Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cheney Confesses (And No Waterboarding Was Necessary)

Waterboarding: the practise of restraining a prisoner and either dunking him/her or pouring water over him/her to simulate the experience of drowning.

Although the Bush Administration has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that any prisoners in the "war on terror" have been tortured, the past few years have uncovered a mountain of evidence to suggest otherwise. No matter that the opinion of a cadre of college law professors, international bodies and military experts, believe it to be a violation of the Geneva Conventions and thus a war crime, the administration won't budge.

Unfortunately, their assertion that waterboarding is not torture rings as true as Bill Clinton's claim that fellatio isn't sex.

The arrogance appears to have reached a new level when Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledged playing a central role in authorizing the technique. Said Cheney to ABC news, "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared."

Here's where it gets interesting.

While Mr. Cheney may not consider waterboarding to be torture, he appears not to know the history of his own country. In 1947, the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer, Yukio Asano, for carrying out this very act on a U.S. civilian during World War II. Mr. Asano received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. During the Vietnam war, a U.S. soldier was court marshaled for using the technique as was a soldier in the Spanish-American war. That's right, over 100 years ago the United States considered the practise to be torture.

So here's the rub. If historically the United States has punished it's own soldiers for using the technique and prosecuted a foreign fighter who used it for war crimes, it would seem that the U.S. has been definitive about whether or not waterboarding is torture. And since the answer is in the affirmative and others have been punished for using it, logically, we can conclude that by facilitating it, Mr. Cheney has authorized torture. Since torture constitutes a war crime, there is only one reasonable conclusion to be drawn.

Mr. Cheney must be prosecuted as a war criminal. And with him, anyone else who was involved.