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Fired Up! posted audio of debate on a private prison bill in the Missouri House which caught a member of the republican leadership, Representative Brian Nieves, advocating torture: Great Moments in Legislating: Brian Nieves edition (Part 2)

Audio via Fired Up!

The transcript:

…Speaker: Further discussion. Gentleman from Franklin [County], for what purpose do you rise?

Representative Brian Nieves: To inquire of the handler.

Speaker: Gentleman from Johnson [County] yield?

Representative Denny Hoskins: Yes, Mister Speaker.

Speaker: He does. [crosstalk] Proceed.

Representative Nieves: How are you doing, gentleman?

Representative Hoskins: Great. How are you doing, gentlemen?

Representative Nieves: This is your first year around here, isn’t it?

Representative Hoskins: It is.

Representative Nieves: You probably figure out that over time there’s people that you learn to really respect and trust and maybe other people that you don’t. And the gentleman from Boone [County] is somebody that I do have a lot of respect for. And so he’s brought up, I think, some pretty valid comments. You know he talked about how he has a legitimate fear that there might be some things that would happen in these private prisons that would be of concern to him. And so it just made me wonder, you know, I, I don’t know exactly how these things operate. And I know, I  think you have one in your district. Is that right? [crosstalk]

Representative Hoskins: Yes, gentleman.

Representative Nieves: Okay. So, there, is there any regulation about, say for example a, something happens in the prison, something bad happens in the prison, and they need to interview or interrogate some of these prisoners? I mean is there regulations about what they can do? And, I guess more specifically, what I’d be asking you is, would, would they ever be able to waterboard somebody in, in one of these private prisons? I mean, can they? “Hey, hey, stop. I tell you anything you want to know.” I, I, can, can [laugh], can they waterboard people in these private prisons?

Representative Hoskins: I do not…[crosstalk]

Representative Nieves: Here’s the thing. I mean, there’s some people yesterday that were all concerned about waterboarding terrorists, as if that’s a bad thing to do. Now these are American citizens that are typically held in these, right? And they don’t get waterboarded. [crosstalk]

Representative Hoskins: Yes, gentleman.

Representative Nieves: Okay. [crosstalk]

Representative Hoskins: American citizens.

Representative Nieves: I want to make sure that American citizens don’t get waterboarded. I want to make sure you know, gentleman, that I am [emphasis] okay with waterboarding terrorists. I mean, I just want to make sure that you know that. Some blog tried to have some comment about me yesterday. Maybe they weren’t clear about my stand on waterboarding. I say that waterboarding is [emphasis] okay for terrorists. But I want to make sure that does not happen in these private prisons. [crosstalk]

Representative Hoskins: That does not happen.

Representative Nieves: Would you speak on that? [crosstalk]

Representative Hoskins: I’m with you on that.

Representative Nieves: ‘Cause I don’t want to see any waterboarding of American citizens, even if they are in a private prison.

Representative Hoskins: Correct.

Speaker: Gentleman from Jackson. For what purpose do you rise?

Speaker: Kander.

Representative Jason Kander: Point of order Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Proceed.

Representative Jason Kander: The gentleman’s references to his rather offensive comments from yesterday, while interesting, have absolutely nothing to do with this.

Speaker: Gentleman, please avoid all personal comments on the floor. Further discussion. Actually, proceed the inquiry, gentleman. Franklin [County]. [crosstalk]

Representative Nieves: So, so, gentleman, I just want to, because we are specifically talkin’ about what happens in private prisons, okay? [crosstalk]

Representative Hoskins: Yes, private jails. Correct. [crosstalk]

Representative Nieves: And so I probably shouldn’t drift off, it’s very difficult, you know, when we’re talking about things to make sure that we stay on an absolute narrow path, but I just want to make sure. We had a little confusion. People jumped up and started waving things. So I just want to make sure you understood my question. And that you understand that I am not [emphasis], because you’re guy that has one of these in your district, you’re the one that’s handling this legislation. You’re kind of like the private prison expert within this body. I want to make sure that you know that I don’t think any of us in this body, myself included, would be in favor of waterboarding American citizens that are in a private prison. Are you with me on that?

Representative Hoskins: I’m with you on that, gentleman. [crosstalk]

Representative Nieves: And are you gonna, will you commit to me, just as you did the gentleman from Boone [County], I seem to have a little water on my face, I think somebody was trying to waterboard me a minute ago. Are you willing to commit to me, just as you did the gentleman from Boone [County], that if we need next year to talk about this, I mean, if somebody ever says that we should waterboard U.S. citizens in private prisons, are you committing to me that you’ll try to make sure that we don’t ever do that to American citizens?

Representative Hoskins: Yes. I would be against waterboarding [crosstalk] American citizens.

