[I can't help myself: I write political posts, but more often than not, I haven't posted them. But what the heck. There are some things I believe strongly, and in these most consequential of political times, where, as far as I'm concerned, the existence of the US is literally in the balance, I'm gonna post them. It's not like it'll make any difference, other than pissing off some of my readers; which is decidedly NOT what I want to do. So, as a compromise, I've decided that from now on when I post these screeds, I'll do it on weekends, when not as many people drop by. It's in no way my intention to turn this into a political blog: my goal remains to provide insight, information and hopefully some humor as it relates to the practice of surgery. But on some things, I can't hold my tongue.]
President Bush told the world, "The United States does not torture." (I did NOT..Have..Abusive... Relations...with that prisoner... Mister Zubayda...) The CIA now admits to waterboarding at least three prisoners. So there are two possibilites: Bush is a liar, or the US has undefined waterboarding as torture. Either way, it only adds to the degradation of our image in the world.
After WW II, the US prosecuted Japanese soldiers for waterboarding our own. During the Vietnam War, a GI was convicted in a court martial for waterboarding a Vietnamese prisoner. It's a technique used by the Khmer Rouge, the North Vietnamese, in Chad, and in the Spanish Inquisition. And, it should be noted, its purpose was to get people to confess to things they hadn't done. Like being witches, or pawns of the criminal US government (as in the case of North Vietnam.) Not, in other words, to get at the truth. Under such torture, it's said, people will say anything. It's not a lie detector. Except, evidently, in the US.
But that's neither here nor there. The point is this: waterboarding is torture, and has been so designated by the UN Convention Against Torture, not to mention the US's own standards. Until now. So. Who do you think we are, George Bush? If you want to argue, like Jack Bauer, that torture works and is justified, then do so and make your case. Does it, in fact, produce reliable information? Is it the best or only way? Is it in our long-term interest to be known as a nation that tortures? To survive, must a democracy be as bad as the baddest? People so argue. Man up, as they say, and give us your best shot. Just don't lie to us, or insult us by saying black is white. There's already more than enough bullshit to go around.
And, for the record, I happen to think that becoming like our enemies, in the case of Islamic terrorism, is exactly the wrong way to win the war, which, in the most final of final analyses, is a war of ideas. I think our ideas have transformative power, which is, in part, why Osama, et al, keep convincing George Bush to piss all over them. Is what I think.