I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.
Before I give my views on the highly controversial subject, we should all have an idea of what we are talking about. Keep in the back of your minds that the terrorists use any means and don’t follow the Geneva Convention, unless they are caught, then they want protection under the Convention. It is our sons and daughters that get tortured by all means and then killed. I am not saying we need to lower ourselves to the terrorist’s level, I am just stating a fact!
What is water-boarding?
Water-boarding involves a prisoner being stretched on his back or hung upside down, having a cloth pushed into his mouth and/or plastic film placed over his face and having water poured onto his face. He gags almost immediately.
Does it come under a technical definition of torture?
Torture is defined by the 1949 UN Convention against Torture as "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person..." in order to get information. The U.S. is signed up to the Convention. Human rights groups and many governments say that it does constitute torture. The United States does not agree.
So why has the U.S. used water-boarding?
Because it does not classify water-boarding as torture and regards it an effective method in a small number of cases. It makes a distinction between "torture,” which it accepts is banned by U.S. and international law, and so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques.” These include not only water-boarding but sleep deprivation, subjection to cold and long periods of standing, holding your arms out in front of you for extended periods of time, and some slapping. The U.S. feels no physical long-term effects linger. It works by finding people’s fears and exploiting them.
Isn't the U.S. military banned from using water-boarding?
Yes. In 2006 a new army manual on collecting intelligence banned torture and degrading treatment, including water-boarding, forced nakedness, hooding and sexual humiliation. The manual's publication followed the scandals at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the passing of the Detainee Treatment Act in 2005, which prohibited the "cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment" of detainees.
So why is the CIA allowed to use it?
President Bush excluded the CIA from the restrictions imposed on the military. He did so in an executive order in July 2007, which sought to define the American commitment to the Geneva Conventions' Common Article 3 prohibition on cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment and torture. The order declared that a CIA "program of detention and interrogation" complied with the Geneva Convention. The order listed interrogation methods and practices that are not allowed. These range all the way from murder and rape to acts of humiliation. The banned methods did not, however, include the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. In a separate memorandum, President Bush drew up a list of allowed methods, but these have not been made public.
Is water-boarding effective?
A retired CIA agent has said a top al-Qaeda suspect was interrogated using a simulated drowning technique, but that he believes it was justified. According to John Kiriakou, al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah "broke" within half a minute. "From that day on, he answered every question," the retired agent said. "The threat information he provided disrupted a number of attacks, maybe dozens of attacks.” The arguments about the efficacy of water-boarding reflect all arguments about similar methods. Do they produce information or lies? Can the information be obtained by other means? And are they counter-productive? So far, most information has been very helpful it stopping terrorists attacks. This information may not have been made available without this technique.
Is water-boarding still used?
According to CIA officials, it has been used three times since 2001 but not since 2003. The CIA Director General Mike Hayden, who took over in May 2006, indicated that he had taken the technique off a list of approved methods. I would guess it is still being done.
Are there any moves in the U.S. to ban it by law?
Yes. The US House of Representatives passed a bill in December 2007 that would ban the CIA from using water-boarding, mock executions and other harsh interrogation methods. The bill has to go before the Senate and could be vetoed by President Bush. The proposed legislation would require the CIA to follow the rules in the Army Field Manual. It seeks to remove the ambiguity that surrounds the use of water-boarding. The U.S. attorney-general has declined to rule on whether the method is torture.
Some say that our “Principles” are compromised using the enhanced interrogation technique of water-boarding. I'm involved in this internal, intellectual battle with myself weighing the idea that water-boarding may be torture versus the quality of information that we often get after using the water-boarding technique. And I struggle with it.
And as time has passed, and as September 11th has, you know, has moved farther and farther back into history it would be so easy to let down our guard.
In the end, if it will save lives, not just American lives, but any lives it is worth it. Is it torture? Yes, but I will not lose any sleep, nor will I feel my morals and principles compromised.
Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong. - Ronald Reagan