Wednesday, April 30, 2008
So, picture yourself in a movie theatre, some frenetic music starts up, then the water starts to pour. It could be an ad for spring water or even vodka, it’s slick. But within seconds the slick commercial pans down and delivers a big dose of shock.
Amnesty International actually staged a waterboarding session in order to sharpen its campaign against it and beginning in May the commercial will air as a preview in theatres throughout Britain. http://www.unsubscribe-me.org/
“It’s not a stunt, ” insists Sara McNeice of Amnesty. “This constitutes torture. We don’t need to gloss it up, we don’t need to call it an enhanced interrogation technique. It’s torture, it should be illegal it should never be used,” she adds.
Malcolm Nance, a former American military officer, trained personnel to resist water boarding and claims it feels like slow motion murder. He acted as a consultant for Amnesty during the production of the commercial.
“These videos that Amnesty International has put out are pretty realistic, ” says Nance. “These people are being tortured and this is just not how the American public, I’m certain, wanted their government to dishonour themselves,” he says.
Water boarding is now an iconic symbol in what has become known as the 'War on Terror". It is emblematic of the controversy and confusion now surrounding the war itself. The Bush Administration bans the practice of waterboarding for the military, but not intelligence officers which is why Amnesty International says it wants the American public to demand it be banned outright.
“This isn’t about being anti-American or taking an anti-American stance on the issue this is about an anti-torture stance people and the public don’t want to see people being tortured in their name” insists McNeice.
But some scholars warn that a shock ad will only add to all the confusion surrounding the debate. Professor Michael Levin of City College in New York is a noted scholar on the philosophical question of when and if torture is justified.
Levin insists he is not advocating waterboarding or any other kind of aggressive interrogation technique but he points out that there is a realistic question to asked : How tough should governments get when lives are on the line?
“There have to be firm rules, it has to be to protect the innocent, it has to be non-punitive,” he says before insisting that the blanket ban that Amnesty is advocating is not realistic.
“I don't see how you can honestly say that there are techniques you just can't use to save thousands of innocent lives, it just seems absurd." Says Levin.
Amnesty claims its commercial is the "video the CIA doesn’t want you to see”. It says almost four hundred thousand people have already viewed it online, even before it’s been released in theatres. And so the debate continues with another battleplan, on a different battlefield with Amnesty’s latest salvo coming soon to a theatre near you.
Watch report on the video.
By Paula Newton, International Security Correspondent.
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