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April 01, 2006

Jill Carroll - What if she was a US POW?

Conduct of US military personnel while POWs is governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct for U.S. Armed Forces was first published by President Eisenhower in Executive Order 10631 in 1955, and was drafted in response to North Korean and Chinese treatment of UN POW's during the Korean War. The Code was later amended 1977 reflecting a re-examination of the Code based on our Vietnam experience, and has been periodically revised, if not in form, then in the substance of how it's taught, informed by experience with hostage taking.

Those documents, plus Joint Staff Guide 5260 outline the basic responsibilities and obligations of all U.S. service members when captured. The purpose of the Code is to give POWs a structure around which to organize, and to guide and govern their behavior, to help them get through what is usually a very traumatic experience, especially when held by people who don't view the Geneva Convention as much more than toilet paper. That said, one problem with the current Code, as written, is that it's pretty black and white. It's only in the training classes (which are probably not full of people paying real full attention) that the subtleties are discussed. A good discussion of that issue can be found here.

Let us *not,* in this post, go into a discussion of Unlawful Combatants, Gitmo, etc. That is *not* the purpose of this post - and anyone trying to inappropriately force the thread that way will find their words are... ephemeral. And yeah, I'm the sole judge on that. SWWBO and I pay for this space. Ya wanna have a chat about Unlawful Combatants and Gitmo, propose a post - don't hijack this one.

If you'd like a copy of the Code of Conduct, click here.

The relevant article is Article V (article IV creeps in here, too - but I'll cover that later).

6. Code of Conduct V.
a. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements
disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.
b. When questioned, a prisoner of war is required by the Geneva Convention and this code to give name, rank, service number (Social Security number) and date of birth.The prisoner should make every effort to avoid giving the
captor any additional information. The prisoner may communicate with captors on matters of health and welfare and additionally may write letters home and fill out a Geneva Convention“capture card.”
c. It is a violation of the Geneva Convention to place a prisoner under physical or mental duress, torture or any other form of coercion in an effort to secure information. If under such intense coercion, a POW discloses unauthorized
information, makes an unauthorized statement or performs an unauthorized act, that prisoner’s peace of mind and survival require a quick recovery of courage, dedication and motivation to resist anew each subsequent coercion.
d. Actions every POW should resist include making oral or written confessions and apologies, answering questionnaires, providing personal histories, creating propaganda recordings, broadcasting appeals to other prisoners of war,
providing any other material readily usable for propaganda purposes, appealing for surrender or parole, furnishing self–criticisms and communicating on behalf of the enemy to the detriment of the United States, its allies, its armed forces or other POWs.
e. Every POW should also recognize that any confession signed or any statement made may be used by the enemy as a false evidence that the person is a “war criminal” rather than a POW. Several countries have made reservations to the Geneva Convention in which they assert that a “war criminal” conviction deprives the convicted individual of prisoner–of–war status, removes that person from protection under the Geneva Convention and revokes all rights to repatriation until a prison sentence is served.
f. Recent experiences of American prisoners of war have proved that, although enemy interrogation sessions may be harsh and cruel, one can resist brutal mistreatment when the will to resist remains intact.
g. The best way for a prisoner to keep faith with country, fellow prisoners and self is to provide the enemy with as little information as possible.

The training guidance specifically goes on to say:

(3) Understand that, short of death, it is unlikely that a PW can prevent a skilled enemy interrogator, using all available psychological and physical methods of coercion, from obtaining some degree of compliance by the PW with captor demands. However, if taken past the point of maximum endurance by the captor, the PW must recover as quickly as possible and resist each successive captor exploitation effort to the utmost. The PW must understand that a forced answer on one point does not authorize continued compliance. Even the same answer must be resisted again at the next interrogation session.

But wait! There's *more*. Section 2 of DoD Joint Staff Guide 5260, Service Member's Personal Protection Guide: A Self-Help Handbook to Combating Terrorism, dated April 2000. You can have a copy of that by clicking here.

The guidance in the Code of Conduct mostly refers to personnel held captive by governments. We let things get a *lot* looser when we talk about terrorists.

One of the key things that has happened over the years in our guidance on this topic is an understanding that many enemies view the POW camp as an extension of the battlefield, and act accordingly.

If you read the documents you'll see we emphasize over and over again - don't divulge useful information, don't make statements detrimental to the cause. Early on the emphasis was on NEVER. EVER. If you read them now, you'll see - "make every effort," or "make a reasonable effort." It's no longer absolute, as we have come to realize that the ability of the interrogators to get what they want, especially ones with little restrictions on their technique, is pretty much assured - and that the cost of hard, prolonged resistance is usually not worth the security gained. We're told to play the game, give a little, hide a lot, etc. And the longer you can delay things, especially in terms of tactical information, the less useful it generally is to the enemy. The important thing to note is - we leave wiggle room now, where before Korea and into Vietnam, we left none at all. And not much during Gulf War I.

A discussion in the training guide from Army Regulation 350-30 Code of
Conduct, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Training) for Article IV of the Code of Conduct (betrayal of fellow prisoners) gives an example. (For a copy of the regulation, click here)

Understand that there is a significant difference between the collaborator who must be persuaded to return and the resister who, only after having been physically or mentally tortured, complies with a captor's improper demand (such as to provide information or a propaganda statement). The collaborator's conduct is reprehensible and cannot be sanctioned, whereas the resister should be given help to gather strength and resume resistance. [emphasis mine]

The distinction is important. But even more relevant to Ms. Carroll's situation is the guidance Joint Staff Guide 5260, dated 2002:

• Hostages should make reasonable efforts to avoid signing confessions, making propaganda broadcasts, conducting "news interviews," etc., which could embarrass the US or host governments. Propaganda has been successfully avoided by presenting logical reasons; however, the threat of death by terrorists for noncompliance is more realistic than in governmental detention. The hostage should not mistake pride for inappropriate resistance. If forced to sign or make a statement, hostages should attempt to degrade the propaganda and to provide the minimum information. [emphasis mine]

I'm a little isolated here of late - but I'm given to understand that most, if not all of the criticism of Ms. Carroll comes from the Right side of the talk show and blogger political spectrum.

I'll be uncharacteristically blunt here: Shame on you. You're talking out your ass sitting in your nice, relatively safe world - about something you have no bleeping experience in, and probably less understanding of how the services look at it. Rambo was a movie. The Services take a more nuanced view of the situation - so should you.

You are entitled to your opinion, and have the right to express it. And I have the right to throw the bullsh1t flag.

This is the kind of behavior I expect from Kossacks and DU'ers. Fie! Fie I say!

Update: Jill Carroll repudiates the comments made under duress. Will she now get apologies from those who criticized - or will those people try to take credit for "forcing" the repudiation? We'll see if the Right can rise above the Kossacks.

And the Left? The ones who said the video represented her True Feelings? What will we hear from them, I wonder. Oh, no I don't.

John | Permalink | Comments (5) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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