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Finally, an Attorney General Against Cruelty and Inhumanity

We have had years of Attorney Generals who won’t answer the question, “Is Waterboarding an act of torture?” Now Attorney General nominee Eric Holder has come out and said what is obvious: “Waterboarding is Torture.”

In further confirmation testimony yesterday on the treatment of prisoners, Eric Holder responded to a question about other interrogation techniques (my transcription from C-SPAN):

Senator Dick Durbin: The Judge Advocates General are the top military justice lawyers in America. I’ve asked them about the techniques other than waterboarding: painful stress positions, threatening detainees with dogs, forced nudity, mock executions. They told me that each of those techniques is illegal and violates Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions. When I asked Attorney Generals Gonzales and Mukasey the same question they refused to respond. I think it’s only fair that I ask you that question. Let me ask you that question directly. Do you agree with the Judge Advocates General? Would it be illegal for enemy forces to subject an American detainee to painful stress positions, threatening detainees with dogs, forced nudity or mock execution?

Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder: I am not as conversant with those techniques as I am with waterboarding, which is something I have really focused my attention on. And so I would not go so far as to say that those constitute torture. I don’t know about them.

What’s this? Is Eric Holder veering into a Mukaseyism, another refusal to be pinned down? Holder continues:

On the other hand, Common Article III requires that people, prisoners be treated in a humane fashion, and so I would agree that the techniques that you have described, I would agree with the folks in the Judge Advocate General Corps are in fact correct, that those techniques violate Common Article III.

Durbin: That they cross that threshold and become inhumane.

Holder: That’s right.

There we have it. Our next Attorney General has straightforwardly identified waterboarding as torture, and has further characterized various cruel and inhuman forms of prisoner treatment as violations of the Geneva Conventions.

[I'm a skeptic, and so it's difficult for me to shove these words out of my mouth, but here they come....]

What a relief.

7 comments to Finally, an Attorney General Against Cruelty and Inhumanity

  • Jon

    War is a nasty and brutal business. That being said and considering the nature of the Islamic Terrorists that we are at war with, I would be willing to waterboard someone that I suspected of wanting to kill our fellow country men. Even if they only wanted to kill you. I don’t give a good GD if you think it is torture. Ask the people that jumped from the top of the Twin Towers what they think.

    • Jim

      Their nature? You mean, like, that they’re people who “don’t give a good GD” about carrying out torture against people who turn out to be innocent? Islamic Terrorists who have a nature like that?

      • Jon

        There is no such animal as moral equivalency, if you think there is you live in a fairy tale. How many Terror suspect have you seen on TV having their heads sawed off by our Gov. representatives. If you think that you can always play nice with these people your a fool.

        I know that there is a big difference between what I believe and what OBL believes, and it’s not just about how many times a day to bow to Mecca.

        You must subscribe to the hippie theory that if a man enters your house in the middle of the night, rapes your wife, and is holding your daughter at knife point, and you shoot and kill him, you’re guilty of murder.

        • Jim

          Go ahead and call me a “hippie” and put words in my mouth if it makes you feel more secure and superior.

          You’re absolutely right. The government does not televise the instances in which people have been tortured and killed. The televising bit is a crucial distinction.

          Osama bin Laden doesn’t believe in moral equivalency either. But you’re right, it’s different. He thinks it’s ok to kill and torture people for Islam, you think it’s ok to kill and torture people against Islam. Neither one of you give a good GD what I think but the direction is very, very different.

    • So I take it you’re comfortable with and even condone the Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American and other Allied POWs back during World War 2, eh?

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201170.html

      • Anonymous

        This isn’t WWII. And the Jihadists are not abiding by the geneva convention. They enter our country in civilian attire. In WWII that alone would have been enough for the firing squad.

        • Jim

          You’re right, Anonymous. It isn’t a war like WWII at all — and when war hasn’t been declared, criminal standards apply. If you believe in the rule of law, that is.

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