off and on, and once it REALLY started to throb I asked around for a good dentist. A fellow retiree recommended Doctor Malijan over in Balibago next door to the RUMPA restaurant, and she’s been my dentist ever since. One of my larger molars, one with four separate roots, had some internal decay and needed a root canal. Over the course of four or five visits, she performed the procedure and capped it all off by installing a new crown. The total cost—just over $180. You can’t beat it!

There a LOT of dentists in this country, and most Filipinos pay a whole bunch less than I do even for their dental work. My dentist caters mostly to us foreigners and we don’t mind paying her a little more. She does exceptional work and I am rarely uncomfortable while she works on me.

Many visitors to the Philippines think that since it is a third-world country that services like dentistry would logically be out-of-date, but I haven’t found that to be true at all. The dentists AND the doctors here are very professional and well trained. There ARE a few problems, but a proactive person can easily stay ahead of them by being aware of them. For instance, one of my primary concerns is the lack of good pharmacology control. It seems that many doctors just aren’t that careful about ensuring that a patient’s multiple medications are NOT in conflict.

A final observation on the state of typical Filipino dental care is the national propensity to simply pull teeth and replace them with dentures. My own wife asked me why I went to all the trouble to have a root canal, when I could just have the offending tooth pulled and replaced with a denture. You will rarely find a local who has ever had tooth decay drilled out and replaced with a filling. I remember when my wife’s 8-year old niece looked into my mouth and saw my myriad fillings; she was horrified, believing that all the dark fillings had to be painful rotten spots. With a grimace, she backed away, pointing at my teeth declaring, “Bulok!” which means rotten.

Usually, by the time the average Filipino goes to a dentist it is to have a pain-wracked tooth extracted, because the decay has progressed way too far to do anything else. In the U.S. we go to great lengths to save teeth –to repair them – but not here. I’ve seen dazzlingly pretty teenage girls with a half-dozen missing front teeth. A good thing is that the typical Filipino dentist is very good at making replacements, and it’s cheap. A nice looking set of upper front dentures can be had for less than a hundred bucks.

Of course, I’ve also noticed that many people here have beautiful pearly white, straight and perfect choppers. Nonetheless, for those unfortunates who don't, they live in the perfect place to get new ones made that are – ONLY in the Philippines.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Private Interrogation

Since interrogation has been a hot topic of late, here’s a story about the time I myself dabbled a bit in some “coercive questioning.” It was the summer of ’75 and my basic training outfit, Platoon 1076, was engaged in several days of infantry training along with our three sister platoons.

For several days we marched up and down the hills and through the scrub woods of Camp Pendleton, doing exciting things like crawling through the sticky mud and under the barbed wire of the infiltration course, while smoke grenades and simulated machineguns fired deafeningly next to our heads. Then there was the day we delighted in firing live ammo on the combat range, including taking part in a nighttime exhibition of “final protective fire,” or FPF, with full magazines of tracer rounds. Imagine more than 300 privates firing their M-16 rifles along with four M-50 machineguns, ALL at the same time on the same firing line. It was better than the fourth of July! That was probably the highlight of our infantry training, but a close second was when we got to actually “play” war.

When we played war out in the dried three-foot high grass and dusty hills of Pendleton THAT was THE first time we got to see the “human” faces behind the drill instructors’ “mean monster masks.” As recruits, it was a joy to be finally treated like humans, instead of as lowlife “maggots,” as they used to call us back then. (I hear the use of denigrating names is against the “rules” now). We loved almost every second of our time in the field, mostly because occasionally we were given a tiny taste of personal freedom. We could almost feel what it was going to be like, once we earned the right to be called Marines, although not quite. This was especially true the night we played “war games.”

Playing war was awesome. The four platoons of our series broke up into two opposing forces, and then, that night – we fought it out. Each platoon maintained unit integrity, while supporting each other on the same side against the other two platoons. A deep ravine served as a boundary between the rival factions, and while it was still daylight the platoon commanders and drill instructors of each side determined where to set up their respective fighting positions, perimeters, outposts and headquarters, or HQ.

By the time dusk gave way to dark we had all received our assignments, and mine was to stay in the rear at headquarters as a runner, as well as to act as HQ security. At first, I was disappointed. Most of the night spent back there at the rear position was boring. I was used as a runner just once, but there wasn’t much to it. I ran a message to another DI on an adjacent hilltop and brought back his spoken response. That was it, until several hours later when one of our attack parties, led by one of our instructors, came back from a foray behind enemy lines with a captured “prisoner.”

I didn’t recognize the forlorn private unlucky enough to have been seized by our guys, but I remember the grim and dejected look on his dark face. I could see him clearly in the light of our small campfire. Our drill instructor ordered those of us at HQ to tie his hands behind his back and to guard him. Before taking off back into the night to continue the fight, he directed us to question the prisoner: “Find out who he is, and what he knows. Find out who his platoon commander is. Find out what his mission was before we caught him, and see if he knows any of the details on the location of his headquarters. I’ll be back in about an hour.”

