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Is waterboarding, a torment? Can’t we do away with it after 9/11?

When will it cease to exist?

When will it cease to exist?

What is waterboarding? A kind of torture that has become a huge outcry after CIA agents used it against Al Qaeda terrorists. On April 16, President Obama pardoned the CIA torturers who used waterboarding and rude interrogation techniques. Under the previous Bush administration, they tormented two Al Qaeda prisoners for about 266 times and it is no surprise that the actual times may be higher than the reported. Before that Khalid Sheikh, accused in Sep 11, 2001 attacks was subjected to waterboarding 183 times.

This kind of punishment is executed by immobilizing the victim by tying his hands backwards and pouring water over his lowered face and breathing passages. By thrusting him for suffocation, the victim is made to feel as if he is drowning and he is about to die. Even though the method does not cause physical damage, it can give way to extreme pain, damage to lungs and brain. Sometimes it leads to physical injuries like broken bones due to choking against restraints or ultimately, death. The fear of being killed is a terrifying experience, a traumatised victim recalls.

Acknowledged by politicians, legal experts and war veterans, it was practised way back from the period of Spanish Inquisition and was used widely in Cambodian prisons during Khmer Rouge regime.

Waterboarding for 9/11 attacks:

U.S in 2003 and 2004, in a pair of secret memos to CIA gave permission to use interrogation techniques against Al-Qaeda suspects. Later, the government distanced itself from CIA when the information about mistreatment of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison leaked out to the public. A growing rift between the CIA and the government was felt that the agency officials wanted more tangible support from the latter. In the agency’s view, it was like this: “We don’t want to continue unless you tell us in writing that it’s not only legal but is the policy of the administration.” By November 2005, CIA put water boarding on their list of authorised “enhanced interrogation techniques” that can be used against high ranked terror suspects. The then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice openly disclosed that waterboarding was used for interrogating top Al-Qaeda suspects.

Who has given the right to torment victims with no well-formulated guidelines? Of late it has been found out that these interrogation methods can not be considered feasible for scouting information from the detainees. Several White House officials in early 2002 wondered whether such horrendous measures were “effective or necessary… and lawful” and believed that it is a poor interrogation method as it scares the prisoner so much that you can not believe his statement altogether. Human activists feel that freedom from torture is a human right and every human being should be given fair trial.

Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a POW during the Vietnam War, says water boarding is definitely a form of torture and human rights’ group acknowledge to it. It is to be noted that in 1947, a Japanese soldier who used water boarding against a U.S. citizen during World War II was sentenced to 15 years in U.S. prison for committing a war crime.

In September 2006, Bush administration confronted widespread criticism as it refused to sign a Congressional bill that illegalize the use of torture techniques against all U.S. prisoners. Ironically, CIA and its agents were untouched by that new policy, as CIA is not a division of the U.S military.

History will not judge us kindly” asserts Ashcroft. What do you think about it? Post your comments.


April 21, 2009 Posted by | Global Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments