An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that U.S. officials who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK. The strongly worded memo, written by an FBI supervisor then assigned to Guantanamo, is the latest in a series of documents that have recently surfaced reflecting unease among some government lawyers and FBI agents over tactics being used in the war on terror.Some of the most vocal parties involved in asking questions about tactics being implemented by U.S. officials are from within the government itself. FBI agents, Military Judge Advocate General officials and intelligence officials. These are not outside parties, but those involved in gathering and analyzing information.
While there is certainly an understandable lack of sympathy accorded to captured terrorists, the matter is not so simple. A nation like the U.S. holds that no one is above the law and everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law. From the President down to the poorest of the poor.
While we may be emotionally inclined to mete out a cruder form of justice, on the level of the treatment that the terrorists mete out to their foes, we are obligated to hold to a higher standard. To do any less is to betray the founding principles of our nation.
We certainly want and need information from these detainees. In fact a reasonable argument could be made that in an emergency situation, the use of extralegal tactics may be understandable, but only if the party comes forward to take responsibility.
However, codifying torture as an acceptable method, or passing on detainees to a third party that you know will take extraordinary measures you are legally restricted from using, that is unacceptable and illegal.
Spreading democracy and freedom is more than sending out copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers. It is also setting the example that you hold those statements codified in the Constitution to be universally applicable. That we are able to set aside our rage and sorrow and operate based on the laws that have guided our nation and allowed it to escape many of our human failings .