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DOJ Prosecuted Texas Sheriff in 1983 For Waterboarding Prisoners Written by Jason Leopold Tuesday, 21 April 2009 21:47
In 1983, the Justice Department prosecuted a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies for waterboarding prisoners to get them to confess to crimes. The deputies were sentenced to four years in prison and Parker pleaded guilty to extortion and federal civil rights violations and received a 10-year sentence.
Parker admitted that he had operated a “marijuana trap” on U.S. Highway 59, arrested suspects, and, according to court documents, subjected “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 complaint said, which referred to the technique as “water torture.”
Yet nowhere in the four “torture” memos released by the Justice Department last week that authorized the CIA to waterboard detainees do the attorneys who drafted the legal opinions mention the federal case U.S. v Parker et al, in which San Jacinto County Sheriff James Parker and three deputies-- Carl Lee, Floyd Allen Baker and John Glover—were found guilty of torturing at least six prisoners between 1976 and 1980 in a rural part of the state 60 miles outside of Houston. (snip)
Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. By forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences drowning and is caused to believe they are about to die. It is considered a form of torture by legal experts, politicians, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges, and human rights organizations. As early as the Spanish Inquisition it was used for interrogation purposes, to punish and intimidate, and to force confessions.
In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, waterboarding precipitates a gag reflex almost immediately. The technique does not inevitably cause lasting physical damage. It can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, ultimately, death. Adverse physical consequences can start manifesting months after the event; psychological effects can last for years.
World War II
During World War II both Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, and the officers of the Gestapo, the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Double Tenth Incident occurred. This included waterboarding, by the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach.
Waterboarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in the Vietnam War. On January 21, 1968, The Washington Post published a controversial photograph of two U.S soldiers and one South Vietnamese soldier participating in the waterboarding of a North Vietnamese POW near Da Nang. The article described the practice as "fairly common". The photograph led to the soldier being court-martialled by a U.S. military court within one month of its publication, and he was discharged from the army. Another waterboarding photograph of the same scene is also exhibited in the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.