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Last night on CNN, Liz Cheney revealed that her father former vice president Dick Cheney is speaking out in defense of torture right now becausehe is afraid of being prosecuted for war crimes. Apparently, the person that Cheney is most interested in protecting is himself.
The report, which the Obama administration may soon declassify, was completed in May 2004 and implicated CIA interrogators in at least three detainee deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and referred eight criminal cases of alleged homicide, abuse and misconduct to the Justice Department for further investigation, reporter Jane Mayer wrote in her book, "The Dark Side," and in an investigative report published in The New Yorker in November 2005.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney intervened in CIA Inspector General John Helgerson's investigation into the agency's use of torture against "high-value" detainees, but the watchdog was still able to prepare a report that concluded the interrogation program violated some provisions of the International Convention Against Torture.
Try firsthand experience. The author undergoes the controversial drowning technique,
it was difficult for me to completely forget the clause in the contract of indemnification that I had signed. This document (written by one who knew) stated revealingly:
“Water boarding” is a potentially dangerous activity in which the participant can receive serious and permanent (physical, emotional and psychological) injuries and even death, including injuries and death due to the respiratory and neurological systems of the body.
I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.
Chicago radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller decided he'd get himself waterboarded to prove the technique wasn't torture.
It didn't turn out that way. "Mancow," in fact, lasted just six or seven seconds before crying foul. Apparently, the experience went pretty badly -- "Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop," according to NBC Chicago.
"The average person can take this for 14 seconds," Marine Sergeant Clay South told his audience before he was waterboarded on air. "He's going to wiggle, he's going to scream, he's going to wish he never did this."
The upshot? "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow told listeners. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
"Absolutely. I mean that's drowning," he added later. "It is the feeling of drowning."
"If I knew it was gonna be this bad, I would not have done it," he said.
In a further embarrassment for Mr Bush yesterday, Malcolm Nance, an advisor on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations and Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego, and claimed to have witnessed and supervised "hundreds" of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes and take place under medical supervision, he concluded that "waterboarding is a torture technique – period".
Henri Alleg, a journalist, was tortured in 1957 by French forces in Algeria. He described the ordeal of water torture in his book The Question. Soldiers strapped him over a plank, wrapped his head in cloth and positioned it beneath a running tap. He recalled: "The rag was soaked rapidly. Water flowed everywhere: in my mouth, in my nose, all over my face. But for a while I could still breathe in some small gulps of air. I tried, by contracting my throat, to take in as little water as possible and to resist suffocation by keeping air in my lungs for as long as I could. But I couldn't hold on for more than a few moments. I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably.
During the Spanish-American War, a U.S. soldier, Major Edwin Glenn, was suspended from command for one month and fined $50 for using "the water cure." In his review, the Army judge advocate said the charges constituted "resort to torture with a view to extort a confession." He recommended disapproval because "the United States cannot afford to sanction the addition of torture."
In the war crimes tribunals that followed Japan's defeat in World War II, the issue of waterboarding was sometimes raised. In 1947, the U.S. charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for waterboarding a U.S. civilian. Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
"All of these trials elicited compelling descriptions of water torture from its victims, and resulted in severe punishment for its perpetrators," writes Evan Wallach in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.
On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The caption said the technique induced "a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk." The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier.
Cases of waterboarding have occurred on U.S. soil, as well. In 1983, Texas Sheriff James Parker was charged, along with three of his deputies, for handcuffing prisoners to chairs, placing towels over their faces, and pouring water on the cloth until they gave what the officers considered to be confessions. The sheriff and his deputies were all convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.
The controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding and used by the United States qualifies as torture, the U.N. human rights chief said on Friday.
"I would have no problems with describing this practice as falling under the prohibition of torture," the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, told a news conference in Mexico City.
Violators of the U.N. Convention against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of 'universal jurisdiction' which allows countries to try accused war criminals from other nations, Arbour said.
"There are several precedents worldwide of states exercising their universal jurisdiction ... to enforce the torture convention and we can only hope that we will see more and more of these avenues of redress," Arbour said.