The DI led his fighting party back down the hill and disappeared into the blackness, leaving us to deal with the prisoner and his orders to interrogate him. The first thing we did was to take off the private’s shirt. We used it to tie his forearms and hands tightly behind his back. We sat him down hard next to our small fire. One of my HQ mates took it upon himself to start questioning the slender sullen-faced black private.

“Who are you?”

“F--k off,” he answered quietly with head down.

“Hey, tell us your name, damn it! The Geneva Convention says you can tell us your name, rank and serial number, so tell us your freaking name,” my partner-in-crime demanded.

He glared at us saying, “I ain’t telling you nothing. Go f--k yourself,” he continued to answer in the same emotionless monotone.

It went on like that for several minutes when an idea came to me. I spoke up, “Bring him over here and make him lie down in the bottom of this fox hole.”

After the prisoner was safely stowed in his hole, we withdrew out of earshot and I whispered my plan to the other four guys: “Let’s fake him out. John, he hasn’t seen or heard you yet. We’ll pretend that we just captured you, and when we start questioning you and you don’t answer, we’ll give you a fake beating. You play along and make it convincing, okay?”

He nodded his head with excitement, “Yeah, I can do that. Let’s make him BELIEVE it!”

John hurriedly unbuttoned and pulled off his shirt and then stripped off his T-shirt. Getting into the spirit of the deception he encouraged us, “Hey you guys; don’t take it easy on me. Hit me hard and make it sound real.”

After a few minutes, one of our fire teams returned to camp for a brief respite and we employed them to act as if they were bringing John into HQ as their prisoner. By this time we had allowed our real prisoner to sit up in his foxhole so that he could just see out. We sat John on an old log across the fire from the prisoner and began to question him, only this time we got rough. Every time he refused to answer a question one of us would pretend to slap him hard across the face. With our backs to the prisoner we were actually slapping John hard against his upper arm and shoulder. Convincingly, he would fall away from the strike and gasp in pain. He even had me believing we were hurting him.

Every time he went down we smeared wet dirt across his face and chest to make him look extra abused. After several minutes, John begged us to stop while still refusing to talk. I glanced over at our prisoner and saw his eyes wide with apprehension. We were getting to him. I was sort of surprised to see that he was actually buying our amateurish little ruse. Just a little further and I figured he would be softened up enough to try to question him again. The next time it was my turn to question John I winked at him and nodded—it was time for the “grand finale.” I pushed him hard, straight back off the log onto the ground, threw myself at him and sat atop his stomach. I exaggeratedly flailed at him, striking hard with loud slaps and punches onto his chest and arms. It sounded terrible, but all of it was simulated; I did no real damage. John went with it and groaned, gasped and cried out in pain. I had one last card to play and I wanted it to look good.

Acting as if I was enraged, I jumped off John, ran to the fire and grabbed a smoldering firebrand. Before turning back toward my fake prisoner with it, I caught the eye of our real prisoner, making sure he could see the imitation “rage” on my face.

“Hold him down! This will make him talk!” I ordered my fellow con-artists.

They held John’s arms and I brought the burning piece of wood to the ground about a foot above John’s head. He began to struggle, kick and scream. I lifted the enflamed piece of wood and demanded, “How about now? You ready to talk?”

“No! No way!” he gasped and spat back at me.

“Okay then, have some of this you son of a bitch!” I brought it down one more time, and as we had prearranged, John screamed one more time, went silent and lay still.

“Damn it. He passed out,” I declared with loud disappointment. I instructed my fellow HQ troops, “Throw him into the hole and bring that other asshole back over here.”

Roughly, we dragged the “unconscious” John to the shallow foxhole and rolled him in next to our prisoner. I pointed at the man now cowering, his chest heaving, and sneered at him, “You’re next pal.” We yanked him none-to-gently out of the three-foot deep depression and sat him down on the log, his hands still tightly secured behind his back. The man had none of his earlier bravado. He was trembling so hard with fear and from the chilly night that I almost felt sorry for him.

Straddling the log I sat down and leaned in to his left ear, and almost in a whisper I asked him, “Private. You ready to tell us what we want to know?”

He was already broken. Our scam had worked perfectly. He hung his head and nodded in abject submission. He answered every question we could think to ask him and more. We were still getting information from him when our drill instructor showed up ghostlike and watched us for a while. Not knowing what we had done to the poor fellow, the DI laid into the private with full DI fury, “Private! What the f--k is wrong with you? Why are you talking to my privates? You pussy! You will NEVER be a Marine in MY CORPS! Take this maggot back to his platoon. The war is over and YOU lost!”

I felt terrible, but I learned a few things about human nature and about my OWN nature as well. I never dreamed I could be so cruel and conniving. Also, the real moral of the story is: “be careful what you tell young privates to do, because they JUST might do it.”

Saturday, September 23, 2006

There is NO doubt; War is Inherently Evil

This is my answer to Ed’s rejoinder to my original posting on detainees and interrogation practices. I suggest you take a look at his last comment to my response post before reading on.


Mr. Abbey! It seems that I bring out your OWN not so latent tendencies for long-windedness, one of my many "effects" on people!

