Wednesday, March 10, 2010

America the Tortureful

There are still many people who deny that George W. Bush and his administration lied the country into preventive war on Iraq, despite the obvious and overwhelming evidence. They also believe other lies Bush told the country, including the horrific lie that the U.S. didn't torture anyone. When you read the documents obtained by Salon reporter Mark Benjamin, however, you realize what a charade Bush's claims were, and what a horrible nation we have become:

That particular Bradbury memo laid out a precise and disturbing protocol for what went on in each waterboarding session. The CIA used a "specially designed" gurney for waterboarding, Bradbury wrote. After immobilizing a prisoner by strapping him down, interrogators then tilted the gurney to a 10-15 degree downward angle, with the detainee's head at the lower end. They put a black cloth over his face and poured water, or saline, from a height of 6 to 18 inches, documents show. The slant of the gurney helped drive the water more directly into the prisoner's nose and mouth. But the gurney could also be tilted upright quickly, in the event the prisoner stopped breathing.

Detainees would be strapped to the gurney for a two-hour "session." During that session, the continuous flow of water onto a detainee's face was not supposed to exceed 40 seconds during each pour. Interrogators could perform six separate 40-second pours during each session, for a total of four minutes of pouring. Detainees could be subjected to two of those two-hour sessions during a 24-hour period, which adds up to eight minutes of pouring. But the CIA's guidelines say interrogators could pour water over the nose and mouth of a detainee for 12 minutes total during each 24-hour period. The documents do not explain the extra four minutes to get to 12.

Interrogators were instructed to pour the water when a detainee had just exhaled so that he would inhale during the pour. An interrogator was also allowed to force the water down a detainee's mouth and nose using his hands. "The interrogator may cup his hands around the detainee's nose and mouth to dam the runoff," the Bradbury memo notes. "In which case it would not be possible for the detainee to breathe during the application of the water."

What is worse, the war crimes committed in our names, or the fact that no one has ever been held to account for them? From the Revolutionary War to World War II the United States had a reputation as a country that wasn't willing to engage in the kind of barbarity that Benjamin describes. George W. Bush has destroyed more than 200 years of built-up goodwill for the U.S. Now forevermore the world will regard Americans as unrepentant war criminals. Just another gift from the Necons and Republicans.

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