Letters 10-12-2015

Replacing Pipeline Is Safe Bet On Sept. 25, Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge, addressed members of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance. His message was, “I want to be clear. We wouldn’t be operating this line if we didn’t think it was safe.”

We pretty much have to take him for his word...

Know The Root Of Activism Author and rabbi Harold Kushner has said, “People become activists to overcome their childhood fear of insignificance.” The need to feel important drives them. They endeavor good works not to help the poor or sick or unfortunate but to fill the void in their own empty souls. Their various “causes” are simply a means to an end as they work to assuage their own broken hearts...

Climate’s Cost One of the arguments used to delay action on climate change is that it would be too expensive. Such proponents think leaving environmental problems alone would save us money. This viewpoint ignores the cost of extreme weather events that are related to global warming...

A Special Edition Cuckoo Clock The Republican National Committee should issue a special edition cuckoo clock commemorating the great (and lesser) debates and campaign 2016...

Problems On The Left Contrary to letters in the Oct 5th edition, Julie Racine’s letter is nothing but drivel, a mindless regurgitation of left-wing stuff, nonsense, and talking points. They are a litany of all that is wrong with the left: Never address an issue honestly, avoid all facts, blame instead of solving; and when all else fails, do it all over again...

Thanks, Jack It is so very difficult for the average American to understand the complex issues our country faces in far off places around the globe. (Columnist) Jack Segal’s career and his special ability to explain these issues in plain English in many forums make him a precious asset to all of us in northern Michigan...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Why we must investigate...
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Why we must investigate torture

Robert Downes - April 27th, 2009
Why we must investigate torture
Robert Downes 4/27/09

In 1947 the United States convicted a number of Japanese war criminals to life in prison for waterboarding U.S. soldiers.
In one case, a Japanese officer named Chinsaku Yuki made his victim strip off all his clothes, after which he was tied naked to a bench. Then Yuki poured water over a cloth wrapped around the victim’s face until he drowned and passed out. When the man was revived, he’d find Yuki sitting on his belly and the process would start all over again.
One U.S. soldier testified that he was drowned four or five times, losing consciousness, then revived for more punishment.
We gave the Japanese and Nazi war criminals the harshest penalties that a military tribunal could mete out for their hideous acts. But now, our nation finds itself gazing in a mirror, faced with the same question: Should the Bush administration be investigated for condoning and encouraging torture?
The short answer is that they already are being investigated -- by the press.
Much of what we know about the harsh methods of the Central Intelligence Agency comes from a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was released in February.
You can -- and should -- read the full report at http://www.nybooks.com/icrc-report.pdf . The report has been excerpted in numerous newspapers and magazines.
The Red Cross interviewed 14 “high value detainees” in CIA custody at Guantanamo prison in 2006. Many of the techniques used by the CIA had been used on U.S. soldiers by the Chinese in the Korean War, such as forcing prisoners to stand for days on end; sleep deprivation to the point of psychosis; prolonged, enforced nudity; exposure to cold temperatures and being frequently doused with buckets of cold water.
These and even more brutal techniques were used by the Soviet Union on their own people. It was Soviet torturers who came up with inserting butt plugs in their victims so that they wouldn‘t soil interrogators with feces when they were beaten and lost control of their bowels. According to reports, this practice was also adopted by U.S. interrogators.
Then there’s waterboarding, which has been practiced since the Spanish Inquisition, dating back to the 1400s. Said to inspire a sense of helplessness and terror capable of driving its victims insane, the CIA reportedly waterboarded one prisoner 83 times with another getting the treatment 183 times.
Has the United States ever condoned the torture methods of communist China, the Soviet Union or Imperial Japan? No, in times past, conservatives (of the sort who are presently apologists for torture) would have cited these evil deeds as being in stark contrast to the principles of America.
And yet, according to published reports, the “enhanced interrogation techniques” of the Chinese and the Soviet Union went into a C.I.A. manual for use on our own enemies -- after being okayed by the Justice Department and the Bush administration.
Perhaps that’s why former Vice President Dick Cheney has suddenly surfaced from the “undisclosed location” he’s been hiding in all these years in order to sing like a canary about why torture was justified under his watch.
Cheney claims that torture was necessary to protect Americans from Al Qaeda. If this is true, then why wasn‘t torture officially sanctioned and practiced on the Nazis, the Japanese, the Confederacy, the Mexicans, Filipinos, Italians, Russians, Spanish, Bosnians, British, Barbary pirates and all of the other nations that America has been at war with over the past 233 years?
Because it‘s wrong. It‘s un-American.
Obviously, some of those interrogated by the CIA are very bad people. Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, who was waterboarded 183 times, confessed to planning the 9/11 attacks and claimed to have personally beheaded reporter Daniel Pearl. There’s a legal remedy for people like this which involves a trial and the gas chamber.
But torture is not legal under U.S. or international law, and it’s worth noting that if you let the Dick Cheneys of the world go scot-free on violating civilized behavior and American principles, then someday the torturers could come for us.
Not those who live in America today, but our children or grandchildren, who may live in a future America where the rules of justice and human rights have gone up in smoke.
If we let torture slide today, then its justification and rationale will live on to rise again in another administration, perhaps years from now. At that point, perhaps waterboarding will become a standard practice at the local county jail. Perhaps, like in the old Soviet Union, our own citizens will be forced to stand in punishment cells for weeks on end. Perhaps, like in China today, people will be beaten and executed in prisons which have no public oversight or regulation.
Should we Americans have laws, established by long precedent and wise deliberation that we follow to the letter, or should we have lawlessness practiced on a whim by those in power? That’s the real issue here.
Even the pro-torture crowd should consider that once we allow presidents to start playing loose with the law, all of our other freedoms are in danger, including the Second Amendment.
Even if the U.S. Attorney General approves an investigation, it’s highly unlikely that anyone in the Bush administration will be doing the Nuremberg neck-drop as a result of its findings.
More likely, they’ll be faced with something on the order of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (as some human rights groups have suggested), which involves confessing that you’ve done something wrong and moving on.
So, unlike the Japanese officers who went to prison for life for waterboarding U.S. soldiers, the worst that can happen today is that some egos in the Bush administration will get bruised and they‘ll earn their place in the hall of shame in our history books.
But at least an investigation will send a message to future presidents that torture is off limits for America.

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