Previous posts in this discussion:
Poston "Enhanced Interrogation" and Enemy Combatants (Massoud Malek, USA, 12/14/14 6:36 am)
On 11 December, Timothy Brown wrote:
"My own positions is that ideologically selective moral indignation is profoundly immoral. I also believe that terrorism is a form of warfare and that the 9/11 attack was an act of war."
Timothy is absolutely right. The 9/11 attack was an act of war, and the US had the right to take as many terrorist prisoners as it could, but it had no right to change the rules.
According to Article 17 of the Geneva Convention, prisoners of war (POWs) are only required to give their name, rank, date of birth, and serial number. In addition, POWs should not be physically or mentally tortured. Furthermore, the Geneva Convention states that POWs should be treated humanely.
After the September 11, 2001 attack that killed about 3,000 innocent people, the US declared a "War on Terror." In 2002, the US decided to use the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base as a military prison. To avoid article 17 of the Geneva Convention, the US decided to call those prisoners of war "enemy combatants." Immediately after clearing the path for torture, experts in the field of torture were hired at a cost of a whopping $80 million to American taxpayers. Their main objective was to find out the whereabouts of Osama Ben Laden.
In India, Myanmar, and Thailand, when elephants are captured, they are placed in a cage and tied with ropes to keep them from moving. Then handlers use sleep-deprivation, hunger, and thirst to "break" the elephants' spirit and make them submissive to their owners.
In 47 of 50 states in the US, people who commit cruelty against animals, except mice, rats, and birds, may spend up to five years in prison and be fined up to $50,000. But the fact that captured terrorists were not kept on the US soil, all types of torture techniques that are used in crashing elephants were used on captured humans who were not protected by the Geneva Convention or the US animal cruelty law. In addition to those inhumane techniques and mock executions, they were also waterboarded.
One enemy combatant was waterboarded 83 times and kept in cramped boxes for nearly 300 hours in Thailand. To break their hunger strikes, five enemy combatants were subjected to "rectal rehydration" and "rectal feeding." One detainee was fed rectally with pasta, sauce, nuts, and raisins.
It is a criminal offense for anyone to try to force you to do something by threatening you or your family with violence. Beside physical abuses, the CIA torturers threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families, including threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of an enemy combatant, and a threat to "cut a detainee's mother's throat."
In the United Kingdom, MI6 was complicit in a least two separate CIA rendition cases in 2004, which resulted in the kidnapping and transfer of two Libyans to prisons run by the Muammar Gaddafi regime. Both men's families were also abducted. The pregnant wife of one of the men claims she was bound to a stretcher with tape from head to toe for the duration of a 17-hour flight.
In an interview by RT, Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan said, "a number of terrorists, were taken from Poland to Uzbekistan. In Uzbekistan, I believe they were murdered, because they have never been seen again."
The difference between torturing elephants in Asia and torturing human terrorists in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan is that in every instance the "elephant crush" is successful, but according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, "there is no evidence that terror attacks were stopped, terrorists captured, or lives saved through use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs)."
JE comments: RT is having a field day with the latest controversies in the US. The police brutality and "enhanced interrogation" scandals are really taking the heat off Mr. Putin.
"Enhanced Interrogation" is Torture. Period
(John Heelan, UK
12/14/14 6:53 AM)
I would be grateful if WAIS could use the proper word for "torture" rather than the mealy-mouthed EIT that was usually practised in overseas locations outside the reach of US law. In 2006 the BBC published an interesting survey of world attitudes to torture (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/6063386.stm#table ). One interesting observation that might be made is that Israel is ambivalent about the practice, which might explain the findings of Alan Dershowitz's "Ticking Bomb" thought-exercise.
Also the BBC has an interesting discussion on the ethics of different aspects of the practice. (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/torture/ )
JE comments: That was my thought several days ago, when I called "enhanced interrogation" the most startling euphemism of our age. Torture is torture.
(Enrique Torner, USA
12/14/14 4:44 PM)
JE: This post belongs to Enrique Torner, not Eugenio Battaglia. I accidentally selected the wrong author from our scroll-down menu, which is listed alphabetically by first name. My apologies to both Enrique and Eugenio:
John Heelan (14 December) touched a topic dear to my heart: "political euphemisms." Politicians, media, and other people in the US have the custom of manipulating language for political reasons in order not to offend people and lose votes and/or reputation. You hear so many ridiculous euphemisms, that foreigners with limited language abilities have a hard time understanding what people are saying. Among the many euphemisms that people use, the ones that irritate me the most are "untruth" and "distorting the truth," which is what euphemisms actually do. Here is a list of the most common euphemisms you hear:
--"Death with dignity," which should be "physician-assisted suicide"
--"Right to choose," for "right to an abortion"
--"Pro-choice," for "in favor of abortion"
--"Pro-life," for "against abortion"
--"Fetus," for "unborn or born dead baby"
--"Collateral damage," for "civilian casualties"
--"Migrants," "immigrants," "undocumented workers," instead of "illegal aliens"
--"Underprivileged", for "poor"
--"Soul mate", for mistress
In many cases, you can recognize the ideology of the person talking by the euphemisms he/she uses. Here is a meaningful and telling quote from the rules that the Associated Press imposes on their reporters:
"Abortion: Use anti-abortion instead of pro-life and abortion rights instead of pro-abortion or pro-choice . Avoid abortionist, which connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions."
Or this other rule:
"Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use 'illegal' only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant."
In sum, "political euphemisms" are nothing more than an attempt to manipulate people's perceptions of reality. In some cases, they are used out of fear, as in the case of stating that somebody told an untruth, or distorted the truth. Come on! Don't be a coward, and call "a spade a spade."
JE comments: WAISers know that I insist on "undocumented" instead of "illegal" when referring to immigrants without the correct papers. I see no euphemism in this. "Undocumented" is simply the more accurate term. Ditto for fetus, which is a scientific word.
Another replaced-by-euphemism word for Enrique Torner's list: liberal. In the US they now self-identify as "progressives."
I'll still put "enhanced interrogation" for torture as the most egregious euphemism of our age. I'm surprised Robert Whealey hasn't pointed out the Orwellian similarities.
- Euphemisms (Enrique Torner, USA 12/14/14 4:44 PM)