Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Waterboarding update: President Bush fought the law, and the law… lost?

In February 1968, a U.S. soldier was court-martialed simply for holding down a Vietnamese man while two Vietnamese soldiers waterboarded him, according to Guenter Lewy’s America in Vietnam. (329) I mention this because both George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney now have publicly admitted they were approving of waterboarding, a form of ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

In February 1968, a U.S. soldier was court-martialed simply for holding down a Vietnamese man while two Vietnamese soldiers waterboarded him, according to Guenter Lewy's America in Vietnam. (329)

I mention this because both George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney now have publicly admitted they were approving of waterboarding, a form of torture that once was a crime in the eyes of the U.S. government -- and still is under international laws.

The Washington Post reports that in his new memoir, My Pointy Head, President Bush's response to a request to waterboard 9/11 big nut Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was, "Damn right." (Meanwhile, Cheney stated earlier this year that, "I was a big supporter of waterboarding.")

In February 1968, a U.S. soldier was court-martialed simply for holding down a Vietnamese man while two Vietnamese soldiers waterboarded him, according to Guenter Lewy’s America in Vietnam. (329)

I mention this because both George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney now have publicly admitted they were approving of waterboarding, a form of torture that once was a crime in the eyes of the U.S. government — and still is under international laws.

The Washington Post reports that in his new memoir, My Pointy Head, President Bush’s response to a request to waterboard 9/11 big nut Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was, “Damn right.” (Meanwhile, Cheney stated earlier this year that, “I was a big supporter of waterboarding.”)

The Post quotes Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch: “Waterboarding is broadly seen by legal experts around the world as torture, and it is universally prosecutable as a crime. The fact that none of us expect any serious consequences from this admission is what is most interesting.”

That said, it will be interesting to watch whether either of these guys, or their campaign-contributor ambassadors, ever travel in Europe. I suspect that one day we could see a lower-ranking type detained for questioning upon de-planing in EU territory.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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