Friday 14th of June 2024

hypocritical hypotheticals .....

a hypocritical hypothetical .....

In a written response to questions from Senate Democrats yesterday, Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey, refused to say explicitly whether he believed waterboarding to be torture.

In the four-page letter, Mukasey called the interrogation technique "over the line" & "repugnant" on "a personal basis," but added that he would need the "actual facts & circumstances" to strike a "legal opinion." 

"Hypotheticals are different from real life & in any legal opinion the actual facts & circumstances are critical," wrote Mukasey. CNN's Ed Henry noted that with his "facts & circumstances" hedge, "essentially Michael Mukasey is dodging the question of whether legally waterboarding is torture."  

In a statement, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said he was "very concerned" that Mukasey was "unable to state unequivocally that waterboarding is illegal." "We asked Judge Mukasey a simple & straightforward question: Is waterboarding illegal?" said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). "While this question has been answered clearly by many others...Judge Mukasey spent four pages responding and still didn't provide an answer."  

Time reported yesterday that if Mukasey "refuses to declare waterboarding expressly illegal, he looks likely to be rejected by the Judiciary Committee." 

Of course, the noble attorney ignores the fact that "waterboarding", secretly used by the bushit administration on terror suspects, has been considered torture for over a century & that the US military is banned from using it. 

Indeed, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a US civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air & head near the floor, & small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk. 

“Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor,” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II,” he said. 

Nevertheless, whilst the tortuous lawyer argued that he could not say yet whether the practice was illegal, because he had not been briefed on the secret methods of US interrogators & he did not want to put the CIA officers who used it in "personal legal jeopardy", he had nothing to say about its victims.

In a further embarrassment for the bushit administration, Malcolm Nance, an advisor on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations & Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape School in San Diego, & claimed to have witnessed & supervised "hundreds" of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes & take place under medical supervision, he concluded that "waterboarding is a torture technique – period". 

The practice involves strapping the person being interrogated on to a board as pints of water are forced into his lungs through a cloth covering his face while the victim's mouth is forced open. Its effect, according to Mr Nance, is a process of slow-motion suffocation.

Typically, a victim goes into hysterics on the board as water fills his lungs. "How much the victim is to drown," Mr Nance wrote in an article for the Small Wars Journal, "depends on the desired result & the obstinacy of the subject. 

"A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested & for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience to horrific, suffocating punishment, to the final death spiral. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch."

lawyering .....

from alternet 

Yesterday on CNN, White House adviser Ed Gillespie defended attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey's legal dodge on whether waterboarding constitutes torture. Mukasey called the technique "hypothetical." 

Gillespie similarly tried to claim that waterboarding doesn't exist. "[F]irst of all, this technique, we don't know that it's used by the government or is used by the government," he said. "That's never been confirmed by the U.S. government." 

Host John Roberts called out Gillespie's dodge, noting, "It's widely held that waterboarding was what broke Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to get him to divulge all of the information that he had." Gillespie simply replied, "[T]he fact is the government doesn't confirm techniques regardless of whether they're used or not used." Watch it to your right. 

While Bush administration officials have refused to publicly say whether or not they waterboard detainees, CIA officials have repeatedly told the media that they have carried out this torture. Some examples: 

- In one of the administration's most high-profile cases, al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed reportedly endured waterboarding two minutes - "far longer than any of the other 'high-value' terror targets who were subjected to the technique." A former CIA officer called it an "extraordinary amount of time for him to hold out." 

- In 2005, the CIA subjected Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi to weeks of "enhanced interrogation." CIA officials stated that he "finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals." 

- In 2002, "a presidential finding" authorized a list of CIA interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. In 2005, current and former CIA officials confirmed to ABC News that they were trained to waterboard detainees, which entailed "handcuff[ing] the prisoner and cover[ing] his face with cellophane to enhance the distress." 

Gillespie also tried to insist that waterboarding is legal, claiming that "those who have been briefed on the program in the United States Senate, members of the Intelligence Committee and others who are familiar with the program, have said that it is legal." Yet as Raw Story points out, earlier this month Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said that they don't know the details about the administration's interrogation practices because officials have "refused to turn over key legal documents since day one."  

meanwhile …… 

Mukasey needs 10 votes to pass the committee and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has "signalled the Senate would not consider the nomination if it does not clear a crucial vote next week in the Judiciary Committee." Much of Mukasey's fate now rests in the hands of Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) & Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who have remained mum on their intentions.  

With Mukasey facing potential defeat, bushit has ratcheted up his rhetoric. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation yesterday, the arrogant little crook, draft dodger & war criminal threatened that if his Mukasey is not confirmed, it "would guarantee that America would have no Attorney General during this time of war."  

