Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Waterboarding IS Torture, Mr. Bush

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director

"The presidency of George W. Bush has now evolved into a conspiracy to cover the a** of George W. Bush."

These words, uttered by syndicated television host Keith Olbermann, do not refer to some sinister plan to shelter the donkey on the President’s ranch in Texas. On the contrary, they mean something far more important, not only to the executive branch of the government, but to the integrity of American law and morality.

Mr. Olberman, you see, interviewed Mr. Daniel Levin, a former Acting Assistant Attorney General under former AG Alberto Gonzales. In his attempt to find out how dangerous the technique of "waterboarding" actually is, he allowed himself to undergo this form of "enhanced interrogation", surrounded by medical and rescue personnel - confident that the waterboarding would not result in his death.

Mr. Levin’s conclusion? Simply this: "Waterboarding is torture."

When Mr. Levin conveyed this message to his superiors in the Justice Department, he was promptly fired from his post.

There is now the fa├žade of a national debate about waterboarding as an interrogation technique used by the U.S. military and covert intelligence agencies to extract information from captives deemed to be "terrorist suspects".

As you probably know, waterboarding involves submerging the head of a captive in water and holding him down until he nearly drowns - and then yanking his head up, only to repeat the process again and again.

Anyone who has ever nearly drowned will tell you the sheer terror of this barbaric act.

And the suspects held in Guantanamo, in Abu Ghraib, and in the nameless, faceless secret U.S. detention centers around the world, have no assurance that their torture will not end in death.

Both the President and Vice-President Cheney have declared that the United States does not torture captive combatants. In their convoluted logic, waterboarding isn't really torture, but a form of "enhanced interrogation". This pronouncement, straight from the mind of Machiavelli, allows them to sleep at night, thinking that just because a form of torture is called something else, most of the rest of us will believe it, too.

But Daniel Levin didn't believe them - and he was fired for telling the truth about one form of torture that is, in fact, used by the United States against Muslims deemed to be the "enemy".

Levin, Keith Olbermann suggested, is a real hero in the ongoing struggle for real justice.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and numerous other human rights groups, have maintained a long and principled stand against waterboarding and numerous other forms of "enhanced interrogation".
Why the resurgence now in discussions surrounding the issue of waterboarding?

President Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Judge Michael B. Mukasey, refuses to declare his position on whether waterboarding is really torture.

Some Democrats may oppose Mukasey's confirmation on the floor of the U.S. Senate because of his refusal to make a declaration on the issue of waterboarding, but the majority of the Senate is likely to approve him anyway.

I doubt that Daniel Levin or Keith Olbermann would approve Mukasey's confirmation as U.S. Attorney General.

We should not approve Mukasey's confirmation either.

Regardless of what you call it, waterboarding is torture.

And the last time I checked, torture was still a violation of U.S. and international law – in addition to being an abomination in the eyes of the Creator.

We must not tolerate torture, or those in positions of authority who continue to allow torture to happen in the name of the people of this nation.

RELATED
Mukasey Refuses to Call Waterboarding Torture
"Torture is a Moral Issue" NRCAT Letter to U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Opposing Confirmation of Judge Michael Mukasey

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