Warriors can follow all the "rules" and STILL war is an inherently immoral act. I don't think you can really appreciate the truth of that until you experience even a small part of it. The unavoidable gory violence is just plain wrong, but there's no way to get around engaging in it if we are serious about maintaining our nation and its way of life and belief systems. We do our best to stay within a hazy "moral" framework, but in all reality, "morality" and "war" are contradictory. Bottom-line: War is evil; anyone who has been anywhere near it knows that.

Just the same, we need our warriors and they need our support and understanding. Part of that is trusting them to do what they have to do to win and survive. Interrogation of captured enemies is part of that. I don't know if you've watched him, but FOX’s OReilly is DEAD wrong when he says ONLY the CIA can be trusted to perform interrogations. Sometimes he says the STUPIDEST things, and in that
New York City arrogant know-it-all way that can get under my skin. The military has very competent intelligence troops that are highly trained to do interrogations. It IS a combat skill that needs to be available as close as possible to the front lines.

We are closer to agreeing on this issue than I thought. Waterboarding seems worse than it is. Thousands of our own people are waterboarded as part of their training to get an understanding of it before they use it as a tool to extract information, or in case they themselves are captured and interrogated. In reality, it’s ultimately harmless; although I can assure you it goes against your standard of "respecting" our enemies’ dignity. But there are NO techniques that follow your unreasonable requirement to be "nice." As I said, war is not nice and few things having to do with it are pleasant.

It's obvious to me that you and many Americans react against any of this stuff out of a highly commendable sense of decency. That's great and makes me proud to be a fellow citizen, but it clouds your well-meaning judgments. Sometimes we have to set aside our instinctive tendencies to be nice, especially when it comes to conducting warfare. A primary tasking of military basic training is to strip away that part of our psyches that won’t allow us to do certain “inhumane” things such as killing other humans, and then reprogram them to make it possible for our young people to “close with and destroy” when the time comes. It's a horrific process, but there's no way around it. Read my "letters from bootcamp" and you'll see partly what I'm talking about.

You're still obsessed with Abu Ghraib and you should stop. WE were the ones who found out what happened and WE fixed it. It wasn't due to some nosy reporter doing a story and happening upon it. It was from an INTERNAL investigation. We found it, and WE took care of it. What those guardsmen (now imprisoned) did was pure self-indulgent evil, just the same, not one prisoner was killed, and not one was seriously injured. College fraternity hazing incidents are much worse. ONLY in the American military would you have even learned that such a thing took place, because of the purposeful transparency of our system. Get over it Ed, and give your countrymen some recognition for getting it right and exacting some justice.

Keeping these captured jihadists locked up on an island for 5 years is against our constitution? First of all Ed, ONLY the worst of the worst are at
Guantanamo. Our folks are NOT simply letting those guys languish. There is a team of legal, medical, and intelligence people monitoring and working with them 24 hours a day. These guys have more rights and more access to medical treatment and other "amenities" than any war-time prisoners in the history of the world; they are NOT your run of the mill criminals, they are worse. You are wasting your time feeling sorry for those murdering SOBs. Every single one of them, if allowed to be in a room with you and your family, would cut your throats in the wink of an eye, and do so in the name of their god. Do you think I'm exaggerating?

Guantanamo is not legally US soil. Why do you think we placed them there? They committed their "acts" on foreign soil, they were captured on foreign soil, and American Constitutional Law does not apply to them. They fall under the authority of US military law, which is a tribunal system. I already explained that.

Yours and the Democratic Party’s (and I’m not saying you are a Democrat) insistence that
Afghanistan should be the ONLY Theater we fight in is as wrongheaded as it can get. Jihadists come from many nations and they go where they feel they can strike us and make good civilian people like you howl and wring your hands. These guys are vicious, but they aren't stupid. They know militarily we are stronger, and that our ONE weak area is the vacillation and the weak wills of our civilian population. If we lose, it will be because we simply quit, just as the Spanish public did when their civilian population screamed in protest when things got too bloody. If we can succeed in setting up a new government in Iraq, we strike a gigantic blow against Bin Laden, and that’s why he himself has stated that his primary goal is to defeat us IN Iraq. Iraq IS now the war on terror.

We do everything in our power to do the "right" thing, whether it comes to reducing collateral damage or not harming prisoners permanently during interrogations. NO army in the world goes to the lengths we do, even to the point of putting our own lives at risk. Mistakes happen, but we don't quit because they do. You're a nice guy Ed, but you have a classic case of the "bleeding heart" and God bless you for it.

No, I think
Iowa is the LAST place terrorists will strike, and you are typical of many who don't want to give the president ANY credit for having prevented enemy attacks on Americans. A HUGE reason for HIS success is that we are now on the terrorist's territory and THAT is keeping them preoccupied, but the Patriot Act and other measures taken by our military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are doing things to protect you too. Like many, you are taking all that for granted. Ed, you really have a hard time disguising your disgust for the man. What a shame. He's more like you than you know.

