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Author Topic: Waterboarding used to be torture  (Read 12698 times)

wwittman

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Waterboarding used to be torture
« on: November 14, 2007, 01:44:24 am »

Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime
By Evan Wallach
Sunday, November 4, 2007; Washington Post

As a JAG in the Nevada National Guard, I used to lecture the soldiers of the 72nd Military Police Company every year about their legal obligations when they guarded prisoners. I'd always conclude by saying, "I know you won't remember everything I told you today, but just remember what your mom told you: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." That's a pretty good standard for life and for the law, and even though I left the unit in 1995, I like to think that some of my teaching had carried over when the 72nd refused to participate in misconduct at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Sometimes, though, the questions we face about detainees and interrogation get more specific. One such set of questions relates to "waterboarding."

That term is used to describe several interrogation techniques. The victim may be immersed in water, have water forced into the nose and mouth, or have water poured onto material placed over the face so that the liquid is inhaled or swallowed. The media usually characterize the practice as "simulated drowning." That's incorrect. To be effective, waterboarding is usually real drowning that simulates death. That is,

the victim experiences the sensations of drowning: struggle, panic, breath-holding, swallowing, vomiting, taking water into the lungs and, eventually, the same feeling of not being able to breathe that one experiences after being punched in the gut. The main difference is that the drowning process is halted. According to those who have studied waterboarding's effects, it can cause severe psychological trauma, such as panic attacks, for years.

The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government -- whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community -- has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

Nielsen's experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan's military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

In this case from the tribunal's records, the victim was a prisoner in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies:

A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession.

The United States (like Britain, Australia and other Allies) pursued lower-ranking Japanese war criminals in trials before their own tribunals. As a general rule, the testimony was similar to Nielsen's. Consider this account from a Filipino waterboarding victim:

Q: Was it painful?

A: Not so painful, but one becomes unconscious. Like drowning in the water.

Q: Like you were drowning?

A: Drowning -- you could hardly breathe.

Here's the testimony of two Americans imprisoned by the Japanese:

They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.

And from the second prisoner: They laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. . . . They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water.

As a result of such accounts, a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war. They were not the only defendants convicted in such cases. As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the "water cure" to question Filipino guerrillas.

More recently, waterboarding cases have appeared in U.S. district courts. One was a civil action brought by several Filipinos seeking damages against the estate of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. The plaintiffs claimed they had been subjected to torture, including water torture. The court awarded $766 million in damages, noting in its findings that "the plaintiffs experienced human rights violations including, but not limited to . . . the water cure, where a cloth was placed over the detainee's mouth and nose, and water producing a drowning sensation."

In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies with violating prisoners' civil rights by forcing confessions. The complaint alleged that the officers conspired to "subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning."

The four defendants were convicted, and the sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

We know that U.S. military tribunals and U.S. judges have examined certain types of water-based interrogation and found that they constituted torture. That's a lesson worth learning. The study of law is, after all, largely the study of history. The law of war is no different. This history should be of value to those who seek to understand what the law is -- as well as what it ought to be.




Evan Wallach, a judge at the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York, teaches the law of war as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School.
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Barry Hufker

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 10:27:37 am »

Torture is torture, no matter the time period.

From columnist Deroy Murdock of the National Review (Conservative publication):

"Waterboarding is something of which every American should be proud."

"Though clearly uncomfortable, waterboarding loosens lips without causing permanent physical injuries (and unlikely even temporary ones). If terrorists suffer long-term nightmares about waterboarding, better that than more Americans crying themselves to sleep after their loved ones have been shredded by bombs or baked in skyscrapers.

In short, there is nothing 'repugnant' about waterboarding."


If that's the Conservative attitude we are all in deep shit.
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el duderino

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 10:57:18 am »

wwittman wrote on Wed, 14 November 2007 01:44

Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime
By Evan Wallach
Sunday, November 4, 2007; Washington Post


the victim experiences the sensations of drowning: struggle, panic, breath-holding, swallowing, vomiting, taking water into the lungs and, eventually, the same feeling of not being able to breathe that one experiences after being punched in the gut.


oh, so its like sex. Laughing


but seriously....i wonder when the day comes that some nutball does this to their kid if they will be charged with torture or abuse. if they are it would give reason to charge those responsible for this "technique", if they aren't....well, thats just some scary shit id rather not think about right now.
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mgod

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2007, 11:15:12 am »

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!
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Barry Hufker

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2007, 11:24:23 am »

Wow... other words fail me.
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PRobb

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2007, 11:51:18 am »

mgod- that's fabulous. It reminds me of a quote from RFK- "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?".

The moral high ground is supposed to be one the great strengths of America. That we have abandoned it is one of the great tragedies of this administration.
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The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
-Edmund Burke

Tidewater

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2007, 11:58:09 am »

If I had three guys who planted a big bomb, and it was going off in 15 minutes, I'd use vice grips, and a torch. Then I'd carpet bomb the cave they were born in.

