David Kirkpatrick

February 15, 2010

Dick Cheney admits to being a war criminal

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:11 am

Cheney openly declared himself a “big supporter of waterboarding.”

Waterboarding is considered torture under U.S. and international law, and the imposition of, or ordering from a leadership position of, torture constitutes a war crime.

There is no possibility Cheney was confused and didn’t realize he was admitting to criminal activity. He clearly is either playing chicken with the Obama Justice Department on the potential for legal action on his admission, or he’s truly gone around the bend and sees himself far enough above the law that legal statutes no longer apply to to his activities.

At any rate I doubt he travels to many first world nations around the globe for the rest of his days.

From the link, Andrew Sullivan on this admission:

The question is therefore not if, but when, he is convicted as a war criminal – in his lifetime or posthumously.

In fact, the attorney general of the United States is legally obliged to prosecute someone who has openly admitted such a war crime or be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention on Torture. For Eric Holder to ignore this duty subjects him too to prosecution. If the US government fails to enforce the provision against torture, the UN or a foreign court can initiate an investigation and prosecution.

These are not my opinions and they are not hyperbole. They are legal facts. Either this country is governed by the rule of law or it isn’t. Cheney’s clear admission of his central role in authorizing waterboarding and the clear evidence that such waterboarding did indeed take place means that prosecution must proceed.

Cheney himself just set in motion a chain of events that the civilized world must see to its conclusion or cease to be the civilized world. For such a high official to escape the clear letter of these treaties and conventions, and to openly brag of it, renders such treaties and conventions meaningless.

May 22, 2009

Friday video not-so-fun — waterboarding is torture

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:32 pm

Looks like a conservative radio talk show host on the side of “waterboarding is not torture” put his money where his mouth is and took the test. After being waterboarded he declared unequivocally waterboarding is torture. Maybe a few more waterboarding defenders ought to undergo the procedure and see if they don’t have a change of heart.

And keep in mind this reaction is coming from someone in a very controlled situation with medical staff on hand and a “safe” device he could toss to end the waterboarding at any time (at around seven seconds in this case.)

For anyone who supports waterboarding terrorists and claims it isn’t torture (although U.S. and international law considers the procedure so) imagine one of your loved ones picked up by the police in a foreign country for seemingly no reason and repeatedly subjected to waterboarding. Would that be torture?

Here’s a clip of the torture and its aftermath:

May 14, 2009

Bush torture program — politics over protection?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:55 pm

Sadly, that may well be the case. It’s horrible that the Bush 43 regime overturned United States policy against torture, ostensibly to keep the nation safe from terror attacks. It’s an entirely new level of criminal to have done so in order to cook up information (proven to be false) to take this nation to war.

Inexcusable, anti-American and criminal. This is subversion of U.S. law at the highest level of government, the White House.

From the link:

At last, the torture debate looks to be heading toward what’s been the big question lurking in the background all along: was the Bush administration using torture in large part to make a political case for the invasion of Iraq?

Writing on The Daily Beast, former NBC producer Robert Windrem reports that in April 2003, Dick Cheney’s office suggested that interrogators waterboard an Iraqi detainee who was suspected of having knowledge of a link between Saddam and al Qaeda.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was questioned on the issue today in two TV interviews. Speaking to CNN, Whitehouse allowed: “I have heard that to be true.” To MSNBC, he noted that there was additional evidence of this in the Senate Armed Services committee report, and from Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell. “This thing is just getting deeper and deeper,” said Whitehouse, noting that if it were true, it would significantly bolster the case for prosecutions.

April 24, 2009

Right v. wrong

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:33 pm

These are the actual sides in the current discussion on torture– particularly the waterboarding technique which is defined as torture by every legal authority aside from the discredited memos created by the Bush 43 regime’s OLC.

The coda to the linked post:

… this is a defining moment for America. This is not now and never has been a question of right versus left. It is right vs wrong. It is a bright line which the black-and-white crowd has suddenly decided is oh-so-gray. But we have their testimony now. And history has it for ever.

December 24, 2008

Dick Cheney, self-avowed war criminal

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:50 pm

I don’t see how these comments fail to create serious legal implications for Cheney and the rest of the Bush 43 team.

Possibly the group could be exonerated given the gravity and uniqueness of the situation, but I doubt it. Many countries other than the US deal with much higher levels of terrorism and don’t resort breaking international law.

