I also don't like discussing politics at least on LJ because I have a lot of friends who cover a wide swath of the political spectrum, from conservatives to libertarians to Red Staters to Blue Staters to Greens to socialists (and y'all know who you are.) I don't wish to stir up flamewars either between friends. (But on the other hand, if you're judging people solely on their political beliefs, mine might not be the friends list you'd like to be on.)
But Bush's recent actions transcend all that. Honestly. I thought we'd been over the whole waterboarding thing. I really thought the practice would go away, that Those In Charge would let the practice drop what with the outcry over it, and that would, as it should, be that.
Waterboarding is banned by the US Army along with a variety of other interrogation techniques which are either flat-out illegal or near-torture at best. The US Army Field Manual prohibits forms of interrogation such as hypothermia, sensory deprivation, sexual humiliation, mock executions, or physical abuse. And while the CIA claims it has forbidden waterboarding since 2003, it does not have as many limitations when interrogating suspects. Legislation was drawn up last year that would have forced the CIA to comply wholly with the US Army Field Manual when it came to matters of interrogation.
The bill went through both the House and the Senate, and then stopped on George W. Bush's desk. The President, who hadn't vetoed a single thing during his administration until 2006, was quick to reach for the VETO stamp on this one. He has vetoed the bill that would have forced the CIA to forego torture techniques in interrogation, and he has done so proudly:
"The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror," Bush said in his weekly radio address taped for broadcast Saturday. "So today I vetoed it," Bush said.I don't buy that one bit. I don't buy the claims that The Terrorists are so bad-ass, that they've overcome primal, self-survival instincts.
Bush said the CIA must retain use of "specialized interrogation procedures" that the military doesn't need. The military methods are designed for questioning "lawful combatants captured on the battlefield," while intelligence professionals are dealing with "hardened terrorists" who have been trained to resist the techniques in the Army manual, the president said.
An inquisitive, yet extremely foolhardy fellow on the Straight Dope Message Boards decided the only way to determine whether or not waterboarding was as bad as some claimed was to try it himself (kids, don't try this at home.) Here's some of his take:
The water fills the hole in the saran wrap so that there is either water or vaccum in your mouth. The water pours into your sinuses and throat. You struggle to expel water periodically by building enough pressure in your lungs. With the saran wrap though each time I expelled water, I was able to draw in less air. Finally the lungs can no longer expel water and you begin to draw it up into your respiratory tract.Triggering someone's death instict, I'd say, is torture. Wouldn't you? It works just like a mock execution, only on a more visceral level (psychologically, a mock execution just makes you think they're going to kill you; waterboarding apparently makes you think they are.) The Geneva Convention strictly prohibits this. And we're supposed to be the good guys here.
It seems that there is a point that is hardwired in us. When we draw water into our respiratory tract to this point we are no longer in control. All hell breaks loose. Instinct tells us we are dying.
I have never been more panicked in my whole life. Once your lungs are empty and collapsed and they start to draw fluid it is simply all over. You know you are dead and it's too late. Involuntary and total panic.
There is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It would be like telling you not to blink while I stuck a hot needle in your eye.
At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved.
I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger.
I am amazingly appalled at George W Bush's decision. He's made so many poor decisions already in my opinion, but this one is just absolutely mind-blowing in its malice and its arrogance. I am furious at his whole self, his whole image, every fiber of his being right now. It doesn't matter what his fiscal policies are, or his domestic policies, or even what he does in his spare time; the mere fact that he claims his administration does not torture while at the same time vetoes legislation which would ensure that claim is proof of everything that's wrong with his administration. This goes beyond partisanship. This isn't a Red State versus Blue State game. This is a matter of being an actual human being with a goddamn conscience, and it's clear George W. Bush has none. He may not even realize it, and more's the pity for that.
I don't like using phrases like "worst President ever" because there were some who were real cads or ineffective sorts, but none of them ever made the country they professed to love look so bad in the eyes of so many. Of course the Savior of Iraq will be memorialized when his time in office is done, but in my opinion, the only fitting memorial would be that of a barbed wire fence surrounding an American flag, flying at permanent half mast. He threw us into a crisis, a malaise, a horrible state and he won't be the one to get us out.