Waterboarding works. It worked on KSM, pussy.

If I knew of a terrorist just down the street.. I'd not pretend to drown him.

They got something for me, but it's much better to give, than to receive.

I can make the devil blush.

Fuck 'em.



M
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PRobb

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2007, 01:06:22 pm »

A few problems with the "ticking time bomb" scenario to justify torture. First, you really can't use the most extreme case you can possibly imagine to form general policy conclusions. And second, torture is a notoriously unreliable method for getting useful information. If there is a ticking time bomb, the suspect knows exactly how long he needs to hold out for. Or, he can just tell you "where it is" and send you off on a wild goose chase that will keep you occupied until the real one goes off.
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amorris

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2007, 02:16:00 pm »

quote:
use the most extreme case you can possibly imagine to form general policy conclusions

and you cant use general policy conclusions to deal with the most extreme cases.

quote:
torture is a notoriously unreliable method for getting useful information

how do you know? have you tortured and found the info to be incorrct? from what I understand, that sheik arrested a few years ago in his sleep gave out some real good info that stopped several bombings from torture.
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rphilbeck

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2007, 02:26:38 pm »

You could probably narrow torture down to two goals.  To coerce a confession, to obtain information, or both.  It's got to be useless in obtaining a confession because if you beat a man long enough he will tell you anything you want.  Give me a pitcher of water and a towel and I'll have Barry citing the conservative mantra within 60 seconds.  

On the other hand it has got to be pretty useful in obtaining information.  Where are the bombs?  Where are the other cells?  What is the plan?  Do you know what is going to happen if you give me bad information?  

In summary, I can't think of a single terrorist event occuring in  the U.S. since 9/11.  I can't help but wonder if these tactics have contributed to that.  


So, where are the U47's Barry? Twisted Evil
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Jay Kadis

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2007, 02:33:01 pm »

RPhilbeck wrote on Wed, 14 November 2007 11:26


In summary, I can't think of a single terrorist event occuring in  the U.S. since 9/11.  I can't help but wonder if these tactics have contributed to that.  

It is also possible the threat of terrorism has been highly exaggerated.

It's like the amulet that keeps the tigers away.  See any tigers?  It must be working.

rphilbeck

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2007, 02:35:48 pm »

Jay Kadis wrote on Wed, 14 November 2007 14:33

 
It is also possible the threat of terrorism has been highly exaggerated.




Have you been living under a rock for the past 30 years?
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wwittman

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2007, 02:46:33 pm »

we were attacked what? twice in 30 years

3000 people died... terrible sure.

but THAT is a threat to our very existence?

a threat that justifies throwing out every aspect of the constitution?

that's exactly what Musharef says.



the problem with the vice grips to find the bomb scenario is MOSTLY that how can you assume the Blackwater guys with the vice grips even have the right GUY???
because they SAY so?

or it's okay to torture enough random "arabs" until they find the right guy?



it's been said (by Generals, not by us liberals) that in WWII tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of American lives were saved by the fact that when the battle was obviously lost Germans would surrender to American forces, knowing they would be treated well.
Whereas, if it was the Russians, they would fight to the death, taking many more Russians with them, as that was a fate better than capture by a merciless enemy.



WWII WAS, probably, an existential fight.
A threat to the very fabric and existence of the country.
and yet it was won without tearing up the constitution (mostly)



anyway, Tidewater, and others... if you think torture is simply justified because of the extremis of the threat, then why doesn't Bush and Cheny just SAY SO????

instead of all the prevaricating about how "we don't torture" while trying desperately to avoid defining waterboarding one way or the other?

which IS it?
is it that we torture and that's okay? (which seems your point)
or is it that we don't, in which case shouldn't waterboarding be ruled off the table?


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rphilbeck

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2007, 02:55:50 pm »

wwittman wrote on Wed, 14 November 2007 14:46

we were attacked what? twice in 30 years


Rolling Eyes http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001454.html

Quote:


it's been said (by Generals, not by us liberals) that in WWII tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of American lives were saved by the fact that when the battle was obviously lost Germans would surrender to American forces, knowing they would be treated well.
Whereas, if it was the Russians, they would fight to the death, taking many more Russians with them, as that was a fate better than capture by a merciless enemy.




Point taken, but it was a different era, different enemy, and very different motives.  Allah commands far more allegiance than the Furor ever did.  Comparisons to past conflicts are futile.  They just don't relate.

Nobody dies or suffers permanent, or even temporary, injury from water boarding.  It just scares the shit out of you.
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amorris

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Re: Waterboarding used to be torture
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2007, 03:01:26 pm »

every aspect of the constitution?


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