12 November 2007

Waterboarding Republicans vs. Supporting Our Troops

11/09/07 "ICH" -- -- You cannot honestly say you are supporting American soldiers if you support the use of torture techniques like waterboarding. By any objective definition, waterboarding is torture. The technique is a type of simulated drowning of a prisoner who has their limbs bound.

The use of simulated drowning is not new. The Nazis used it in World War II. The Iranian secret police used it under the Shah. It was used in the Vietnam War. Dictators in South America have used this kind of torture. It causes severe psychological damage in most cases and has caused deaths. The Bush Administration claims that it is not torture but the claim is false.

The Bush Republicans defending the use of waterboarding are being dishonest with the American people. Torture usually produces very poor quality information. People will say anything to stop torture. Prisoners will confess to crimes they did not commit. They will implicate innocent people. They will invent fictional plots, fictional conspiracies and fictional dangers. In military and national security terms, torture is not effective. Morally, it is simply wrong.

Torture between international combatants has been outlawed by international law and treaties. Use of torture makes the user a war criminal. The United States has long supported this position to prevent American soldiers from being tortured. American government policies, under Bush, concerning the use of torture put American soldiers at grave risk. We will have great difficulty prosecuting enemies who torture our soldiers if we engage in torture ourselves.

For those Republicans (or Democrats) who defend waterboarding as something less than torture, I have a proposal. Whenever a Bush Administration official is called before the House or Senate to testify, they should be waterboarded the entire time they are testifying. The technique, according to the Bush Republicans, elicits honest answers and does not amount to torture. According to these Bush Republicans, waterboarding does not cause any lasting damage.

Personally, I do not believe the Bush Republicans are correct in their position about waterboarding. However, if the Bush Republicans are sincere in their stated beliefs, we should give them an opportunity to prove it. Cabinets officers, White House staffers, Republican Senators, Bush, Cheney, Rove, Bush appointees like Mukasey and other Bush Administration personnel should all be given personal opportunities to prove that waterboarding is not torture and is effective in providing honest answers to questions.

I think it is a much better idea to waterboard Bush Republican leaders (who support waterboarding) in order to prove that waterboarding is not torture than it is to put our soldiers at risk of being tortured. I think all of them would quickly conclude that waterboarding is torture, illegal, dangerous and ineffective.

In the Dark Ages, they had a version of waterboarding. It was called "dunking." It was a sadistic kind of torture. Naturally, this type of sadistic, ineffective torture still has a strong appeal to certain types of barbaric Republicans!-(ICHouse)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.