Civil Liberties

Drown by Law

The Bush administration's position on waterboarding is all wet

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In 1902 a U.S. Army captain wrote a letter to The New York Times about allegations that American soldiers had used an interrogation technique known as "the water cure" on Philippine insurgents. He claimed "unauthorized methods" had been used only against members of armed groups that were essentially criminal gangs. "From the results obtained it became simply a case where the end justifies the means," he wrote. "A legitimate combatant was never ill-treated."

That letter, quoted by law of war scholar Evan Wallach in a recent Columbia Journal of Transnational Law article, anticipated the arguments the Bush administration would employ a century later to defend its use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding. One crucial difference is that the Bush administration pretends waterboarding is perfectly legal.

That stance put attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey in a bit of a spot. During his confirmation hearings he acknowledged that torture is not only illegal but unconstitutional. He also said the president is not at liberty simply to ignore statutory and constitutional restrictions on the treatment of detainees, even if he thinks doing so is necessary to protect national security.

Since the CIA has used waterboarding on suspected terrorists, calling it a form of torture would implicate not only interrogators but superiors who authorized the technique, possibly including President Bush, in federal crimes. Investigating your boss is not the most auspicious way to start a new job.

Not surprisingly, Mukasey decided to reserve judgment on the question of whether the CIA's waterboarding qualifies as torture. He pleaded ignorance of the details and emphasized the need to avoid an "uninformed legal opinion based on hypothetical facts and circumstances."

That stance sounded reasonable but seemed less so upon reflection. As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who turned against Mukasey's confirmation over this issue, put it, "No American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture."

Federal law defines torture as an act "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering." It defines "severe mental pain or suffering" as "the prolonged mental harm" caused by, among other things, "the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering" or "the threat of imminent death."

Is there any way that tying someone down, tipping him backward, covering his face with cloth or plastic, and pouring water over him to produce the sensations of drowning would not qualify as torture? What classified detail could redeem a method Mukasey himself called "repugnant" and "over the line"?

As Wallach shows in his journal article, "U.S. courts have consistently held artificial drowning interrogation is torture." Military tribunals have punished Japanese soldiers for doing it to Americans, and U.S. courts have called it torture in criminal prosecutions of police officers and in a lawsuit against former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

The technique, variations of which date back at least to the Spanish Inquisition, is also known as "water torture," a term that clarifies the current debate. In essence, the Bush administration's defenders are declaring, "Water torture is not torture."

What they really mean, I think, is that sometimes torture is justified. If a detainee may have information that could be used to prevent a terrorist attack, for instance, isn't waterboarding the lesser of two evils? As that Army captain put it in 1902, doesn't the end justify the means?

I'm inclined to think it doesn't, not least because a government that asserts the authority to eavesdrop on people at will and imprison them at will is apt to make some terrible mistakes if it also has the authority to torture them at will. But this is an argument about what the law should be, not an argument about what it is.

The Bush administration has a tendency to confuse those two issues. Mukasey's unanticipated trouble on the way to confirmation reflects the expectation that the nation's chief law enforcement official will resist that tendency.

© Copyright 2007 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. If the Senators voting for Mukasey want to win me over on this, they should volunteer to be waterboarded. If they really believe that it isn’t torture, and if they believe it’s important for America to accept the practice, they should be willing to undergo a few “frat pranks” to demonstrate the morality of our government’s actions.

    Somehow, I doubt they’ll go for it.

  2. “The Bush administration has a tendency to confuse those two issues. Mukasey’s unanticipated trouble on the way to confirmation reflects the expectation that the nation’s chief law enforcement official will resist that tendency.”

    This last sentence contains more elegance than sense. Those of us who think that waterboarding is torture may have the “expectation”–that is, the hope–that the Attorney General of the U.S. will resist the tendency of the Bush Administration to claim unrestricted, dictatorial power, but the odds that Mr. Mukasey will deliver on that expectation are slim to none. Senate Democrats have shown once more that they simply lack the nerve to stand toe to toe with the President. With luck (a lot of luck), we may get anti-waterboarding legislation through Congress. What are the odds that President Bush would veto such legislation?

  3. “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue”

    At least we are not so far gone that people openly endorse torture. Well, except for Alan Dershowitz.

