Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Torture chamber

So, what is it with Bush administration officials? They don't understand the Geneva Convention, they don't understand how legal is different from illegal, they don't understand the principle of principle? How can it be that the people who run our government don't know this stuff? We're discussing, of course, today's admission by CIA Director Michael Hayden that his agency used waterboarding while interrogating three suspected al-Qaida terrorists in 2002 and 2003. So much for President Bush's pained protests of "the United States does not torture." Hayden made the admission during testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Hayden said the CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to get information after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the Reuters international news service. Hayden also told senators that he banned the technique in 2006, but National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell said at the same hearing that waterboarding can still be done by the CIA with the consent of the president and attorney general. Waterboarding involves strapping suspects down and pouring water over their faces to create the sensation of drowning, and is banned by the U.N. Convention Against Torture. "We used it against these three detainees because of the circumstances at the time," Hayden told the committee, Reuters said. In other words, the Bush administration thinks the United States respects its treaties and commitments except when it doesn't. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois called on the Justice Department to open a criminal inquiry into whether any laws were violated and threatened to block a key Bush appointment if it doesn't. Well, at least we know why new Attorney General Michael Mukasey has refused to tell Congress whether he thinks waterboarding is torture.

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