I'd like everyone to play "pretend" for a moment. Pretend that you are minding your own business in your own home. You are a taxpayer, a citizen, gainfully employed and well-liked. One day, the police come to your house and bring you in for holding. You're not necessarily under arrest, at least, you aren't charged with any crimes. The police are just concerned, because, you see, one country invaded another country after a group of terrorists blew up two buildings in the first country's largest city. Now, after a week of questioning, the local police have decided that you've not only done nothing wrong, but you are in fact completely innocent.
You think you're free to go. This sort of logic is, of course, wrong. It turns out the country who was attacked by the terrorists think that there is sufficient evidence to justify holding you as a terror suspect yourself. So rather than being released, you are transported - not to another prison in your home country, not even to the country who believes that you may be a terrorist. No, instead you are transferred to yet another country where the attacked nation leases a strip of land. You are kept away from the attorneys who are appointed to defend you against whatever charges will eventually be filed against you. You don't get to see the evidence against you because the Government believes that you will share that classified information with your terrorist cronies - as if you had any. You watch as others in your situation have tubes violently forced down their throats into their stomachs so that they are available for interrogations. You are subjected to and learn that others are denied sleep, slammed against walls, induced into hypothermia, have their phobias used against them. You hear stories of how others who are detained are strapped head down at an angle on a plank, a cloth over their mouth while gallons of water is poured over their head. You are threatened with death. You hear gunshots coming from other rooms, which you believe is the murder of other detainees.
This is necessary, you learn your captors argue, because they need to get the information that you, the worst of the worst, possess. You find out that leader of the government holding you captive has told his staff to write pieces of paper that say they can do all this to you and the others in your position, for an undisclosed period of time, forever, even, if they need, to keep their people safe. You find out that one of these authors believes that his president has the authority to "crush the testicles" of your son, if he believes that would prevent a terrorist attack. You learn that according to this Government, none of this qualifies as torture, even if they go beyond what is written on these pieces of paper.
After several years, your lawyers, who you hardly got to see and were unable to present any adequate defense with, has gotten your case before the court of the country to detained you. This court has determined that you are entitled to something called "habeas corpus," which means you can challenge the government's justification for holding you. It turns out that the government's position is pretty simple. They believe that because they think you might be a terrorist, they can keep you in prison forever, and do what they want to you within the limits of the pieces of paper written for the president, and the laws of the country don't apply to you, because you aren't, technically, in the country.
Your lawyer protests on your behalf.
And he wins. Which means you win.
It turns out there was no justification for your detention, and therefore, you are to be released. No harm, no foul, perhaps.
Unfortunately, for several years, this situation has borne out countless times. Enhanced somewhat to include more of what has transpired against the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, this narrative is similar to what Lakhdar Boumediene endured at the hands of our government.
The reason for this game this morning is because Mark Benjamin today wrote an article at Salon.com on waterboarding and just how stringent the protocol was to ensure proper interrogation. He writes:
[i]nterrogators pumped detainees full of so much water that the CIA turned to a special saline solution to minimize the risk of death, the documents show. The agency used a gurney "specially designed" to tilt backwards at a perfect angle to maximize the water entering the prisoner's nose and mouth, intensifying the sense of choking – and to be lifted upright quickly in the event that a prisoner stopped breathing.It turns out, however, that there's a new case that Judge Wayne R. Anderson is allowing - a suit filed against Donals Rumsfeld charging the former Secretary of Defense with authorizing torture. For space sake, I will link to the article at the Huffington Post here. the suit is Donal Vance and Nathan Ertel v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States of America and Unidentified Agents. We'll see what comes from this, but the allegations include the claim that "Rumsfeld informed Major Miller that his mission was to 'gitmo-ize' Camp Cropper." That would clear the road for destroying the potential to call the detainee abuses anything other than Torture.
The documents also lay out, in chilling detail, exactly what should occur in each two-hour waterboarding "session." Interrogators were instructed to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled, to ensure he inhaled water, not air, in his next breath. They could use their hands to "dam the runoff" and prevent water from spilling out of a detainee's mouth. They were allowed six separate 40-second "applications" of liquid in each two-hour session – and could dump water over a detainee's nose and mouth for a total of 12 minutes a day. Finally, to keep detainees alive even if they inhaled their own vomit during a session – a not-uncommon side effect of waterboarding – the prisoners were kept on a liquid diet. The agency recommended Ensure Plus.