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  • November 2007
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Giuliani, Thompson, Romney, Mukasey Refuse to Denounce Waterboarding

Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Mitt Romney have all joined Michael Mukasey in refusing to denounce the use of waterboarding on detainees, a technique classified as torture since the Spanish Inquisition.

Waterboarding is a simulated drowning technique that the US has condemned as war crimes and for which Japanese officers and German Gestapo were prosecuted during WWII. The technique is also forbidden in the 2006 U.S. Army field manual, is against US Code Title 18 Chapter 113C, and is prosecutable as a war crime under international law according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

When Guiliani was recently asked whether waterboarding is torture he said that it “depends on how it’s done.” Is there a right way to practice simulated drowning on an individual?

Giuliani recently talked about how he had used similar “intensive questioning” to prosecute the mafia in New York. McCain openly denounced Giuliani’s comments and said: “When someone says waterboarding is similar to harsh interrogation techniques used against the mafia in New York City, they do not have enough experience to lead our military.”

In 2006 Mitt Romney visited Guantanamo Bay, where various “enhanced interrogation” techniques are used including an occasional “dunk in the water“. Romney said he would “double Guantánamo.”

When Thompson was asked if waterboarding was torture he danced around the issue and said he’d “do what I think is in the best interest of my country.”

Now it looks as if our next attorney general (the one man in the country who should definitely understand our torture laws) will be Michael Mukasey, a man who has also refused to denounce waterboarding, calling it “repugnant” but claiming he didn’t understand enough about it to define it as torture. The Senate is set to vote on Mukasey’s nomination in the next few days.

In George Ryley Scott’s book, The History of Torture Throughout the Ages, he describes how waterboarding was a torture technique used by the Spanish Inquisition: “The toca, also called tortura del agua, consisted of introducing a cloth into the mouth of the victim, and forcing them to ingest water spilled from a jar so that they had the impression of drowning.”

Ed Peters, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania said the thing that “makes waterboarding such an attractive interrogation technique,” is that “it causes great physical and mental suffering, yet leaves no marks on the body.” It appears to be a favorite choice among corrupt leaders of democratic nations who can persuade their public that it’s an acceptable technique.

Andrew Sullivan notes that the term ‘enhanced interrogation’ “appears to have been concocted in 1937, by German Gestapo, who called it “Verschärfte Vernehmung” or also translated as “sharpened interrogation.” It was seen by them as “a form of torture that would leave no marks”, and would therefore “save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court.”

On CNN today, Keith Olberman asserted that waterboarding is indeed torture. He described how the actions of Bush and Mukasey of late are all part of a “criminal conspiracy” to save the Bush administration and their CIA counterparts from being prosecuted for their torture crimes.

(Also read: “Why It Was Called ‘Water Torture’“)


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