Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Dark Side

We don't torture. So says President Bush. Except when we do, and then we don't because, well, we don't torture. That's why it was so important for him to veto a bill banning water boarding, which -- far from being torture -- is "one of most valuable tools we have in the war on terror." (It's so valuable that even the CIA doesn't do it any more.) Besides being a tool, water boarding is a "specialized interrogation procedure" reserved for the most "hardened terrorists" and innocent Afghan taxi drivers. (The account below is largely taken from the web site for the Academy Award winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side.)

For just one example of the "proven track record" of water boarding, consider the case of suspected terrorist Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. After being wrapped in duct tape and stored in a plywood box "for his own protection," the FBI transported al-Libi to Cairo for questioning by experts in "'enhanced' interrogation techniques." After a water boarding session, al-Libi confessed that Iraq had trained Al-Qaeda in the manufacture of bombs and poison gas. Secretary of State Colin Powell used this incontrovertible information as proof positive when he informed the U.N. of the "sinister nexus" between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.

Al-Libi later recanted his "confession" as having been under duress, and the CIA confirmed its falsity. 

[Cartoon by the Austin American Statesman's great Ben Sargent. Subscribe to Sargent's work through]


Scrumpy's Baker said...

Hubby and I were in the car when we heard about the veto. Hubby said "good for him" when he heard. At first I was shocked, and then realized most Americans would probably think the same thing.

It is too diffiuclt for most Americans to imagine that we could ever be wrong. Anyone tortured MUST be a bad guy and anyone being recorded without a warrant MUST be shady.

K. said...

Exactly. You know what else? With the veto, Bush says that it's o.k. for other countries to water board captured Americans. I wish (a) the media would point that out, and (b) people would give that more thought. There's no reason to think that torture is effective as interrogation and every reason to think that it degrades and dehumanizes anyone who participates.