Representative Nieves: Because I just want to be very clear that I am okay with waterboarding terrorists, okay? I think it’s a good idea to waterboard terrorists, but not American citizens, okay? Can we work together on that?

Representative Hoskins: Yes, gentleman.

Representative Nieves Thank you gentleman. Thank you Mister Speaker.

Speaker: Further discussion…

Waterboarding was and continues to be a violation of federal statutes, treaty obligations, and the peremptory norms of international law:

The United States prosecuted individuals at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials for waterboarding prisoners of war and civilian detainees.

Changi Prison, October 1943

… The Japanese were trying to establish that there was a spy organization in Changi Prison which received and transmitted by radio telephony, which had established contacts in the town for the purpose of sabotage and [12937] stirring up of  anti-Japanese feeling, and which collected money from outside for this purpose. In fact, there was no organization, no radio transmission and no attempt to promote anti-Japanese activities outside the Camp…[12939]

…Usually interrogations started quietly and would continue as long as the inquisitors got the expected answers. If, for any reason, such answers were not forthcoming, physical violence was immediately…

…[12940] employed. The methods used were:

(1) Water Torture. There were two forms of water torture. In the first, the victim was tied or held down on his back and a cloth placed over his nose and mouth. Water was then poured on the cloth

International Military Tribunal for the Far East – Pr
, p. 12,936.

[emphasis added]

The peremptory norms of international law and our treaty obligations:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

advisory declaration adopted by

the United Nations General Assembly (December 10, 1948)

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

[emphasis added]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented after World War II. Its provisions made their way into the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as such, were ratified as norms of international law by the majority of civilized states in the world.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

– in force September 8, 1992

Article 4. 1 . In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.

2. No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18 may be made under this provision. 3. Any State Party to the present Covenant availing itself of the right of derogation shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the present Covenant, through the intermediary of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, of the provisions from which it has derogated and of the reasons by which it was actuated. A further communication shall be made, through the same intermediary, on the date on which it terminates such derogation.

Article 7. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.

Article 16. Everyone shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

[emphasis added]

The individuals who’s voices you hear in the recording of the debate have varied backgrounds.

Representative Jason Kander’s (D-44) bio:

Rep. Jason Kander, a Democrat, represents part of Jackson County (District 44) in the Missouri House of Representatives.

In addition to his legislative duties, Rep. Kander is an attorney with The Barnes Law Firm and also serves as a military intelligence officer in the Army National Guard. Previously, he was employed as a Political Science Instructor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and as an associate with Spencer Fane Britt and Browne. Rep. Kander also has advised members of Congress on foreign policy issues and provided political commentary on local and national radio.

Rep. Kander enlisted in the Army National Guard with an infantry unit in 2002. He became an officer in the Army Reserve in 2005. Rep. Kander volunteered for deployment and served in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007. Currently he serves as a platoon trainer with the Missouri Army National Guard’s 140th Regional Training Institute’s Officer Candidate School.

Rep. Kander is a member of the following organizations: Veterans of Foreign Wars; Committee for County Progress; Votevets.org – Senior Advisor; Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association; Missouri Bar Association; Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys; Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus; Coro Kansas City – Board of Directors. Rep. Kander attends New Reform Temple in Kansas City.

A 1999 graduate of Bishop Miege High School, Rep. Kander received a B.A. in Political Science from American University in 2002 and a J.D. from Georgetown Law School in 2005.

Representative Brian Nieves’ (r – waterboard ’em) bio:

Majority Whip. Born June 19, 1965. A 1983 graduate of Pacific HIgh School in Franklin County. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1984, and served 10 years as a Corpsman alongside Marines…A small business owner Rep. Nieves operates, Nieves Enterprises and Hwy 66 Auto Sales. He also serves as a substitute high school teacher and Zone Pastor of Living Bread Church. He is a business speaker, concentrating in the areas of professional development and team building. Elected to the House: 2002-2006. Republican.

Reprentative Denny Hoskins (r – noun, verb, CPA) bio:

Rep. Denny Hoskins, a Republican, represents part of Johnson County (District 121) including the towns of Centerview, Holden, Knob Noster and Warrensburg in the Missouri House of Representatives.

In addition to his legislative duties, Rep. Hoskins is a Certified Public Accountant who specializes in financial planning and governmental audits. Rep. Hoskins also served in the Missouri Army National Guard.

Rep. Hoskins is a member of the Warrensburg Rotary and the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants. He also is a graduate of the Johnson County CLIMB and Leadership Missouri programs.

A graduate of Fatima High School in Westphalia, Missouri, Rep. Hoskins received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Central Missouri in 1998….

“…I seem to have a little water on my face, I think somebody was trying to waterboard me a minute ago….”

“…the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us-the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil…”

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil