Saturday, February 23, 2008

Waterboarding Focus of Inquiry By Justice Dept.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department revealed Friday that its internal ethics office was investigating the department’s legal approval for waterboarding of Qaeda suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency and was likely to make public an unclassified version of its report.

The disclosure by H. Marshall Jarrett, the head of the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, was the first official acknowledgment of an internal review of the legal memorandums the department has issued since 2002 that authorized waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods.


Annah said...

While I am not a supporter of waterboarding, I feel like the latest attention on it has made us drift away from the bigger and scarier issue of these detainees: being held for years without representation, sometimes without a solid accused crime. I fear that we are breeding future criminals who will leave these prisons completely unnerved by all the horrible things done to them, mental or physical, and have a reason to turn to violence when they might not have done so before. Many of these men were in the wrong place at the wrong time and their rights have completely escaped us. Waterboarding is only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe by chipping away at this tip, which it appears that the justice department and members of congress are doing, we will reach the core of the problem, though the pessimist in me doubts it.

Danielle N said...

I am not naive enough to think that other countries don't use forms of torture when dealing with prisoners; however, I don't think it justifies our abuse of power when dealing with detainees. Waterboarding is an unnecessary use of torture on prisoners especially when most of the time, they have not been convicted of any crime. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Or guaranteed representation? So, in reality there are two issues that need to be dealt with when considering waterboarding; should these prisoners even be able to be held and should waterboarding be allowed? Terry Anderson is a perfect example of why prisoners should not be needlessly tortured. Terry was not a threat to anyone but he was held for six years. What if some of the detainees held by our government are in the same position? While I think the CIA is a very important organization, I think that their procedures need to be more closely modified.

Trusso Cafarello said...

I believe that the United States needs to have certain tactics in order to fight a war. And if that means torturing and waterboarding, so be it. War is not a pretty thing and I do not believe there is a nice way to go about it. If there was a respectful way to get information out of people, I think they would have used it over torture, but the truth is there is not.
Also, the CIA and the government does need to have some level of secrecy in order to win a war. Where is the line between secrecy and disclosure, I really do not know. When is someone using more torture than necessary, again don't have the answers. It is not a black and white situation.

Andy Heger said...

The central argument to waterboarding situation is whether or not it constitutes torture. As the article states, many legal authorities and human rights groups have classified it as torture. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention protects detainees from torture and humiliating and degrading treatment. There have been arguments made about how prolonged our country’s past waterboarding practices have been and if they actually have caused permanent physical and mental harm. But CIA director Michael Hayden admitted recently that he has known it to have been used on at least three prisoners, but other CIA officials have come out and said it is a common interrogation technique. And the problem with the US use of torture doesn’t end with waterboarding. Head slapping, force feeding, and exposure to insanely frigid temperatures to US detainees in this so-called war on terror has become commonplace. But have the US become hypocrites with these actions, even in previous time of wars? After controversial photos of waterboarding on Vietnamese POW’s were printed during the Vietnam War, US generals declared the practice illegal. In World War II, the US prosecuted a Japanese officer for use of waterboarding on a US civilian, and even in this decade, the US State Department issued a manual that prohibits the use of waterboarding by US military personnel. So, if it hasn’t been okay with us in the distant and recent past, then why now?

I have to agree with an editorial printed in the Washington Post last year. It discusses that Bush’s signing of an executive order that in effect bans torture of terror suspects doesn’t include waterboarding or other past CIA practices specifically but rather anything that “causes threat of imminent death.” This goes back to the argument about the effects of waterboarding. This editorial also states that it would allow administration to use legal loopholes effectively as it has in the past, some which could work around the Geneva articles. And if some of these practices become somehow considered accepted and public knowledge and able to fit into Bush’s view of the Geneva constructs, then who says that other countries couldn’t make the same argument if they detain Americans? Wouldn’t they be protected because of precedent on how Bush defines Geneva? This article on the blog is interesting because it appears they are finally addressing the legal implications and “approvals” of these practices, which they should.

The whole idea of torture, I feel may be all for not anyways. I mean, there have been studies that show that torture-type practices don’t necessarily elicit accurate, useful information from suspects anyway. The practice of waterboarding can be debated back and forth, but I don’t know if it’s a “worthy” practice anyways. Regardless, call me naïve, but I feel all humans deserve rights, especially one’s that are just “suspects” (which is a whole other controversy within our war that needs to be addressed).

vincent said...

It comes as no surprise to me that the Justice Department made certain moves legalizing the use of water boarding by the C.I.A. Given all the controversy and attention surrounding the 9/11 attacks its no wonder that our government pulled a couple strings to find out more on Al Queda. Bush was on TV everyday saying we’re going to get those terrorists by any means necessary. People just didn’t realize that torture methods were one of those means. I think that if people were asked to take a public poll accepting/condemning the use of water boarding to get to the bottom of 9/11 attacks, the results would have been substantially in favor of using the torture methods.

I asked myself and a couple of friends around me that read this article if they would approve of the use of torture methods for the sake of preserving their own personal safety as well as the country’s. They said yes if it meant securing their safety and keeping “the bad people out there” from jeopardizing it. I responded by asking the question of whether they trust the government in telling them that their torturing the right “bad people out there” and not just people under suspicion. I then reminded them of a time right after the 9/11 attacks how everyone thought Hussein was associated with the attacks due to media coverage of the government during this time. “The majority of the public was misinformed because Bush and the government kept using Hussein’s name and terrorists in the same sentence. Do you trust the government to tell the truth about who their torturing?”

I also think that it’s pretty ironic that this has become the subject of investigation in 2008, after the national focus had shifted from the 9/11 attacks to the war in Iraq. Ok, five years later now it’s ok to address issues of morality.

Reading this article makes me think of any other methods (not necessarily torture) deployed by the C.I.A. that are deemed illegal but were ignored by officials in the justice department i.e. the crack epidemic of the 80’s, relations with Cuba, and who knows the atrocities being committed behind closed doors in the war in Iraq.

Kim said...

I don’t like to think of my government as one that sanctions torture, but it does or did. If John McCain, who experienced torture, can be against this type of interrogation technique, the administration should listen. The current murky legal status of waterboarding worries me as do the offshore prisons. If we can’t do it in the U.S., we shouldn’t have our partners in the war on terror do it for us. This is an example of how the U.S. has lost some moral authority.
If someone has to experience pain equivalent to organ failure or death to be tortured, then there is no such thing as torture. The slick legal moves of the lawyers who justified this have obliterated the definition of torture. I’m not sure how interrogators would quantify the amount of pain they caused.
On the other hand, one of my favorite TV shows is 24. Jack Bauer, the lead character, has been a victim and perpetrator of torture. Sometimes I actually agree with his tactics to get the truth for the Los Angeles Counterterrorism Agency. Obviously, my television sympathies vary from my real world beliefs. There has to be limits on what we are willing to do to get the truth.

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