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 May, 2009


 Cheney Defends Torture

Let’s Waterboard Cheney

I despise torture. I can assure I have first hand knowledge of it.

Every time Dick Cheney appears on my TV, to me, that’s torture. When he smugly distills complex issues into prefabricated talking points before I can reach for my remote, I feel like one of his detainees. Before that, I’d admit I’m really the Wicked Witch of the West. Cheney’s straight-faced sales job in 2003 that, “my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators,” was delivered with the same earnestness of a used car salesman who’d try to convince you that if you buy his four flat tires, take them home and water them – they’d produce a shiny new Buick by morning.

He’d never admit that. Bushies never have. He’s not much of a student of history either, because he refuses to pay heed to it.

In 1942, Captain Chase Nielsen, an American flier, was captured by the Japanese. He was later waterboarded.

In 1948, the commander of Japanese troops in China, Gen. Shunroku Hata, was tried in a post-war tribunal that had been formulated by the United States.
Hata was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for authorizing that particular form of “enhanced interrogation technique.”

Cheney’s ploy that he can produce memos that prove that waterboarding really “helped keep this country safe” is a mighty hollow one. We’ve punished people for doing that very thing. Waterboarding clearly isn’t only torture when it’s used on Americans. It’s always torture. What’s more it’s always – in the eyes of the world (see the Geneva conventions) – illegal. Cheney knows that. He’s just reverting to his inner used car salesman.

So much for George W. Bush (who for now seems to have been the torturer-in-chief) - and his repeated claims that “We don’t torture.”
Bush and the rest knew, back then, that waterboarding had been frequently employed on detainees, and that the definition of waterboarding had been stretched by attorneys as to not be defined as torture.

That, thanks to the so-called “torture memos,” has clearly deflated the “we don’t torture” argument.
Instead, Cheney is among the few Bush administration loyalists still publicly claiming the act of waterboarding produced “valuable intelligence.”
(Ari Fleisher, the former Bush Press Secretary, recently claimed that the intelligence that was obtained may have been good – but that the techniques used weren’t necessarily justifiable.)

There seems to have been a clear understanding of the perils involved in publicly disclosing the true breadth and nature of those “enhanced interrogations techniques.”

If you read the documents that have set off the current firestorm, it’s not hard figuring out that the Bush administration was as concerned about the definition of torture, as it was in actually gaining any form of valuable information. In short, sleep deprivation, and the legal descriptions of its use, are highly troubling.

Certainly, you know about sleep deprivation.

Let’s say you have a child who won’t do their homework. Show them a picture of Karl Rove. After three sleepless nights, they’ll be glad to recite their multiplication tables. That’s sleep deprivation,

The use of it by our government personnel on detainees – according to those memos – shouldn’t have lasted more than 180 hours. (That’s 7 ½ days)
There’s a considerable discussion in the memos about preventing “severe and lasting physical effects” while depriving sleep.

A number of sleep deprivation studies were cited that were used to support how that method could be used without any lasting physical effects.

Yet, as soon as the memos were released to the public, the scientists who conducted those studies under laboratory conditions publicly announced they were appalled by the CIA’s conclusions. James Horne, a British researcher, called the findings in the CIA report “nonsense.”

Dr. S. Hakki Onen, claims, “To see [the research] used in this manner is upsetting because [the CIA's] goals run counter to the therapeutic intent of our effort.”

A full exploration of the means and methods employed by the Bush administration regarding detainees must take place. It’s this country’s way of telling the world – we’re better than that. At least most of us are.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net