I am a daughter of torture.

By Candy Neville of Eugene, Oregon. Candy describes herself as a "peace actionist". In 2008, she ran for the U.S. Senate in the Democratic primary.

I am a daughter of torture. In World War II, my father was a POW who survived the Bataan Death March. Only one in ten did. Even fewer survived their internment. He endured 44 months in a concentration camp in the Phillipines and he witnessed and experienced torture. Willie Monroe Odden stood almost 6 feet tall and weighed under 90 pounds when he was liberated from his imprisonment. Unfortunately he was never liberated from the suffering and his acute suffering was inflicted upon us – his family. It was his and our constant companion.

My father was a survivor. He had absolute faith in his country and believed for each day of the 44 months that he would be brought home. Eventually he was. He told us little – a few stories over and over again. He repeatedly tried to contact a reporter. None interviewed him. He had a huge desire for the world to know. He knew the world would be outraged. There was no designation of Post Traumatic Stress, no programs to deal with it. So he developed his own:

Alcohol, pain relievers, breaking chairs and furniture against the walls, waking and screaming in the night as he gasped for air through an open window and ranted, “I’m dying. I’m dying.” In many ways, he already had. I did not know him before the war and took this ranting maniac who was a good businessman “as is”.

I was proud that he had served, had survived and was very proud of my country that we did not engage in the excruciating activity called torture. I was proud our soldiers were not trained and shamed in such pursuits.

I am horrified that Dick Cheney goes around touting torture and citizens actually ponder and consider it’s value. It is the tactic that keeps on giving sorrow, shame, pain, nightmares. It hounds the tortured and the torturer to their death. It is the tactic that contradicts all sane options of future peace. My family could so easily want to give torture back when confronted by an enemy. It is useless, blasphemous and insidious. Announcing to the world that we will torture enemies we catch, endangers our troops and our citizens. Each of us must stand and speak against this horrendous national sin.

Comments

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Thank you for sharing that. Very powerful reminder of how we have become what we once opposed.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Bush et al should be tried for conspiracy to commit. Jay Bybee should be impeached and then tried for the same.

    * United States Code o TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE + PART I - CRIMES # CHAPTER 113C - TORTURE U.S. Code as of: 01/19/04 Section 2340A. Torture (a) Offense. - Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life. (b) Jurisdiction. - There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if - (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender. (c) Conspiracy. - A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I find it a sorrowing thing that nobody cared to hear your father's story. It's odd, since it would have made such great fodder for the political hatred and nationalism machines... I am glad for his sake that the Manichean Mobsters of politics did not pick up on his story and then subvert it to their own uses - more trauma and poor useage to a man left on his own to survive such.

    Thanks for your writing - am glad you pay witness to his life and stand up to restore a thread of his valor.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    This posting should be framed and hung in the Oval Office, the vice president's office, the attorney general's office and in all the offices of their immediate subordinates. Permanently.

  • Wes (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Willie Odden was liberated at Fukuoka POW Camp #17 (Omuta) in September 1945, after arriving there sometime in August of 1943. For some actual accounts of what he and his fellow POWs went through, visit my website, especially the affidavit webpages. I seriously doubt Cheney would condone the same torture methods for use on our enemies.

    http://home.comcast.net/~winjerd/Page07.htm#POW_Affidavits

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Wes, are you trying to say that some acts of torture are not torture while other acts of torture ARE?

    You have subverted this woman's post.

    She speaks to the fact that she believes her father, who was tortured and whose story was ignored by the ones he suffered it on behalf of... would not condone ANY torture!

    Egad, man: how can you say that?

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Forgive the tortured syntax, rather riled by the moronic Wes.

  • TheSkald (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and beliefs. When I was quite young, I met a man at church who had survived the death march - something many of the survivors, jokingly, called "the hike." That link leads to a letter written to God from the survivor, Alf Larson. Though I listened to his story as a teenager, even now, as an adult, it seems to jerk tears from me.

    Footprints in Courage is a book that tells his story if you care to check it out.

    If you have some time, explore the site. And thanks again for sharing this painful history.

    very best regards.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
    (Show?)

    My Neighbor when I was growing up was Gen. Sterling Borquist Rt., also a Battan survivor. He was a Captain at the time of the march. Taught woodshop at Benson HS. Never talked about it.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
    (Show?)

    My friends dad, Doctor Witten of Louisville, KY also survived the Battan Death March. I applaud the valor and daily heroism your dad displayed. The criminal offenses and trangressions against humanity by the Japanese in WWII are well documented, but you post brings it home.

    I will not comment further as it would detract from your fine post and your personal feelings. To do so (as some others have) would not be honorable.

  • Boats (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Wes, are you trying to say that some acts of torture are not torture while other acts of torture ARE?

    Do you even read what you type? It's pretty clear that Wes regards someone's definition of "torture" as gaseously expansive.

    Stress positions versus untreated wounds and tropical diseases? Sleep deprivation weighed against random bayonet stabbings and beheadings for effect?

    Wes has a valid point. And you have no basis for throwing around a "moron" charge.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Torture is defined by International and US law.

  • evil is evil (unverified)
    (Show?)

    This comment is in no way intended to reduce the heroism of the POWs.

    I met several Phillipino POWs of the Japanese who were brought to the US and worked on railroads in the Northwest after the war.

    There is a book of WWII submarines. There was a submarine called something fish. The sub successfully attacked and sank I believe, 3 or 4 Japanese troop transports.

    The sub's cannon was used to shell all lifeboats possible. Machine gun fire and rifle and pistol fire were used to kill as many of the survivors as possible until all ammo was used up. Then the captain reversed engines and ran through clusters of survivors with the blades. He got a medal for his "heroism."

    I met a man who had been an engineer on the sub. When they got back to Pearl Harbor, he refused to reboard the ship as he was a christian and he refused "to do the devil's work." He got two years of hard labor in a Navy brig and a dishonorable discharge.

    The next time the sub went out ALL of the Japanese Navy, Army, and Air Force were hunting it. It never came back.

    I've often wondered which came first the Bataan Death March or the cold blooded murder of survivors.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    There is one important point forgotten in this piece. It's only torture if other people do it to Americans, not when Americans do it to other people. We prosecuted the Japanese military for war crimes for water boarding at the end of WWII. When we do it, it's different. If you redefine water boarding as not torture, then it's not torture. That's Bush/Cheney think.

    Another forgotten point in this discussion so far, some detainees have died. The facts surrounding this have not come to into public scrutiny, not yet anyway. Remember the Abu Ghrab photo of the detainee corpse wrapped in celophane, reportedly having been interrogated by the CIA. What happened to him? Or the dead detainees at Bagram prison.

    Retired Gen. Barry McAffrey stated back in April on MSNBC:

    "We should never, as a policy, maltreat people under our control, detainees. We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A."
    

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/04/gen_barry_mccaffrey_ret_allege.html

    To all you torture deniers- dead people don't result from stress positions.

  • Boats (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Under USC Title 18, Sec. 2340(2)

    Torture is narrowly defined as:

    (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” mean[ing] the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—

    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

    (C) the threat of imminent death; or

    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality. . . .

    We are pointedly NOT totally onboard with the UN convention as regards psychological interrogation. The Clinton Administration lodged diplomatic reservations in 1994 conditioning the USA's acceptance of the treaty.

    Environmental manipulation, culturally insensitive foods and accommodations, sleep adjustment/deprivation, isolation, exploiting the Arab fear and loathing of dogs, loud noises, blaring music, etcetera, and using stress positions do not rise to any accepted definition of "torture" in this country.

    Water boarding goes right up to the line or over, which is why it is controversial. Still, no one is actually drowned.

    The word "torture" is defined in our law. It is not a determination made by the eye of the beholder.

  • Boats (unverified)
    (Show?)

    The death of a detainee should spark a criminal investigation by the proper authorities. In the cases that I am aware of, it has.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
    (Show?)

    we signed and ratified it:

    CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

    Part I Article 1 1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

    Article 2 1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction. 2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. 3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

    Article 3 1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. 2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

    Article 4 1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture. 2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

    The only qualification we had was:

    On 3 June 1994, the Secretary-General received a communication from the Government of the United States of America requesting, in compliance with a condition set forth by the Senate of the United States of America, in giving advice and consent to the ratification of the Convention, and in contemplation of the deposit of an instrument of ratification of the Convention by the Government of the United States of America, that a notification should be made to all present and prospective ratifying Parties to the Convention to the effect that:

    "... nothing in this Convention requires or authorizes legislation, or other action, by the United States of America prohibited by the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the United States."

    CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

    Article. VI.

    Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
    (Show?)

    @ boats "The death of a detainee should spark a criminal investigation by the proper authorities. In the cases that I am aware of, it has."

    What planet are you living on?

  • (Show?)

    "The death of a detainee should spark a criminal investigation by the proper authorities. In the cases that I am aware of, it has."

    Yes, it has. And the results have been the admission of at least two dozen homicides--meaning unlawful killings--of detainees under US supervision or control. Murder, not stress positions and sleep deprivation.

    And if waterboarding doesn't cross the line, why in heaven's name did we prosecute people for it?

  • Boats (unverified)
    (Show?)

