Sunday, November 05, 2006

"A dunk in water is a no-brainer for me"

Friday October 27

Dick Cheney made no secret of the fact (when being interviewed on a right-wing radio talk-back show) that he was all for waterboarding, even though the Bush administration bangs on about not torturing people, not doing torture, not condoning torture, while at the same time forcing the Torture Bill through, which allows the President to define what is and isn't torture under the Geneva Conventions. The Torture Bill also allows the President to decide who should be imprisoned and tortured indefinitely, and does not require him to prove in court that the imprisonment and torture are justified. Which is just as well, really, seeing as there is no justification for torture.

From the White House website. Interview of the Vice President by Scott Hennen, WDAY at Radio Day at the White House:

Q I've heard from a lot of listeners -- that's what we do for a living, talk to good folks in the Heartland every day -- and I've talked to as many who want an increased military presence in Iraq as want us out, which seems to be the larger debate, at least coming from the left -- cut and run, get out of there. One fax said, when you talk to the Vice President, ask him when shock and awe is coming back to Iraq. Let's finish the job once and for all.

And terrorist interrogations and that debate is another example. 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?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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.

The Congress recently voted on this question of military commissions and our authority to continue the interrogation program. It passed both Houses, fortunately. The President signed it into law, but the fact is 177 Democrats in the House -- or excuse me, 162 Democrats in the House voted against it, and 32 out of 44 senators -- Democratic senators voted against it. We wouldn't have that authority today if they were in charge. That's a very important issue in this campaign.

Are we going to allow the executive branch to have the authority granted and authorized by the Congress to be able to continue to collect the intelligence we need to defend the nation.

Q Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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. We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that.

And thanks to the leadership of the President now, and the action of the Congress, we have that authority, and we are able to continue to program.

This is the first time anyone in the Bush administration has admitted that terrorist detainees have been subjected to waterboarding, which the U.S. Department of State has condemned as torture and which even some Republican Senators consider to be torture.

From Yahoo News: When Dubya was asked about Cheney's comment, he wouldn't directly answer the question, but did say:
"This country doesn't torture. We're not going to torture. We will interrogate people we pick up off the battlefield to determine whether or not they've got information that will be helpful to protect the country."

The White House was quick to scramble for the spin, and sent Tony Snow out to answer reporters' questions. You have to watch this. He was eaten alive by reporters who simply wouldn't let him go unless he clarified exactly what Cheney had been referring to by "a dunk in the water" if it wasn't waterboarding.

Raw Story has the full transcript - it's quite amazing. Talk about a Snow Job!

A bit of background info from Wikipedia on the legality or otherwise of waterboarding:

On September 6, 2006, the United States 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 revised manual was adopted 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 to U.S. military personnel, and as such does not apply to the practices of the CIA.

In its 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. Department of State formally recognizes "submersion of the head in water" as torture in its examination of Tunisia's poor human rights record.

So apparently it's OK for the CIA to do it, but not Tunisians.

And here's Keith Olbermann's devastating take on it, with comment and analysis by Constitutional Law expert Jonathan Turley: