There are many qualified candidates on the list for the “Worst Member of Congress,” but Arizona’s contribution to this list is Rep. Trent Franks, a Christian Right anti-abortion zealot ( he founded the Arizona Family Research Institute, the predecessor to Center for Arizona Policy) and an avowed Islamophobic bigot.
Arizona’s worst member of Congress dares to explain to Senator John McCain, the only member of Congress who was actually tortured as a prisoner of war, that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Waterboarding is not torture according to this uninformed ideological extremist (more on this below). I’ll bet Arizona’s angry old man is scrapping to kick his ignorant ass!
The Arizona Republic reports, Franks says McCain wrong, waterboarding not torture:
U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., says the CIA’s use of waterboarding was not torture and that a scathing Senate report on the agency’s secret interrogations released Tuesday was politically motivated.
Franks added that he disagreed with the only member of Congress who has endured torture, Arizona’s senior Sen. John McCain. McCain has called waterboarding “an exquisite form of torture” that is “shameful and unnecessary.”
Franks argues waterboarding did not meet the definition is a method of “enhanced interrogation” that was included in military manuals and the training of Navy SEALS. The practice was banned from the Army Field Manual in 2006 [as a result of the “McCain Amendment” banning torture.] He said the interrogations saved lives by extracting intelligence from suspected terrorists.
The Senate report concluded, however, that the tactics were ineffective at providing reliable intelligence.
Once again, torture is a violation of U.S. law and international treaties and conventions to which the U.S. is not only a signatory, but was the principal author. The world came together and declared that there are some crimes so heinous that even in times of war it is a moral taboo and a crime to engage in. There is no justification for torture under any circumstances. This is settled law (only right-wing apologists for the Bush-Cheney regime torturers argue otherwise).
Secondly, Arizona’s worst member of Congress should be assigned mandatory reading of the transcripts from the Nuremberg Tribunal and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (alternative: almost all of the hundreds of hours of court proceedings were videotaped) that occurred after World War II. The U.S. and its allies tried, convicted, and executed Japanese war criminals for exactly the same method of waterboarding engaged in by the CIA and authorized and approved by the Bush-Cheney regime.
Charles Pierce at Esquire has a nice summary of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. The Torture Report, Part Two: What It Means:
There were two forms of water torture. In the first, the victim was tied or held down on his back and cloth placed over his nose and mouth. Water was then poured on the cloth. Interrogation proceeded and the victim was beaten if he did not reply. As he opened his mouth to breathe or answer questions, water went down his throat until he could hold no more. Sometimes, he was then beaten over his distended stomach, sometimes a Japanese jumped on his stomach, or sometimes pressed on it with his foot. In the second, the victim was tied lengthways on a ladder, face upwards, with a rung of the ladder across his throat and head below the latter. In this position he was slid first into a tub of water and kept there until almost drowned. After being revived, interrogation proceeded and he would be reimmersed.
— J.L. Wilson, Right Reverend Lord Bishop Of Singapore, Testimony To The International Military Tribunal For The Far East, December 16, 1946
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Today, with the release of the executive summary of the congressional investigation into the American torture program, we have lost forever the right to moral leadership that we claimed at Nuremberg, and at the tribunals that investigated the actions of the Japanese in the Pacific. Those proceedings were based in two fundamental beliefs: a) that there are some activities that are beyond the law, even in wartime, and b) that the people responsible for those activities, even the worst of them, deserve a fair trial, and a trial that is open to the world, not only because the world needed to see the savagery of which humans are capable, but also because the trial would demonstrate to the world that there is a better way to resolve the issues raised by the native savagery of which people and nations are capable than the masturbatory exercise of blind vengeance. Justice Robert Jackson, in his eloquent summation for the prosecution in the trial of the Nazi warlords, saw all of this with coruscating clarity.
As a military tribunal, this Tribunal is a continuation of the war effort of the Allied nations. As an International Tribunal, it is not bound by the procedural and substantive refinements of our respective judicial or constitutional systems, nor will its rulings introduce precedents into any country’s- internal system of civil justice. As an International Military Tribunal, it rises above the provincial and transient and seeks guidance not only from international law but also from the basic principles of jurisprudence which are assumptions of civilization and which long have found embodiment in the codes of all nations. Of one thing we may be sure. The future will never have to ask, with misgiving, what could the Nazis have said in their favor. History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say. They have been given the kind of a Trial which they, in the days of their pomp and power, never gave to any man.
But fairness is not weakness. The extraordinary fairness of these hearings is an attribute of our strength. The Prosecution’s case, at its close, seemed inherently unassailable because it rested so heavily on German documents of unquestioned authenticity. But it was the weeks upon weeks of pecking at this case, by one after another of the defendants, that has demonstrated its true strength. The fact is that the testimony of the defendants has removed any doubt of guilt which, because of the extraordinary nature and magnitude of these crimes, may have existed before they spoke. They have helped write their own judgment of condemnation.
In 1996, they dedicated a statue of Justice Jackson at his hometown of Jamestown, in New York. Then-Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra O’Connor gave a lovely speech. O’Connor made sure to emphasize the basic humanity that shone through what Jackson believed he was trying to do, even when he was sending Nazi war criminals to the gallows.
After more than ten months and 17,000 transcript pages, nineteen of twenty-two defendants were convicted and sentenced. As Jackson put it, the evidence was there “with such authenticity and in such detail that there can be no responsible denial of these crimes in the future and no tradition of martyrdom of the Nazi leaders can arise among informed people.”Today more than fifty years later, we re witnessing an attempt to apply the precedent established at Nuremberg in new war crimes tribunals in The Hague and in Tanzania. In searching for the voice of human decency after unspeakable atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Rwanda, we are following the path beaten by Robert Jackson for the protection of basic human liberties.
This is what the Senate report really means. We lost more than our phony “innocence” in what we allowed to happen in the country in the years following the attacks on September 11, 2001. We lost more than the scales from our eyes. We gave away our right to judge, anyone, anywhere, for the crimes that we committed out of rage and fear and deception. We betrayed the principles enunciated at Nuremberg. We sold out Robert Jackson for John Yoo.
In order to restore the rule of law, America’s honor and moral standing in the world, we must convene a war crimes tribunal on the basis of the Nuremberg Principles for prosecution of illegal torture. If it means Americans go to the gallows based upon the legal precedents of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, so be it. They all understood that torture was a violation of U.S. law and international treaties and conventions. They all understood that it was a moral taboo that was a crime for which they could be tried, convicted and executed. They all behaved as if they were above the law and not subject to accountability. Which is precisely why they must be held accountable.