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« Hamdan Headed for Trial | Main | David Lat Heads to New York »

July 17, 2008

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During his testimony, Ashcroft defended the use of some interrogation techniques that have come under fire, including waterboarding, as sometimes necessary for gathering information from “those who wish to do harm to America.” “The reports I have heard... [Read More]

Comments

Old Warrior

This is the same guy whose Justice Department would not let Zacarias Moussaoui's computer hard drive looked at because it would violate his civil rights. That act could have prevented 911 and he’s for water boarding because you can get valuable information. How screwed up in that?

Dave

During the Vietnam War, our country trained those most likely to become POW's by using techniques which are now classified by Mr. Dellinger -- and those he represents -- as torture. I went through some of this training over the period of several weeks (including nights and weekends, just like a real POW). The techniques were admittedly unpleasant, but they did not rise to the level of torture. Ironically, we knew as we were enduring them that the enemy was actually using REAL torture. What a difference a generation makes; now nearly everything is torture. Orwell would have looked at this status quo and defined the word "torture" (as the critics dysphemize it) as "anything that works for our side."

Waterboarding is unpleasant. I would not like to have it performed on me. It is not torture, and no amount of name-calling or labeling can make it such.

The real problem -- and it is a serious one -- is that we are at war and yet we have people within our own country who seek to hamper our ability to conduct that war through to a victory. I'll chip in to finance a trip for Mr. Dellinger (and those who agree with him) to visit those on the other side of this conflict so that he can criticize their methods in like fashion. He can explain the Geneva Convention to them; they apparently know nothing about it. I'll await with great interest to hear his results.

Dave
Military Intelligence, 1968-72

David Kronenberg

Euphemisms are used to hide truth and manipulate a listening audience. If your intention is to reduce outrage, use an innocuous-sounding euphemism -- say "accelerated lifespan diminishment" instead of murder.

The euphemism "waterboarding" which Mr. Ashcroft uses and which we have allowed to permeate the discussion sounds more like an amusement park ride than it does like a torture technique -- which it simply and unequivocally is.

The term is deliberately misleading and deceptively reassuring -- like using the term "wet work" to describe assassination. "Waterboarding" is partial drowning; the torture victim is made to believe he is being murdered by asphyxiation.

"Waterboarding" entails fixing a water-saturated cloth over the mouth and nose of a bound victim. The torture victim feels that he is being asphyxiated -- because he is. The victim believes he is being killed. He struggles to breathe but cannot get air into his lungs because his airway is obstructed by fabric and water. The torture victim believes he is being killed by the torturers. The euphemism hides the truth of the technique and all but surrenders the argument. It's a simulated murder by drowning.

With all respect due to his former position, I believe Mr. Ashcroft deluded himself regarding both the legality and the efficacy of the technique of simulated murder by drowning. The highest-ranking attorneys in all four military branches stated without reservation that this technique violated Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (letter from Senator Durban to Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales).
American officials should never have allowed simulated murder to be used as an interrogation technique. It violated the Geneva Conventions, which we depend on to keep our own military personnel safe in times of conflict. And now that we know it was done, with official permission, those officials should admit their mistakes and take responsibility for them.

Richard Feeney

Waterboarding does no permanent harm to terrorists and should be permitted under selected circumstances.

Richard L Feeney
Former US Army Ranger
US Army [Retired]

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