Tag: Waterboarding

Yet another Bush administration pronouncement about waterboarding

Up until this month, the Bush administration refused to talk about waterboarding. The talking points were always the same. ‘We cannot talk about specific techniques‘ and ‘Whatever techniques we did use were within the law.’ The Senate was told they were being unfair to Michael Mukasey for asking about the technique because he had not been briefed on its use.

Now the Bushies cannot stop talking about waterboarding.  

Torture Amnesia – Shame on America

There are some things one never forgets. I’ll never forget my brief encounter with torture 40 years ago. Our patrol engaged some VC hidden in a tree-line and a firefight ensued. The tree-line held a small hamlet. Predictably the village people fled in our direction. They fled because they knew their village would most likely be shelled, strafed or bombed. It was.

Our Viet counterparts detained a young lady they suspected of being a VC, a nurse they claimed. We brought her back to our dilapidated compound where they bound her, stripped off her shirt and attached wires to her nipples and proceed to use a crank operated electrical device to shock her. Needless to say it was thoroughly disgusting. Through it all she refused to talk. I admired her courage. I don’t know where they sent her but I hope she survived.

In April 2004, Americans were stunned when CBS broadcast those now-notorious photographs from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, showing hooded Iraqis stripped naked while U.S. soldiers stood by smiling. As this scandal grabbed headlines around the globe, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the abuses were “perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military personnel”…

An Open Letter to Senator Charles Schumer

To the honorable Senator Schumer,

Hello sir!  It is unlikely that you know who I am, although I have written to you before and even once had the pleasure of working with your daughter.  But I hope you will take a moment to hear what I have to say.

Like many other of your constituents, I wrote to you asking that you vote against the confirmation of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General of the United States.  You chose instead to support his confirmation, which led directly to his being appointed to the office.  You did so saying to us that he was not “my ideal choice,” but that you were “confident that this nominee would enforce a law that bans waterboarding.”  

Waterboarding: Those Who Cannot Remember The Past

cross posted at The Dream Antilles

Waterboarding (read: torture) is nothing new.  It’s been around since the 15th century, and has a long, well documented history.  That history was briefly summed up by Ted Kennedy for Democracy Now:

It’s an ancient technique of tyrants. In the fifteenth and sixteenth century, it was used by interrogators in the Spanish Inquisition. In the nineteenth century, it was used against slaves in this country. In World War II, it was used against us by Japan. In the 1970s, it was used against political opponents by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the military dictatorships of Chile and Argentina. Today, it’s being used against pro-democracy activists by the rulers of Burma. When we fail to reject waterboarding, this is the company that we keep. /snip

   Make no mistake about it: waterboarding is already illegal under United States law. It’s illegal under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit outrages upon personal dignity, including cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment. It’s illegal under the Torture Act, which prohibits acts specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. It’s illegal under the Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. And it violates the Constitution. The nation’s top military lawyers and legal experts across the political spectrum have condemned waterboarding as torture. And after World War II, the United States prosecuted- prosecuted- Japanese officers for engaging in waterboarding. What more does this nominee need to enforce existing laws?

This essay isn’t about rehashing the many legal arguments about how waterboarding is torture and in violation of US and international law.  Instead, this essay recalls two recent, prominent instances in which the US itself prosecuted the use of waterboarding as a crime, as torture.  It raises this simple question: how can anyone who acknowledges this relatively recent history argue that waterboarding isn’t a crime and isn’t torture.  And how is it that our learned congresspersons haven’t forcefully confronted Bushco’s minions with this history?

Please join me below.

Universal Jurisdiction & Private Contractors Engaged In Torture (Updated)

(Hat’tip to Marisacat’s Cats… They give good thread.)

U.N. says waterboarding should be prosecuted as torture

“I would have no problems with describing this practice as falling under the prohibition of torture,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, told a news conference in Mexico City.

Arbour made her comment in response to a question about whether U.S. officials could be tried for the use of waterboarding that referred to CIA director Michael Hayden telling Congress on Tuesday his agency had used waterboarding on three detainees captured after the September 11 attacks.

Violators of the U.N. Convention against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of ‘universal jurisdiction’ which allows countries to try accused war criminals from other nations, Arbour said. …

Mukasey Admits Bush Administration Cannot Investigate Itself

Today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey is appearing before the House Judiciary Committee chaired by John Conyers. In his testimony today, the Washington Post reports Mukasey rejects a criminal probe into waterboarding.

