24 November 2005

Hypocrisy on High

I saw this post at Redwood Dragon. My own additions are in red:

Via Balkinization, an important story from ABC News: the details of the interrogation techniques the Bush Administration does not consider torture, describing them instead as "enhanced interrogation techniques":

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him. (Perhaps someone can try this one out on Bush during the next press conference.)

2. The Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear. (Hmm. The UN defines torture as: "an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person" to gain a confession, etc.)

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions. (The Answers.com definition of torture: "Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion." Are we to believe that these 40 hour standing marathons aren't coerced.)

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

Number 6 is especially violent: "According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess." As a human rights activist said, this amounts to a mock execution.

So I have a question for President Bush, and even more so for Vice President Cheney: if this is not, as you insist, torture, is it then OK for the enemy to subject American POWs to the same six techniques? If not, why not? (Because these people are busy fullfilling America's Manifest Destiny! How dare you weak-willed liberal imply that America need to base its actions on principles! America's righteousness is axiomatic!)

Of course, as Larry Beinhart points out (via Body and Soul), what's sauce for Al Qaeda is definitely not sauce for Americans: On Sunday, March 23, 2003, captured US pilots were shown on Iraqi TV. They didn’t have hoods over the heads. They were completely dressed. None of them wore leashes. Neither then, nor afterward, were they threatened with sodomy.
American reaction was instantaneous.

Donald Rumsfeld got on CBS and said to the world, “The Geneva Convention indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war. And if they do happen to be American or coalition ground forces that have been captured, the Geneva Convention indicates how they should be treated.”

President George. W Bush, in a press conference said, “I expect them to be treated, the POWs I expect to be treated humanely. And -- just like we're treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”

From this, we at least know that the president and the secretary of defense know what the Geneva Conventions are. Indeed, Mr. Rumsfeld seems to have a very fine appreciation of the niceties and the details, an understanding that even embarrassment and humiliation are wrong, even in such a seemingly innocuous way as photographing them. Both the president and the secretary expected the rules to be observed. In the spirit and in the letter. The president clearly understood that people who violate the Geneva Conventions could be tried for war crimes and was announcing his intention to do exactly that.Although, at the moment that they made those statements, they were running a war in the country next door and they had decided that over there the Geneva Conventions did not apply.

So tell me why Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and various of their minions shouldn't have to go in fear of the Hague for the rest of their lives? They make me ashamed to be an American.


CyberKitten said...

..and why is it that American is becoming known as another word for hypocritical...

Why is the US Government making enemies & losing friends all over the world...?

The Leader of the Free World - the last great hope for 'Peace & Freedom' - kidnaps & tortures people, denies it (baddly) & then excuses it as a 'fight against Terrorism' so the rules no longer apply....

..and they are STILL surprised when people turn against them...

Go figure..!

Juggling Mother said...

I can't believe some of those are "official" techniques. They are blatently in violation of the Geneva Convention - although I think I remember Bush claiming that the prisoners were not prisoners of war & therefore the GC doesn't apply (the same argument used by Thatcher in tthe 80's).

I can easily believe that it has not had much publicity in the US (or elsewhere). Along with the interesting military death figures I spotted on Not the country club.

Added you to my blogroll BTW, as I've been lurking long enough!