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article imageOp-Ed: Torture issues called ‘ a distraction’ in finding bin Laden

By Carol Forsloff     May 5, 2011 in Politics
As President, Obama promised to end torture of prisoners, however in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden some folks claim it was "enhanced interrogation" that led to finding the terrorist said responsible for 9/11.
During the Bush administration key policymakers made a decision that in order to find Osama bin Laden and to interrupt the spread of terrorism, “enhanced interrogation” techniques should be used. One of these techniques is called “waterboarding.” It is, however, opposed by humanitarian groups as a violation of the Geneva Convention against torture.
Waterboarding.org
describes waterboarding as this, " The head is tilted back and water is poured into the upturned mouth or nose. Eventually the subject cannot exhale more air or cough out more water, the lungs are collapsed, and the sinuses and trachea are filled with water. The subject is drowned from the inside, filling with water from the head down. The chest and lungs are kept higher than the head so that coughing draws water up and into the lungs while avoiding total suffocation.
"His sufferings must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown."is the offering of Lt. Grover Flint, Philippine - American war that rounds out Waterboarding. org definition..
In that international agreement called the Geneva Convention set forth in 1987, to which the United States was a signatory, torture is defined as: “ Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
In admitting the United States used waterboarding to interrogate terrorists like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, former Vice President Dick Cheney told CBS in 2008, "it's a good thing" that top al Qaeda figures were interrogated with the enhanced techniques, declaring the information the subjects offered as a result “helped protect the country and saved "thousands" of American lives.”
During a debate this year on the subject of waterboarding and torture, one of the liberals among a group of experts opposing the method of interrogation, cited journalist, Henri Alleg, who said this about his experience in being waterboarded by the French in 1957, “ I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably."
On the other hand, those who argued waterboarding is not torture in that same debate, but simply an effective technique of getting information from hard-core criminals and terrorists, quote a naval official’s remarks about it, "Waterboarding is hardly torture. It does not maim, cause permanent physical damage,or result in death. It merely simulates the sensation of drowning and having no control over your ability to end the encounter for very brief periods of time. Khalid Sheik Mohammed was subjected to this interrogation technique and was able to resist much longer than would have been expected from an individual who had not been trained to resist waterboarding"
Recently both former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Vice President Dick Cheney have stepped up to affirm the use of waterboarding as a viable option against terrorists. In fact, both now claim that its use against the terrorists Khalid Sheik Mohammed eventually led to information that allowed the location and the killing of Osama bin Laden. This is in spite of the fact that Rumsfeld first said only normal interrogation techniques were used during an interview with Newsmax on May 2, following the killing of bin Laden. On May 4, however, Rumsfeld continued his narrative by admitting that the US had used waterboarding, a technique that specifically elicited information leading to the raid on the bin Laden compound and the eventual death of the terrorist.
Rumsfeld’s notions, and those of others in the Bush administration, are now being quoted to underline how former President George W. Bush was right in permitting the use of enhanced interrogation on key suspects to extract important information and details on the location of terrorists that the administration of the time maintained would continue to bring harm to the United States.
ABC news addressed the question about whether or not waterboarding and “enhanced interrogation techniques” had led to the killing of bin Laden. During an interview with Jose Rodriguez who ran the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center from 2002 to 2005, waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other techniques were used for interrogation. He said Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and Abu Faraj al-Libbi were captured during that time and enhanced interrogation techniques were used.
Rodriguez told ABC, "Information provided by KSM and Abu Faraj al Libbi about Bin Laden's courier was the lead information that eventually led to the location of [bin Laden's] compound and the operation that led to his death," Rodriguez tells TIME in his first public interview. Rodriguez was cleared of charges in the video destruction investigation last year. “
The White House, in response to these claims, continues to assert that waterboarding is torture and that it took more than rounds of enhanced interrogation techniques but years of studied examination of evidence through interviews, observations and standard methods of examining individuals to secure the location and death of the terrorist bin Laden. Indeed the whole issue about waterboarding the White House calls a distraction in the ABC News report, even though some of the official experts in the Obama administration have discounted torture as a viable method of interrogation. Obama’s group tells us, however: "This is a distraction from the broader picture, which is that this achievement [of bin Laden's death] was the result of years of painstaking work by our intelligence community that drew from multiple sources. It's not fair to the scores of people who did this work over many years to suggest that this is somehow all the result of waterboarding eight years ago."
As a journalist and Quaker against the practice of torture and someone who has followed the politics and implications of physically exacting methods used to interrogate prisoners, it is my opinion the White House should be congratulated for its handling of the raid on the bin Laden compound and the explanations regarding how it came about. The Obama administration looks at the broad picture that allows for an array of credit where it may be due, rather than the machinations and manipulations of those who don’t want the current President to be recognized for his contributions to the effort in finding and killing the terrorist instrumental in the deaths on 9/11 of 3000 people.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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