Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sorta like mowin your lawn 2

Dick Cheney proudly confirms in an interview with a right-wing radio host that the U.S. waterboards detainees, blandly denying in the same breath that we torture.

In the interview on Tuesday, Scott Hennen of WDAY Radio in Fargo, N.D., told Cheney that listeners had asked him to "let the vice president know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives. Again, this debate seems a little silly given the threat we face, would you agree?"

"I do agree," Cheney replied, according to a transcript of the interview released Wednesday. "And I think the terrorist threat, for example, with respect to our ability to interrogate high-value detainees like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, that's been a very important tool that we've had to be able to secure the nation. ... We need to be able to continue that."

"Would you agree that a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" asked Hennen.

"It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president `for torture.' We don't torture. ..." Cheney replied.
So, for glass-half-full adherents, the Pincus article blogged here previously can be viewed as playing a constructive role in setting the baseline that waterboarding is torture.

Sourpusses like me object to any such moving of the goalposts, and insist on maintaining the pre-September 2006 clarity that torture is torture. Sleep deprivation is torture, forced standing is torture, forced nudity is torture, dousing with cold water is torture, sustained loud music is torture, sexual humiliation is torture. Not "aggressive interrogation techniques that some human rights activists say border on torture". Torture. Crimes against humanity and war crimes, for which Dick Cheney will someday stand trial.

Laura Rozen is the journalist and blogger who's kept the sharpest eye on this issue as it plays out in Europe, where torture is still not remotely like mowin your lawn. In particular, she's highlighted two recent instances in which it's becoming clear that the Italian and German intelligence services have known all along that U.S. operatives were snatching people off the streets of their countries to be tortured.

Nicolo Pollari, the head of Italy's SISMI, may be forced out of his job and even charged for having knowingly allowed CIA operatives to kidnap an Egyptian imam in Milan in 2003. The current evidence that German intelligence officials knew is at a lower level, but it will eventually become undeniable.

We're way beyond that here. Advocacy of torture has become a get-out-the-vote tactic for the ruling party.



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