George Bush’s Gesture Brings to Mind His Legacy of Torture

By Dawes Cooke

The ALS ice bucket challenge has gone viral. Participants have the option of donating money to help fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease or dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads before passing the challenge on, and a number of celebrities have already taken the challenge.

George W. Bush recently released a video of himself being drenched by Laura Bush. It was a well-intentioned gesture, but more than a few commenters watched the former President gasp for breath and pointed out that it was his administration that authorized the use of waterboarding.

In 2009, President Obama banned the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques known as “enhanced interrogation” techniques, but the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report on the CIA’s use of torture still has not been released. The report would finally let the American public understand the truth about what was done in their name, and understanding what happened is necessary to make sure it never happens again.

The Committee voted to release its findings, but it gave the CIA the chance to review and redact information. The redactions were so extreme that, according to Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, they “eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions.” Members of the Committee are tussling with the CIA over what the final version will look like.

Human Rights First has been working to make sure that the report is released promptly and as intact as possible. Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney claim that they did nothing wrong by water-boarding terrorist suspects, but the law, human rights principles, and basic decency say otherwise.


Published on August 22, 2014


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