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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

CNN's Christiane Amanpour: Bush Administration = Khmer Rouge

Via LGF.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN)— A recently disclosed memo gave U.S. interrogators the ability to use harsh methods — what many call “torture” — to extract information from terrorist suspects after 9/11. Around the world, critics saw it as another blow to American prestige and moral authority.

The 2003 document also invokes wartime powers to protect interrogators who violate the Geneva Conventions, for example, by the use of waterboarding — when a prisoner is made to think he is drowning.

Half a world away, the divisive debate over whether waterboarding constitutes torture comes into sharp relief at the infamous S-21, Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This is where the genocidal regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge imprisoned and brutalized its enemies from 1975 to 1979. I visited the once secret S-21, now a museum, with Van Nath, a former inmate. ...

So when Pol Pot finally fell in 1979, Van Nath returned to paint what he had really seen and heard at S-21. He did it as a memorial to the 14,000 who had been tortured and executed in the prison. It’s one of the few public reminders of the regime’s crimes.

Take water torture, for instance. Van Nath remembers it as if it were yesterday. I gasped as I entered a room filled with his vivid depictions.

One of his paintings shows a prisoner blindfolded and hoisted onto a makeshift scaffold by two guards. He is then lowered head first into a massive barrel of water. Another shows a prisoner with cloth over his face, writhing as an interrogator pours water over his head.

Van Nath still remembers the accompanying screams: “It sounded like when we are really in pain, choking in water,” he told me. “The sound was screaming, from the throat. I suppose they could not bear the torture. Whenever we heard the noises we were really shocked and scared. We thought one day they will do the same thing to us.”

As he talked and showed me around, my mind raced to the debate in the United States over this same tactic used on its prisoners nearly 40 years later. I stared blankly at another of Van Nath’s paintings. This time a prisoner is submerged in a life-size box full of water, handcuffed to the side so he cannot escape or raise his head to breathe. His interrogators, arrayed around him, are demanding information.

I asked Van Nath whether he had heard this was once used on America’s terrorist suspects. He nodded his head. “It’s not right,” he said.

But I pressed him: Is it torture? “Yes,” he said quietly, “it is severe torture. We could try it and see how we would react if we are choking under water for just two minutes. It is very serious.”

Back then, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge cadres recognized this for what it was and used it with brutal efficiency. The Cambodian genocide ultimately killed 2 million people.

2 Comments:

Blogger davemill said...

Comparing the Bush Administration to the Khmer Rouge is ridiculous. One, perhaps she should re-read the Geneva Conventions to see if the administration has violated them. If she had even the first inkling of the agreement, they only apply to countries who have signed the Geneva Conventions. What nation does Al Qaida represent? Does any one expect Al Qaida to abide by them?

The Administration has used waterboarding on only a few high level terrorists in the wake of 9/11. Waterboarding is, by the way, a COMMON technique used to train every single pilot in our military in resisting interrogation techniques. I have personally been waterboarded. It sucks, yes. I am still perfectly healthy.

The Administration is FAR from perfect, but equating them to the genocidal khmer rouge is despicable. No military in the known history of the world has conducted a war with more effort to avoid civilian casualties and abide by an honorable work such as the geneva conventions.

4/08/2008 8:00 AM  
Blogger jack fulcher said...

This just shows how silly this lady is. I've watched her for almost 20 years and she's always been an apologist for jihadists. To suggest that there's any comparison between the Bush Administration and the Khmer Rouge just shows how out of touch with reality she is. How does she keep a job as a journalist? Doesn't CNN have editors??

4/08/2008 6:28 PM  

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