His spokeswoman, Dana Perino, echoed his hyperbolic rhetoric, urging Congress to confirm him now and ask questions later.  

The committee will vote on Mukasey next Tuesday, Nov. 6.

the evil gene .....

Philip Zimbardo is the psychologist who carried out the Stanford Prison Experiment [SPE] in 1971. He has published a book about the lessons to be learned from that experiment and others. The book is “The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil”. This article is a review of the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s discussion of the book in the October 19, 2007 issue of the TLS. 

The purpose of the experiment was to study the psychological ramifications of isolation on prisoners. One group of college students would spend two weeks 24 hours a day as prisoners while another group played the role of prison guards alternating in eight hour shifts. 

“In general,” Zimbardo said, “what all this should create in them [the prisoners] is a sense of powerlessness. We have total power in the situation. They have none. The research question is, what will they do to try to gain power, to regain some degree of individuality, to gain some freedom, to gain some privacy.” 

To make a long story short, Zimbardo had to stop his experiment after just 5 days of an intended 14. This is because the “guards” began to humiliate and abuse the “prisoners” (sleep deprivation, for example.) A mini Abu Ghraib type of situation was beginning to develop. 

Why We Torture: Martha Nussbaum On Zimbardo's "The Lucifer Effect"


Yes John...

Robert Fisk Published: 03 November 2007

At university, we male students used to say that it was impossible to take a beautiful young woman to the cinema and concentrate on the film. But in Canada, I've at last proved this to be untrue. Familiar with the Middle East and its abuses – and with the vicious policies of George Bush – we both sat absorbed by Rendition, Gavin Hood's powerful, appalling testimony of the torture of a "terrorist suspect" in an unidentified Arab capital after he was shipped there by CIA thugs in Washington.

Why did an Arab "terrorist" telephone an Egyptian chemical engineer – holder of a green card and living in Chicago with a pregnant American wife while he was attending an international conference in Johannesburg? Did he have knowledge of how to make bombs? (Unfortunately, yes – he was a chemical engineer – but the phone calls were mistakenly made to his number.)


the value of words .....

During a debate on international law at University College London last month, John Bellinger, the senior adviser on international law to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "declined to rule out the use of the interrogation technique known as waterboarding even if it were applied by foreign intelligence services on US citizens." 

Asked by University College London international law professor Philipe Sands if he could "imagine any circumstances in which the use of water boarding on an American national by a foreign intelligence service could be justified," Bellinger hedged, saying "one would have to apply the facts to the law, the law to the facts, to determine whether any technique, whatever it happened to be, would cause severe physical pain or suffering."  

Sands reacted with bewilderment, saying "that just strikes me as very curious." 

Bellinger did acknowledge that the U.S. government's evasiveness on whether waterboarding is torture "makes it very difficult to explain to the world and to provide the important assurance" that America's post-9/11 policies are within the confines of international law.

from the outhouse .....

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush. 

All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists... 

All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country. 

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment On Waterboarding & Torture 

elsewhere ….. 

69% of Americans believe that waterboarding is torture, according to a new CNN poll. Another 58 percent say that the U.S. government should be barred from using the procedure "to try to get information from suspected terrorists."

where's kevin .....

A training manual for Canadian diplomats lists the United States among countries that potentially torture or abuse prisoners. 

The manual is an internal document of the Department of Foreign Affairs. A spokesman for the foreign minister confirmed the contents of the manual after news reports about it circulated on Thursday. 

The manual appears to contradict the public stance of Canada's Conservative government, which accepts assurances from the United States that it does not mistreat prisoners, including those at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. 

One Canadian, Omar Khadr, is being held there; he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002. 

Canadian Manual Has US On Torture List

torturing denial .....

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has again hedged on whether waterboarding fits the definition of torture. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, Mukasey stopped short of offering a clear legal opinion on the harsh interrogation method because he alleged that "the CIA no longer uses the practice on prisoners."  

Mukasey wrote that a straight answer would not be appropriate because whether waterboarding is torture is "not an easy question." "There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit the use of waterboarding," said Mukasey. "Other circumstances would present a far closer question," he added, although he failed to define those circumstances.  

Mukasey's letter comes just days after former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte offered the first clear acknowledgment by a government official that the United States had used waterboarding in terrorism interrogations. In a statement, Leahy offered a stern rebuke for Mukasey's continued dodging.  

Stating that Mukasey's letter "does not answer the critical questions we have been asking about [waterboarding's] legality," Leahy said that the Attorney General should expect "to be asked serious questions" at a Judiciary Committee hearing today.