From the link:

Mr. Cheney, by contrast, is unbowed, defiant to the end. He called the Supreme Court “wrong” for overturning Bush policies on detainees at Guantánamo Bay; criticized his successor, Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.; and defended the harsh interrogation technique called waterboarding, considered by many legal authorities to be torture.

“I feel very good about what we did,” the vice president told The Washington Times, adding, “If I was faced with those circumstances again, I’d do exactly the same thing.”

The difference in tone, friends and advisers say, reflects a split over Mr. Bush’s second-term foreign policy, which Mr. Cheney resisted as too dovish. It also reveals their divergent approaches to post-White House life. Mr. Bush, who is planning a public policy center in Dallas, is trying to shape his legacy by offering historians a glimpse of his thinking, while Mr. Cheney, primarily concerned about the terrorist threat, is setting the stage for a role as a standard-bearer for conservatives on national security.

March 20, 2008

Why discussing the US and torture …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:24 pm

… is a debate worth both time and intellectual energy. In a previous post on US torture, there was (an all too short) debate on the United States use of torture, and particularly waterboarding, in the comments.

Do read the linked post and all the comments, but I’m going to include my final comment here because I feel it sums up my thoughts on the subject:

I would say elements of both the left and the right use the Global War on Terror (and all its attendant parts, including this issue) as a proxy for ideological arguments.

There are vocal elements of the left who want to do just what you wrote — shut down Gitmo, pull out of the Mideast, etc. And I’m pretty sure there’s parts of the right that would have no problem instituting full-blown, no questions asked systematic torture to attempt to pry information from captured combatants.

What I meant by not a left/right issue is, the topic under discussion — waterboarding and its role in the GWOT — transcends the ideological battles described above.

Certainly pretty much every one in opposition to the Bush administration is against our using the technique, and a number of administration supporters and members have publicly aired concerns as well. Yes, there’s a core of right wing support for waterboarding, but it is a controversial topic. Some people may make it a divisive issue, but the real debate is not inherently divisive.

As I quoted above, as recently as Vietnam our service members were court martialed for using that very technique. The technique may or not be torture, but we defined it as such for a long period of time.

September 11, 2001, created the change in that policy. As shocking as 9/11 was, at the highest levels of government it was not a complete surprise. We’ve known about bin Laden and al Qaeda for a long time, and knew he was plotting against our policies and person.

The question I ask is 9/11 and the subsequent framing of the GWOT worthy of throwing out a policy of non-torture that began during the Revolutionary War and was put into practice by George Washington?

I don’t think the technique is necessary to effectively prosecute the GWOT. I would particularly like to hear a sound justification from the administration why this change in policy was necessary and how it is effective. I’m sympathetic to needs of secrecy regarding the GWOT because there is a unique, and new, nature to the threats facing the US, but I also think this shift is so fundamental to our national heritage and image this debate should be conducted with much more transparency on both sides.

Sure waterboarding is a proxy for many things left and right, but it’s also a tangible and controversial issue.

You mention you feel I’m passing judgement after listening only to the prosecution. I feel I’ve read a wealth of material from sources on the left and right, and from journalism (biased or not) that presents facts. To date the pro-waterboarding side has not persuaded me that bin Laden and his minions require the US to radically change the way we approach the rest of the world militarily and legally. I think the America of September 10, 2001, was perfectly capable of handling the GWOT.

Sure that Tuesday morning I was blindingly angry. I was woken in a vacation condo on the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida, to hear the World Trade Center towers were both struck by planes. When the media began reporting celebrations in Afghanistan I immediately thought of bin Laden (didn’t think of al Qaeda per se, but I was aware of bin Laden pre-9/11). My next thought was we should nuke that country back from its then (and now) Middle Age society to the Stone Age, or maybe to time before humans walked in Afghanistan.

That was my heart. I feel no less strongly about Islamic terrorism today than I did at that moment. I do know I think the US did very well for itself before 9/11, and to me nothing occurred that warrants changing our fundamental approach to the world.

So that’s the question I ask, and the topic I’m discussing — does the GWOT make changing our core values necessary? Or worthwhile? For me, until I learn something completely new about the topic, the answer is no.

February 6, 2008

CIA admits to waterboarding

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:40 am

CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress the agency used waterboarding on three occasions. This is the first official declaration that the US government waterboarded detainees.

Before September 11, 2001, the interrogation technique was considered torture and US military personnel have been court martialed as recently as the Vietnam War for waterboarding.

Head to this postto join a comments section conversation on waterboarding, torture and US policy.

(Update: Here’s a former Naval instructor’s testimony on waterboarding. Short version, he says it absolutely is torture.)

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