John Ashcroft defended yesterday waterboarding as not constituting torture before a House panel. There were of course some very valuable pearls dropped in there:
The reports that I have heard, and I have no reason to disbelieve them, indicate that they were very valuable,” Ashcroft said, adding that CIA Director George Tenet indicated the “value of the information received from the use of enhanced interrogation techniques — I don’t know whether he was saying waterboarding or not, but assume that he was for a moment — the value of that information exceeded the value of information that was received from all other sources.”
“I believe a report of waterboarding would be serious, but I do not believe it would define torture,” Ashcroft said, responding to questions from Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California.
Can someone remind John Ashcroft of a little piece of history:
In the war crimes tribunals that followed Japan’s defeat in World War II, the issue of waterboarding was sometimes raised. In 1947, the U.S. charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for waterboarding a U.S. civilian. Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
“All of these trials elicited compelling descriptions of water torture from its victims, and resulted in severe punishment for its perpetrators,” writes Evan Wallach in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.
On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The caption said the technique induced “a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk.” The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier.
Read the CNN article on Ashcroft’s nonsense here and the quotes following here , from an NPR note. Don’t miss the account at the end of the article on what it actually feels like.