  4. actually, submission to waterboarding is a standard part of military survival training. i don’t expect old-fart politicians to run 10 miles with full gear, either. but it’s not as if the waterboard is so horrible and so damaging that our elite combat personnel are exempt from it.

    drills to the eyeballs? torches to the genitals? now that’s torture.

  5. “If the Senators voting for Mukasey want to win me over on this, they should volunteer to be waterboarded. If they really believe that it isn’t torture… they should be willing to undergo [it].”

    I wonder, can waterboarding be effective if the subject is already aware of how the process works, and knows that it only simulates drowning?

    Seeing someone attempt to prove that it’s not torture by volunteering to be a test subject, but in a controlled environment, open to public display, with full knowledge that they won’t be harmed, wouldn’t be very convincing for me.

    I’m curious enough to actually want to try it myself.

  6. but it’s not as if the waterboard is so horrible and so damaging that our elite combat personnel are exempt from it.

    Yes, waterboarding is not a big deal. We seek to violently convert people in the most humane way possible.

    No one expects us, either…

  7. Russ is correct. Personnel undergoing training can have the absolute expectation that they won’t be drowned. Secret prison detainees can have no such expectation. If the CIA had simply murdered 50% of the people held in secret detention, and 10% of the people rendited for torture in 3rd countries, who would know? Who would have any idea?

  8. Tell ya what. How about we invite anyone who believes waterboarding isn’t torture to be waterboarded until they admit that it is. If they can get through it without admitting it’s torture, then it’s okay. If it manages to coerce them into saying it is torture, when we know they don’t believe that, then we’ll know it is either torture, ir the information given up is unreliable.

  9. John,
    I’m… I’m… I’m speechless. I do believe that was the most poignant, clever, and relevant comment you’ve ever made. You make an excellent point and articulate it in an articulate and compelling manner (with just a touch of wry sarcasm).

    Congratulations. Go ahead and take the rest of the day off.

  10. I am with edna and Dershowitz on this one now and that is a bit of a flip-flop on my part.

  11. Guys, check the email, it’s another John.

    As far as what Edna said, of course our special forces go through it. The assumtion has always been that if captured, they would be tortured. Got that, they were preparing to be tortured. Just because others countries do it, doesn’t mean we should. Beacon of Light and all that.

  12. “unpleasant” and “torture” are not the same thing. getting shit on is unpleasant and i wouldn’t volunteer to submit to it, but i wouldn’t call that torture, either.

    i’m not arguing that we should do it (i am no expert in the effectiveness and need for such methods), but i absolutely cannot accept that something which does not cause actual physical harm is “torture.”

  13. I see it as a logical outcome of the c-ntr-ct between the capturer and the captured.

    If employers can fire employees for any damned reason they choose, why shouldn’t the capturer be able to do anything they choose to the captured?

    It’s a free world. They could always have been involved in a different war with a different capturer if they didn’t consent to being tortured.

    Similarly, citizens have many different countries they can choose to live in. By living as a citizen of the United States, there is an implied consent to be tortured in order to make sure they aren’t making, say, nuclear bombs in their basement.

    By the way, I have heard it from reliable sources that edna speaks Arabic and has funny clothes. I say we must waterboard her.

  14. If waterboarding edna doesn’t work, let’s put her in a cell where bright lights and Britney Spears is playing 24×7, let’s kidnap her family and place them in the cell next to her, let’s force her into stress positions, let’s make sure the cell alternates between extreme cold and extreme heat, and serve her maggoty food.

    I heard that Federal Express delivered a a case of krytrons to her. Very suspicious.

  15. I like how, as usual, a unanimous grouop of Republicans joined by a small minority of Democrats turns into “Senate Democrats.”

    My take on this is that the Republicans on the committee are openly pro-toture. Almost all of the Democrats are strongly anti-torture. And Schumer and Feinstein are opposed to torture, but even more opposed to – horrors! – not having an Attorney General seated. Great priorities, you two.

  16. If the Senators voting for Mukasey want to win me over on this, they should volunteer to be waterboarded.

    With me conducting the interrogation!

    I wonder, can waterboarding be effective if the subject is already aware of how the process works, and knows that it only simulates drowning?

    With me conducting the interrogation, they wouldn’t. I’ll get them to admit they molested children and supported Al Quida.
    Hopefully, I’ll get to ues “stress positions” as as well. After all, it’s not torture. Throw in the fact that they won’t know when I’ll release them, congresscritters and prospective AGs will admit to whatever I want. They’ll give up names of co-conspirators as well.

