Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Torturous Logic

I've already pointed out that I have a problem with John McCain. I liked him earlier in his political career when he was still a moderate. But somewhere along the line, he realized that he wasn't getting younger, and probably didn't have a whole lot of elections left in him. I guess he didn't want to die as "Senator McCain" or something. But he's turned into a red, glowing caricature of a right-wing politician, and I don't see him becoming human again any time soon.

His latest outrage really annoys the crap out of me.
The Senate voted 51 to 45 on Wednesday afternoon to ban waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency against high-level terrorism suspects.

Senate Republicans generally opposed the bill, but several of them also did not want to cast a vote that could be construed as supporting torture, and so were relying on President Bush to make good on a threat to veto legislation limiting C.I.A. interrogation techniques.

The prohibition of harsh interrogation techniques is part of a wider intelligence authorization bill and would restrict all American interrogators to techniques allowed in the Army Field Manual, which bars the use of physical force.

The House approved the bill in December by a vote of 222 to 199, mostly along party lines. Wednesday's vote in the Senate was also along party lines. All the "no" votes were cast by Republicans, except for those of Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska. Five Republicans and Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, voted "yes."
Anybody want to guess how McCain voted?
Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has consistently voiced opposition to waterboarding and other methods that critics say is a form torture. But the Republicans, confident of a White House veto, did not mount the challenge. Mr. McCain voted “no” on Wednesday afternoon.
OK, so, the man who was held captive in a Vietnamese prison camp is not opposed to the torture of prisoners? Can someone please tell me where this makes any kind of sense?

I mean, let's look at what happened to the man.
McCain's A-4 Skyhawk had its wing blown off by a Soviet-made SA-2 anti-aircraft missile while pulling up after dropping its bombs. McCain fractured both arms and a leg in being hit and ejecting from his plane as it went into a vertical inverted spin. He nearly drowned after he parachuted into Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi. After he regained consciousness, a mob gathered around, spat on him, kicked him, and stripped him of his clothes. Others crushed his shoulder with the butt of a rifle and bayoneted him in his left foot and abdominal area; he was then transported to Hanoi's main Hoa Loa Prison, nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by American POWs.

Although McCain was badly wounded, his captors refused to give him medical care unless he gave them military information; they beat and interrogated him, but McCain only offered his name, rank, serial number, and date of birth. Soon thinking he was near death, McCain said he would give them more information if taken to the hospital, hoping he could then put them off once he was treated. A prison doctor came and said it was too late, as McCain was about to die anyway. Only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral did they give him medical care and announce his capture… Interrogation and beatings resumed in the hospital; McCain gave his ship's name, squadron's name, and the attack's intended target. Further coerced to give the names of his squadron members, he supplied the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line.

… Now having lost 50 pounds, in a chest cast, and with his hair turned white, McCain was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on the outskirts of Hanoi… In March 1968, McCain was put into solitary confinement, where he would remain for two years…

In August of 1968, a program of vigorous torture methods began on McCain, using rope bindings into painful positions, and beatings every two hours, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery. Teeth and bones were broken again, as was McCain's spirit; the beginning of a suicide attempt was stopped by guards. After four days of this, McCain signed and taped an anti-American propaganda "confession" that said he was a "black criminal" and an "air pirate", although he used stilted Communist jargon and ungrammatical language to signal that the statement was forced. He felt then and always that he had dishonored his country, his family, his comrades and himself by his statement, but as he would later write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine." His injuries to this day have left him incapable of raising his arms above his head.
And he just voted to allow Americans to torture their own prisoners? How much of his self-respect is John McCain willing to sacrifice to become president?

Some of the torture apologists try to tell us that waterboarding is no worse than swimming. Others unabashedly try to tell us that torture works, and we have to keep it around in case the terrorists try to blow up Los Angeles.

Here's the sad part: like John McCain, everybody has their limits. And when you reach your limit, you're going to say whatever you think your captors want you to say. Whether it's true or not.

That's why, in 1998, Qin Yanhong, a Chinese villager, confessed to the rape and murder of a woman he'd never met. Because he was tortured.

Where has America gone? So now we arrest people and lock them away without a trial, we spy on our citizens, and we torture prisoners? Isn't that one of the reasons Bush gave for invading Iraq? Because Saddam allowed torture?

Maybe it's time for America to invade itself.

No comments: