What Torture Could Cost Us

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Regarding "It's Our Cage, Too; Torture Betrays Us and Breeds New Enemies," the commendable May 17 op-ed by retired Marine Corps Gens. Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar:

As the investigator of the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison, I confronted the outcome of current interrogation policies. We undermine the values that built this country and the credibility of our armed forces when we stoop to the level of some of our enemies. The awful events at Abu Ghraib and their far-reaching consequences could have been prevented if we had adhered to the Geneva Conventions.

The policies that were implemented for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then revoked found their way into headquarters in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the staffs were contemplating draft policies. When no official direction was given, the interrogators referred to their experience in other situations, such as Guantanamo, or to the drafts they had seen. They acknowledged that they understood the Geneva Conventions and their Army training on this matter, but the pressure to uncover intelligence led them to the "new procedures."

I support the conclusion of Gens. Krulak and Hoar: "The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality."

Captured U.S. service members will face increased risk if torture becomes a tool of our interrogators. Our research showed that torture may produce an answer but that the credibility of the answer will always be in doubt. When our service members become captives, we could pay a high price for questionable intelligence that we extracted through torture.

PAUL J. KERN

Arlington

The writer, a retired U.S. Army general, is a senior counselor with the Cohen Group.

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