Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Waterboarding Bites Back

By Cernig

It has come to pass that a JAG Brigadier General refuses to say whether waterboarding American servicemen, if done by another nation, would constitute torture.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Legal Rights of Guantanamo Detainees” this morning, Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, repeatedly refused to call the hypothetical waterboarding of an American pilot by the Iranian military torture. “I’m not equipped to answer that question,” said Hartmann.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who asked the hypothetical, pushed Hartmann on his answer, asking him directly if it would be a “violation of the Geneva Convention”:
GRAHAM: You mean you’re not equipped to give a legal opinion as to whether or not Iranian military waterboarding, secret security agents waterboarding downed airmen is a violation of the Geneva Convention?

HARTMANN: I am not prepared to answer that question, Senator.
After Hartmann twice refused to answer, Graham dismissed him in disgust, saying he had “no further questions.”

...Sen. Graham, a former military judge advocate, has said before that someone doesn’t “have to have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates Geneva Convention Common Article Three.”
Now I think it was shamefully playing to the peanut gallery for Graham to use Iran, the enemy de jour, as an example - but his point remains a valid one. Waterboarding is clearly torture and torture should be a no-no irrespective of who is doing it. It isn't OK for the good guys if it isn't OK for the bad guys. And so the Bush administration, who have argued that waterboarding the bad guys is OK, finds itself hoist by its own petard.

No comments: