Franklyn C. "Lyn" Nofziger, President Reagan's press secretary, passed away yesterday. A Californian, a World War II army veteran, and a former newspaperman, he also served in Reagan's governor's office, Richard Nixon's White House and at the Republican National Committee.
A quote from his website:
"I am a Republican because I believe that freedom is more important than government-provided security."
And here's an excerpt from his blog (June 17, 2005):
"I think the average decent human being instinctively rebels at the idea of torturing or physically degrading a fellow human.
That is why the pictures that came out of Abu Graib were so shocking and repellant and why allegations that third degree methods have been used on prisoners being held at Guantanamo have resulted in an outcry from the bleeding heart left. That is why, too, that the Geneva Convention specifies that prisoners of war must be treated humanely. And that is why it is hard to forget after all these years the brutal treatment of Americans held captive by the North Vietnamese.
And yet when you come right down to it, this is a different kind of war the United States is fighting against a different kind of enemy, a merciless enemy for whom rules of civilized conduct do not apply. An enemy who kills and tortures and maims at will and with glee. An enemy who does not fight soldier to soldier on a battle field, but who kills women, children, innocent bystanders with equal abandon. An enemy with no conscience, no sense of right or wrong. And enemy who is not a soldier but an ununiformed terrorist who fights by no rules except his own.
And for the United States to attempt to fight and deal with this enemy by the rules of traditional 20th Century warfare is to fight with one arm tied firmly behind its back. The same can be said for treating terrorists we have captured as if they were the same as the German and Italian and Japanese prisoners of war of World War II. These guys have no name, rank or serial number; they are not soldiers or sailors or airmen, they are terrorists pure and simple, they have no aim except to kill and murder and maim those they hate, including Americans.
Turn them loose they’ll go back to killing Americans and others they deem enemies of Islam. They’ll go back to beheading captives just for fun.
These are not civilized people as we know the meaning of civilization. To them, decent treatment by the United States of captured terrorists is a sign of weakness.
Even members of the United States congress—house and senate, alike—should know this. Even members of congress and the news media should understand, also, that this is a war the United States cannot afford to lose. We could lose Vietnam because in losing we did not endanger our nation or our people. But unless we win the war on terror we open ourselves to the same kind of ongoing terrorist attacks we have seen in Iraq, Israel and many other parts of the world. Unless we win this war 9/11 was just the beginning.
And that is why we cannot fight an uncivilized, evil and merciless enemy the same way we have fought our previous wars. And if this means we have to take extraordinary steps to get information that will save American lives, if this means we must imprison captured terrorists indefinitely, then so be it.
There is much at stake here in terms of freedom and lives and a liveable world. And we will lose it all if our leaders knuckle under to the whining and complaining and the irrational demands of some people in the congress, and the news media and other public places who refuse to face reality."
A great American, he will be sorely missed.
UPDATE: NRO's Peter Robinson has an amusing anecdote involving the 1976 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
(That reminds me ... I attended the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City where Gerald Ford received the nomination.
I was allowed in the New York delegation for their deliberations, where flinty Richard Rosenbaum was the NY State chairman. He was trying to railroad the vote to Ford when Brooklyn chairman George Clark rose to speak on behalf of Reagan. Rosenbaum had Clark forcibly removed from the room and gavelled a unanimous vote for Ford.
Ford was the incumbent president and the machine delivered the vote to him. But it was clear that Ronald Reagan was the future of the party. There was great respect for his unabashed conservatism even then.)