Torture practices ignored by Bush administration
Following the end of World War II in 1949, the world’√Ñ√¥s powers sat down in Geneva, Switzerland and signed the agreement known as the Third Geneva Convention. The agreement outlined treatment that is legal under international law in regards to prisoners of war.
Of this convention, Article III is the most contentious article due to its language. It states that: Noncombatants and combatants who have laid down their arms, and combatants who are hors de combat (out of the fight) because of wounds, detention or any other cause shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, including prohibition of outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.
What is contentious about this article is coming to the forefront of the battle for the new attorney general and statements made by the prime candidate, Judge Marshall Mukasey. The heat behind Mukasey’√Ñ√¥s candidacy is due to his refusal to respond to a question to him that asked if the process of waterboarding is equal to torture. Waterboarding is the practice of tying the detainee by the hands and feet spread eagle with the head tilted down and then pouring water on the victim’√Ñ√¥s head. This practice causes forced inhalation of the water and simulates drowning for the victim. The practice has been declared illegal in international courts and can constitute war crimes charges brought against a person or country that uses it.
In the United States, only the Department of Defense has released a manual that strictly prohibits personnel from using waterboarding as a practice, but this prohibition is only applicable to U.S. military personnel, not to agents of the CIA or FBI.
President Bush refuses to comment on whether he finds the practice illegal; instead saying’√Ñ’uacute;I’√Ñ√¥m not going to talk about techniques. There is an enemy out there.’√Ñ√π
The war on terror is supposed to protect the United States from future attacks that are as bad or worse than Sept. 11. Is this war on terror justification for the use of torture to find out information on future attacks? The Senate, along with the Commission in charge, are giving a resounding’√Ñ’uacute;no’√Ñ√π to this thought process.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said that,’√Ñ’uacute;If we allow the president of the United States to prevent or to forbid a would-be attorney general of the United States … from recognizing that bright line, we will have turned down that dark stairway.’√Ñ√π He has stated that he would vote against the confirmation of Mukasey as the attorney general.
The nation needs an attorney general. There is no debate about that amongst politicians. But should we compromise our principles of being a free nation, with a fair and just judicial system in order to protect ourselves from radical Islamists and terrorists?
The message from the Senate resonates with the message that is coming from the nations citizen’√Ñ√Æ¨î†I hope. We can no longer look at the world through the view of black and white but also realize that shades of gray exist. Every person detained within Guantanamo Bay might not be a terrorist. Mistakes are made, but there is no excuse to torture a being.
The use of waterboarding upon anyone could cause him or her to admit to almost anything you wanted and give any information you wanted. Bush has not only over-stepped his bounds with his statements such as’√Ñ’uacute;there is an enemy out there’√Ñ√π and’√Ñ’uacute;we are at war with people who want to attack us,’√Ñ√π but by his assumption that everyone is an enemy. Even worse so, Bush has insulted and embarrassed the post to which he was appointed.
Our nation can never and should never stand up for tactics that are found reprehensible throughout the world’√Ñ√Æeven if we are at war. The confirmation of Mukasey right so is dependant on his willingness to stand up for what is right, and what is right is telling the president that he is wrong and the United States will not stand for torture.
Clancy, a political science senior, can be reached via [email protected]