On CNN’s front page, a poll is current running that indicates 44% of those who have so far voted favor “WaterBoarding” of individuals suspected of terrorism. This is an indication that the “Politics of Fear” are working, and Americans are not thinking this issue through, but are instead reacting to fear without understand the history of WaterBoarding, its history in regard the law, and the direct effect it could have on American prisoners of war.
Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime
By Evan Wallach
Sunday, November 4, 2007; Page B01
First, WaterBoarding is considered torture, it’s against international law and defies the Geneva Convention - which the United States was instrumental in forming and signed. It is bad enough that our President refuses to comply with our own rule of law, much less international law, however it’s sad to note that his decision appears to enjoy support from those that may now understand the implications and danger of WaterBoarding.- Advertisement -
The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government — whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community — has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.
After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”
Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding. MUCH MORE- Advertisement -
If more people knew these facts and the resulting international outrage, the danger it presents to our own troops when captured, but most of all, allowing us to apply a double-standard to ourselves when we have actually convicted others who have been guilty of this exact crime in wars that most of us no longer remember; we’re better than that, and I would urge everyone to vote in that poll and express the outrage of a country that has for far too long ignored the rule of law and international treaties of which we were instrumental in creating and urging others to sign. The hypocrisy is staggering, and it does nothing to repair our image that many nations now label as “dangerous” and “imperialistic.”
I would urge anyone who is awake, now and tomorrow if the poll is still running to express our general outrage that our own country has violated our own, plus several international laws in the pursuit of Bush polices that continue to tarnish the image of the United States. Vote at CNN .