“Waterboarding, because it was authorized to be part of a program … cannot possibly be the subject of a Justice Department investigation,” Mukasey said…

“That would mean that the same department that authorized the program would now prosecute someone for taking part” in it, he said.

Bush proudly endorses the legality of waterboarding (Updated)

The front page of the LA Times:

Waterboarding is legal, White House says

Mark down the date.  February 6, 2008.  The White House goes from dancing around the waterboarding issue, to claiming it is legal after it was disclosed that George W. Bush authorized its use.  W stands for war criminal.

The first paragraph says it all.

The White House said Wednesday that the widely condemned interrogation technique known as waterboarding is legal and that President Bush could authorize the CIA to resume using the simulated-drowning method under extraordinary circumstances.

Torture’s On The Table, Why Isn’t Impeachment?


Old School Waterboarding

On Tuesday, Bushco acknowledged publicly for the first time that waterboarding was used by the U.S. government on three “terror suspects.” Testifying before Congress, CIA Director Michael Hayden claimed the three were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003.  But, he said, nobody else had been waterboarded since.  To be frank, I don’t believe that for a second, but I have no evidence to the contrary.

Join me in Gitmo.  

Impeach Mukasey Now: Waterboarding Not Torture According to Bush’s AG

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Invictus

I know there is another diary on Mukasey and waterboarding up, by BarbinMD. I recommend it. But this is not a duplicate diary. It covers today’s hearing (still in process as I write), and calls for Mukasey’s impeachment, giving the reasons why. It also goes into some detail on the legal points involved.

Actually, what Michael B. Mukasey said today at his Senate oversight hearing was that waterboarding, under non-specific certain circumstances, is not torture. Of course, he couldn’t say that outright; he said in legalese. In the obscurity of U.S. law, torture is defined as something that “shocks the conscience.” And Mukasey, squirming before Sen. Dick Durbin’s questioning, feels that after extensive review, piles of documents and opinions, the question of waterboarding is — sometimes — “unresolved.”

Here’s some of the testimony between Durbin and Mukasey (thanks to Firedoglake):

What Really Were In The Tapes and Why The Destruction!

I was going to do a quick writeup about the destroyed CIA Interrogation Tapes, earlier this week, after listening once again to ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou being interviewed, on NPR’s All Things Considered {you can listen to the interview at the link} and his interviews sounding so much like they were memorized facts that really go no where.

Fact is I don’t buy his story.

The reasons he’s out in public giving this story are my suspicions, and not yet based on facts, may never be, but than again all it takes is total honesty, by someone, to get the real story.

The whole debate, to date, revolves around one form of Illegal Torture, Waterboarding.

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was a member of the team that captured and questioned al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in 2002. The interrogation is one of two CIA interrogations at the heart of the current controversy surrounding destroyed videotapes.

No Moral Compass: Pelosi, Democrats, & the WP Revelations

Crossposted at Invictus and Daily Kos

Notoriously (depending upon your point of view), this past weekend the Washington Post published an article revealing that a number of top Democrats and Republicans were briefed in September 2002 on CIA interrogation methods. They were “given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.” The reported techniques are said to have included waterboarding.

Yesterday, Pelosi released a statement clarifying what happened from her perspective. This must have shocked even a little those Democratic Party stalwarts, but no, as we’ll see, their Nancy can make no mistake. She was, you see… helpless.

Congress’s Leaders Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

I’ve been reading the reports of the fact that Congressional Leaders, including Speaker Pelosi, were briefed about the CIA’s interrogation procedures and overseas detention programs.  I’ve read Matt Stoller’s comments about the mood of many people in the country, and the Congress at the time that these leaders were briefed in 2002:

“…The country went insane from 2001-2003… don’t buy that this stuff is new or restricted to our political leadership.  In all honesty, I don’t know that if I were in Pelosi’s position at that time that I would have objected.  Fear is powerful and I don’t assume that I would have done well in that environment, though I like to think that most of us have learned enough to change our relationship to human rights and authority in the last few years….Nevertheless, our collective failures, and Nancy Pelosi’s specific moral albatross, is to address this country’s use of torture. ..”

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