Letter: Torture issue

March 2, 2013


To the editor:

Waterboarding has been recognized since World War II as torture and illegal under any circumstance under common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. Sen. John McCain, former POW and Republican nominee for president, has criticized the practice and denied its effectiveness, and noted Japanese soldiers were hung after World War II for inflicting such torture.

Academy Award nominee for best picture “Zero Dark Thirty” depicts waterboarding being applied by CIA agents. Controversy around the use of torture in the movie has centered on whether waterboarding led to useful information being gleaned or not. Several members of Congress challenged the producers for portraying the technique as effective rather than concern over the legality and criminality around admitted enhanced terror being used by CIA agents. If it is illegal and doesn’t produce reliable information, why is it used at all? Ironically, only one person has been charged with a crime concerning waterboarding. Ex-CIA agent John Kriakou was recently sentenced to 30 months in prison for his part in waterboarding. His crime was exposing the use of waterboarding by CIA agents violating the Constitution and world treaties.

When administrations interpret law to suit their objectives, the Legislature fails to challenge presidential powers and the judicial department turns a blind eye to the possible violation of the constitution. Whistle-blowers deserve protection, not prison.


Steve Jacob 5 years, 3 months ago

I always bring up Zacarias Moussaoui. Arrested 8/16/01. If we tortured him, maybe we stop the 9/11 attacks and stop two wars from happening. Not saying right or wrong, just what ifs.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 3 months ago

Two wars that have drained down our nation's wealth would not have happened if:

A) GW Bush had not kept blowing off intelligence reports of imminent attacks by al Queda, and;

B) GW Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld had not been gung ho about having a war to control Persian Gulf oil supplies, which led them to orchestrate a body of lies about "weapons of mass destruction" in order to sell the idea of invading Iraq.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. Glad to see you have your fair share.

I wonder, though, if you were President, would you have been able to say which intelligence was valid and which was not? Would you have been able to prevent the attack on our embassies in Africa, those that happened during the Clinton administration. Or the attack in Tripoli? Could you have prevented the attack on the U.S.S. Cole? Or Pearl Harbor, for that matter?

Yes, 20/20 hindsight is wonderful. Use it wisely.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

There's nothing "hindsight" about the idiocy of BushCo. Perhaps you need to look at your own powers of perception rather than randomly babbling about "hindsight."

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

Oh, O.K. It's that intelligence that had a drone kill a 16 year old American citizen, the son of a terrorist. Whatever. The fact is that intelligence is like medicine. They "practice" at their trade.

Ken Lassman 5 years, 3 months ago

Zacarias Moussaoui's claim to be a part of the 9/11 crew turned out to be all bluster as he turned out to not know most details of the attack and after his conviction for being part of al Qaeda, recanted his claim to being part of the 9/11 plot. Waterboarding him would not have revealed anything.

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.


As the 9/11 Commission noted, "There were more than 40 intelligence articles in the PDBS [Presidential Daily Briefings] from January 21 to September 11 that related to Bin Laden." - See more at: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/09/bush-administration-ignored-september-11-warnings.html#sthash.jKXJ8AYx.dpuf


jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

That would be the same intelligence network that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, right? But wait, intelligence also said Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Different intelligence groups gave different reports, and our leaders are expected to decide which are correct and which are not. I wish they could.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"That would be the same intelligence network that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, right?"

No. The "intelligence" that said they had such weapons was ginned up for purely political reasons by those who'd been pining to invade Iraq for several years, even before they were part of the BushCo administration.

Please try to keep up.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 3 months ago

These aren't the droids you are looking for (waves hand).

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for this comment and for putting in your sources. A president is the result of the experiences of his whole life and unless you grew up with him it is impossible to know how he processes information and then acts upon it.

However, what you wrote is easily verifiable, Bush had all the information he needed to make a decision. He made that decision based on who is was as a man as well as president. Besides, I am thinking, who gives the president his daily briefings and who decides what goes in it?

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

It is truly appalling that Obama has stepped up use of this Bush-era technology. According to the Wikki history (yeah, I know Wikki baddddd), the first U.S. armed Predator was used in 2001.


Brock Masters 5 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately Obama has adopted many of Bush's unconstitutional and immoral policies. You weren't trying to defend Obama by pointing out Bush did it too were you? Nah, of course not because that would be silly wouldn't it?

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 3 months ago

Both presidents are bought and paid for by the same military-industrial complex. What should we expect? That fabricated enemies and never ending war will just go away? Bwaahahaha! Silly sheeple!

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

One president used the same military-industrial complex technology to assassinate three Americans without due process. One didn't.

Brian Chilcoat 5 years, 3 months ago

I love it when the NY Times is quoted as a go to source for making a point. They are not at all biased and left leaning are they? It is curious to me that we all seem to forget that during the Clinton years, the opportunity to take out OBL existed and was missed. Mr. Clinton calls it his biggest regret and thinks 9/11 would have been avoided had his admin done just that.

