By all means, let's have a debate over terrorist interrogation
WSJ: By all means, let's have a debate over terrorist interrogation
|The White House appears to be dreading today's confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales now that Democrats seem ready to blame the Attorney General nominee for Abu Ghraib and other detainee mistreatment. But this is actually a great chance for the Administration to do itself, and the cause of fighting terror, some good by forcefully repudiating all the glib and dangerous abuse of the word "torture."
For what's at stake in this controversy is nothing less than the ability of U.S. forces to interrogate enemies who want to murder innocent civilians. And the Democratic position, Mr. Gonzales shouldn't be afraid to say, amounts to a form of unilateral disarmament that is likely to do far more harm to civil liberties than anything even imagined so far.
The dispute here stems from the Bush Administration's decision, in early 2002, that Taliban and al Qaeda detainees didn't automatically qualify for prisoner of war status. This caused a fuss in some quarters. But it was in accord with the plain language of the original Geneva Conventions, which require POWs to have met certain criteria such as fighting in uniform and not attacking civilians. The Administration understood what critics don't want to admit --namely, that POWs may not be interrogated, period. The Geneva Conventions forbid even positive reinforcement such as better rations to coax them to talk...