Christiane Amanpour: Post Nam Cambodian Genocide Just Like U.S. 'Waterboarding' Today?
By Warner Todd Huston
April 7, 2008 - 21:23 ET
So, do you want to see a most egregious example of equating apples to oranges? Well, even that old saw is too mild a metaphor to describe the disgusting example of Christiane Amanpour's latest foray into moral relativism. In her CNN piece titled, "Survivor recalls horrors of Cambodia genocide," Amanpour assumes that American "waterboarding" today is exactly the same thing as the genocide of millions as perpetrated by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Amanpour seems to think that waterboarding is the same thing as what Pol Pot did with prisoners that were "whipped raw, their fingernails were yanked out, they were hogtied to wooden bars. Prison guards mutilated women's genitals, ripped off their nipples with pliers. And worst of all, babies were ripped from their mothers' arms and slaughtered."
Amanpour's latest project is being touted as a "major CNN documentary" that focusses on "those who stood up and said, 'Listen! We must stop the killing. Stop the genocide,'" during a turbulent 1970's Cambodia. The genocide in question describes the murderous reign of Pol Pot who slaughtered over two million Cambodians and imprisoned and tortured millions more after the end of the Vietnam war.
But what is Amanpour's focus with her report? Is it how the Khmer Rouge communists tortured women, children and men to elicit faux "confessions" of capitalist crimes? Is it the many families that were torn apart? Is it that these murders continued with impunity because the Democrat Party convinced the U.S. to lose the war in Vietnam? No, none of that. Amanpour doesn't seem to care much about what happened back between the years 1975 to 1979. No, it's today that she is more interested in. Yes, Amanpour is far more interested that she get her Cambodian survivor to say that what Pol Pot did to millions of Cambodians was just as bad as what George Bush is rumored to have done to a few terror suspects today.
Shamefully, Amanpour brushes off her host's discussions of the communist terror he survived in the 1970s and constantly interjects Bush's "crimes" into former inmate Van Nath's story. If this interview is any example of what her "major CNN documentary" will be like, get ready for historical revisionism into which Amanpour will shoehorn current partisan political hatred.
Here is how she starts off her little piece:
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- A recently disclosed memo gave U.S. interrogators the ability to use harsh methods -- what many call "torture" -- to extract information from terrorist suspects after 9/11. Around the world, critics saw it as another blow to American prestige and moral authority.
The 2003 document also invokes wartime powers to protect interrogators who violate the Geneva Conventions, for example, by the use of waterboarding -- when a prisoner is made to think he is drowning.
Half a world away, the divisive debate over whether waterboarding constitutes torture comes into sharp relief at the infamous S-21, Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
What George Bush's waterboarding policy has to do with the mass imprisonment of millions and the systematic murder of an entire generation of people is anybody's guess. Well, unless the whole point of Amanpour's piece is merely an excuse to attack Bush, that is.
Look at that last line quoted above. Amanpour says "half a world away" as if the 1970s genocide and the "debate over waterboarding" in 2008 were directly connected. Hell, they aren't even in the same century, much less connected!
Amanpour gives us her faux shock and horror as ex-inmate Van Nath gives her a tour of his one time prison.
Take water torture, for instance. Van Nath remembers it as if it were yesterday. I gasped as I entered a room filled with his vivid depictions.
Amanpour describes artist Van Nath's paintings that depicts the water tortures he and his fellow prisoners experienced.
One of his paintings shows a prisoner blindfolded and hoisted onto a makeshift scaffold by two guards. He is then lowered head first into a massive barrel of water.
As he talked and showed me around, my mind raced to the debate in the United States over this same tactic used on its prisoners nearly 40 years later. I stared blankly at another of Van Nath's paintings. This time a prisoner is submerged in a life-size box full of water, handcuffed to the side so he cannot escape or raise his head to breathe. His interrogators, arrayed around him, are demanding information.
Yes, she "gasped" as if she were shocked. But, obviously she wasn't impressed enough to let the man just tell his story without trying to cajole him into making political statements about modern events in a country not his own.
I asked Van Nath whether he had heard this was once used on America's terrorist suspects. He nodded his head. "It's not right," he said.
But I pressed him: Is it torture? "Yes," he said quietly, "it is severe torture. We could try it and see how we would react if we are choking under water for just two minutes. It is very serious."
Someone needs to inform Christiane Amanpour that "waterboarding" does not include totally submerging someone into "barrels" of water and then having them fastened in so that they can drown.
In fact, Amanpour's entire effort to equate the use of waterboarding on a very select few terrorists to the torture of millions of people on such a massive scale is disgusting. Unlike Pol Pot's mad regime, as a policy, America doesn't pull out fingernails, doesn't kill children, doesn't drown prisoners, doesn't "mutilate women's genitals" or rip off their nipples "with pliers." No Ms. Amanpour, what happened to the Cambodian people -- millions brutally murdered by a psychotic tyrant -- is not like George Bush's waterboarding in the slightest. Not even a tiny bit.
It's a shame that Amanpour so belittles the heartwrenching experiences of the millions of Cambodians that lost their lives, that she so spits upon the history of an entire people so badly brutalized by a despot so that she can make her cheap political shots at a president she hates in a time 30 years separated from the lives of the people she is supposed to be documenting.
In fact, it is more than a shame. It is almost criminal to so mistreat these Cambodian people who were kind enough to lend their assistance to Christiane Amanpour in hopes that she might get the story of their great suffering out to the wider world.
Ah, but when cheap political shots are the actual goal, damn the history. To hell with what these dirty people suffered. Who cares why they were so mistreated? If we can't use their agony 30 years hence to batter about our current president, well, what good are they? No one cares about their story, anyway. What we really care about is Christiane Amanpour's opinion on politics today!
It is lamentable that the Cambodian people are going to be raped all over again, this time by a CNN that will use their decades old horror as an excuse to score political points today. Its just one more disgusting historical hatchet job by a self-absorbed Christiane Amanpour and CNN.
(h/t NewsBuster Dave Finley)
(Photo Credit: CNN.com)
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