Ex-military officers take argument to presidential hopefuls

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During the Battle of Iwo Jima in March 1945, as American soldiers went cave to cave looking for enemy soldiers, a Japanese soldier emerged, wearing nothing but a loin cloth.

The Americans took him into custody. They fed him and clothed him, and took him to a foxhole with them. A short time later, he asked if anyone spoke French.

One soldier did, and all of a sudden, the Americans realized they had captured a high-ranking man -- with a lot of knowledge of Japanese plans -- who was willing to cooperate with them. He told them where other enemy soldiers were hiding in the area and eventually was taken to Washington, D.C. The intelligence he provided was invaluable.

Conversely, it was bad intelligence that led to the current war in Iraq, said Don Guter, a retired rear admiral and former Navy judge advocate general.

After capturing a Libyan trainer for al-Qaida shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States turned him over to Egypt.

"They tortured him," said Mr. Guter, now the dean of Duquesne Law School.

It was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who made the connection between Iraq and al-Qaida, a principal justification for the invasion of Iraq.

"He later recanted, but it was too late," Mr. Guter said.

Those two examples are being used by a group of 49 retired admirals and generals who want to meet with all the presidential candidates to discuss why they believe the United States cannot engage in torture.

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