Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jello Journalists
As a retired journalist (I say that softly these days with a hanging head), I think each time I see the White House press corps at work I cannot be more appalled, but alas I am. Not in the farthest reaches of my imagination could I have conjoured up a New York Times reporter asking the President of the United States if he was "enchanted" with his job. The Grey Lady had to turn red with embarrassment. Come back Sam Donalson, wherever you are!
But the President himself should be even more flushed with embarrassment. He justified calling waterboarding "torture" by citing the example of Winston Churchill in World War II, saying the prime minister did not use enhanced interrogation tactics against 200 Nazi detainees. Could be true because the Geneva Conventions were in effect and respected by England and its Allies, including the United States - conventions which specifically prohibit the mistreatment of members of a national uniformed military member captured on the battlefield. Such uniformed prisoners were confined to prison camps until the end of the war. If those 200 detainees referred to by the President were not in military uniform, they probably were not detained for long. They would most likely have been tried by military tribunals and hung as spies, a punishment meted out by both Great Britain and the United States.
There is a distinct difference between the military combatants of World War II and the terrorists who attacked this nation on 9/11. The 9/11 terrorists wore the uniform of no country. Nor do their counterparts in Afghanistan and Iraq. And they pledge allegiance to no nation. Their fanatical loyalty is to Allah and a shadowy, transnational organization, Al-Qaeda or one of its several offshoots. The Geneva Convention does not cover such a combatant. Which is the crux of our national dilemma.
On the day we judged the job President Obama had done after 100 days in office, I must give him an F for the history lesson he recited to us. The kindest term to use is revisionist history. Regardless, the President needs to crack open a history of World War II and get the facts correct. I'm sure Sir Winston, himself a renowned historian, would appreciate historical correctness, especially when it involves actions by the late prime minister.
May I recommend for starters, Mr. Obama, the six volumns Sir Winston wrote of his wartime experiences. I'm sure you will find the facts most enlightening.

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