I enjoyed your rejoinder to my rejoinder, but you haven't changed my mind by any even a little. Maybe someone reading this exchange MIGHT have a change of heart, but I doubt it. People who don't understand will continue to not do so, and people like me, well, we'll continue to be RIGHT! Maybe someday I can talk some sense into you! (Chuckle).

Letters from Bootcamp, Installment III

When “Recruit Spear” wrote the following three letters, “he” was in his second and third week of basic training. Mentally and psychologically he did not feel like he was doing well—he felt very depressed, but primarily he was homesick. His three drill instructors had him absolutely convinced that in the history of MCRD San Diego, his platoon was the worst by far. It seemed as if neither he or his fellow platoon mates could do anything right, especially when it came to drill. Personally, he had “failed” once in an almost “unforgivable” way, especially in the eyes of the Marines, when he had not properly secured his rifle one evening. The DIs never stopped threatening “dire consequences” if the platoon did not get their act together. Imprisonment, “breaking rocks,” and worse, “recyclement,” all awaited them UNLESS they started to perform. Private Spear was so stressed that he hadn’t been able to “go” for the three weeks he’d been there, a problem the Navy almost worsened by trying to give him exactly the wrong medication for it. Just the same, he was beginning to “feel” like a Marine after being “inculcated” with the skills and attitude necessary to kill another human being with a bayonet or a rifle butt. Semper Fidelis.
July 8, 1975 – Dear Mom, Dad, Kevin, Gail and Mary Kay:

I finally received your first letter today; send as many more as you can get off. The other guys are getting 3, 4, even 5 at a time; about 3 more a week would be enough for me.

Well, tomorrow starts my T-Days or training days. I made a big mistake today. We received our rifles and we each locked them up. We were supposed to put a cable through the middle of the rifle and then secure it with a combination lock. It was only the second time I’d done it and I missed wrapping the cable around the bar on the rack. I know you can’t picture it, but anyway it was a major offense in the Platoon Commander’s eyes. About 30% of the platoon made the same mistake. It means I’ve got a mark against me in my folder. Three marks and you’re dropped from the platoon and you go to a disciplinary platoon called CCP. They get up, eat a C-ration, break rocks for 8 hours, eat another C-ration, take a shower and hit the rack. It really frightens me because mistakes are so easy to make here. You’re always rushed and yet you’re expected to forget nothing and then you’re threatened with things like I just told you.

Mark Colpean has a mark against him too; he was caught talking in the ranks while we were outside of the phone booths yesterday. John (John Roe,also from my home town), who’s always cutting up, never gets caught. Mark and I are really trying. If you know anyone who wants to join the Marine Corps, tell them to forget it. Tell them to join the Air Force or the Navy. I’m going to stick it out. I haven’t anything else to do. They keep you in boot camp till you do finally graduate, no matter how long it takes.

If my letter seems depressing, it’s because I’m depressed. We get about 30-45 minutes a night for letter reading and letter writing, so keep ‘em coming. Include in your letters all the local news and newspaper accounts. I’ve no idea what’s going on in the world. Also, if you can send some photos, I’ve got a place to keep them. I don’t care what the pictures are of, the family, the dogs, the garden. Just send a few.

Well, it’s time to turn in. I’ll write again soon. (And so will you, I hope).

Love, Phil

P.S. I really enjoyed your letter. It was postmarked July 3 and I just got it today, July 8. What kind of phonogram were you talking about? I never sent any phonogram?
July 11, 1975– Dear Dad and Mom I just received your letters (the second one):

I really wish I could be home now instead of here. With Dad in the hospital and the garden just coming in, I could really help out. Make sure you keep me informed on Dad’s condition, and if you ever have to get in touch with me immediately, just call the local Red Cross and give them my address and they’ll contact me fast.

Dad, I want you to use your mind to heal quicker! You’re not the kind of guy who likes to languish in a hospital. Right now there’s nothing I wouldn’t like to do more. By now, you’ve probably checked out of the hospital; I sure hope so.

Right now, as I’ve said earlier, doesn’t look too good. We’re a little behind the rest of the series. A series is made up of 4 (sister) platoons. If our drilling doesn’t get together we may get put back by as much as 3 weeks (groan!!!)

I just learned that although I’m a contract P.F.C. (private first class), if I don’t graduate in the top 10% of our platoon of 78, I can forget it.

Today is T-3; that means if everything goes normal we only we only have 75 more days to go out of 78. (end of July 11).

July 12, 1975—Again, I really enjoyed your letters; keep them coming. That letter from you, Dad, I especially enjoyed. The same time I received yours I got one from SSgt Wright (my Marine recruiter back in Saginaw, Michigan). It was a letter of encouragement; he also sent 2 postcards for me to write him on. I’m beginning to adjust to this type of life. There’s only way to describe it. You wouldn’t believe how shocking the change is from civilian life to this military one. My only real problem right now is that my glasses keep falling off and that scares me because of the likelihood they’ll break. I wish we’d go to the PX so I can buy a pair of eyeglass bands.

