I do not consider waterboarding torture. The area of psychological interrogation/torture is extremely vague. What some can tolerate, others cannot. Even physical interrogation (not necessarily beating) can be vague. What is the limit? Is sleep deprivation, loud music and tactics like that torture?http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/torture
"the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty."
" 1. Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
2. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
# Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony:"
Seems to me that drowning someone fits that definition pretty well.
From the following link http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/waterboarding
John McCain, in a debate, said he believed that waterboarding was torture. Given he'd been tortured himself as a PoW, I think that lends some credibility to his opinion.
The doctor is there I think because the person might go into shock. If it's done properly there is no physical harm done to the person.
Again, from the above link
Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on their back with the head inclined downward and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. Through forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences the process of drowning and is made to believe that death is imminent. In contrast to merely submerging the head face-forward, waterboarding almost immediately elicits the gag reflex. Although waterboarding does not always cause lasting physical damage, it carries the risks of extreme pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation, injuries (including broken bones) due to struggling against restraints, psychological injury, and death.
No harm, eh?
Bent Sørensen, Senior Medical Consultant to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and former member of the United Nations Committee against Torture has said:
It’s a clear-cut case: Waterboarding can without any reservation be labeled as torture. It fulfils all of the four central criteria that according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) defines an act of torture. First, when water is forced into your lungs in this fashion, in addition to the pain you are likely to experience an immediate and extreme fear of death. You may even suffer a heart attack from the stress or damage to the lungs and brain from inhalation of water and oxygen deprivation. In other words there is no doubt that waterboarding causes severe physical and/or mental suffering – one central element in the UNCAT’s definition of torture. In addition the CIA’s waterboarding clearly fulfills the three additional definition criteria stated in the Convention for a deed to be labeled torture, since it is 1) done intentionally, 2) for a specific purpose and 3) by a representative of a state – in this case the US.
That is a VERY vague and dangerous precedent to set for prosecution. If they could find a legal way to do it, that is legal. If they were asked how and gave an honest opinion, with precedent. that's leagal and should not be procecutible.
I believe the precedent is already there
In addition, both under the War Crimes Act and international law, violators of the laws of war are criminally liable under the command responsibility, and they could still be prosecuted for war crimes. Commenting on the so-called "torture memoranda" Scott Horton pointed out
the possibility that the authors of these memoranda counseled the use of lethal and unlawful techniques, and therefore face criminal culpability themselves. That, after all, is the teaching of United States v. Altstötter, the Nuremberg case brought against German Justice Department lawyers whose memoranda crafted the basis for implementation of the infamous “Night and Fog Decree.”
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, several memoranda, including the Bybee memo, were written analyzing the legal position and possibilities in the treatment of prisoners. The memos, known today as the "torture memos," advocate enhanced interrogation techniques, while pointing out that refuting the Geneva Conventions would reduce the possibility of prosecution for war crimes. In addition, a new definition of torture was issued. Most actions that fall under the international definition do not fall within this new definition advocated by the U.S.
Changing the definition of the act in order to give it a veneer of legality may make it legal, but it does not make it right. And if the law can be changed once to make an act legal, it can be reversed to make it illegal again.
I also find it ironic that the US has in the past brought up on war crimes charges those who performed waterboarding against their soldiers.
But if they decide to do it, its now a legal interogation technique. Perhaps you can explain to me the difference there.
Oh, and if you check that link you'll find lots of other interesting material, plus source information too.