Monday, July 14, 2008



There is a lot of buzz today about “Waterboarding,” a torture tactic used by our Military, or specifically by the CIA, to try and get information from the enemy. The process involves tying down a person on his or her back and tilting that person downward, and then pouring water over the face and breathing nostrils. It causes a feeling of drowning and imminent death.

Generally, to the lay person, or non-military citizen, any form of torture is barbaric and should not be exercised. This has to be due to the lack of knowledge of its usefulness in wartime. Granted, torture seems to be excessive and cruel, but take a moment and think about it.

I was an infantry soldier in the U.S. Army and fought in the Vietnam War. I witnessed much suffering and many deaths on both sides during heavy battles, and after repeated attacks on us by the enemy, I soon realized that if we could use some form of torture to obtain useful information to survive and to be one step ahead of the enemy, it would be worth it.

There were times when we captured enemy combatants, who we believed had information that could help us prevent a lot of bloodshed, but because we had to conduct ourselves by the code of conduct set out by the Geneva Conference, forbidding torture, we could not force it out of them.

On occasion, the enemy entered a village and killed most of its able bodied men, then waited for us to arrive and walk into an ambush. Had we been able to force information from our captives, in advance, we may have had a chance to prevent some of these atrocities.

Torturing anyone is not for the faint of heart, but after spending some time fighting, one begins to harden and realize that if torture is the only way to gain valuable information to prevent suffering and death, then it has to be considered a necessary tactic in wartime.

Occasionally, when we suspected that our captives knew something we needed, but we could not get it out of them, we turned them over to the South Vietnamese soldiers, who often fought along with us.

These fighters sometimes used tactics that we could not exercise to make the enemy talk. For example, they would take the enemy combatants up in a helicopter and push them out, or drag them alive through the jungle behind a PC (personnel carrier). You would be surprised at how much useful information was gained that could be used to prevent suffering of a larger scale. (Of course a lot of this may not be admitted or discussed today.)

When the subject of torture is discussed, it would be wise to not condemn it without knowing how necessary and useful it is during wartime. In other words don't argue and rant and rave over something you know nothing about.

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