Thursday, October 06, 2011

America, you're not alone! Some Canadians think waterboarding's cool, too!

A letter to the editor of The Windsor Star, Sept. 29:
Ex-U.S. leaders should face justice
It's time for the Harper government to prove that its stance on "law and order" pertains to more than just pot smokers.

The government of Stephen Harper must commit to arresting and prosecuting former U.S. president, George W. Bush, former vice-president, Dick Cheney, former secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld on the charge of war crimes should they ever enter Canada.

Based on what evidence?

Aside from copious first-hand accounts from victims, memos signed by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, each man has admitted to war crimes in their respective memoirs.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld admit - and, in fact, state they are proud - that they authorized the use of torture during their so-called "war on terror."

More than that, they admit to specifically authorizing the use of such torture techniques as "waterboarding" to be used on detainees.

I believe the Conservatives' tough talk about law and order is merely campaign trail rhetoric; a way to steer taxpayer dollars to cronies to build prisons.

I challenge the Harper government to prove me wrong.

As we await Moammar Gadhafi to be brought to justice in The Hague, so too should George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. These three should be given legal representation and full, proper, transparent trials.

They need to be brought to justice. No matter who perpetrates acts so grievous they are termed "war crimes," such actions should not be tolerated or accepted by anyone.

Even by the Harper government.
A Canadian who endorses the use of torture replies.

To which I would reply if I replied:
Interesting this correspondent says that waterboarding was successful. It actually was, but not in the way he thinks.

The Americans took their waterboarding techniques from their own S.E.R.E. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program, meant to train soldiers how to endure torture by the communists (soldiers came back from the Korean war with stories of torture, so the program was created on how to withstand those techniques). The Bush administration "reverse engineered" these techniques and instructed its people in how to perform these acts.

The thing is, analysts and historians (and some communists who later confessed) know why and in what way waterboarding and other techniques were used during the Cold War: to force false confessions for propaganda purposes -- never for intelligence gathering. The techniques were created to extract lies from people.

The communists wanted a quick and ruthless way to make people confess to crimes they hadn't committed, and then filmed American pilots who'd been shot down, admitting anything the communists wanted them to admit.

That's how the Americans are using waterboarding, et al. Not for intelligence, but to manufacture an enemy and gather false confessions.

So, the correspondent is technically correct -- waterboarding has been successful. It's gotten a horde of very unlucky people to confess to acts they never committed and implicate people who never did anything, either.

Has this made us safer? No, it's made America more hated than ever around the world. As a Canadian who has been mistaken countless times abroad for being an American (based on my accent), this is a direct threat to my safety when travelling.

How do I know this about waterboarding? One of the few, effective FBI interrogators, Ali Soufan, has written a book about torture and how ineffective it is. Other, serious, responsible people who interrogate suspects for a living all say that torture only elicits false confessions, never usable information, because people will say anything to make the torture stop.

And, at the end of the day, torture is a recognized war crime. The correspondent may endorse the use of torture, but that doesn't change its legal definition. It's recognized around the world, among all thinking, civilized people, as barbaric, inhuman and criminal.

It says a lot about a person who would endorse it.

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