FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Waterboarding

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

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

William Loren Katz is the author of 40 books on African American history, and has been associated with New York University as an instructor and Scholar in Residence since 1973. His website is www.williamlkatz.com. Read an interview with Katz about his life teaching and writing history.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail