Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current | View Entire Issue (May 21, 2009)
The INDEPENDENT, May 21, 2009
Published on the first and third Thursdays of each month by
The Independent, LLC, 725 Bridge St., Vernonia, OR 97064.
Publisher Clark McGaugh, email@example.com
Editor Rebecca McGaugh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mentor Noni Andersen
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable based dyes
Impartial review of VPD?
To the City of Vernonia’s credit, they recently began
an investigation into the use of force by the police de-
partment after allegations of police brutality regarding
the use of a Taser on a young man during an underage
drinking bust on March 20. At Monday’s City Council
meeting, Howard Webb of ACCJT gave a verbal report,
starting off by saying he was not being paid by the city.
Actually, Webb was paid by the city’s insurer, CCIS. He
stated that the use of force was not only appropriate,
but that the officers used more restraint than would be
expected. That should have been good news.
Unfortunately, there have to be concerns about the
possibility of bias in the report, given the close relation-
ship between Interim Chief of Police Mike Kay who was,
or is, an Assistant Director of ACCJT where Webb is the
Director. It is surprising that Webb accepted the review,
rather than declining, because the relationship does
raise questions about his ability to be impartial. Another
review of the same episode is being performed for the
city by someone on the St. Helens Police force. We
hope for good news from that report.
Wanting the budget to be fine
Vernonia’s budget process began with the first meet-
ing of the budget committee on May 11. There was no
public comment taken at that meeting and we were un-
able to attend. Later, Interim City Administrator Jim
Johnson chided us for not being there to hear the
budget message and the good news presented. But,
did he really want us to disseminate the budget mes-
sage or the good news? We had difficulty getting a
copy of the budget and still haven’t received a copy of
the budget message (usually a written document). We
did get some ‘attitude’ from those kind public servants
at City Hall, of course.
By the next issue we hope to have more information
on the budget, with cooperation from City Hall. John-
son says we rarely print positive news from the City.
Not too surprising, considering how hard it is to get in-
formation from them.
A new City Administrator soon?
The newest round of Interviews for the Vernonia City
Administrator position took place on Sunday, May 17.
Three candidates were interviewed and information
should be available soon on the chosen candidate.
Out of My Mind…
by Noni Andersen
Some Americans won-
der why there is an effort
to investigate President
Bush’s policy allowing “en-
hanced interrogation” of
prisoners. They apparent-
ly think that no laws were
broken because it was an
whether these tactics resulted in beneficial intel-
ligence or false intelligence, a look at America’s
legal history about torture, especially water-
boarding, provides insight to the arguments that
support an investigation.
Waterboarding is known to have occurred as
early as the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834). In
the United States, it has a long history as both il-
legal and a violation of military rules of conduct.
The earliest known case of an American
prosecution for waterboarding occurred in 1901,
when an Army major was sentenced to 10 years
in prison for waterboarding a Filipino guerrilla in-
surgent during the Philippine-American War. Fol-
lowing World War II (1939-1945), American pros-
ecutors convicted several Japanese soldiers for
waterboarding Allied prisoners of war. The sol-
diers were tried as part of the International Mili-
tary Tribunal for the Far East and resulted in sen-
tences ranging from hanging to terms in prison.
During the Vietnam War, a U.S. soldier who par-
ticipated in the waterboarding of a North Viet-
namese prisoner of war was court-martialed in
There are also civilian prosecutions dating to
at least 1926, when the Mississippi Supreme
Court overturned the conviction of a black man
accused of murder because his confession had
been obtained by waterboarding. And as recent-
ly as 1983, President Reagan’s Department of
Justice prosecuted a Texas sheriff and three
deputies for waterboarding suspects to coerce
confessions. The sheriff received 10 years in
prison; the deputies terms were shorter.
There is also a record of statutory and treaty
regulations which are in force. In 1946, Con-
gress adopted the Torture Statute, which makes
it a crime for an American to torture a person out-
side of the United States.
In 1994, Congress ratified the Convention
Against Torture, an international treaty against
torture and other inhuman or degrading treat-
ment. The convention defined torture as “any act
by which severe pain or suffering, whether phys-
ical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a per-
son,” and when it was ratified, its provisions be-
came U.S. law. Additionally, America can prose-
cute anyone charged with a grave breach of the
Geneva Conventions, which forbid torture, under
the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996.
American use of waterboarding has been
confirmed by former Bush administration offi-
cials. Neither President Bush nor President Oba-
ma is above the law. If, as we proclaim, we are a
“nation of laws,” an investigation is required, re-
gardless of one’s policies or the other’s reluc-
tance to stir up what may turn out to be a putrid