Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Criminal Enterprise

The fact that the guy who is going to be Bush’s newest attorney general once worked as a journalist for the same company as I, and the fact he is a coreligionist, doesn’t sway me in my belief he that he has already dirtied himself beyond repair by refusing to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture and is a war crime.

Nor am I swayed in my belief that Sens. Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein – also coreligionists -- are wicked sellouts who are providing moral sanctuary for war criminals by making it possible for Michael Mulkasey to be confirmed.

And Adolph Giuliani’s proud boast that without “extensive questioning” – his euphemism for the CIA’s euphemism of “enhanced interrogation” – certain Mafia leaders would still be running around the streets tells me he is the worst of all potential presidents. I would vote for Pat Robertson before I would vote for Giuliani.

But back to waterboarding. Again, I cite my former colleague, Joe Galloway, a respected foreign correspondent for UPI and now a military columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. Galloway, you may recall, was co-author of “We Were Soldiers Once,” the book Mel Gibson made into a hit movie. Mr. Galloway is the only journalist ever awarded a medal for bravery by the Army.

Following are excerpts from his column this week, which explains what this administration’s real motive is:

Four decades ago in the field in Vietnam, I saw a suspected Viet Cong waterboarded by South Vietnamese Army troops. The American Army advisers who were attached to the Vietnamese unit turned their backs and walked away before the torture began. It was then a Vietnamese affair and something they couldn't be associated with.

The victim was taken to the edge of death. His body was wracked with spasms as he fought for air. The soldier holding the five-gallon kerosene tin filled with muddy water from a nearby stream kept pouring it slowly onto the rag, and the victim desperately sucking for even a little air kept inhaling that water instead.

It seemed to go on forever. Did the suspect talk? I'm sure he did. I'm sure he told his torturers whatever he thought they wanted to hear, whether it was true or not. But I didn't see the end of it because one of the American advisers came to me and told me I had to leave; that I couldn't watch this interrogation, if that's what it was, any longer.

That adviser knew that water torture was torture; he knew that it was outlawed by the Geneva Convention; he knew that he couldn't be a part to it; and he knew that he didn't want me to witness such brutality.

… Every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee knows that waterboarding is torture, even the majority who voted to send Judge Mukasey's nomination to be attorney general, America's chief law enforcement official, to the floor for a vote.

Waterboarding was torture when it was used during the Spanish Inquisition; it was torture when it was used on Filipino rebels during the 1890s; it was torture when the Japanese Army used it on prisoners in World War II; it was torture when it was used by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia; and it's torture when CIA officers or others use it on terrorists.

When George W. Bush was the governor of Texas, the state investigated, indicted, convicted and sentenced to prison for 10 years a county sheriff who, with his deputies, had waterboarded a criminal suspect. That sheriff got no pardon from Gov. Bush.

… As they squirm and wriggle and lie and quibble and cut deals with senators, they claim that "harsh interrogation methods" are necessary to prevent another 9/11. But as terrified as they are by terrorists, they also fear that one day they may be treated no better than some fallen South American dictator or Cambodian despot or hapless Texas sheriff; that they might not be able to leave a guarded, gated compounds in Dallas or Crawford, a ranch in New Mexico or
the shores of Chesapeake Bay for fear of arrest and extradition.

… Waterboarding is torture. Decent people have acknowledged that for centuries. We sent Japanese war criminals to the gallows for using it. We sent a Texas sheriff to prison for using it. One day, an ex-president and those who helped him and those he ordered to torture fellow human beings may have to plea bargain for their lives and their freedom.
Last week, in a remarkable story on ABC World News Tonight, which was remarkably unnoted by most of the nation’s news media, the acting Justice Department official in charge of defining torture in 2003 underwent waterboarding himself to see what it was all about. He wrote a memo saying it was torture but that the practice could be modified somewhat and still be legal. He was fired.

Just like Gen. John Shalikashvili, the first truth-teller to be fired for predicting it would take at least 300,000 troops to pacify Iraq, and the legions of Cabinet secretaries, prosecutors and midlevel executives, it is all you need to know about the criminal enterprise known as the Bush administration.

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