Letter: Yes, water-boarding is torture

The first day of the confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey went smoothly. It was the second day, when he was asked about water-boarding, that the red flags arose. Mukasey refused to say that it was torture on the basis...

The first day of the confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey went smoothly. It was the second day, when he was asked about water-boarding, that the red flags arose. Mukasey refused to say that it was torture on the basis that he hadn't been briefed on it; it was classified.

It is surprising that there should be any question about the fact that it is torture. Water-boarding is only the new term for an old practice that goes back to the Inquisition. It was written about in the 14th century as water torture, water cure or tormenta de toca. The water torture was done by professionals with a doctor required to be present.

The "modern" method of the water torture was developed by Dutch traders in the 17th century against the British in the East Indies. This causes the victim to choke by filling his throat with a steady stream of water; this has been described as "slow-motion drowning."

Around 1800 in the age of Enlightenment many countries banned water-boarding, and our forefathers added Amendment VIII to our Constitution forbidding cruel and unusual punishment. Although it was banned, water-boarding didn't entirely disappear. During the Spanish-American War, Major Glenn was suspended from command and fined for using the "water cure."

In the war crime tribunals following World War II, water-boarding was raised and in 1947, Japanese officer Yukio Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. In 1983 Texas Sheriff James Parker and three deputies were sentenced to four years in prison for water-boarding a prisoner.


In 2004, Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin went to a military base to be water-boarded; he wished to settle in his own mind whether it was torture. His conclusion? It was torture. Levin never finished his memo to strengthen tighter interrogation controls because he was forced out of the Justice Department by Bush's lackey Gonzales.

Mukasey told Senator Schumer (D-NY) that if Congress were to pass a law banning water-boarding, "the president would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law." Maybe it's time for each congressperson to vote!

Barbara M. Edwards


I agree with Inga Mae Urke's letter, "Don't tolerate illegal aliens" (Public Forum, Nov. 2) and I am just as proud of my Norwegian grandparents and their dedication and patriotism to America. But her comment that she flies her Norwegian flag always below our American flag caught my eye.

Public Law 344, passed by the 1994 Congress, is known as the Federal Flag Code. It is the guide for all handling and display of the United States flag. It states, "When flags of two or more nations are displayed they should be flown from separate staffs of the same height and the flags should be of approximately equal size."

International Flag Code states, "Flags of one nation shall not have predominance over the flags of another nation; therefore they shall be flown from their own staff." State flags and banners of cities or societies can be flown under the American flag. No flag or pennant should be placed above the United States flag except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for navy personnel.

In driving through Montevideo, I see a Canadian flag being flown below the United States flag. In Milan a Norwegian flag is flown below the United States flag. It is apparent these people do not know their flag etiquette, but I wonder if these people realize that they are belittling the other nation by having them below the American flag.


Ivey Vonderharr


I am disgusted with the actions not taken by the Willmar City Council at the Nov. 5 meeting. For anyone to say that the storm water problem at 10th and Kandiyohi Ave Southwest is an "act of God" is ridiculous. If I have a bucket sitting outside during a rain and we get 4 inches of rain in one hour, how much rain is going to be in my bucket? Our intersection is not the same. The water at our intersection rises up to 25 inches!

So if we only had a 4- to 5-inch rainfall, where is it all coming from? When a rainfall occurs water from 192 acres of land flows to the intersection of 10th and Kandiyohi, whether above ground or through the storm sewer. At the same time water is filling the system on the southeast end of town because of all the blacktop in that area.

The intersection overflows due to the system backing up. The water simply has nowhere to go except to pool at the lowest point, which happens to be at 10th and Kandiyohi, and our land becomes the holding pond for all this water. The Jorgensons lost their home. The home in between us had five feet of water in the basement.

If you want a holding pond you can have it. Buy us out and turn this intersection into a holding pond. While the situation in our area is very bad, we are not the only ones in Willmar with a major problem. There are other areas which also experience flooding. For the City Council to state that this is not the city's fault is absurd.

The city built a system which depends on an 11-inch drop from downtown Willmar to Lake Wakonda. Most anyone will tell you this design will have a problem. Plus when the city continues to expand its blacktop (malls, parking lots, etc.) the problem is multiplied because of a lack of natural drainage into the ground. Buy the Jorgensons out, get Grass Lake done, create the natural holding pond at 10th and Kandiyohi and fix this issue now.

David L. Becker



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