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From The


Dear 508 Veterans,
            Family Members,
                         or Friends of the 508th

Along with many issues that have boiled to the surface during our war with Iraq, the only one that seems most prominent in my mind lately has been the notion of how our country should treat prisoners (or enemy combatants). Through careful reading from many new sources, both in print and on the Internet, it appears the United States is participating in interrogation techniques that 90 beyond what the Geneva Convention allows. We've all by now heard of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but our military and intelligence agencies are apparently flying captured suspected terrorists/enemy combatants to countries around the globe who condone interrogation techniques that violate the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, this is an effort to extract as much information as possible from the men and women detained.

Senator JOHN McCAIN of Arizona, himself a POW in North Vietnam for five years, has made it his mission to ensure our country opposes torture and ought to obey the directives of the Geneva Convention. Amazingly, there are many people in our government, who, while stating we do not torture prisoners, insist we be given the right to torture. If that is perplexing to the reader, take comfort, because there are many people who feel the same.

Granted, the people fighting our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are not the nicest people around. Still, why must we stoop to their level of behavior in order to fight our battles?

The fact there has even been a debate over whether or not we should ‘have the right to torture prisoners has caught the world's attention. How can we defend ourselves as morally righteous or a "shining light" if we allow our government to torture people? In answer to my own question, I don't think we can.

One of the more interesting aspects of this argument is noting who believes we ought to leave our options open when it comes to treating prisoners inhumanely. From all I have heard, those government servants who have been fighting hardest for the right to violate the Geneva Conventions are the very ones who have never seen combat. It is not an accident that Senator McCAIN, who suffered horrendous, unspeakable treatment during his five years in North Vietnam prison camps, is the one person who is most steadfast in his belief our country ought to obey the guidelines of the Geneva Convention. Senator McCAIN's stand is instructive.

I recently heard theory of an American POW (member of the 508th), held by the German Army. While imprisoned in prison camp, he noticed one German officer went out of his way to treat the Paratrooper kindly, One day, the American soldier asked the German officer why he received special treatment, and the soldier replied, "I have a son who is a POW in an American camp, and he writes me about how well he is being treated- -1 want to do the same for you."

Though there are no guarantees about how others will treat our soldiers taken prisoner in wars to come, if we continue to send ambiguous (at best) messages to the rest of the world about how we treat our prisoners, we can almost be certain American soldiers taken prisoner in he future will be treated as we have treated those detainees from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bill Nation

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