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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

Texas Could Secede: Rick Perry Moots

Secession Likely?

Secession Likely?

Texans are tired of federal tax policies and might decide to secede from U.S federation, Governor Rick Perry informed reporters. He also warned that the financial breakdown might cause the U. S to dismantle like the USSR and made a declaration of Texas’ Sovereignty after he attended an anti-tax party rally in Austin.

When Texas acceded to the union in 1845 it was with the understanding it could pull out.However, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas negotiated the power to divide into four additional states at any future time but not the right to secede.

Mr. Perry said, “I believe that our federal government has become oppressive.” He also added that Texas does pay a greater amount of federal income tax than it receives in services when compared with other states and for that case, Washington shall not mortgage its future. He is profoundly concerned over the swelling tax burden that is levied on all Texans.

US FED Crisis

US FED Crisis

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also Republicans, have been candid against the economic stimulus expenditure and encouraged tea parties in their states. The protests were being held throughout the country on federal income tax deadline day to imitate the original Boston Tea Party of American revolutionary times.

At the Texas Capitol, Perry joined state lawmakers in pushing a resolution that supports states’ rights protected in the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Tenth Amendment gives those powers not expressly granted to the federal government nor prohibited by the Constitution. There are many ways the Constitution limits state powers – the supremacy clause, the dormant commerce clause, the privileges and immunities clause, the 14th Amendment, etc.

As Mr. Perry is racing for re-election, it is hard to find whether this is a legitimate threat or an election stunt. His anti-Washington remarks have become more strident in the past few weeks as that 2010 race gets going and since Perry rejected $550 million in federal economic stimulus money slated to help Texas’ unemployment trust fund, mooting the stimulus money would come with strings attached.

April 16, 2009 Posted by | Global Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rosa Brooks – New Mouthpiece For Pentagon

Flack representer

Flack representer

Rosa Brooks, Los Angeles columnist is to advise Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Fluornoy. She is currently in a position where she has considerable access to Armed services and Defense policies and lightheartedly refers the shift from journalism to politics as her “personal government bailout”.

She used to advise Harold Koh at the State Department during Clinton administration, when Koh was assistant secretary for human rights.

A former law school professor, in her last column for the Los Angeles Times on April 9 wrote that it is time for a state owned press, as our society depends on that profession for its survival. Apart from that she calls for an industry wide financial bailout for her ex-colleagues. She expressed, “A decimated, demoralized and under-resourced press corps hardly questioned the Bush administration’s flimsy case for war in Iraq – and the price for that failure will be paid for generations. It’s time for a government bailout of journalism.” In short, she wants the government to subsidize the ailing journalism.

The lack of revenue is what is killing newspapers. She added, “They continue their death spiral, with dwindling circulations and thousands of layoffs. I’ve only lasted this long because as a freelancer – with no benefits and minimal pay – I’m just too cheap to be worth firing.” She points out that other democratic governments patronize media better than U.S. Canada spends 16 times as much per capita and Britain spends 60 times as much.

She suggests that tax dollars can be fully utilized and licenses can be granted in ways to promote independent and robust reporting and commentary.

In an article in April 6 Nation, John Nichols and Robert McChesney offer some ideas on how to bail out the news industry. They suggest, for instance, eliminating postal rates for periodicals that get less than 20% of their revenues from advertising, a tax credit for the first $200 taxpayers spend on newspaper subscriptions and a significant expansion of funding for public broadcasting.

Subsidies in France have forced the newspapers to succumb to political pressures, that is why, readers don’t trust their writing. To add insult to injury, investigative reporters are forced to quit their jobs first before they can publish their work, as books.

It must also be kept in mind that when government holds the strings, government will dictate the actions and the product. In fact, that’s why most of us value an independent media over a Ministry of Information.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Global Politics | , , , | Leave a comment