Friday, December 12, 2008


I commented in a previous post about the recent 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948.

Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee published its report on the barbaric practices of the Bush government in using torture and other degrading treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

Here are two conclusions of the Senate Armed Serice Committee:

Conclusion 1: On February 7, 2002, President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. Following the President’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used in SERE training to simulate tactics used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in U.S. custody.

Conclusion 2: Members of the President’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA’s interrogation program during that period.

The Bush government used "techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions . . ." Did any of these Bush officials know that the Universal Declaration's Article 5 specifically prohibits these treatments and punishments which it terms "degrading" and "cruel" and "inhuman?"

Here is the text of Article 5:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Yet the Senate Committee gives evidence that Bush's cabinet as well as the National
Securities Council chaired by Condoleezza Rice knew and approved of these techniques. How could they go along? Were they all in the dark about the prohibition on torture and or cruel, harsh and inhuman methods of interrogation?

Water boarding has been used since time immemorial and has always been recognized as "torture." It was especially used during the years of the Inquisition, spanning several centuries, to elicit confessions from heretics and witches. Did Bush & gang really think it was effective then, so it must be effective now?

Let's have a truth commission haul these officials into a hearing room for testimony under oath. Let's hear their explanations of why they thought that the could justify torture and other cruel methods. Above all, let's try water boarding on them and see if they don't confess to witchcraft and/or conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. The point is anyone will confess to anything his interrogator wants when he is being tortured or water-boarded.

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