In a interview with the Dallas Morning News published yesterday, former President Bush touted his authorization of waterboarding as a key accomplishment to “leav[ing] behind a firmer foundation for my successors.” “[W]e passed laws that Congress endorsed and embraced, like the Terrorist Surveillance Program, military tribunals and enhanced interrogation techniques.”
“Asked whether he approved of ‘waterboarding’ in three specific cases, he told his interviewer that ‘damn right’ he did.” “George W. Bush can’t fight for freedom and authorise torture,” argues Boris. “If the West’s aim is to spread the rule of law, it cannot be achieved by vile means.”
In Witnessing against Torture: Why We must act, Truthout’s Kathy Kelly cites an appropriate speech for this 4th of July… Dr. King’s Riverside church speech:
We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy.” For no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries. We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence, or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.
United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez — who was himself tortured by the Argentinean junta in the 1970s — firmly stated that waterboarding is torture — “immoral and illegal.” In a radio interview with Mark Colvin of ABC News in Australia, Mendez said the legal memos authorizing waterboaring that Bush “hides behind” were “completely flawed,” and that there isn’t “any question” under international law that what Bush authorized was torture.
“Under international law, the former President’s admission to having authorized acts that amount to torture are enough to trigger the USA’s obligations to investigate his admissions and if substantiated, to prosecute him.” – Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International
Unfortunately even this article perpetuates the misconception that waterboarding is designed to make victims “think” they’re drowning, as if it’s some kind of pschological deception. In reality (citing Wikipedia), “it can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage and, if uninterrupted, death.” Sounds like actual drowning to me, except it’s actually much worse than that, because they don’t allow you to completely die from it.
The legacy of the man, who shredded the Geneva Conventions and authorized an unprecedented program of arbitrary detention, coercive interrogation and torture, lives on in the cases of the 174 men still held, in the recent show trial of Omar Khadr, and in the complacency regarding the basis for detaining prisoners of the “War on Terror” — the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed by Congress the week after the 9/11 attacks — on which Barack Obama continues to rely, despite its formidable shortcomings.
Decision Points ASIN: 0307590615