Editor, the Gauntlet,
Kris Kotarski’s piece debating the use of torture borders on absurd.
Mr. Kotarski stated "there is an ongoing debate in the American media about the use of torture to extract information about possible future acts of terrorism." Where is Mr. Kotarski getting his information from?
I watch an inordinate amount of American broadcast news. I also read three U.S. weekly magazines and three U.S. daily newspapers. However, I have yet to encounter any debate or discussion suggesting that torture should be used to aid in the apprehension of the terrorists, or to help prevent further acts of terrorism on U.S. soil. Before Mr. Kotarski makes such sweeping statements he should provide some evidence such as the names of the publications that have discussed torture as a tool, or the names of journalists who have written about torture as a means of information gathering.
Mr. Kotarski’s criticism of Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Defense Secretary is also off the mark. Mr. Rumsfeld’s concerns were primarily directed at broadcast news journalists and not print journalists as Mr. Kotarski implied. Broadcast news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News all reported, in real time, that U.S. Special Forces were engaged in ground operations in Afghanistan. These reports were not "vague" as Mr. Kotarski maintained, but included footage taken minutes before using night vision cameras showing troops dropping from aircraft into Afghanistan.
Furthermore, Mr. Rumsfeld was not "upset" with the actions of the media and their secret sources, but was instead concerned for the safety of U.S. personnel operating in harms way. Mr. Rumsfeld is, after all, a former naval aviator himself. Apparently, Mr. Rumsfeld is not entitled to criticize the conduct of the media, but Mr. Kotarski and his colleagues in the media are wholeheartedly entitled to criticize Mr. Rumsfeld’s conduct.
Finally, Mr. Kotarski suggested civil liberties were "under attack" in the United States. Mr. Kotarski compared current American anti-terrorism measures to methods used and the outcomes achieved by Hitler’s Gestapo and Stalin’s N.K.V.D. This is not intellectually defendable. The only action taken thus far by the United States government that is truly questionable–an action nowhere near as objectionable as the cold-blooded murder of over 5,000 people–is that aliens suspected of terrorist activities can now be held for up to seven days without charge. At the end of the week either the alien is charged, released, or deportation proceedings against the alien begin. This change in U.S. legislation is not unreasonable in the current climate, and has not yet been shown to be in violation of the U.S. Bill of Rights. And, unlike the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-36) of the Chrétien government, the Patriot Act has a sunset clause that will see its provisions expire on Dec. 31, 2005. In five years, Americans will have the same civil rights as they did on Sept. 10, 2001. Can the same be said of Canadians?