If waterboarding isn’t torture, let’s try it on you

Remember the days when America was a bastion of human rights, showing the world what was good andWaterboard
right? Yeah, neither do I. America has never been perfect — which country has? — but in recent years, the country’s human rights record has made Chinese leader Hu Jintao a little nervous, saying to his cabinet, "Are they competing with us?"

He has nothing to worry about, of course. America has a long way to go to catch up with China, but under President Bush, the country is preparing for the race, injecting itself with steroids. "China may be too far ahead," Bush is telling his staff, "but perhaps we can beat Cuba."

Thankfully, most Americans don’t want to be part of this race, especially if it involves torture and the victim isn’t Ann Coulter.

A majority of Americans consider waterboarding a form of torture, but
some of those say it’s OK for the U.S. government to use the technique,
according to a poll released Tuesday.

Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more
than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent
said no.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be
allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected
terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

In the procedure, water is used on restrained prisoners to make them feel like they are drowning. [Link]

"To make them feel like they are drowning" is a nice way of putting it. More accurate is "to scare the bejesus out of them." You’ve probably seen this technique in movies — bad guys are always having their heads dunked in water and the end seems to justify the means. But I can’t believe there’s any question it’s torture. Those 40 percent who say it’s an acceptable procedure are probably the type of people who also believe it’s okay to force prisoners to listen to Celine Dion.

The practice became an issue during the recent confirmation hearings for attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey, who has refused to categorically reject the practice.

Mukasey told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that while he
finds waterboarding personally "repugnant," he could not answer
"hypothetical" questions about whether the technique amounts to torture.[Link]

Instead of asking him "hypothetical questions," they should put him through a few rounds of waterboarding and then ask, "Think it’s torture now?"

Senator: "Please answer the question, Mr. Mukasey. Was that torture?"

Mukasey: "Glug, glug, glug …"

Sources with knowledge of the CIA-run interrogation program have said
waterboarding is not currently being used in its interrogations. But
those sources have said waterboarding was used in the interrogation of
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now facing trial before a military tribunal for
planning al Qaeda’s 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Waterboarding was used during the Spanish Inquisition and by Cambodia’s
brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the World War II Japanese military,
according to advocacy group Human Rights Watch. [Link]

Let’s see … Khmer Rouge, World War II Japanese military, Bush Administration. Poor China — they don’t even get a mention.

Photo by jarnocan

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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