Monday, January 07, 2008

Waterboarding Verifiably Torture

Three brave souls have now had themselves waterboarded. All report that it is torture.

There can only be more.

The first was an acting assistant attorney general, Daniel Levin. In 2002, Jay Bybee of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel wrote a memo saying that whether an interrogation method was torture or not depended on the level of pain. This was just an opinion. Not tested in court. But it guided the administration to break the Geneva Accords.

In 2004, Levin had himself waterboarded to see whether it was torture or not. He reported that waterboarding was torture. He was then fired.

Then another volunteer tester took the plunge, so to speak (they actually pour water down your nose into your lungs. Not a dunking!) Kaj Larsen, a former Navy SEAL who had received waterboarding as part of his SERE training, had himself waterboarded on national television.

Now Scylla, an anonymous blogger, did it to himself.

He reports that he would rather have his hands smashed.

Attorney General Mukasey was unsure, in his confirmation hearing, whether waterboarding was torture or not. If it wasn't torture, then all those who signed off on it were off the hook, including Mr. Bush. On the other hand, we've convicted people of the crime before.

Mukasey has now appointed John H. Durham, a "relentless" assistant prosecutor from Connecticut, to investigate the destruction of the CIA waterboarding tapes and see if a crime was committed. Was evidence of a crime destroyed? Or just evidence of "enhanced stress techniques"?

If waterboarding isn't torture, then a crime wasn't being covered up.

Mukasey's professed uncertainty invites the facts to blossom.

How many more people have to waterboard themselves before common knowledge declares the fact that it is torture?


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