    I can dream, can’t I?

  17. Are you people moving toward weighing edna against a duck?

  18. Guy Montag, I had heard the rumors of Edna’s witchcraft, but had dismissed them as coming from CurveBall. But if you’re saying there is something of substance to them, (and it would be irresponsible not to speculate) then perhaps we do need to bring out the balance.

  19. Is it not true that this technique has only been documented to have been used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? He was intimately involved in both the planning and execution of the 9/11 attack. I don’t think this is a technique that we should use regularly, but in his case I tend to think the circumstances being as extraordinary as they were may have justified it. I haven’t heard any serious claims that this technique inflicts permanent injuries on people, which is another reason I question it being labeled as torture! Maybe “Torture Jr?” J/K

  20. I haven’t heard any serious claims that this technique inflicts permanent injuries on people, which is another reason I question it being labeled as torture!

    How about i wire your genitals up to a couple of car batteries, W.G.? We’ll play spin the rheostat! I’ll engage in conversation while we’re doing it.

    This technique doesn’t inflicts permanent injuries on people, which is why it is not torture!

  21. Does anyone expect Al-Quida not to torture anyone? We could just have the US government put the terrorist in orange jumpsuit and let George Carlin interigate them. These people are sick and waterboarding works. It is harmless when done right. It is using the body’s natural fear to get the necessary information out of these thugs who seek to kill people in the name of Islam. Would we have done this to Adolph Hitler? I would have. I don’t see this being used on US citizens, and that is the important thing. As long as this is used to fight foriegn terorism and not domestic crime, then let it be. Why does it bother so many people that we might hurt a guy who seeks to destroy our freedom and everyone else’s freedom arround the world?

  22. A more useful demonstration would involve the families of the Senators and Bush Admin officials that claim waterboarding is not torture. On some random night a SWAT style raid will commence on each of their homes, their wives and children will be dragged outside to a van, thrown inside and taken away while they watch. A few hours later, a phone call will provide the location and time where they can watch their spouse or child be subjected to an “enhanced interrogation” including waterboarding. If after a few hours of watching their spouse or child scream in terror from multiple sessions of waterboarding and various stress positions, they still claim it is not torture they will have proven themselves to be sick fucks unsuitable for office.

  23. Ben Rushing you my friend are a fucking idiot. Waterboarding is torture after WWII we prosecuted Japanese soldiers for using this against Americans and the allies. Here is a link from the Washington Post you dumbass

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201170.html

    Al Qaeda can’t destroy our freedom you moron. Are freedom is currently in the process of being destroyed by our fucking elected officials. You shit for brains why are you posting on a subject you obviously know nothing about.

  24. dammit I mean Our not Are shit

  25. “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

    Edward Abbey

  26. “Is it not true that this technique has only been documented to have been used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?”

    I’ve heard it was used on KSM and that it took anywhere from 4 to 6 hours for him to “cooperate.” I can’t substantiate the 4 to 6 hour claim but, if true, it would appear to be less “coercion” and more “how about we annoy the fuck out of you for a few hours.”

  27. “Is it not true that this technique has only been documented to have been used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?”

    He gave up most (or possibly all) of the revelant information he to the FBI who simply questioned him. He didn’t give good info to the CIA. I think I heard that on Democracy now.

  28. Does anyone expect Al-Quida not to torture anyone?

    Not me.

    Does anyone want the USA to stoop to Al Quida morality levels?

    Definately not me.

  29. I question the logic of arguing that unless the supporters of this technique are willing to go through it, then they have no right to advocate it’s use. Nobody I know is willing to voluntarily be locked up for 25 years like animals in solitary confinement, but I think we all agree that it is justified to keep perpetrators of the most horrendous crimes this way. I am not supporting the use of “waterboarding” as a common practice against low level detainees, because it is not logical to assume that they know about big plots. Certainly in the case of people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed however, who was a mastermind behind 9/11, the potential payoff from the information, and the potential disaster that could be carried out against our country if we don’t get this information seem to make it justified.