    What planet are you living on?

    Apparently one where detainee deaths are taken seriously. Someone apparently has seen the extra cheesy Above The Law a few too many times.

  • Boats (unverified)
    (Show?)

    To BOHICA:

    The US understanding of its compliance with its treaty obligations is reflected in the federal law I already cited.

    Besides "international law" in areas of warfare has proven to be less useful and about as easy to break as generic single ply toilet tissue in a dysentery ward.

    To torridjoe:

    The "problem" with waterboarding is whether it violates the domestic law on torture. As a hybrid of inflicted physical and psychological distress which features no permanent physical damage when performed correctly, whether it meets the "severity" test under the law is not answered by a mere prosecution.

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)
    (Show?)

    U.S. torture has been rebranded and packaged as a return to the halcion days of Clintonism, when, without public comment, "renditions" sent our victims to other countries to be tortured. Nuremberg says that "aggressive war" (what we continue to wage) is the supreme international crime, more serious even than the torture/atrocities that the media focus on. We are all torturers unless we act to stop these crimes being committed in our names.

  • Neil (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'd like to see POW's brought to Portland and kept in the homes of left wing progressives. Here they would be taken care of, feed and clothed properly and have access to internet, cable and free healthcare. The POW's could be taught the benefits of veganism and alternative gay lifestyles. They would be able to burn the Amerikan flag and taught to hate the military. After a while, once the reprogramming was complete, they would be available for government jobs and union jobs.

  • ws (unverified)
    (Show?)

    People do terrible things to each other...during war and outside of it. I don't see how discussion regarding what the Japanese did to prisoners on the Bataan death march can go on very long without someone remembering what Americans did to Native Americans as part of Manifest Destiny. For example, that fun little hike, the Trail of Tears.

    Rationalizations always seem to abound in comparing these kinds of things. I suppose there are those that would rush to say that compared to Bataan, Trail of Tears was a walk in the park. That kind of thinking may have been what affected Cheney, Rummy and Bush, leaving them to take steps that have brought the U.S. to a dismal state of dishonor.

  • (Show?)

    "The "problem" with waterboarding is whether it violates the domestic law on torture."

    ...which isn't in doubt, since violating our treaty obligations does in fact violate domestic law.

    None of which addresses the moronic barbarism of it, in service of a goal which torture does not achieve, most notoriously in this specific case where it was undertaken to attempt to extract false confessions that were already known to be false, in order to politically promote a similarly illegal war.

  • (Show?)

    I'd like to see POW's brought to Portland and kept in the homes of left wing progressives. Here they would be taken care of, feed and clothed properly and have access to internet, cable and free healthcare. The POW's could be taught the benefits of veganism and alternative gay lifestyles. They would be able to burn the Amerikan flag and taught to hate the military. After a while, once the reprogramming was complete, they would be available for government jobs and union jobs.

    Because the idea of treating detainees the way you'd want US soldiers to be treated (say your child, for example) if they were captured by the enemy is so onerous to you...?

    You're disgusting.

  • Neil (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "Because the idea of treating detainees the way you'd want US soldiers to be treated (say your child, for example) if they were captured by the enemy is so onerous to you...?"

    No, I wouldn't want my child or US Soldiers housed with a bunch of left wing lunatics, taught the benefits of veganism and gay lifestyles (there are none), taught to burn the American flag or to hate the military. For me, this would be akin to torture and be unacceptable.

    "You're disgusting."

    You're Ugly.

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Candy, apologies for those turds, Wes and Boats. CLEARLY you, as a daughter who had to live daily with the sequelae to the torture of your father and the results of an era in our country when such was not talked about, clearly you seem to be saying that you know what is being visited upon the generations no matter who tortures.

    I am thinking about your post, and your life since reading it. I think also about the talk of pschologist friends of mine who work with horrifically traumatized refugees and they, like your father, may not want to endlessly rehash the events, but, when it is time, they want to be heard. When they have parsed it, and feel ready, they need to be heard, and their stories ONLY witnessed. Not used or interpreted. Simply witnessed.

    Again, thank you. I've been engaged in some ceremonial preparation on Mt. St. Helens this weekend, and your post, the issues and personal realities you present have been part of my meditations.

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    WS, thank you. I saw a giant, tattered tipi abandoned behind some gas station on the way home just now. Granted, it was just some gimmick abandoned to rot where it stands. But my mind DID go to my relatives marched over vast miles with nothing to eat, no clothing, to die. I did flash on many things. And felt the pain of it in my tissues.

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Wrench Monkey, a friendly point, your thought is laudable. But the logic/linguistic structure flawed.

    Let us just say that we are all PARTY TO torture if we do not act to stop it?

