Monday, April 20, 2009

Do Unto Others

Yesterday the FX channel showed A Few Good Men and while everyone remembers "you can't handle the truth" very few people remember the pressure exerted on Marines to follow orders no matter what or the ending and the judgment rendered against the two Marines.  It seems that back in 1992 following an illegal order was enough to have you kicked out of the military with a dishonorable discharge for conduct unbecoming a Marine.  Just like it was when I joined the Army in 1974.  It's almost funny that the crime took place at Gitmo.

On the charge of Murder, the Members find the defendants Not Guilty.

It's hard to resist the temptation to scream and shout, but they do.

(continuing; reading)
On the charge of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, the Members find the defendants Not Guilty.

RANDOLPH looks up. Then reads from the last slip of paper.

On the charge of Conduct Unbecoming a United States Marine, the members find the defendants Guilty as Charged.

A little of the energy drains out of the room.

The defendants are hereby sentenced by this court to time already served, and are ordered...

RANDOLPH clears his throat.

... And are ordered to be dishonorably discharged from the marine corps.
(pause) This Court-Martial is adjourned.

RANDOLPH raps his gavel.

Ten hut.

All rise.

RANDOLPH's gone.


The M.P.'s move to DAWSON and DOWNEY to unlock their handcuffs. KAFFEE is packing up his things, just another day at the office.


Harold, I'm sorry.


I don't understand. Colonel Jessep said he ordered the Code Red.

I know, but--
Colonel Jessep said he ordered the Code Red, what did we do wrong?

It's not as simple as--

What did we do wrong?

We did nothing wrong.
If it wasn't a viable excuse in 1992, it's even less of an excuse when you have a college degree (required to join the CIA) or a medical degree and are supervising torture. Waterboarding two men 266 times and receiving the same answers shows that torture doesn't work.  Common sense dictates that if they haven't given any more information after the first or second time, they aren't going to cough up anything useful on the hundredth time.  By then they know they aren't going to die from simulated drowning and that their captors are depraved idiots following illegal orders.

Why is it considered torture when our troops are subjected to water-boarding but not when we do it to other people?
Interestingly, we weren't nearly as blithe about waterboarding when it happened to our own guys during World War II. Then, we considered it a war crime and a form of torture.
In "Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts," Judge Evan Wallach of the U.S. Court of International Trade has documented the trials in which the United States used evidence of water-boarding as a basis for prosecutions. The article, still in draft form, will be published soon by the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.

Among the numerous examples, Wallach cites one involving four Japanese defendants who were tried before a U.S. military commission at Yokohama, Japan, in 1947 for their treatment of American and Allied prisoners. Wallach writes, in the case of United States of America vs. Hideji Nakamura, Yukio Asano, Seitara Hata and Takeo Kita, "water torture was among the acts alleged in the specifications ... and it loomed large in the evidence presented against them."

Hata, the camp doctor, was charged with war crimes stemming from the brutal mistreatment and torture of Morris Killough "by beating and kicking him (and) by fastening him on a stretcher and pouring water up his nostrils." Other American prisoners, including Thomas Armitage, received similar treatment, according to the allegations.

Armitage described his ordeal: "They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about 2 gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness."

Hata was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor, and the other defendants were convicted and given long stints at hard labor as well.

Wallach also found a 1983 case out of San Jacinto County, Texas, in which James Parker, the county sheriff, and three deputies were criminally charged for handcuffing suspects to chairs, draping towels over their faces and pouring water over the towel until a confession was elicited. One victim described the experience this way: "I thought I was going to be strangled to death. ... I couldn't breath."

The sheriff pleaded guilty and his deputies went to trial where they were convicted of civil rights violations. All received long prison sentences. U.S. District Judge James DeAnda told the former sheriff at sentencing, "The operation down there would embarrass the dictator of a country."
Hmm, so we have prosecuted our own law enforcement agencies for performing water torture but the CIA. the doctors and everyone else involved in these heinous acts against people in their custody are not to be punished?  Right now President Obama is no better than President Nixon was when he had Lt. Calley removed from the stockade after a single weekend after being sentenced to hard labor for the rest of his life for killing innocent women and children at My Lai 4.

I love this country but I am not immune to its faults and lately they have been obvious to everyone but us.  Whenever we feel threatened we feel we can use any means necessary to accomplish our goals but we want others to be punished (Mr. President, I'm sure you saw those documents as you studied for that law degree, they were in your college library) for using those same means.  I guess this means that our motto is no longer "Land of the free, home of the brave" it's more along the line of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but do it first."

As John Adams said many years ago, we are a nation of laws.  Mr. Obama it is your job to enforce them.  Otherwise you, and by definition America, are nothing more than an empty suit.


No comments:

Post a Comment