Waterboarding IS TORTURE - Page 2

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Several accounts reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded while being interrogated by the CIA. According to the Bush administration, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed divulged information of tremendous value during his detention. He is said to have helped point the way to the capture of Hambali, the Indonesian terrorist responsible for the 2002 bombings of night clubs in Bali. According to the Bush administration, he also provided information on an Al Qaeda leader in England.

During a radio interview on October 24, 2006, with Scott Hennen of radio station WDAY, Vice President Dick Cheney seemed to agree with the use of waterboarding. The following are the questions and answers at issue, excerpted from the transcript of the interview:

Hennen: "…And I've had people call and say, please, 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?"
Cheney: "I do agree. 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. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed provided us with enormously valuable information about how many there are, about how they plan, what their training processes are and so forth, we've learned a lot. We need to be able to continue that."

Hennen: "Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?"
Cheney: "Well, 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. That's not what we're involved in."

The administration later denied that Cheney had confirmed the use of waterboarding, saying that U.S. officials do not talk publicly about interrogation techniques because they are classified. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that Cheney was not referring to waterboarding, but only to a "dunk in the water", prompting one reporter to ask, "So dunk in the water means, what, we have a pool now at Guantanamo and they go swimming?" Tony Snow replied, "You doing stand-up?" On September 13, 2007 ABC News reported that a former intelligence officer stated that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded in the presence of a female CIA supervisor

Classification as torture

Today, waterboarding is considered to be torture by a wide range of authorities, including legal experts, politicians, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges, and human rights organizations. However, arguments have been put forward that it is not torture in all cases, or that they are uncertain. The U.S. State Department has recognized that other techniques that involve submersion of the head of the subject during interrogation would qualify as torture.

Controversy in the United States

As a political issue in confirmation hearings

The issue of whether waterboarding is torture became an issue in confirming certain appointments to the Department of Justice. Judge Michael Mukasey was intended to be a consensus candidate to replace Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney General, but his confirmation briefly looked in doubt when he wouldn't state whether waterboarding is torture. Mukasey stated that waterboarding seemed "over the line or, on a personal basis, repugnant to me, and would probably seem the same to many Americans" but that "hypotheticals are different from real life, and in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical." As reported by the Washington Post: Mukasey also stated that he was "reluctant to offer opinions on interrogation techniques because he does not want to place U.S. officials 'in personal legal jeopardy' and is concerned that such remarks might 'provide our enemies with a window into the limits or contours of any interrogation program.'"

The issue came up again in the confirmation hearings of Federal District Judge Mark Filip for the position of deputy attorney general. Filip stated that he considered waterboarding to be "repugnant," and stated that with a grandfather in a POW camp in Germany, he considered the issue to be somewhat personal. That being said, he refused to state whether waterboarding was torture and stated instead that "the attorney general of the United States is presently reviewing that legal question" and that "I don't think I can or anyone who could be potentially considered for his deputy could get out in front of him on that question while it's under review."

As a political issue in 2008 presidential election

The issue of whether waterboarding should be classified as torture also became a political issue for candidates running for president in the 2008 election, which candidates being asked whether they would consider waterboarding to be a form of torture. Several political candidates have stated unequivocally that waterboarding is torture, while others have refused to state this position or have stated that they do not believe waterboarding is torture.

For example, Rudolph Giuliani stated in response to a direct question of whether he considered waterboarding to be torture, he stated "I’m not sure [waterboarding] is [torture]. It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it. I think the way it’s been defined in the media, it shouldn’t be done. The way in which they have described it, particularly in the liberal media. So I would say, if that’s the description of it, then I can agree, that it shouldn’t be done. But I have to see what the real description of it is. Because I’ve learned something being in public life as long as I have. And I hate to shock anybody with this, but the newspapers don’t always describe it accurately."

"Recently, Senator McCain has come out strongly against using waterboarding as an instrument of interrogation. My question for the rest of you is, considering that Mr. McCain is the only one with any firsthand knowledge on the subject, how can those of you sharing the stage with him disagree with his position?" In response to this question Mitt Romney stated "I oppose torture. I would not be in favor of torture in any way, shape or form." Prompted by the moderator as to whether waterboarding was torture, Romney said "as a presidential candidate, I don't think it's wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use" which prompted the following exchange between McCain and Romney: McCain: "Well, governor, I'm astonished that you haven't found out what waterboarding is." Romney: "I know what waterboarding is, Senator." McCain: "Then I am astonished that you would think such a – such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our — who we are held captive and anyone could believe that that's not torture. It's in violation of the Geneva Convention."


All nations that are signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture have agreed they are subject to the explicit prohibition on torture under any condition, and as such there exists no legal exception under this treaty. (The treaty states "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.") Additionally, signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are bound to Article 5, which states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

United States

The United States has a historical record of regarding waterboarding as a crime, and has prosecuted individuals for the use of the practice in the past. In 1947, the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer, Yukio Asano, for carrying out a form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II. Yukio Asano received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor. The charges of Violation of the Laws and Customs of War against Asano also included "beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward."

In its 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. Department of State formally recognized "submersion of the head in water" as torture in its examination of Tunisia's poor human rights record, and critics of waterboarding draw parallels between the two techniques, citing the similar usage of water on the subject. On September 6, 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense released a revised Army Field Manual entitled Human Intelligence Collector Operations that prohibits the use of waterboarding by U.S. military personnel. The department adopted the manual amid widespread criticism of U.S. handling of prisoners in the War on Terrorism, and prohibits other practices in addition to waterboarding. The revised manual applies only to U.S. military personnel, and as such does not apply to the practices of the CIA. However, under international law, violators of the laws of war are criminally liable under the command responsibility, and could still be prosecuted for war crimes.


On FEB. 7 / 08, The White House said that the widely condemned interogation technique known as “WATERBOARDING” was authorized by Bush to continue.Two laws passed by Congress, as well as the Suprems court ruling on the treatment of detainees, were interpreted to have banned this method. However, Dick Cheney and Bush consider it “A dunk in the water.” For years the White House has denied that the U.S. had ever engaged intortureAt the White House briefing the announcement was denounced by key lawmakers. This is a black mark on the United States, said the Senate Intelligence Committee. It has long been suggested that Bush and Cheney should be subjected to the treatment to see if indeed it was just “a dunk in the Water.”

Thanks to Wikipedia
Website Historian

Page 1 - Part 2

Home Page