A Little Something on the topic of Torture

fructose_boostI had lunch with my Dad the other day.  I like having lunch with him because he gives me an insight as to what the “Joe Turnip” Republican conservative is talking about politically these days, and he’s able to maintain his cool even when I’m telling him things that he doesn’t want to hear.  Well, most of the time he keeps his cool.  It’s all part of a healthy dialog between differences of opinion!  Face it, if you can’t have an intelligent and rational conversation with someone of your political-opposite – you’re probably the “crazy political” person that nobody wants to be around.

Calm, rational and intelligent political conversation is challenging!  Keeping your cool is difficult!

Of course, my Dad repeats Republican “talking points”; Rush Limbaugh’s (ridiculous) ideas and whatever Fox News is currently pushing out on their noise-maker, which is helpful to know what the “average Joe Turnip” from their camp is thinking.  It’s partly why I love Keith Olbermann so much: He’s running stories that clarifies the GOP/Fox Noise Talking Points and throws their views under the proverbial bus by explaining the history of the subject, the back-drop surrounding the subject with a wrap-up on why the GOP is wrong in every aspect of the subject.

At one point in time, between finishing our chips and salsa and our fish tacos arriving, Dad’s kinda stressing out on the topic of Republicans’ views towards this whole Turture thing – thanks to Team Obama.  My Dad’s pretty ticked off: Obama smeared Bush and was enacting revenge by releasing these torture memos – blah blah blah. After years of these “political power-lunches”, it’s more like meditation with an organic “ohmmmmmmmmm” and holding it as long as necessary.  You just let them scream – while you hum: “ohmmmmmmmm”

But then my Dad obliquely said this:

“And you know… This waterboarding was not torture!  It wasn’t!  Look, no soft-body tissue was damaged and they were not killed.  In fact, they had a doctor standing by to make sure that the prisoner was safe!  If no soft-body tissue damage occured, and there’s a doctor standing-by – then it wasn’t torture!!”

Easy point to argue?

Here’s me:

“Dad;  Dr. Mengele was standing by while Jews were turtured in Germany.  It was still torture! I highly doubt that since a doctor was on-hand while these people were waterboarding poses a credible smell-test.”

My Dad was NOT pleased with the analogy.  But, that’s his problem, not mine.  Chalk two gold stars for me.

Last Friday Olbermann discussed the issue of “water boarding” in a historical sense

  • During the 1898 Spanish-American war: US soldiers were using a technique called “water cure” on POW’s in the Philippines and they were courts marshalled.
  • In 1968, the Washington Post published a photo of a US Troop waterboarding a North Vietnamese POW.  Following an Army Investigation, that soldier was courts marshalled.

Huh?!  Huh?!  You see what I mean?  I like Olbermann because he educates me instead of telling me what my opnion should be.

I repeated these points to my Dad, and by noting that torture via waterboarding isn’t something new!

It’s gone on a long time, and the information collected from torture is completely useless:  Just ask John McCain!

Dad didn’t agree – He wanted to get technical by pointing back at the face that “soft tissue” of the body wasn’t harmed – so it doesn’t equate to the technicality of “torture”.  (In other words – we didn’t cut, pierce or gouge skin, limbs or flesh.  Since we didn’t cut off their ears, for example, this couldn’t be considered, techincally “torture”.)  Again, he’s stuck on the issue of “soft-tissue damage” as if it’s something…anything…that prevents his beloved Republican President from being accused of War Crimes.

He lost the argument, again. Two more gold stars for me.

Me:

“Dad: You don’t get to the priviledge all-of-a-sudden to simply redefine what constitutes “torture” because it’s politically convenient!  US Law, International Law, the UCMJ and the Geneva Convention has clearly defined what constitutes “torture”, and the subject of “soft-tissue damage” isn’t included!  If you want to re-define what constitutes “torture”, based on a technicalities – you’re going to have a lot more work ahead of you than simply dismissing the topic because it’s politically convenient!”

Later that night, Keith Olbermann had Maj Gen John Batiste on his show and he had a rather lengthy conversation on the subject of Torture.  Batiste noted that we should examine the Geneva Convention’s “Common Article 3” and look at the photos of Abu Ghraib to decide for ourselves about the topic of Torture.

At the 5:48 time-stamp, Batiste says:

Batiste: Morally, I think most Americans would agree now, that what had happened was torture, pure and simple.  If you don’t believe it, Google “common article three of  the Geneva Conventions”, read about it and reconcile that with the pictures you’ve seen of Abu Ghraib, and make your own decision.”

An interesting idea, No?!!

From the NY Times and Anti-War.com, let’s look at the Geneva Convention’s “Common Article 3” and align it along with photos taken directly from Abu Gharaib:

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ‘hors de combat’ by sickness, wounds, detention, .or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavor to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

The GOP is furious with President Barack Obama for releasing the Bush Administration’s memos related to torture.  And yet, Maj Gen. Janet Karpinsky makes a great point: Where were these Bushies when these photos being released to the public sector years ago?  They should have been proud of themselves by noting all of the “good information” they obtained from this torture!

But they’re not saying that now.  Today, they’re saying that since there wasn’t any “soft-tissue damage”, then it doesn’t equate to the technical word — the clinical word that defines: “Torture”.

Years ago, I heard a story about the Germans who lived during the World War II Nazi Germany Days.  Long after the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals had finished, Germans who were alive and active in supporting the Nazi’s never understood exactly what made the rest of the world so horrified by what they had done. For decades, Hitler’s Youth grew up, had children – eventually grandchildren and all the while, they never really grasped exactly what made everybody around the world view their actions as being so heinous, so vile.

They became an oddity from within their own society and they never fully understood why all the attention.

Perhaps that’s the lesson I have to learn when I have lunch with my Dad the next time.  He’s never going to understand anyway.  Along with what remains of the GOP, he’ll never understand exactly why it was wrong what we did, and all of the miscellaneous details that identified these men to be tortured this way under our watch, will be a legacy that will be left to the rest of us.

We tortured these people.  And for once, instead of adding to a long history of indigenous peoples quarrantined on Native American reservations,  POW’s given blankets infested with tuberculosis and small-pox,  Japanese-Americans being thrown into prisons, and another President Bill Clinton deciding to ignoring the Iran-Contra crimes…We need to stop this train-wreck once and for all.  We should bite the bullet, and let the Bush Administration face the War Crimes Tribunals and let the Republican Party find a way to work around the situation on their own.  They stood-by and did nothing when they had the chance when those photos first appeared back then — so their inaction has to have consequences.

One Response

  1. This look interesting,so far.
    If there’s anyone else here, let me know.
    Oh, and yes I’m a real person LOL.

    Later,

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