Dems and Lord de l’Isle and Dudley

You know, I hate to sound curmudgeonly, I really do, but didn’t we just see a report, not two weeks ago, pretty much clearing the air re the “Gitmo abuses?” Didn’t some Democrat lawmakers go over there, themselves, and come back saying,”hey…things looked pretty dang good, after all?”

And yet, here are the Dems calling for an independent panel “to review the treatment of foreign inmates at Guantanamo Bay and other US-run overseas detention facilities.”

“We are calling for an ‘Independent Commission on the Treatment of Detainees,’ because the Defense Department has shown that it is not capable of investigating itself,” said Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who authored the bill, along Democrats Ted Kennedy, John Rockefeller and Jack Reed.

Look, I am all for making sure that America and her representatives do the right thing as concerns her enemy combatants. It is, quite frankly, a patriot’s concern. On that, I agree with Lord de l’Isle and Dudley.

Who was Lord de l’Isle and Dudley? I don’t know. Even the brilliant Leo Rosten did not know much about him, but he knew this, which I copy from his superlative and sadly out-of-print book, People I Have Loved, Known or Admired:

In England, after the war, (Lord de l’Isle and Dudley) organized a legal defense fund for German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, who was being tried as a war criminal. (…)

When reporters asked Lord de l’Isle and Dudley to explain why he had launched his puzzling philanthropy, he replied, “Had I met General von Manstein during the war, I would have shot him on sight…I am not concerned with whether von Manstein is guilty or not,” milord continued. “I simply want sufficient money to insure that he will be properly represented in his trial, by a British barrister…I want Britain’s reputation upheld.”

He wanted England never to have anything to be ashamed of.

But notice, Lord de l’Isle and Dudley understood that war is different from peacetime. In a time of peace, one has the luxury – and the duty – to take extraordinary care, be extraordinarily mindful.

In war, one has the duty to properly identify the enemy and work for the victory of one’s nation, even if it means playing loud music, reading Harry Potter, putting a bra on an enemy’s head or – dare I say it – not wearing white gloves to handle a book.

This is a time of war; information must be gathered. It won’t be gotten with tea parties and footrubs.

These Democrats, the sad remains of the once-great party of Truman, Kennedy, Humphrey and Jackson, are on the right train, but the wrong track. In a time of war, to investigate and vilify your troops — on the word of your enemies, and particularly when the investigation seems to be a quest to “know what we want, when we find it,” — is a misplaced compassion with a dubious interest at its core.

Lord de l’Isle and Dudley did what he did to spare his country embarrassment. While I would like to believe that these men are similarly motivated, nothing in their behavior of the last 4.5 years argues the case. Too often the rhetoric they spew appears designed to inflame and energize those whom we fight. Too often the memos they write appear to be about defeating a president, instead of defeating our enemies.

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About Elizabeth Scalia