Well, has anyone gone to see any movies lately? That’s one of the major things I miss. What’s really maddening is that the depot theater (which is a huge majestic building also used for church services) is only about 250 yards away. I’m really looking forward to seeing a real movie again after I graduate, not to mention TV and freedom.

Keep writing. Love, Phil.
Saturday, July 19, 1975– Yesterday I went to sickbay for constipation. It’s been about 2 weeks now that I’ve been this way. When you combine that particular malady with the rigors of bootcamp, you have nothing but misery. The corpsman, when I told him my problem, wrote Kaopectate on my pharmacy slip. The pharmacist also asked me what my problem was and then looked strangely at the prescription order before taking me back to the corpsman. It seems that he mistakenly gave me medication for diarrhea. Did he ever look embarrassed! That was two days ago. I got 6 pills called Senokat that I’m supposed to take 2 of, every 3 nights. This is the 2nd night, and I still feel terrible. Have you ever tried to do pull-ups, sit-ups, and run 3 miles when you’re 2 weeks constipated?

Our platoon is still terrible. We have initial drill in 4 days, and we sure aren’t ready for it. The DIs don’t help much. They keep cutting us down and degrading us when we make mistakes, because they’re embarrassed at how bad we are. As a result, our motivation is at an all time low, and our DI is talking about going to the series commander to try to get us recycled. That means we’d have to start our training days all over again, and we’d be split up. Today was T-11, or training day 11 of 78. Our DI got so mad during our initial drill practice that he stalked off the parade ground. I think our problems would clear up if only we could just march together. The front end of the column gets ahead or behind of the front. Or, we’ll start to rush the cadence, and that really gets the DIs mad.

As it is, I have no idea whether or not this platoon will continue or not. If it does, then this Saturday we leave MCRD for Camp Pendleton. The first 7 days there we’ll have mess duty. After that we’ll have 2 weeks of infantry training. That will take place only if our platoon is kept intact. I’m beginning to doubt that it will be. This problem we have isn’t something that all platoons have. It was just my rotten luck to be put into a platoon that can’t seem to function together.

We had our first inspection today. Was that ever a harrowing experience! The Series Commander, Capt Rivers, inspected us and asked us questions. He just couldn’t find anything right with us.

We go to church tomorrow. Dad’s right. I’ve never been as religious as I am here. I’m determined not to fall into the foul mouth habit that the recruits get into here by example of the DIs and even the officers.

I have fire watch tonight from 2330 to 0030. Fire watches guard the squad bay at night and make sure the rifles are all locked. Also we count privates. So, every half hour we sign into the logbook the rifle count as well as the “privates on deck” count. If we sign it in a wrong rifle count, even if it was human error, we go to jail for a couple of weeks.

Today we had our second close combat class. We had our first class the day before yesterday. So far we’ve learned 6 killing and disabling moves (3 with the rifle butt, and 3 with the bayonet) and how to pivot right, left and to the guard position. They sure make you want to go out and stab somebody. (I guess that’s the Marine psychology working on me).

Well, I’ve got to sign off. Love, Phil

P.S. What’s Grandma Spear’s address? Do you think she’d like to hear from me?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Keeping the Moral Upper Hand?

My special Blog buddy, Ed Abbey, oft implies in his comments that my posts are overly long, and the fact that he also labels a “rant” my last entry on “detainees and interrogation of captured terrorists” only shows that he strongly disagrees with me on that subject. So be it, and so, let the “games” begin…Let’s respond to Ed, one or two points at a time…

Ed Abbey: As you probably would have guessed, I disagree with you on this one. I've always been impressed by McCain and would vote for him if he ever made it out of primaries and in this case, I think he is right on.

Phil: Nice try Ed, but until you’re up to your eyeballs in “the fight,” all you can do is pontificate in a "pope-like" manner just as you have in your last commentary. After reading it, it’s very clear to me that you really don't understand what war is, most Americans don’t. War is NOT moral, but it IS necessary. The folks we ask to fight for us do the best they can to "keep their souls," but most struggle mightily with what they are forced to do for the rest of their lives. I help these guys every day, veterans from WWII, The Korean War, Vietnam, The Gulf Wars, Latin America, you name it... At least once a month or two I see men breakdown and “lose it” over the memories of what they saw and did.

And McCain certainly HAS lost it. He's on the "edge" all the time. I respect him, but he's been damaged, warped by his time as a POW. His heart is in the right place, but he can't do the job as CINC. He's proven it to me once again by insisting that we NOT use tough interrogation techniques against captured enemies. If I voted for someone like him, I'd feel like I was dooming my own family. It would be like voting for Lenin, John Lenin that is. (“All we are saying… is GIVE peace a chance!”)

Ed Abbey: This isn't an issue of war, this isn't an issue of security, this IS an issue of keeping the moral upper hand.

Phil: As I read further your own "John Leninesque" commentary, I hope you're not implying that I am not a moral person, or that our people who conduct coercive questioning are immoral. What they have to do is tough enough without Americans "judging" them as they try to do their job the way they KNOW that it MUST be done. There are few things more subjective than issues of morality....As I mentioned earlier, just taking the act of defending ourselves calls our morality into question by many. I know YOU believe in self defense, and there are people who would condemn YOU for that. When it comes to moral high ground, how "high" do you take it? Shall we follow the Holy Father in Rome and stop ALL our efforts to fight the jihadists?

