Sunday, October 13, 2013

Idle Thoughts -- Washington vs Bush

An article published in 2006.

The article points out that professional military interrogators could not use torture because of military law. CIA interrogators, aka amateur interrogators, could use these techniques.

Rather than summarize the despicable nature of the law involved, please read the following two paragraphs from the article.

Begin quote.

Prior to the enactment of the new legislation, the definition of torture, for both military and CIA interrogators, was broad and comprehensive. Torture was defined as an "act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions)" on someone in his control. This definition affirmed the definition of torture in the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a signatory.

The MCA changed the definition of torture. In clarifying what "severe physical or mental pain or suffering meant," it created a new standard: Torture must involve a "substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, a burn or physical disfigurement of a serious nature, not to include cuts, abrasions or bruises; or significant loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty."

End quote.

The article goes on to point out that all torturers know that when the subject you were torturing dies, you have failed. A dead man can tell you nothing. That's why they avoid major organ failure. In other words, the Bush administration was simply finding a way to make torture sound like it's not torture.

Furthermore, military personnel who were arrested and found guilty of torture in the past have admitted that they learned the techniques by watching, guess who?, CIA interrogators at work.  Allowing torture at any level encourages torture at all levels. This is not the slippery slope argument, this is a moral corruption argument.  Once you legalize criminal activity by pretending it isn't really criminal, you are opening the door for every member of your government to participate.

The article points out that once civilian operatives were allowed to commit torture in Brazil it wasn't long before military personnel began committing these acts. Worse, the military quickly divided itself into two groups, the torturers who thought of themselves as real soldiers and those who tried to maintain the law.  These were regarded by the "real" soldiers as "bureaucrats".

Eventually, inevitably, the civilian police began these practices, especially since many ex-soldiers became policemen after they left the military.

Many of the tortures allowed by the Bush administration were practiced by the Japanese against American prisoners of war during World War II. Some Japanese officers were even hanged  by the neck until dead by American officers after an American trial for committing the same crimes which the Bush administration claimed were now legal for Americans to commit.

There isn't much more to say. I am shocked and disgusted that my country engaged in such despicable behavior. I am even more shocked that we have not brought charges against the criminals who committed these acts, and yes, I include the former president of United States, Mr. Bush.

Anyone with a basic knowledge of the theory of government knows that we operate in the West under The Rule of Law. That means that the law is the law for everyone. Even the president should be charged, and if convicted, sent to prison, if he has committed crimes. Except, it seems that America doesn't really believe in The Rule of Law after all.

When the British tortured American soldiers from the Continental Army during the Revolutionary war many asked Washington to treat British prisoners the same way.  He replied:

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” - George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

At another time, he issued this order to his troops regarding British prisoners of war:

“‘Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands,’ he wrote. In all respects the prisoners were to be treated no worse than American soldiers; and in some respects, better. Through this approach, Washington sought to shame his British adversaries, and to demonstrate the moral superiority of the American cause. (End quote from

The last paragraphs of the article are as follows. You should read them carefully as they were originally written.

Begin quote.

Which brings us to the most notorious torture: waterboarding, or choking someone in water. In 1968, a soldier in the 1st Cavalry Division was court-martialed for waterboarding a prisoner in Vietnam. In fact, the practice was identified as a crime as early as 1901, when the Army judge advocate general court-martialed Maj. Edwin Glenn of the 5th U.S. Infantry for waterboarding, a technique he did not hesitate to call torture.

That military judge went further, anticipating (and then dismissing) a key justification President Bush and his allies use for torture today. The judge said that the defense of needing to obtain information through torture "falls completely," even when at war with "a savage or semi-civilized enemy" who conducts "his operations in violation of the rules of civilized war. This no modern State will admit for an instant."

End quote.

Except, it seems, the United States in 2006.

This says it all. America's actions during the Bush years in regard to torture were disgusting, disgraceful, dishonorable, illegal, and highly ineffective.  So says military justice.

To sum up, I agree with our first president in that George Bush and his administration, "by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” - George Washington...

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