AS I SEE IT – June 2009


By Henri Loridans

That White Stuff


Henri-LoridansThe United States is pretty much divided on its president’s decision to declare that water boarding is torture. A slim majority back the declassification of photographs depicting the CIA and other agencies utilizing water boarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques. A majority oppose the president’s suggestion that high ranking officials may face prosecution for authorizing such procedures. I am with the president on the first two mentioned above. I hope that the third does not take place.

I believe that activities of a government should be open and public except for rare occasions where national security would be endangered if certain information were released to the public. And, when the risk has passed, John Q. should become aware of what his public servants have been up to. An uninformed citizenry cannot make wise decisions in selecting its leaders.

Some who oppose the prosecution of higher ups make the argument that criminal charges were not brought against U.S. presidents who ordered atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; who bombed Dresden; and who impounded innocent Japanese-Americans. So in hindsight, why should anyone be prosecuted for actions many now believe not to have been worthy of that shining city on a hill?

I agree, but the bombings and impoundments were not done in secret, and the publicity of the horrors of nuclear warfare has led to non-proliferation treaties; the world condemns those who wage war with no regard for civilian casualties; and apologies and compensation have been made to those Americans of Japanese ancestry who were wronged during World War Two.

Water boarding can be traced back to the Inquisition, and the question of whether it is torture reminds me of a riddle we posed to city boys when I was a kid back on the farm: “Do you know what that white stuff is in chicken shit?” When they could not answer, we let them know: “That white stuff is chicken shit too.” So it is with absolute and irrefutable logic that I say: water boarding is torture.

Ojo Del Lago
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