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March 9th, 2008

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10:42 am - There are four lights.
I don't like discussing politics because it invariably makes me angry. If it's not the schoolyard tactics of campaigning ("Teacher! Teacher!") then it's the polarized If You Ain't For Us You're Agin Us attitude, or a career politician in public office making decisions based not on whether or not it's good for their constituents but whether or not it'll get them re-elected or nominated for a higher position somewhere down the line, or any number of other things that make me grind my teeth down to fine powder. And when one gets that irked, one sometimes lets their emotions get in the way of things and really begins to shoot off a mouth or two.

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.


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.
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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

(36 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
What gets me is that he seems to take such glee in it.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
Yes. Although, looking back at his record, I seem to remember that he seemed to get off on executing people as governor of Texas, too.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
I swear to god it's times like this I'm not sorry there's a war, I'm sorry it isn't against HIM.

He is our enemy, and everyone's enemy. What a cold-blooded monster.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
It's truly beyond comprehension that even now, with his ratings in the toilet, he and his advisers continue to exhibit such reprehensible behaviour. And I wonder if whomever takes over, whether it's a Dem or a GOP, will be able to roll back these atrocities, and how long it will take.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
I think the mindset is: Stay The Course. If this administration continues to insist it's never been wrong, continues to never admit mistakes, then they can resist the worst political label of all in recent memory: Flip-Floppers.

At least they're sticking to their guns. Not being influenced by outcries for change. In this way, they are stoic and heroic in their quest to rid the world of evil-doers. Take no prisoners. Take "enemy combatants." Do with them what you'd like, as they have no rights.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
If it's not torture, Georgie Boy, why don't you try it?

Might change your tune a wee tad.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
I'm certainly not a defender of Bush, and I'm absolutely not a defender of torture, but...

What has happened under his administration is that we have 'owned' our actions during interrogations. Previously, if our techniques wouldn't work, prisoners would be handed over to a group who was willing to push the envelope further, like the French. Pansy-ass as most American's think they are, their troops have been our torture go-to guys for many, many years.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)

I mean, seriously, I knew the US was rendering suspects to Syria and Egypt for torture, but... France? Seriously?
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Post title = WIN
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
But what if there were a bomb ticking somewhere, attached to a duffel bag full of Dick Cheney's Halluburton stock options worth several hundred million dollars? Maybe you'd change your mind then, Mr. Spatch. After all, a bald guy's money is at stake!
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
I don't argue that people who can do such things are amoral in a way I can't begin to comprehend. But I don't believe that becoming a country that commits amoral acts ourselves is doing the slightest bit of good in combating such evil.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
I am amazed, and truly, thoroughly, shocked, to be living in a country that tortures people. I always grew up taking it for granted that we Do Not Do Such Things; realizing that we can and have become such a place is heartbreaking. January 2009 cannot come soon enough.
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
From the CNN article:
Among the techniques the field manual prohibits are hooding prisoners or putting duct tape across their eyes, stripping them naked, forcing them to perform or mimic sexual acts, or beating, electrocuting, burning or otherwise physically hurting them.

They may not be subjected to hypothermia or mock executions. It does not allow food, water and medical treatment to be withheld. Dogs may not be used in any aspect of interrogation.

Forgive me for having to spell this out for myself. The article suggests that the Army field guide banned these activities in 2003. Does that mean the Army, too, engaged in torture up until five years ago?

Putting that disturbing thought aside for a moment, when our President says he does not think the CIA should be limited to the Army field manual techniques, it means he thinks the CIA should be able to use the above-listed techniques, in addition to water-boarding. Am I right?

Fucking lunacy.

The question I have to ask, in order to feel prepared to counter stupid arguments in defense of this Veto, is how else do you get information out of someone who is prepared to die before he tells you anything? Because that is what Bush is saying. He's saying that these terrorist suspects the CIA interrogates are not your run-of-the-mill enemy soldiers that the Army interrogates. These terrorist suspects are harder and badder and by god we just can't get them to tell us anything without torturing them.

At what point do you say "fuck it, we're not going to get any information out of this prisoner, and respect for my own humanity if not his requires that we just stop"?
[User Picture]
Date:March 9th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
I usually reserve "worst president ever" for Franklin Pierce, but now I'm kind of thinking he's dropping to second.

Bush is such a total and complete backwoods country inbred moron, and he's so fucking PROUD of his "Nuke the bastards!" attitude. That's what is so galling about it! If he had even an iota of remorse, like, "Okay, I know this is a horrible thing, that it makes people suffer, but I've honestly weighed out the pros and cons and I believe that this is the course of action I need to take," but no, it's always "I'M THE PRESIDENT AND I SAID SO 9/11 9/11 9/11!" There is no indication whatsoever that he's used independent thought or reasoning to come to the conclusions he reaches. He just makes this flailing leap guided by his idiot collective and decides what he's doing is completely right.

I need my pills.
Date:March 10th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
When you find the pills that make it so your blood is maybe a slow simmer and not a full rolling boil in the face of it, send me a few?
[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
preach it. this is insane. i NEVER post about politics but i'm as horrified as can be about all this. what a goddamn mess.
[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with you here. I try hard to hate both parties equally. I really do. But then stuff like this happens. It's one thing to be incompetent, self-centered, captured by lobbyists, and to believe you talk to god. But this is just out and out, unapologetically evil.
[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
We actually said a prayer about this in church this morning, something to the effect of, "God, please forgive us for living in a country with an asshat for president".

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