War is hell. As Americans, we do not seek conflict, but when it comes, we do not run away. We make war, we make war with all the power and strength we can muster. America prosecutes war on those that would make themselves our enemies with the power and vengeance on reminiscent of an Old Testament God; harsh, sudden and without mercy.
To preserve our way of life America must at times take steps, not to its liking. Sherman laid waste to Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina in the Civil War, not because he was bloodthirsty, but he understood that you win wars by taking the war to a level that the enemy cannot defend against.
The Trump administration is preparing a sweeping executive order that would clear the way for the C.I.A. to reopen overseas “black site” prisons, like those where it detained and tortured terrorism suspects before former President Barack Obama shut them down.
President Trump’s three-page draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants” and obtained by The New York Times, would also undo many of the other restrictions on handling detainees that President Obama put in place in response to policies of the George W. Bush administration.
Obama tried to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and refused to send new detainees there, but the draft order directs the Pentagon to continue using the site “for the detention and trial of newly captured” detainees — including not just more people suspected of being members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban, like the 41 remaining detainees, but also Islamic State detainees.
The draft order does not direct any immediate reopening of C.I.A. prisons or revival of torture tactics, which are now banned by statute. But it sets up high-level policy reviews to make further recommendations in both areas to President Trump, who vowed during the campaign to bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse” — not only because “torture works,” but because even “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.”
The order was accompanied by a one-page statement that criticized the Obama administration for having “refrained from exercising certain authorities” about detainees it said were critical to defending the country from “radical Islamism.”
Specifically, the draft order would revoke two executive orders about detainees that President Obama issued in January 2009, shortly after his inauguration. One was President Obama’s directive to close the Guantánamo prison and the other was his directive to end C.I.A. prisons, grant Red Cross access to all detainees and limit interrogators to the Army Field Manual techniques.
In their place, President Trump’s draft order would resurrect a 2007 executive order issued by President Bush. It responded to a 2006 Supreme Court ruling about the Geneva Conventions that had put C.I.A. interrogators at risk of prosecution for war crimes, leading to a temporary halt of the agency’s “enhanced” interrogations program.
President Bush’s 2007 order enabled the agency to resume a form of the program by specifically listing what sorts of prisoner abuses counted as war crimes. That made it safe for interrogators to use other tactics, like extended sleep deprivation that were not on the list. President Obama revoked that order as part of his 2009 overhaul of detention legal policy.
One of the Obama orders President Trump’s draft order would revoke also limited interrogators to using techniques listed in the Army Field Manual. But in 2015, Congress enacted a statute locking down that rule as a matter of law, as well as a requirement to let the Red Cross visit detainees. Those limits would remain in place for the time being.
The draft order says high-level Trump administration officials should conduct several reviews and make recommendations to President Trump. One was whether to change the field manual, to the extent permitted by law. Another was “whether to reinitiate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States” by the C.I.A., including any “legislative proposals” necessary to permit the resumption of such a program.
It was not clear whether the C.I.A. would be enthusiastic about resuming a role in detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects after its scorching experience over the past decade. In written answers to questions by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump’s C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, said he would review whether a rewrite of the field manual was needed and left the door open to seeking a change in the law “if experts believed current law was an impediment to gathering vital intelligence to protect the country.”
President Trump’s order says no detainee should be tortured or otherwise subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment “as prescribed by U.S. law,” but it makes no mention of international law commitments binding the United States to adhere to humane standards even if Congress were to relax domestic legal limits on interrogations, such as the Convention Against Torture or the Geneva Conventions.
Another core national security legal principle for President Obama was to use civilian courts, not military commissions, whenever possible in terrorism cases, and to exclusively use civilian law enforcement agencies and procedures, not the military, to handle cases arising on domestic soil. The draft order also signals that the Trump administration may shift that approach as well.
In 2012, after Congress enacted a statute mandating that the military initially takes custody of all foreign Qaeda suspects, President Obama issued a directive that pre-emptively waived that rule for most domestic circumstances, such as if the F.B.I. had arrested the suspect and was already in the process of an interrogation.
But President Trump’s draft order calls for the attorney general, in consultation with other national-security officials, to review that directive and recommend modifications to it within 120 days.
Many Republicans, including Senator Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s attorney general nominee, criticized the Obama administration’s approach as weak. During the campaign, President Trump said he would prefer to prosecute terrorism suspects at Guantánamo, including American citizens, although the law currently limits the commission’s system to foreign defendants.
Against that backdrop, President Trump’s draft order would direct Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, along with the attorney general and the director of national intelligence, to “review the military commissions system and recommend to the president how best to employ the system going forward to provide for the swift and just trial and punishment of unlawful enemy combatants detained in the armed conflict with violent Islamist extremists.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday that the draft executive order titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants” “is not a White House document.”
“I have no idea where it came from,” stressed Spicer
Of, course he denied it existed! This is not the era of the last eight years where we practically invited our enemies to sit in on the daily Military briefings. In war, you do not tip your hand before you are ready to implement a strategy. Then the other side finds out when the death and destruction rains down.
Remember Americans do not relish in such tactics, but America did not start this war. Americans do not enjoy such tactics, but we did not crash two airplanes into the Twin Towers causing thousands of civilian deaths. America did not start this war but will see it completed.