Quote for the Day

"Humane treatment of insurgent captives should extend far beyond compliance with Article 3, if for no other reason than to render them more susceptible to interrogation. The insurgent is trained to expect brutal treatment upon capture. If, contrary to what he has been led to believe, this mistreatment is not forthcoming, he is apt to become psychologically softened for interrogation. Furthermore, brutality by either capturing troops or friendly interrogators will reduce defections and serve as grist for the insurgent's propaganda mill," - from the Army Field Manual 34-52. (My italics.)

This may help belie the notion fostered by some that the U.S. has never abided by Article 3 with respect to combatants out of uniform. As Marty Lederman shows, it did for 53 years before the Bush years. Notice how good intelligence, according to the U.S. military, is not procured by brutality but by legal and humane psychological pressure. Notice that the Army doesn't see anything "vague" about these standards, as some of the new authoritarians argue. Notice that the U.S. Army has historically believed Article 3 to be a minimum of decency - and requires beefing up by Americans, not watering down. Notice also that this has always applied to enemies out of uniform, insurgents, guerrillas, including, for example, the Viet Cong. What this administration and its extremist allies are urging would be an assault on decades of humane warfare by the United States and a terrible self-inflicted wound in a war where the moral highground is essential to long-term success. This is among the most vital issues any nation faces: it's about the soul of the West, and the short-sighted expediency of those who think part of it can be sold.