In recent days, there has been stirrings in the American public over the US Congress’ disclosure of the use of waterboarding as a torture method used by the CIA against captives, especially those suspected to have been involved in the 9/11 incident. Over and above the moral concerns of its practice, the US officials and politicians are more preoccupied with its legal sanctions—whether it falls within what US law defines as “torture”, in effect muddling the inhumanity of it all.
Well, we have long heard of the notoriety of the CIA, or have at least learned some bits and pieces of its conduct vis-à-vis the other countries around the globe. Its covert involvement in significant socio-political events in certain countries in the Third World is well-known. It would not be incorrect to aver that as the chief intelligence agency of the US government, particularly as the close and direct arm of the Office of the US President, its hand is always in the thick of such political incidents as coups d’etat and the like, occurring in some parts of the world for no other purpose than to advance US interests.
It is no wonder, the practice of waterboarding as a form of torture would constitute a kind of legacy of the CIA. Its agents are rumored or known to occupy crucial positions in major areas of the societies of developing countries such as the Philippines. Well-placed CIA agents in the military establishment – top generals in the AFP leadership—cannot be discounted. And they are Filipino nationals themselves whose convictions adhere tenaciously to the righteousness of American intentions in our country. Certain educators and even Church personnel may be in the service of the CIA. Much more so among the politicians!
One recalls a suspected CIA Filipino Jesuit priest who was instrumental in the Indonesian student-youths’ mobilization and participation in the coup d’etat that toppled President Sukarno of Indonesia some decades back.
But going back to the subject of waterboarding, it is interesting to note that it had been practiced by the U.S. troops in the Philippines way back in the Filipino-American War of 1898. Let’s take a look at this report in the 1902 Life Magazine, as follows:
After the Spanish American War of 1898 in the Philippines, the U.S. army usedwaterboarding, called the “water cure” at the time. Reports of “cruelties” from soldiers stationed in the Philippines led to Senate hearings on U.S. activity there.
Elihu Root, United States Secretary of War, ordered a court martial for Glenn in April 1902.” During the trial, Glenn “maintained that the torture of Ealdama was ‘a legitimate exercise of force under the laws of war.'”
Though some reports seem to confuse Ealdama with Glenn, Glenn was found guilty and “sentenced to a one-month suspension and a fifty-dollar fine,” the leniency of the sentence due to the “circumstances” presented at the trial.
President Theodore Roosevelt privately rationalized the instances of “mild torture, the water cure” but publicly called for efforts to “prevent the occurrence of all such acts in the future.” In that effort, he ordered the court-martial of General Jacob H. Smith on the island of Samar, “where some of the worst abuseshad occurred.” When the court-martial found only that he had acted with excessive zeal, Roosevelt disregarded the verdict and had the General dismissed from the Army.
Roosevelt soon declared victory in the Philippines, and the public lost interest in “what had, only months earlier, been alarming revelations.”
Under present circumstances, the revelations of the CIA’s practice of this form of torture has shocked the American public. And yet the U.S. Government seems to be back to the rigmarole of whether or not waterboarding is really a form of torture under US laws. Legal definition always puzzles the mind and overlooks the moral and human factor involved in a certain conduct. But in order to satisfy the curious mind, a description of how waterboarding is done can leave no doubt that it is a form of torture. Here is how it is commonly conducted:
In the most common method of waterboarding, the captive’s face iscovered with cloth or some other thin material, and the subject isimmobilized on his/her back at an incline of 10 to 20 degrees. Interrogators pour water onto the face over the breathing passages , causing an almost immediate “gag reflex” and creating the sensation for the captive that he is drowning. Victims of waterboarding are at extreme risk of sudden death due to the aspiration of vomitus.
Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuriesincluding broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage, and death. Adverse physical consequences canmanifest themselves months after the event, the psychological effects can last for years.
Certainly, our own soldiers, trained under the American system of military schooling, with the top generals in the leadership, cannot but be practitioners or perpetrators of all forms of torture that the CIA has bequeathed through generations of Filipino soldiers since the first American troops set foot on Philippine soil. Palparan and the rest of the other berdugos in the Philippine military service, now under their Commander-in-chief Noynoy Aquino, owe it to the CIA for having tutored them to master and attain expertise in the art of torture.
The hypocritical mask worn by the US Government has fallen and the sound of its shameful impact on the world public opinion resounds through all the spaces of the universe. We can just laugh out loud (LOL) in the thought of how quick this American Imperialist government criticizes or condemns other countries for the latters’ own violations of human rights, when as matter of fact it is the number one violator of human rights of peoples around the globe across the centuries.
And in the same resonant cry we condemn and denounce the Noynoy Aquino government for its utter hypocrisy in feigning respect of human rights, when in fact and in truth, it has virtually equaled the Marcos Dictatorship in violating the human rights of the Filipino people, especially the Lumads and of the toiling masses of Philippine society.