Revisitng the crucial question of whether there exist bounds — or dictatorship.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments Wednesday in an en banc rehearing of its earlier ruling that the military cannot seize and imprison civilians lawfully residing in the United States and detain them as “enemy combatants.” In June, a three-judge panel rejected government arguments that the president was authorized to order the military seizure of Illinois resident and Qatari native Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri from civilian custody and hold him indefinitely in a military jail without charge and the court subsequently issued an order granting a Department of Justice (DOJ) petition to re-hear the case en banc. DOJ principal deputy solicitor general Gregory C. Garre argued Wednesday that the government was given broad authority by Congress to arrest individuals suspected of al Qaeda association. Al-Marri’s lawyer countered that enemy combatant status does not apply outside of combat situations, and asked the court to uphold the panel’s decision. Source
Must Read. Long snippet from an important and steady horse’s mouth overwiew and explanation on the creeping implementation of inhumanity as both process and policy. Shorter version: Because it is wrong, in theory, in fact and in principle.
…We, as a nation, are having a crisis of honor.
In fact, waterboarding is just the type of torture then Lt. Commander John McCain had to endure at the hands of the North Vietnamese. As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.
The carnival-like he-said, she-said of the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques has become a form of doublespeak worthy of Catch-22. Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt. Couple that with waterboarding and the entire medley not only “shock the conscience” as the statute forbids -it would terrify you. Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.
We live at a time where Americans, completely uninformed by an incurious media and enthralled by vengeance-based fantasy television shows like “24″, are actually cheering and encouraging such torture as justifiable revenge for the September 11 attacks. Having been a rescuer in one of those incidents and personally affected by both attacks, I am bewildered at how casually we have thrown off the mantle of world-leader in justice and honor. Who we have become? Because at this juncture, after Abu Ghraieb and other undignified exposed incidents of murder and torture, we appear to have become no better than our opponents.
With regards to the waterboard, I want to set the record straight so the apologists can finally embrace the fact that they condone and encourage torture.
1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.
2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.
Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.
Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration – usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.
3. If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives. The Small Wars Council had a spirited discussion about this earlier in the year, especially when former Marine Generals Krulak and Hoar rejected all arguments for torture.
Evan Wallach wrote a brilliant history of the use of waterboarding as a war crime and the open acceptance of it by the administration in an article for Columbia Journal for Transnational Law. In it he describes how the ideological Justice Department lawyer, John Yoo validated the current dilemma we find ourselves in by asserting that the President had powers above and beyond the Constitution and the Congress:
“Congress doesn’t have the power to tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique….It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.”
That is an astounding assertion. It reflects a basic disregard for the law of the United States, the Constitution and basic moral decency.
Torture in captivity simulation training reveals there are ways an enemy can inflict punishment which will render the subject wholly helpless and which will generally overcome his willpower. The torturer will trigger within the subject a survival instinct, in this case the ability to breathe, which makes the victim instantly pliable and ready to comply. It is purely and simply a tool by which to deprive a human being of his ability to resist through physical humiliation. The very concept of an American Torturer is an anathema to our values.
Who will complain about the new world-wide embrace of torture? America has justified it legally at the highest levels of government. Even worse, the administration has selectively leaked supposed successes of the water board such as the alleged Khalid Sheik Mohammed confessions. However, in the same breath the CIA sources for the Washington Post noted that in Mohammed’s case they got information but “not all of it reliable.” Of course, when you waterboard you get all the magic answers you want -because remember, the subject will talk. They all talk! Anyone strapped down will say anything, absolutely anything to get the torture to stop. Torture. Does. Not. Work.
According to the President, this is not a torture, so future torturers in other countries now have an American legal basis to perform the acts. Every hostile intelligence agency and terrorist in the world will consider it a viable tool, which can be used with impunity. It has been turned into perfectly acceptable behavior for information finding.
It is outrageous that American officials, including the Attorney General and a legion of minions of lower rank have not only embraced this torture but have actually justified it, redefined it to a misdemeanor, brought it down to the level of a college prank and then bragged about it. The echo chamber that is the American media now views torture as a heroic and macho. Article
Related — “irreplaceable” does not define as otherwise unobtainable, Gen. Hayden.
CIA Director Michael Hayden defended his agency’s interrogation practices Tuesday as political pressure mounted on President Bush’s attorney general nominee to reject a technique that allegedly was part of the CIA’s interrogation program.
“Our programs are as lawful as they are valuable,” Hayden said to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “The best sources of information on terrorists and their plans are the terrorists themselves.”
Hayden said “the irreplaceable nature of that intelligence is the sole reason we have rendition, detention and interrogation programs.”
In September ABC News reported that Hayden had banned waterboarding in CIA interrogations in 2006. Agency officials have neither confirmed nor denied waterboarding prisoners in the past, and they would not confirm the reported ban.
After his remarks in Chicago, an audience member asked Hayden: “Is waterboarding torture and will you continue to waterboard? Yes or no.”
In his answer, Hayden briefly discussed constitutional law, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Convention before ending: “Judge Mukasey cannot nor can I answer your question in the abstract. I need to understand the totality of the circumstances in which this question is being posed before I can give you an answer.” Article
In a word, SNABU.
An independent panel has sharply criticized the Army for failing to train enough experienced contracting officers, deploy them quickly to war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan and ensure that they properly manage billions of dollars in contracts to supply American troops in the field, according to officials briefed on its findings.
In a wide-ranging report to be made public on Thursday, the panel said these and other shortcomings had contributed to an environment in Iraq and Kuwait that allowed waste, fraud and other corruption to take hold and flourish.
The report does not address any suspected crimes by soldiers or civilian contractors; those are being pursued by investigators from the Army and the Justice Department. Nor does it single out individuals for blame.
But the six-member panel, appointed in August by Army Secretary Pete Geren, levels a stinging indictment of how the Army oversees $4 billion a year in contracts for food, water, shelter and other supplies to sustain United States forces in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. The panel also blames senior Army leaders for not responding more swiftly to the problems, despite warning signs like severe shortages of contracting officers in the field. “The Iraq-Kuwait-Afghanistan contracting problems have created a crisis,” the report states.
The panel’s report, which runs about 100 pages including supporting documents, recommends increasing the number of Army contracting officers by about 25 percent, or 1,400, in coming years. It urges the department to improve training and to start young officers in the procurement corps soon after they join the Army, not after seven or eight years of other duties, as is common now.
The panel argues that the procurement corps, now dominated by civilians who balk at being sent to a war zone, must be trained to be an expeditionary force, just as Army combat forces train to deploy quickly for yearlong tours to Iraq.
“You need more people and better-trained people in contracting,” said a person who had been briefed on the report and who spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings had not been made public. “Right now, a lot of the work isn’t getting done or it’s done poorly.”
“If you had had more personnel, who were better trained, on longer tours with more supervision, could you have cut the number of fraud, waste and corruption cases in half?” asked Raymond F. DuBois, a former senior Army official. “Yes.” Article