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Proud to be war criminals—the sad, and sadly enduring, legacy of the Bush administration, which the so-called “brain” of that dark period in our history continued to attempt to rationalize and justify in a recent interview with the BBC:

“A senior adviser to former US President George W Bush has defended tough interrogation techniques, saying their use helped prevent terrorist attacks…In a BBC interview, Karl Rove, who was known as “Bush’s brain”, said he “was proud we used techniques that broke the will of these terrorists”…He said waterboarding, which simulates drowning, should not be considered torture.”

…Mr Rove said US soldiers were subjected to waterboarding as a regular part of their training…A less severe form of the technique was used on the three suspects interrogated at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, he added.”

“Simulates drowning” and a “less severe from of the technique?” Not so says someone who has been there, Malcolm Nance (emphasis added) :

“As a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, I know the waterboard personally and intimately. Our staff was required to undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception.

Having been subjected to this technique, I can say: It is risky but not entirely dangerous when applied in training for a very short period. However, when performed on an unsuspecting prisoner, waterboarding is a torture technique – without a doubt. There is no way to sugarcoat it.

In the media, waterboarding is called “simulated drowning,” but that’s a misnomer. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning.

I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques employed by the Army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What is less frequently reported is that our training was designed to show how an evil totalitarian enemy would use torture at the slightest whim.

Rove reiterated his pride later in the interview:

“Yes, I’m proud that we kept the world safer than it was, by the use of these techniques. They’re appropriate, they’re in conformity with our international requirements and with US law.”

No they aren’t. Our “international requirements” [the Convention Against Torture] and U.S. law [U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 113 C]  both forbid and prescribe punishment for torture.

“Mr Rove has just written a memoir, Courage and Consequence, in which he defends the two terms of the Bush administration as “impressive, durable and significant.”

BJ Bjornson at Newshoggers:

“Well, I’ll go with significant, at least. Significant in that Bush’s two terms took the US from the acknowledged leader of the Free World, respected if not loved, to just another world hegemony that most people won’t mind seeing pass into history at this point. While Obama has repaired a bit of the damage Bush has done, the lack of any prosecutions over the war crimes that people like Rove and Cheney now flaunt to the world has left most of us rather less than impressed.”

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