If You Don’t Think it’s Torture, Give it a Try
by Kelvin Wade
Waterboarding is torture. Why is this concept so difficult for some politicians and pundits to understand?
Senator John McCain recently took to the Senate floor to denounce waterboarding. Former Senator Rick Santorum argued that McCain, who was tortured by the North Vietnamese, doesn’t understand how “enhanced interrogation” works.
First, using Orwellian terms like “enhanced interrogation” insults the intelligence of any right-thinking American. If I’m debating someone and then I punch him in the nose, is that merely “enhanced persuasion?”
But what really moved me to take on the issue of waterboarding once again was a May 17 article in the Fairfield Daily Republic by Bud Stevenson entitled, “Torture today nothing like times past.”
He began one paragraph, “Every time I see the word ‘torture’ in the context of what Americans are alleged to have done, I feel there’s an enormous gap between what real torture is and what might have been done to Afghanis and Iraqis.”
According to the record, detainees at Abu Ghraib, which Stevenson mentions in his column, were beaten, hung from the ceiling by their arms, and raped and sodomized with truncheons, wires and a phosphorescent tube. Apparently, that doesn’t rise to the level of torture for some folks.
And if waterboarding is not torture then why, at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials following World War II, did we prosecute Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American POWs?
Why is it that journalists like Christopher Hitchens and right wing shock jock Mancow, who supported so-called “enhanced interrogation,” submit to waterboarding and immediately come out and say it was torture? Why are the only people who claim waterboarding is not torture are people who won’t subject themselves to it and see for themselves?
In his column, Stevenson writes that waterboarding isn’t as bad as what they do in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis bury adulterous women up to their necks and let people throw stones at their heads. Definitely gruesome.
But this misses the point. I would ask Stevenson if, heaven forbid, a rapist accosted his wife and forced her to orally copulate him but he didn’t rape her vaginally or sodomize her, is it still sexual assault? Are we playing the “degrees of torture” game?
Now I don’t care about Khallid Sheikh Muhammad, who was waterboarded 183 times. This isn’t about the evil people we capture. It’s about us. We signed agreements saying we would not torture. We hold ourselves up as the model of human and civil rights. The United States of America is synonymous with freedom and the rule of law. So this isn’t about scumbags and who they are. It’s about who we are.
By a 2009 Executive Order, the U.S. only uses the Army Field Manual for interrogation. You can read the manual Here: http://www.army.mil/institution/armypublicaffairs/pdf/fm2-22-3.pdf
Whether someone thinks the United States should be in the waterboarding business or not, the one thing that’s not up for debate is whether or not it’s torture. It is. And for anyone who doesn’t believe it, submit to it.