Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Attorney General Michael Mukasey, this country’s chief legal officer, discussed the torture known as water boarding Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chair Patrick Leahy insisted that water boarding "has been recognized as torture for the last 500 years." Though it has been practiced since the Spanish Inquisition in the 1400s, Mukasey told Senators he is not sure it is really torture.
Taking a more direct approach, Senator Ted Kennedy asked Mukasey, "Would water boarding be torture if it was done to you?" He answered flatly, "I would feel it was" — but then insisted that his words did not constitute a legal opinion. "It’s like saying you are opposed to stealing but aren’t sure if bank robbery would qualify," Kennedy responded.
Mukasey also declined to say whether the United States government had previously used water boarding: "I am not authorized to talk about what the CIA has done in the past." However, this Monday John Negroponte, CIA chief from 2005 to 2007, appeared to confirm its use when he said it had been made illegal and "has not been used in years."
The record shows this form torture was used by U.S. forces in Viet Nam, and even more extensively by U.S. forces during the Philippine occupation (1898 to 1911). In the Philippines U.S. officers were determined to produce what General Franklin Bell called "a demoralized and obedient population." To this end in Batangas, Bell used what was then called "the water cure" as he ordered the destruction of "humans, crops, food stores, domestic animals, houses and boats" In Samar General Jacob Smith used water boarding as he turned the Filipino province into a "howling wilderness."
High U.S. officials were candid in those days. William Howard Taft, U.S. appointed Governor of the Philippines, testified under oath to Senators the "so called water cure" was used "on some occasions to extract information." General Frederick Funston, whose record in the Philippines earned him two Congressional Medals of Honor, told a San Francisco audience he endorsed massacres, torture, including the water cure, and executed fifty Filipinos without trials. His subordinate, Captain Edmond Boltwood, told how he saw Funston administer the water cure to prisoners. Another soldier boasted he had used this torture on 160 individuals and only 26 had survived.
Isn’t it time to come clean about torture — and about the adherence to law and democracy we expect from our leaders?
WILLIAM LOREN KATZ is the author of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage. His new, revised edition of The Black West [Harlem Moon/Random House, 2005] also includes information on the Philippine occupation, and can now be found in bookstores. He can be reached through his website: www.williamlkatz.com