Verschärfte Vernehmung

By David

Swimwatch is a website that primarily concerns itself with swimming matters. Occasionally we have strayed and have discussed the New Zealand All Blacks or world class running. Even more occasionally, we have dabbled in politics and religion. You may recall I wrote a piece supporting Hillary Clinton’s bid to become President. Jane added her support for Barack Obama. However, having now seen more of Obama, I think she may have a point. Certainly the country needs either of them compared to the right wing alternative. The best writing on Swimwatch is the piece Jane did about life in the US Virgin Islands. It’s called Licentious Phoenix. I wish I could write with just a fragment of that feeling and accuracy. But the Swimwatch primary mission is still swimming.

Except this month, when an event occurred that is so despicable, so devoid of all that’s decent; an event so pervasive that its fallout will eventually affect every corner of society, even our watery sphere. Remember this date; on Saturday, March 8 2008, the United States endorsed the use of torture. By signing a veto of the Bill from Congress banning torture President Bush has approved its use. The President brutalized his society.

And it will have an effect. Condoning State violence will eventually affect us all. There will be more murders. More college freshmen will die with a hole in their head. The country that already boasts the world largest prison population will need more cells. “Might is right” has been sanctioned. Someday we will be affected too. Coaches will increasingly accept the philosophy of winning at all costs. If it takes steroids to get it done, why not? Officials with avarice for power will hold hearings and pass verdicts without advising the subject of the hearing. They will disqualify without properly recognizing the right to protest. Parents will punish poor performance. State brutality perverts everyone.

Our State does not call it torture of course, preferring, “Advanced Interrogation Techniques”. I wondered where that abuse of the English language came from. Do you know what I found? This is what I found in Wikipedia.

“The former editor of The New Republic Andrew Sullivan claimed that “enhanced interrogation” bears remarkable resemblance to the techniques the Gestapo called “Verschärfte Vernehmung,” for which some of them faced prosecution after World War II and were “found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death.” Besides the similarity of the practices, the German term “verschärfte Vernehmung” may be translated as “enhanced interrogation”.

A 1948 Norwegian court case described the use of hypothermia identical to the reports from Guantanamo Bay. The defense used by the Nazis for applying the techniques “is almost verbatim that of the Bush administration.” Most notably the concept of unlawful enemy combatant is invoked to justify its implementation on “insurgent prisoners out of uniform”. The now familiar ticking time bomb scenario as a rationale for allowing torture had its precursor in the Gestapo’s “Third degree” measures. But while the Nazis’ interrogative methods were found to be torture, The New York Times writes that the Allies’ methods at the time were far more effective and far less abusive than those the United States uses now.”

It remains to their eternal shame that Clinton and Obama were too busy getting themselves elected, to get back to Washington and vote for the ban-on-torture measure. It goes to show the extent to which our society has already accepted force, pain and evil. But if you think their neglect was bad consider this: John McCain did turn up and voted against the Bill. Six years of being tortured by the citizens of the last country the United States invaded and McCain learned nothing. Whether through their neglect or action, those wanting to guide this nation through the next four years have made a pretty poor start.

But not as bad as the George W. Bush finish. We all know he prides himself on his “Christian” values. It would do him well to read Mathew 7-16: “Ye shall know them by their fruits” or any one of a thousand other New Testament verses counseling mercy ahead of vengeance. Romans 12-19: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, for it is written, Vengeance is mine; saith the Lord.”

Well President Bush, your actions in this event are not Christian or legal. They have brutalized and diminished you and your nation and maybe eventually our sport. For that you are not forgiven. We doubt that St. Peter will be that impressed either.