Thursday, April 23, 2009

Waterboarding=Torture. A question.

This is a question for those in favor of waterboarding and/or torture for accused terrorists/enemy combatants/whatever. Specifically BluePitBull, The Red Head, Rivka, and others who have posted here and elsewhere in favor of this. How can you support this? Honestly, I want to know. Especially in light of the evidence below:

1. In 1947 we convicted a Japanese Officer for waterboarding, convicting him of torture in a war crimes tribunal.

2. Congress said its illegal. See the Congressional Ban on Torture.

3. We are a signator of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which means we agreed to be subject to the explicit prohibition on torture under any condition. This was affirmed by Saadi v. Italy in which the European Court of Human Rights, on February 28, 2008, upheld the absolute nature of the torture ban by ruling that international law permits no exceptions to it.The treaty states "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture".

4. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in February 2008 that local considerations do not negate the absolute torture prohibition under international law.

5. John McCain said waterboarding is torture.

6. Waterboarding did not lead to any new information, nor any plots thwarted. It only confirmed one that had already been thwarted. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the Library Tower plot was thwarted in 2002. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on March 1, 2003. He was waterboarded 183 times and then confessed to the plot that had already been thwarted.

Basically, since 1947 the US and the World agreed that waterboarding was torture and also a war crime. In 2001 through 2008 George W. Bush decided that international law and domestic precedent did not apply to him and had two laywers draw up secret legal loopholes to try and make it legal. And now conservatives are defending him.

In light of all the above, how can we legally, and morally, justify this?


The Red Head said...

The enemy doesn't waterboard their prisoners.

They just put them on TV and cut their heads off.

James Wolfer said...

But that doesn't answer my question. Just because our enemy does vile, illegal things doesn't mean we can do lesser forms of wrong & illegal things.

Here's a good analogy.

WWII: Our enemies put people in concentration camps and gassed 6 million people. That was evil and wrong.

So we put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. They were much, much better, but still looked back on as a blight on our nation's history.

Its the same here. Our enemies take their POWs and cut their heads off. So we respond and torture ours. Doesn't make it right or legal.

Dave Miller said...

James, the real question here is whether the ends justifies the means.

If people believe the answer to that question is yes, then they will support torture.

The acts of 9/11 have had a profound effect on many people of the USA.

I am sure you have heard the term "wake up call."

Many feel that on that day, our old quaint values ceased to be effective.

History will be our judge on that.

I for one do not want to see a US where torture is official government policy.

James Wolfer said...

The only justification I've heard was from Bluepitbull: He gave the old "torture laws only apply to uniformed soldiers" BS...

TAO said...


Lets turn this upside down:

1. The Nazi's committed war crimes against innocent civilians.

2. The Japanese tortured POW's

3. The United States is dealing with 'enemy combatants' which is a new term that covers individuals who are not part of a state but are not civilians (military soldiers with an affiliation to a non state entity).

The real issue is not really whether or not waterboarding is torture (it is and torture might get you a confession and or information but it does not get you the truth) all of which is irrelevant.

The real issue is the concept of 'enemy combatants' (which could be used to define members of the Aryan Nation, the Black Panthers, and such in the future) and then you have the bottom line issue of precedent.

If you read the legal memos for justifying things like 'enemy combatant' and 'torture' you have to acknowledge that to allow these to stand you are creating a precedent for the distortion and manipulation of government by those who can and if anything SCREAMS a threat to our freedom and a threat of BIG GOVERNMENT then these memos do!

These memos should be the basis for a true grassroots 'give me liberty or give me death' (aka Tea Parties) parties.

When you add to this the fact that numerous members of congress (democrats and republicans) were aware of these memos and said nothing then the real enemy is our own tendency for fascism.

Pamela D. Hart said...

In light of all the above, how can we legally, and morally, justify this?James, to answer your question, considering all that you listed, we can't justify it. But my position STILL stands. You know how I feel and it will take something short of a miracle to change my mind. I realize it's against the constitution and I'm for the constitution; but I refuse to give these monsters rights.

Time said...

To defend someone who screams that which you fervently disagree with, is to be an American.

The sixth amendment protects an individual from an unjust conviction, but most of all it protects the American people from a government that abuses its power.

To say you believe in the Constitution, but are willing to push aside the Constitution for the revenge against those you hate, is to be part of the lawlessness that allowed the Bush administration to break the laws of our land, without the fear of punishment.

To disregard the Constitution for "good reason" is to reject the rule of law we live by. If you truly believe that is OK, then you don't deserve the free speech you are engaging in.

Pamela D. Hart said...

Time: I know I sound like I'm flip-flopping. I apologize. I believe in our constitution. However, I can't erase the images of Americans falling from the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 because they'd rather die on the pavement below than burn to death. I struggle with the torture debate within myself. It's a difficult struggle because I don't want to hurt others; however, my first obligation is to my fellow Americans, not the monsters who want us dead at any cost. And no matter how civil, how kind, how respectfully we treat the terrorists, they will still KILL us without thinking twice.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Our enemies killed their prisoners.


We waterboarded a prisoner, thus simulating a near-death experience in drowning.

183 times.

Which would you prefer happen to you?

To die quickly once or to suffer on the brink of it 183 times?

When a country professes its high moral standings and commitment to human rights, and then violates its own words, breaks international agreements on same, and then tries to justify itself, it's hypocrisy.

If the United States wishes to use torture, let it say so in public, make it known, inform everyone, including its allies as well as its enemies, that this is the procedure we plan on using. Let the US repudiate its previous stance against torture in all forms, and let it therefore give up the right to rebuke other nations on moral grounds for their use of torture of US prisoners.

At least then it'd be honest.

To insist that behaviour done by others is morally wrong and at the same time to secretly do the same behaviour is dishonest, hypocrital and reveals a moral standard even less than those that do such things openly.

James Wolfer said...

Tao: You are totally right here. The last eight years brought in the biggest era of government we've seen yet, giving more power to the executive branch than was intended. Here Obama is trying to give that power back and the neo-cons are trying to roast him for it...

Pamela: This is why we must fix this mess. It's too emotional, and as a country we cannot justify treating any enemy or perceived enemy just because some of our people died at the hands of people that look like them. Its how we got into the mess with our own concentration camps for Japanese Americans back in WWII. They looked just like the ones that bombed pearl harbor. And people back then couldn't wrap their minds around the fact that just because they looked like our enemies didn't make them the same ones that bombed us.

Same goes for GTMO and the waterboarded prisoners. The men that flew planes into our towers are dead. The leaders are at large and we've failed to get any of them. The ones we got are low level operatives: nothing more than henchmen. And waterboarding hasn't worked for us.

We need to take a stand. This is America, dammit!

Mule Breath said...


I refuse to give these monsters rightsThe problem still exists that we do not know without doubt who are the monsters. Once you become arbiter of who is and who isn't a monster, you have given the monsters the same right. Can you guess who they will call monster?

Our Founders wrote a document by which we must live if we are to have any moral authority at all. The fact that we tortured may have sentenced this country and our citizens to decades of misery.

Mule Breath