    We are not the actual torturers and yet ar party to it. Never give a nasty criminal a way out: your syllogism is flawed. :)

  • Not the Who (unverified)
    (Show?)

    We DID Get Fooled Again

    We were cheering in the streets, With our children at our feet, And we thought our worshiped morals all had won. But the men who spurred us on Still control what’s going on. They decide and politicians sing the song.

    We thought we’d started a new revolution, Revived what’s left of our torn constitution, Cried with joy on that November night, But in the clear light of day, It’s just like yesterday, So now we’re down on our knees to say, We DID get fooled again, DID get fooled again.

    Change it had to come, We hoped it all along. But the faces on the stage just changed, that’s all. And the system’s just the same, And history ain’t changed, ‘Cause the wars and bribes and secrecy go on.

    We thought we’d started a new revolution, Revived what’s left of our torn constitution, Cried with joy on that November night, But in the clear light of day, It’s just like yesterday, So now we’re down on our knees to say, We DID get fooled again, DID get fooled again. Yes, Yes!

    We’ll move our hopes and our ideals aside If we happen to be left half alive. Forget all our dreams and smile at the sky, For we know that our leaders never lie. Do ya?

    Now there’s nothing in the street Looks any different to me, And the promises were all broken on the way. And the policies of the Dems Are like the policies of the Right, And the lies have just continued every day.

    We thought we’d started a new revolution, Revived what’s left of our torn constitution, Cried with joy on that November night, But in the clear light of day, It’s just like yesterday, So now we’re down on our knees to say, We DID get fooled again, DID get fooled again. Yes, Yes!

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss!

  • AmandaN (unverified)
    (Show?)

    So I am guessing you must be a fan of capital punishment which is what the US did to high ranking Japanese officials- or are you like most liberals and prefer a good slap on the wrist?

  • rw (unverified)
    (Show?)

    AmandaN. Who are you talking to? Lotta ppl on this thread. Cannot imagine you are addressing the poster? Or perhaps you are. Odd - I read her comments as to say that she, a daughter of the sequelae of torture, she cannot abide by our nation indulging in such. She has bonafides to speak, one supposes.

    And perhaps you read her comments to say exactly the opposite! Curiouser and curiouser.

  • Boats (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I did flash on many things. And felt the pain of it in my tissues.

    Maybe you are menopausal? You certainly come off that way.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for this moving post. It really left me with a lump in my throat.

    In recent years I've come to understand what a big impact the Vietnam war had on my childhood. I was born about three years after my dad got home from Vietnam, and he spent virtually every minute staying busy (hammer, saw, work, repeat.) There were a lot of things he did that I now believe are related to untreated PTSD, and he ultimately died (seven years ago today) from Agent Orange-related illnesses. And he was one of the lucky ones who came home in one piece and was able to hold down a job and create a stable-looking life.

    I don't talk about it much, but when I do, other people share their own stories of parents or grandparents who were broken by war. It has a multi-generational impact. Add torture to the mix, and I can't imagine.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "Maybe you are menopausal? You certainly come off that way."

    Boats: Are you an asshole? You certainly come off that way.

  • (Show?)

    No, I wouldn't want my child or US Soldiers housed with a bunch of left wing lunatics, taught the benefits of veganism and gay lifestyles (there are none), taught to burn the American flag or to hate the military. For me, this would be akin to torture and be unacceptable.

    Yes...freedom and liberty are indeed difficult for those (like yourself) whose ideas are so shallow and fragile that they can't stand up against the ideas and beliefs of others. No wonder you're so scared. Your notions are a house of cards.

    "You're disgusting."

    You're Ugly.

    Look again. That's a mirror.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Boats, sorry you never got one of those prime jobs torturing (or maybe I should write "torturing") prisoners at Gitmo, in Afghanistan, or various other black sites. I've no doubt you would have been a genius at it.

    Some reading for you.

  • Boats (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Why yes Bill, I am an asshole. Someday I hope to be able to spew as much as you do.

  • Fireslayer (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I can't believe anyone can find anything good to say about torture or any state sponsored physical violence against the detained. The skin heads have their own blogs. Why would they bother to come here?

    My father, a VFW service officer and retired Air Corp Major introduced me to a number of PTSD suffers from WWII and believe me, they suffered. Working with Vietnam vets turned this serious patriot against that war.

    In another part of the US, working with criminal courts detainees who's faces were so beaten in my rogue cops they could not tell me their stories and working against police brutality that resulted in my own brutalization informs me that it not only can happen here, it does.

    <h2>I wish you well Candy Neville and hope to meet you again someday. God bless you.</h2>
guest column

connect with blueoregon