The reporting leads to the same types of meandering circles of disinformation as it did in years past.
The normally estimable Thomas E. Ricks, for example:
In February 1968, a U.S. soldier was court-martialed simply for holding down a Vietnamese man while two Vietnamese soldiers waterboarded him, according to Guenter Lewy's America in Vietnam. (329)Ricks' reference leads to a single paragraph in Lewy's book. Lewy's account describes the case as resulting in a "special court-martial." A "special" court martial is "often characterized as a misdemeanor court." If Ricks' account conjured images of prolonged imprisonment or of execution then it succeeded in misleading readers. More importantly, the Lewy's book recounted the court-martial incident by citing an announced U.S. policy of encouraging South Vietnamese forces to hew to compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Thus any finding of the court with respect to the so-called "waterboarding" incident would likely take into account whether the victim was entitled to Geneva protections. In short, the incident contributes virtually nothing (if anything) to our knowledge of the legal status of CIA waterboarding.
Yet Ricks follows with this:
I mention this because both George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney now have publicly admitted they were approving of waterboarding, a form of torture that once was a crime in the eyes of the U.S. government -- and still is under international laws.Ricks appears to follow in the footsteps of Evan Wallach and others who use an equivocal definition of "waterboarding" along with spurious arguments to the effect that U.S. law forbids the practice.