Duck-ness and torture-ness

When is a duck not a duck? if you saw a mallard (or a drake yuk yuk) without a beak or webbed feet would it still be a duck? If you saw a pig with a ducks beak, webbed feet and duck feathers would it be more of a duck than the other?

I really don’t seek sage replies to the question of ‘duck-ness’ but I’ve been watching a lot of CNN lately (Strike 1) and it has led me to ask two questions: 1) when is a duck not a duck? 2) At what point is a duck considered a duck, and by whom?

Ok, ok. Enough about ducks. I have a huge aversion to foul.

A few weeks ago I watched a press conference that Condoleezza Rice held at  Stanford  University giving  aspiring journalists a taste of  what I like to call ‘la SLAM!’ At one point a bold frosh (I assume) started questioning the torture tactics going on in Gitmo under her administration

“How are we supposed to continue promoting America as this guiding light of democracy and how are we supposed to win hearts and minds in the world as long as we continue with these actions?

The match was going well, at first. He talked about torture, she talked about the 3K people who died in 9/11, he mentioned that more people have died in Iraq.

Thats when the ‘Condi fire’ started to blaze. She pulled out the finger , got in the young man’s face and seethed through her teeth

Condi: Did you know that the Organization — just answer me — did you know that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe said Guantanamo was a model medium security prison?

No, but I feel that changes nothing…

Condi: No — Did you know that?

I did not know that, but that changes absolutely nothing.

Condi: Alright, no — if you didn’t know that, maybe before you make allegations about Guantanamo you should read.

The young man backed off after this. I was quite upset. Despite the fact that I’m all bark and no bite (I mean, come on. I BLOG), I blurted out at the screen “WHAT MAKES A PRISON MEDIUM SECURITY!?” Medium compared to WHAT? Are we to believe that some ad hoc European committee went on a global prison tour stopping in Canada (this prison is too low security) China (this prison is too high security) then went to Guantanamo and decided that this prison  (recently confirmed to have used water-boarding as a form of ‘information gathering’ ) is a MODEL MEDIUM security prison and therefore,  everything that goes on inside is the porridge of mama bear? Does that justify the torture? Condoleeza goes on to justify the actions by falling back on this gem:

” (Waterboarding) did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture.”

Pardon me, Ms. Speaker. Maybe those are grossly OUTDATED AND AMBIGUOUS CONVENTIONS.

Laws and conventions are interpretive; abiding within them does not always justify our actions. But because Water-boarding some how slipped through the cracks of the conventions then it is a PERFECTLY reasonable way to get (false) information from a terrorist (not tried in a court of law).

When is torture “not torture”? Is there a torture continuum?

This whole torture debate brings me back to 1994. When 800,000- 1 million people were killed in Rawanda.  Time was wasted over the debate: Is it a genocide or a civil war? how many people have to be killed in the civil war before it is considered a genocide? No UN convention had defined when a conflict becomes a genocide.

Laws and conventions are put in place for a reason. the Conventions Against Torture serves a purpose. Namely, to ensure that human beings are not treated any less than a human being. These conventions and laws are not put in place to find loopholes and penumbral areas to take advantage of, which I believe the U.S has been doing.

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About Ashley Drake
Don't cha wish your girlfriend could blog like me

3 Responses to Duck-ness and torture-ness

  1. Nicolas says:

    GITMO is only the most famous of America’s black prisons, there are a lot of secret detention centres we do not know about.; never-mind renditions! Nevertheless, the problem I have with using the OSCE saying what it did is based on what the OSCE was allowed to see. Do you think the OSCE was there during the waterboarding, did they see how things occur on a daily basis? It reminds me of this:

    http://www.scrapbookpages.com/czechrepublic/theresienstadt/theresienstadtghetto/history/redcrossvisit.html

    I’m not comparing the Bush Admin. with Nazi’s, but what it does show is that we can be fooled. Although, OSCE is only one of many international organizations, and certainly it is one of the more peripheral organizations. In addition, saying GITMO is a model, compared to what? Like you alluded to, a Chinese prison! I am fairly certain that more organizations like the UN, Red Cross, Amnesty Int’l, Human Rights Watch, etc, would take serious exception to the idea that a modern day concentration camp-where people are held without due process-is a model for anything.

    The worst part is that the US in the past have put people in jail, and even to death for waterboarding American soliders and American soldiers waterboarding in Vietnam. Now, waterboarding is not torture? One of the most innane arguments you hear is, well the US Seals waterboard, so it must not be torture. Firstly, these Seals volunteered to do this; secondly, the SEALS know they will not die, and have knowledge it is only an exercise that they can stop at any time. A crime isn’t a crime without Mens Rea, an a training exercise, on volunteers, by definition is not a crime.

    Clearly, they are presenting a world where not everyone is equal; where not everyone is equally human. Indeed, remember the video I sent you of that crazy general? He may sound crazy, killing those people who cannot be tried because they cannot be tried and they are “obviously” a threat to our civilization, but I think his notions of what constitutes a human and what doesn’t is more common sensical than we think. We have given the government too much power, and if anything, once granted these powers the state never gives it up. This does not bode well for us in the future, who knows WHAM lovers watch out!

  2. WOW that was heavy and now I’m all worked up and angry. I love that photo of Condi Rice-a-lot, it’s totes awesome!

    By the ways, I found your wordpress and now we are online BFFs!!!!111!!!one!!

    PS. SMD

    ❤ Scotty

  3. Accossynorb says:

    OMG loved reading this blogpost. I added your feed to my google reader.

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