If you've ever been around it, you would know that the very act of participating in a war means forcing a whole lot of people into an ethical compromise. The violence we are asked to participate in during any war pushes the Christian ethics envelope. We are taught that the taking of life is wrong, yet that is EXACTLY what we do in war, and worse. War is dehumanizing, yet most American troops manage to keep a semblance of theirs, much more so than our jihadist enemies even attempt to do.

Do you really believe as McCain does, that we should NOT try to interrogate captured jihadists and terrorists, or is it just “water boarding” you’re against? He wants to afford these non-uniformed combatants, not even covered by the Convention, with full rights under it. That means NO interrogation. You and He are asking our people to commit battlefield suicide. You are asking us to commit national hari-kari.

Ed Abbey: McCain is perhaps the most qualified to speak on this subject since he has 'been there and done that.' Bush who for all practical purposes, never served has about the least authority to speak on the subject.

Phil: To say that McCain is more qualified than Bush to make morality decisions concerning interrogation based on his POW past is malarkey. In fact, his having been TRULY tortured as punishment and NOT really interrogated for information, makes him absolutely UN-qualified to speak on the subject. He’s dangerously biased. And Bush flew F-105s, one of the most difficult fighters to fly, and he did it for two years, mostly flying night missions, “scrambling” over the Gulf of Mexico. Several of his fellow pilots died doing that mission. If you don’t think it takes guts and smarts to do that, think again. And if we take YOUR definition of what qualifies a president to make war-time decisions, which THIS is, Lincoln wasn’t qualified to run the country during the years that he “saved” the Union from dissolution. Notably, he did it in the face of a lot of BAD McCain-like advice from many of his MOST experienced military men.

Ed Abbey: In fact, McCain can't do the country a disservice if he is speaking for the majority, which all polls within the last six months say that he is when it comes to morality and the Iraq war. I find having a president who won based upon morality not getting taken to the cleaners along with his party due to his lack of morals highly ironic.

Phil: Your comments remind me that most citizens don't have the stomach to do what's necessary, like using tough questioning techniques on captured enemies, and that's why so few even volunteer for the job. The fact that such a miniscule percentage of citizens have served in the armed forces explains why, as you say, “The majority” of Americans seem to support the McCain position. You know as well as I do that American public opinion is fickle and knee-jerk; watch it change again once the jihadists find a way to repeat another 9/11 style attack. And consider this: By the spring of 1863, MOST citizens of the northern states were AGAINST the way Lincoln was running the war and most WANTED to quit the effort and sue for peace. Lincoln did what he knew was right based on what he knew, just as your president now is doing. I shake my head, aghast that you seem to question Bush’s moral authority.

Ed Abbey: If I boil down your long post, it seems that your biggest argument is, "well they do it so we should too." I'm sure your mom taught you long ago that this is not an acceptable argument.

Ed, you silly man, you "boiled" it down all wrong. Of course I didn't say that we should do it because THEY will do it. (And leave my mother out of this! Chuckle.) I said that ALL armies interrogate captured prisoners. Our enemies always have and so have we. It is silly NOT to. It's something that MUST be done in war. Its not rocket science. If you can't fathom WHY it must be done, then it’s because it’s an experience you've never had or been close to. That's understandable. You’re a civilian, so I wouldn’t expect you to get it, but I’m very puzzled why Powell, Warner, and McCain are taking this unreasonable stance. They come off as ridiculous to many of us who have served.

Ed Abbey: When we lose our morals especially when fighting wars, I think we are no better than those that we are fighting against. We lost all our moral superiority with Abu Gahraib and we will never get it back in this war.

Your comments incorporating Abu Gahraib into your premise against interrogation are outrageous. When you lump those convicted monsters in with our professional interrogators you make me angrier than you can know. Those people were prison guards run amok. They weren't conducting interrogations; they were indulging in sexual sadomasochism. They will be in prison for a long time for it. And to say we have lost our moral compass based on that anomaly is way off base. You are much too smart to indulge in the silly moral equivalency exercise that so many American bashers love to indulge in. (You aren’t an American Basher are you Ed?) The last two American troops captured by Iraqi insurgents were found days later hacked to pieces. It had been done slowly over many hours. They suffered greatly. So, WE have lost the moral high ground? I can assure you that not one insurgent we captured after that incident was treated much differently than we've always treated them. We don't murder prisoners and we don't do permanent harm to them, or any harm to them for that matter. We PROVE our moral superiority EVERY single day over there. The problem is that few Americas, including you evidently, are paying much attention. Why are you STILL fixated on Abu Gahraib? You don’t get Al Jazeera out there in the “heartland” do you?

Ed Abbey: Yes the Geneva Convention wasn't written with jihadists in mind. We both agree on that. However, it was written with keeping human dignity in mind and that hasn't changed between now and then. It was written with the understanding that we are all children of God and thus should be treated with respect. Torturing someone by waterboarding is not showing respect. Yes the consequence may be that we don't prevent the next 'big one' but I would rather it happen than give up moral high ground.