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

It could also have been avoided if the president hadn't ignored repeated warnings from all over the world.

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

The fact that the whistleblower is the only one to get jail time sends us all a message---

Why is torture used in spite of the fact that it doesn't get useful information and may get lies in order to stop the torture? In other words, it is a negative in usefulness. The only reason I can come up with is that some people enjoy making others suffer.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

verity, I agree with that. There is no other answer for the truly perverted and wicked things that went on in the Iranian prison. I believe that the army chose those who were already predisposed to do such things to be guards.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

Persian prisons can be nasty places I guess. They probably do choose people that enjoy maiming and beheading people. You have to be pretty cruel to hang a person because they are gay.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Do you really think you'll be around long enough to have that discussion?

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

I am a liberal and, no, it's not OK. I will protest what I see as being wrong, no matter who does it. Can you say the same?

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 3 months ago

Ha HAAAAA! You really think it matters who the head-puppet is! Liberal?!? Conservative?!? That's rich! (literally) Get a grip!

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 3 months ago

"When administrations interpret law to suit their objectives, the Legislature fails to challenge presidential powers and the judicial department turns a blind eye to the possible violation of the constitution. Whistle-blowers deserve protection, not prison." So, free Bradley Manning and Julian Asassange and impeach Justice Scalia.

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

And when they decide you are the enemy---you or your family?

We don't necessarily know that "they" are the "enemy." And even if they are, that doesn't make torture right, whether or not effective---which, by almost all accounts, it isn't.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

If waterboarding is torture, what's it called when an American citizen is assassinated without due process?

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

Why aren't you calling for Obama to be tried killing Americans without due process?

Centerville 5 years, 3 months ago

LIberty, that's a pretty brave question, don't you know? You must be either 1) very brave or 2) missed the directive.

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

Why is it brave? Can we all agree with Bozo that it's criminal? Liberals can make the distinction between what is right and wrong all by themselves. We don't have to rationalize that something is right because "our side" did it.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

You support a president that you believe has committed a criminal act?

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

It just makes their dissonance go thru the roof. They are working too hard to make up excuses for "their guy" to worry about me.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 3 months ago

Two things I want to opine:

A) All this hoopla about Al Qaeda and whether or not it did the events has been pretty much proven to be a government lie, if one sits down and analyzes it. 1) why did the building fall as if imploded and explosives set in the perfect places? 2) why do scientists reject the idea that jet fuel caused so much heat the whole building collapsed? Why did Tower 7 collapse? Aren't there enough questions to stop one from believing in the government story? And who gained from that attack? Muslims? Who?

B) There is no justification for Bush, Obama or any president to allow or condone actions by the USA that violate any article of the Geneva Convention. As all military personnel are taught, we are to abide by that convention because it protects American Soldiers as well. Water boarding and drone attacks are means of torture and the collateral damage inflicted is murder of innoicents which is a crime against humanity.

Brock Masters 5 years, 3 months ago

A) Gut reaction is to say take off the tin foil hat, but while I may not be able to connect the dots the way you do doesn't mean you're wrong.

B) I agree, except waterboarding is a type of torture and drone attacks are used to commit illegal acts of murder.

Liberty275 5 years, 3 months ago

Join Rosey O'Donnel and tell us "it’s the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel ".

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 3 months ago

Jet fuel burns at about 1790 F max, so the steel didn't melt, but it did lose about 60-80% of its strength. And, that was enough.
But, you'll hear conspiracy theories until the end of our times, just like the assassination of President Kennedy or Julius Caesar.
Jet airplanes collided with the towers, which caught fire and then collapsed. What else do we really need to know?

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 3 months ago

For me, it was a bit more personal, in two ways. A childhood friend's husband had been in one of the twin towers on business before the disaster, but finished and became trapped in a stopped and darkened subway, no explanation, for hours afterwards, unable to reach his wife on his cell phone.

Meanwhile, at home, she saw what had happened, and knew that was his first stop, and could not reach him on the phone. It was not until early afternoon that they could establish a phone connection to let her know that he had survived.

The other connection was a young Army vet that spent some time in the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) ward in the VA hospital who had served on the clean up afterwards. The Army was sent in on 30 day shifts, which he told me was too long, far too long. Every time I saw him, he was wandering around with a look of shock on his face, and this was in 2006, almost five years after the event. We talked briefly, this is what he had to say:

"The first day I was there, they lifted a beam, and all there was, was a face. A face, that's all there was. A face. That's all. Just a face."

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

A truly foolish statement.

ANY American, you say. As in the 3,000 that died that day? As in their friends and families? As in the first responders? As in the thousands who fled Manhattan and Washington that day? As in the millions who watched as fellow Americans made the choice to either leap to their certain deaths of be burned alive?

I've seen my fair share of foolish comments in this forum. Yours tops the list.

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