15 Aug 2006

What Would Colonel Mathieu Do?

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The Guardian writes (with big salty tears running down its editorial cheek):

“Why are the liberals always on the other side?” asks the fictional French military commander Colonel Mathieu when he is challenged, in The Battle for Algiers, for using torture to fight terror. The film suggests that torture works as a tool of immediate necessity, even if the consequences are a blurring of morality and so final defeat. Four decades on, Mathieu’s charge against liberal scruples is still being raised, implicit in the defence of the means being used in a modern battle against Islamic terror…

Reports from Pakistan suggest that much of the intelligence that led to the raids came from that country and that some of it may have been obtained in ways entirely unacceptable here. In particular Rashid Rauf, a British citizen said to be a prime source of information leading to last week’s arrests, has been held without access to full consular or legal assistance. Disturbing reports in Pakistani papers that he had “broken” under interrogation have been echoed by local human rights bodies. The Guardian has quoted one, Asma Jehangir, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who has no doubt about the meaning of broken. “I don’t deduce, I know – torture,” she said. “There is simply no doubt about that, no doubt at all.” If this is shown to be the case, the prospect of securing convictions in this country on his evidence will be complicated.

Rational adults would suppose that a terrorist, apprehended outside British jurisdiction, might have to take his chances with the local legal system, and the sort of unsympathetic treatment traditionally meted out to hostes humani generis [the common enemies of mankind], who have by their own actions placed themselves outside both the laws of ordinary society and the laws of war.

Faced wih a choice of, say, 3000 innocent lives versus Mr. Rauf’s supposed privileges and comfort, any responsible person charged, like Colonel Mathieu in the Pontecorvo film, would inevitably be forced to do what was necessary to protect the innocent.

Only imbeciles and sentimental poseurs would agree with the Guardian.


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