Phil: I guess the question you have to ask yourself is how many Americans on the battlefield, or flying on commercial aircraft, or working in skyscrapers are you willing sacrifice because you are against intense interrogation methods? You must feel very safe way out there in the middle of Iowa where you feel the jihadists can’t get to you and yours. (That’s a cheap shot, I know, but I'm making a legitimate point).

Ed in my last post I mentioned “pie in the sky,” and that is certainly where you are with your “we are all God’s children” shtick. It must truly be heaven where you live in the land of the “Field of Dreams.”

Ed Abbey: Although our laws may not apply to people we catch overseas, hence the use of secret prisons in Europe, our Constitution does apply to those at Guantanamo and thus, they do have a right for trial, terrorist monsters that they might be. I don't necessarily think it has to be a civilian trial but it should be composed with a jury of their peers as provided by our laws.

Phil: A “jury of their peers?” Did you really say that? I don’t even have a comment for that. And Guantanamo is an overseas base; why would detainees kept there rate a trial under American Constitutional law? The real point is that this war is NOT over. These people STILL want to kill you. We didn’t release or even try Japanese or German prisoners until after the war, so why are you in such a hurry to release these guys?

Ed, I like you, but sometimes you just don’t make much sense. I guess it shows that culturally we come from two different worlds. Just the same, if you ever run for pope or to be the next John Lenin, you got my vote.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Detainees, What to Do with Them? Shall We Ask the ACLU?

It seems that the latest political and international ploy to defang America’s forces, even as they valiantly continue to fight the Terror War, is to raise a flap over how we obtain information from captured “detainees,” as well as our current policy in how we KEEP them captive. There should be an easy answer to these treacherous self-seekers—-first of all, ignore them!

Hopefully, the administration will find a way to follow this sensible solution, which is to change nothing—to let the CIA and the military
continue to do what needs to be done to effectively wage this war, and to continue to do what’s being done to obtain intelligence to continue to ensure our security. In other words—to CONTINUE.

Senator McCain, like Congressman Murtha, is supremely unqualified as an obvious sufferer of PTSD to weigh in on this issue. McCain states that we should do nothing at all when we capture terrorists. It would seem that he wants us merely to ask them nicely to tell us what their next terror plot is. Otherwise, he reasons, if we are seen to use “inhumane” methods like loud music, water-boarding, or yelling to extract info, then we “lose our souls.”

How far do we go in McCain’s absurd quest to “keep our souls?” Do we not fight them at all, since the very act of using violence to protect ourselves might be seen by some as evil and immoral? What a crock! It’s like asking the pope’s advice on how to fight terrorists, the pope being a religiously bound (evidently) to say that ALL war is wrong. Sorry, but that is simply unacceptable guidance. It just doesn’t fly in the REAL world. Simply put, there would no longer be any “Western Civilization,” or even a pope for that matter, if we were to blindly follow his counsel, or McCain's.

As far as the egomaniac McCain is concerned, an example of how “loose his screw” really is, he has announced strident opposition to the martial sport of Ultimate Fighting, even going so far as to attempt to pass law outlawing it; For, he says, it’s “too violent.” His PTSD seems to be affecting ALL of his this thought processes. We are in big trouble if he’s elected president—I’d vote for Kerry before I’d vote for him. His mental condition has affected him so profoundly that it doesn’t seem that he’s capable of making the tough decisions as Commander in Chief.

Another silly bit of logic by the “anti-torture” people—like Colin Powell, John McCain and much of the opposition party—is that if we use “tough questioning techniques” on our prisoners, then the enemy might do the same to our people. Therefore, they reason that we should ONLY follow the rules as stated in the Geneva Convention. There are assorted problems with this way of thinking.

For one thing, the Geneva Convention was not written all those decades ago with jihadists in mind. These people do not fight for a state or even for an army; they fight for an unseen, shadow organization answerable to no one. Therefore, these terror practitioners, most whom mock the Geneva Convention, are not signatories to it and do not follow it themselves.

There is another bigger problem with the Convention in that it basically states that NO POW may be questioned for info other than for name, rank and identification details. That is simply unreasonable, and NO army in its right mind actually follows that directive. We NEVER have, no matter what anyone says. In war, when an enemy combatant is captured, a way is FOUND to make him talk, to spill the beans. We know our enemies will do this to our captured troops as well. In fact, we do things to lessen the damage caused by their possible capture, like making sure that no one troop knows enough to compromise an entire battle plan.

Also, we train our people to “hold out” long enough under tough interrogation tactics, such as water-boarding, beatings, and other various physical extremes, so that by the time they “crack,” no real harm can be done. We KNOW every person has their breaking point, therefore we DON’T truly expect our enemies to follow the convention, just as we don’t. It’s more of a pie-in-the-sky document than it is a practical standard. Only a lawyer would really expect a frontline American fighter to completely and faithfully follow every letter of the Geneva Convention.

