So the Senate has now passed the detainee treatment bill that will essentially let the president do whatever he wants to anyone at anytime for any reason. Via Andrew Sullivan we have these photographs and description of waterboarding, the most infamous method of torture known to have been used by the US government in the “war on terror.” While there was 10 hours of debate over the legislation, including this speech by Senator Clinton, in the end it passed with a very wide margin of 65-34, most likely due to the fears of Democrats too spineless to stand up for anything due to fears that it would allow them to be portrayed as soft on terror.
How did this pass? Why was there so little public outrage over practices such as waterboarding in the first place?
I personally believe that this is because so few people really understand what these torturous practices look like. Even images graphically depicting the reality of waterboarding, such as the those linked to above have rarely, if ever, appeared in newspapers or on television in the US over the course of this debate.
Hillary Clinton may have made a decent speech about treating prisoners humanely, but it was too little and too late.This is why I think the only way for the Democrats to defeat the administrations torture plans once and for all would be to hold their own demonstration.What she (or some other opponent of government approved torture) should have done is this:
volunteer to be waterboarded on national television. Hold a press conference in a place of appropriate sentimental value. Someplace like the Vietnam memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, or the Holocaust Musem. She does not tell reporters in advance about the stunt, keeping the waterboard behind a curtain for the opening of the speech. Then after an introduction, pulls the cloth back, revealing the object in all its horrific glory (ideally, it should be one actually used to torture in the past, perhaps by the Khymer Rouge, borrowed from a museum). She then introduces the board, explains its history, and repeats the point that this is the same practice that the US has admitted to engaging in. There is a mild stir among the press corp, who are thinking that she has already reached the climax of her presentation and that it was a good try but not enough to swing the issue.
She then announces that there is now going to be a live demonstration of how exactly it works. The audience is quite surprised at this announcement, a murmering going through the crowd-but a shocked silence falls a moment later as the Senator herself lays down on the board and waits to be strapped in by the former CIA employees that have been recruited for this gruesome display.
“The [senator] is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the [senator]’s face and water is poured over [her]. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.”
The cellophane is torn off quickly, and her pained gasping for air is clearly audible. The former-CIA interogator lets loose the straps and helps her rise. Too weak to do so unassisted, she unsteadily stands, tears still running down her face, as she gripsthe man’s arm.
Having completed the demonstration, she makes a brief statement challenging the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, or any other member of the administration to submit to the same act, and is then rushed to the waiting ambulance for a medical exam without taking questions.