Bush says unequivocally that "we don't torture" but in last week's Detainee Treatment bill the White House "compromised" with ex-POW John McCain, changing the President's request for allowing U.S. interrogators to inflict "severe pain" to allow the infliction of "serious pain," which is defined as "bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain." Got that; "severe pain" is illegal, but "extreme physical pain" is just fine under American law.
Word games aside, waterboarding is approved under the new measure. But what does it look like?
Here is a link to a video, created by a former member of the U.S. military, who paid $800 to have himself waterboarded by other former U.S. soldiers, so we can see what these word games allow our interrogators to do. (BE WARNED, the video is ugly to watch. I found it much worse than the Baghdad E.R. documentary the Pentagon warned could trigger PTSD)
If you're not yet physically sick and want to read more on the subject, here is a link to an Alternet article called " This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like" by former U.S. News Senior Editor Jonah Blank. Blank says,
The crux of the issue before Congress can be boiled down to a simple question: Is waterboarding torture? Anybody who considers this practice to be "torture lite" or merely a "tough technique" might want to take a trip to Phnom Penh. The Khymer Rouge were adept at torture, and there was nothing "lite" about their methods....
Bottom line: Not only do waterboarding and the other types of torture currently being debated put us in company with the most vile regimes of the past half-century; they're also designed specifically to generate a (usually false) confession, not to obtain genuinely actionable intel. This isn't a matter of sacrificing moral values to keep us safe; it's sacrificing moral values for no purpose whatsoever.
Sen. Patrick Leahy and others virtually assured the press that the new law will be struck down by the Supremes, but that could take years. Even more eerily, there are indications that the Republicans would not abide by the Supreme Court's authority. Former Speaker of the House and author of the Contract on, er, with America said this weekend, as reported at Salon under the headline "Gingrich Urges Overriding Supreme Court":
Supreme Court decisions that are "so clearly at variance with the national will" should be overridden by the other branches of government, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says.
"What I reject, out of hand, is the idea that by five to four, judges can rewrite the Constitution, but it takes two-thirds of the House, two-thirds of the Senate and three-fourths of the states to equal five judges," Gingrich said during a Georgetown University Law Center conference on the judiciary.
It takes approval by two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the 50 states to adopt an amendment to the Constitution, the government's bedrock document.
Gingrich, a Republican who represented a district in Georgia, noted that overwhelming majorities in Congress had reaffirmed the Pledge of Allegiance, and most of the public believes in its right to recite it.
As such, he said, "It would be a violation of the social compact of this country for the Supreme Court to decide otherwise and would lead, I hope, the two other branches to correct the court."
What does he mean by "correct" and how far will these people go outside of the Constitution?