A weaker argument offered by those against any form of tough questioning, or torture, as they prefer to call any hard interrogation, is that it doesn’t work. They say that many of those questioned under duress simply tell lies to make it stop. So what? We can cross-check all gathered info and decide if it’s false or not. The real story is that torture in its many forms DOES work on MOST people, and always has. Some guys last longer than others, but everyone talks eventually. Our guys will talk when they are caught, and so will theirs. The point is that WE shouldn’t be prevented from doing it. It is a necessary part of war and always has been. Why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by completely disallowing ANY form of tough interrogation? It makes NO sense, because ultimately it HAS saved and WILL save allied lives.

What I really find wild is the muddleheaded thinking that tries to combine Geneva Convention “rights” with basic human rights, which by the way, Islamicists deny the existence of anyway, ALONG with rights granted under the American Constitution, in ADDITION to rights specified under every other European constitution, especially if it means coddling captured fanatics. Basically, these human rights “extremists” feel that there is nothing that shouldn’t be done FOR captured terrorists, and certainly nothing that should be done TO them. These human rights idealists mean well, I suppose, but they might as well cut the throats of everyone of us right now that seek NOT to live under Sharia Law, because that is what is coming if we allow them to have their way. How ironic that these “well meaning idiots” are so willing to come to the aid and succor of the very people who would take away THEIR human rights.

Getting back to the captured terrorist vermin and their so-called rights, when they signed up to do inhuman things, these cutthroats should effectively lose access to ANY rights, other than the right to sit in prison for as long as we deem necessary to keep them from cutting more innocent throats. They should especially not have a right to trial, yet trials under civilian courts of law is exactly what the “ACLU types” and Amnesty International dunderheads insist on, and that will be a mind-boggling hindrance for us in our aim to keep captured killers from continuing to butcher us.

So, why would it be so bad to try these monsters under our Constitution? Well, for one thing, they aren’t Americans and our laws don’t apply to them, especially to those we capture overseas. Aside from that obvious quandary, under our stateside laws nearly every one of these guys captured on the “terror battlefields” around the world would be released. Can you imagine it? Whenever we capture one of these brutes they’ll scream for a lawyer. And those that don’t, and answer questions under battlefield interrogation, they would have that testimony “thrown out” under our rules of law against “coerced” questioning. So, do we start reading these guys their rights upon capture? Do we stop interrogating them? Of course not; that’s absurd.

The answer is to do what’s being done now—to continue! The fact that it’s the Bush Administration doing it, and that it works, is reason enough for “the Bush opposers” to condemn it. They’d rather see us lose or become less effective than admit that “their nemesis” is doing it right. Here’s the way it now works: if and when we decide to allow it, a “closed” military tribunal overseen by an experienced military judge weighs the evidence against the captive and decides such things as guilt or non-guilt, and whether or not it is in the nation’s best interest to release, to release to another country, or to continue to detain.

We are at a huge disadvantage and in great danger when we attempt to try captured terrorists in civilian courts. For one thing, these state enemies under our laws have access to ALL the evidence against them, as well as the means by which it was gathered. Here is the expected result—they will usually have to be released. Why? Because, much of the intelligence will have been collect by covert agents, and we could not risk compromising them; it might mean their death or the loss of their continued use. The same applies to information gathered by technological methods.

So, rather than lose the ability to keep tabs on terror plots and on enemy plans on the battlefield, our government would have no choice except to NOT reveal their intelligence gathering methods and sources, and THAT would result in the release of killers. They would head back out to continue their jihad; no, to again commit heinous atrocities against humanity. Several of the detainees released from Guantanamo already have found their way back to places where they have killed Americans. The ACLU would say that that is the price we pay for maintaining our liberty. Tell that to the troops and their grieving families!

And what about the battle hardened, and hate-filled Islamic fighters we capture on various battlegrounds in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, or other unnamed places in which we fight? What crime do we charge these people with, after we supposedly take them back to the USA for trial? For one thing, they have committed no crime as far as any judge in the US is concerned. An American judge would have to release them as soon as any lawyer representing them moved to have that done.

Currently, we keep incorrigible captured prisoners “detained” for at least two reasons: 1) to gather any intelligence we might, and 2) to keep them from continuing to blow up and kill Americans. The ACLU wants ALL these guys immediately tried and thus released. Do you wonder why I despise the ACLU and Amnesty International who lump us in with tyrannical regimes such as China and Cuba, and even accuse us as being worse? They are in some ways more malevolent than the terrorists; at the very least they are collaborators.

McCain, Powell and company are doing a huge disservice to their country and its protectors, as they now come down on the side of organizations and politicos who want to hamstring our ability to successfully continue the fight against the most evil, bloodthirsty in-humans that has ever slithered the face of the earth. Both McCain and Powell have been in “the trenches” and SHOULD know better. Instead, they misuse the moral positions they earned as POW, Chief of Staff and Secretary of State to do immeasurable harm by supporting the mushy-thinkers that seek to interfere with a very effective war-fighting program. I would ask them “What are you thinking?” but it seems they aren’t at all.