Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why Detainee Treatment Matters

There's plenty to talk about here in Massachusetts, but as the issue of detainee treatment has been revisited in the news lately, I'm reminded of the following story from my family.

During World War II, one of my great uncles flew on missions to drop supplies behind enemy lines for the Belgian Underground. On one such mission, his plane was shot down by Nazis, and he ended up in Belgium, taking cover with the resistance. He was eventually captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp. The following passage is from the book Someone Will Come for You, which tells the story of the crew of that particular plane. This is what happened to him after he was captured.

He had spent ten months in captivity and wanted to return to normal as soon as possible. Whilst a prisoner he had been fortunate to have one of the guards show a great deal of kindness to him and other POWs. The guard was an old soldier with only one eye and was christened 'Popeye' by the prisoners. 'Popeye' had a son who was a prisoner of the Allies and often wrote to his father saying how well he was being treated. 'Popeye' accordingly looked after his charges, giving them extra food and blankets and trying to make their lives a little more bearable.
That is why how we treat our prisoners affects the lives and safety of our own troops. My uncle was treated well because we treated the Germans well. We won't be able to say the same for those captured in the future.