I saw this sign, “Torture is always wrong,” outside a Presbyterian church in Columbus, Indiana during my recent visit there. It can serve us well as a reminder that it is ten years ago this week since lawyers in the Bush Administration issued the “torture memos” justifying torture.
“Torture is always illegal,” writes Morris Davis, law professor and retired Air Force Col. and former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in today’s Los Angeles Times.“And we should mark the 10th anniversary of the effort by the Bush administration to justify torture, remembering that as a nation founded on religious and moral values, we must work to ensure that U.S. government-sponsored torture never occurs again.”
Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said the other day in a speech at West Point that it would be highly unlikely that the United States would again send its soldiers into wars such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Any Secretary of Defense who advises the President to do that “should have his head examined,” said Gates, who will leave his office later this year. There is no word yet on his eventual replacement. Gates said that the “odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq may be low.”
The speech before the West Point cadets was not a direct criticism of President Bush’s decision to go to war against Iraq, but it might be important to recall that Gates, a Republican who replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary at the end of 2006, was a close assistant to Brent Scowcroft, the National Security Adviser during the first President Bush’s time in the White House, who later became a leading critic of President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war against Iraq.
The United States Army will continue to face challenges around the world but, Gates said. That will require a change in culture within the Army and a necessity for different training and equipment to meet these new challenges.