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Torture: Ho-Hum

Two days ago, in a speech to the Economics Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, George Bush spoke about waterboarding. As reported, for instance, at AOL:

Former President George W. Bush says he has no regrets that the mastermind of 9/11 was waterboarded while under interrogation, and he would allow it again “to save lives.”

Bush made the comment in a speech Wednesday to the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Mich.

“Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” Bush said. “I’d do it again to save lives.”

The notion that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed saved lives is repeated relentlessly by Republican torture defenders, who also insist that waterboarding is, in fact, not torture. See, however, the opening passage from this press release yesterday:

A group of thirteen retired admirals and generals meeting in Philadelphia today to talk with Congressional candidates from both parties about the importance to our national security of treating detainees in accordance with our laws and values responded with disgust to comments made last night by the former President that he would resort to waterboarding in the future.

“Waterboarding is torture. John McCain has said it’s torture. We have prosecuted foreign and American military personnel for waterboarding. We even prosecuted a sheriff in Texas for waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture and torture is a crime. It cannot be demonstrated that any use of it by U.S. personnel in recent years has saved a single American life. To the contrary, the misguided belief that torture saves lives has cost America dearly. It is shocking that former President George W. Bush said he would use waterboarding ‘again to save lives.’ When he authorized it the first time he sent America down the wrong road, battering our alliances, damaging counterinsurgency efforts, and increasing threats to our soldiers.”

Alas, as Obama has so famously said, “my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing. That doesn’t mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation’s going to be to move forward.”

I can do no better than quote Scott Horton’s comments this morning in his Harper’s blog (emphasis mine):

Bush’s statement amounts to an admission of his role in a serious crime. He can speak and act without concern because the Obama White House has announced its intention not to enforce American domestic law, under which this conduct was a felony, and not to comply with the unequivocal treaty commitments of the Convention Against Torture, under which the United States is unconditionally obligated to undertake a criminal investigation. In this way, the sins of one regime have been assumed by its successor.

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Categories: Torture
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