Charlie Savage claims the New York Times has obtained a five page, near final draft, policy document entitled "interrogation Techniques," which recommends that Mitt Romney rescind President Obama's Executive Order restricting U.S. interrogators to non-abusive techniques described in the Army Field Manual, according to his article Election May Decide When Interrogation Amounts to Torture.
In one of his first acts, President Obama issued an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of nonabusive tactics approved in the Army Field Manual. ... By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum. ... “We’ll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now,” he said at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., in December.In 2006, after the Supreme Court upheld the Geneva Convention's ban on torture, members of the Bush Administration, including Steven Bradbury, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, decided to re-approve "borderline" techniques such as "sleep deprivation, withholding solid food, slapping and head grabbing," and redefined terrorists as enemy combatants rather than prisoners of war.
Controversy still exists on whether "water-boarding" constitutes torture. President Obama believes it is, and has banned it, former V.P. Dick Cheney believe it is not. Mitt Romney will not say exactly what he considers to be torture or not. Romney claims his lack of specifity is in order to keep terrorists from knowing what our policies are, but I see Romney as lacking the courage, and detailed knowledge necessary to make a decisive judgement.
This long important article provides an excellent history and overview of the debate over what constitutes torture, and what U.S. policy is and should be from various points of view. And, we also see a stark contrast in the leadership styles of our two presidential cadidates.
Note the degree of specifics our President is willing to articulate versus the vaque mish-mash of double-speak typical of Governor Romney from just these two quotes:
“Waterboarding is torture,” Mr. Obama said in November. “It’s contrary to America’s traditions. It’s contrary to our ideals. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we operate. We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. And we did the right thing by ending that practice. If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example.”
Clear, specific, and too the point. By contrast:
Mr. Romney has consistently opposed ruling out interrogation techniques. At a debate in 2007, he sparred with Senator McCain over whether the United States should renounce waterboarding. And last year, in response to a survey on executive power, he said he opposed “torture” but criticized Mr. Obama’s approach.
“I support the use of appropriate and necessary interrogation techniques to obtain information from high-value terrorists who possess knowledge critical to our national defense,” Mr. Romney said. “I do not believe it is wise for our country to reveal all of the precise interrogation methods we may authorize for use against captured terrorists, and I strongly condemn the actions taken by President Obama to do so.”
Once again, please notice the contrast between a bold and decisive leader willing to take a stand, and a mushy political opportunist who likes to talk tough, but refuses to be specific enough for us to know what he really believes.
Imagine also, for a moment, you are a U.S. military or intelligence officer, in the field, who needs to decide exactly what is, or is not U.S. policy, and you can go to jail for war crimes if you make an error, and you stand on the slippery slope. Who would you rather have as your commander-in-chief?