  30. Big Nanny, I think you have touched on a point that I would like to know more about. I have come to believe that this technique is justified in the most extreme of cases…for example KSM. The point that I think you make though is true in that the technique must also be effective at getting accurate information that can reasonably be believed to save innocent lives. If it isn’t effective, then I would say that yes our government has stooped to the level of the Vietcong or the likes who tortured people who could not reasonably be assumed to have had extraordinary/imminently dangerous information.

  31. OK, you’re a terrorist. We’re gonna lock you up, feed you 3 meals a day. Let you read your holy book and give you an opportunity to exercise. You can write letters to your family (we’ll read and censor them) and read the letters they write to you We’ll rean and censor those, too.

    We are not the barbarians that you’ve been led to beleive. If you’d like some privileges, you are going to have to co-operate. If not, you stay here until the Holy War is over.

    That would get more useful information than wateboarding or stress positions torture ever will.

  32. The payoff from waterboarding al-Libbi was all that great information Colin Powell used to make the case for ongoing WMD programs in Iraq.

    The Inquisitors in Spain used this technique to get false confessions. The Khmer Rouge used this technique to get false confessions. And now we’re supposed to accept its use because of the confessions it can produce? Screw that.

  33. Lets do that last sentence again, shall we.

    That would get more useful information than wateboarding or stress positions torture ever will.

    Ahh, much better.

  34. Torture is wrong period. In no instance can it be justified and definitely not by a country that considers itself a democracy.

  35. Godammit joe, stop agreeing with me. It hurts my credbility around here! 😉

  36. Joe…Just because something doesn’t work all of the time, doesn’t mean that it is not worth using when options are limited and consequences are severe. I’ll have to remember your logic if I ever get cancer and the doctor says that the treatment only works 50% of the time.

  37. Just because something doesn’t work all of the time, has never been proven to work, doesn’t mean that it is not worth using when options are limited and consequences are severe. I’ll have to remember your logic if I ever get cancer and the doctor says that the treatment only works 5 0% of the time.

  38. I can’t say I’m entirely opposed to scum like KSM getting waterboarded. But that doesn’t mean I want the practice enshrined in our fucking laws and used as a matter of course. There should be severe consequences for resorting to such tactics, because interrogators are human, and humans are lazy. Give them the option and they’ll use shortcuts every time, even if the results aren’t quite as good – that’s pure human nature.

    Also, I call shenanigans on the ticking time bomb argument. Repeat after me: exceptional cases are not the basis of good law. We do what we must in exceptional circumstances, but as I said above, if we enshrine these exceptions in our laws they will cease to be exceptions. Not because people are evil, but because they are lazy and fallible.

  39. WG Sumner,

    You misunderstand. Water boarding works. It works very, very well. It reliably and demonstrably gets the victim to confess to whatever will make the torturer stop.

    The other reason your analogy doesn’t hold up is because “failure” doesn’t just mean “doesn’t get any information.” It means “gets wrong information, leading the govenrment to take action based on bad information.”

    We’re up over 3800 dead Americans in Iraq. 4200 if you count suicides among returning troops. Failure is not neutral. The wrong information we get through torture actively harms our country.

  40. If waterboarding edna doesn’t work, let’s put her in a cell where bright lights and Britney Spears is playing 24×7, let’s kidnap her family and place them in the cell next to her, let’s force her into stress positions, let’s make sure the cell alternates between extreme cold and extreme heat, and serve her maggoty food.

    sounds like my workplace.

  41. While I don’t agree with using waterboarding as an interrogation technique, the amount of attention this issue is receiving makes me want to pose a question: how do we ethically extract information from POWs and detained terrorists? Do we ask them politely between prayer sessions at Gitmo and hope they respond with reliable information?

  42. CRW….I agree with you that this practice should not become a common part of our interrogation techniques, but I also worry about the consequences of taking options off of the table by making them illegal in all instances. I think it’s true that exceptional cases tend to make bad law, but leaving no room whatsoever for exceptional cases tends to do the same thing.

  43. Jim Bob,

    We have decades of experience at this. Psychological pressure, carrots and stick, good cop-bad cop, the FBI has been getting confessions and operating like civilized human beings for a long time.

    They got Ted Bundy to confess. The police get murderers to confess every day.

  44. Once upon a time, trying children in adult court was only going to be used in exceptional cases, too.

    Israel tried an “exceptional case” provision for when suspects could be beaten and put in stress positions. It eventually migrated to so many cases that they abandoned it entirely. Of course it did. “This information could potentially make it easier for our troops to carry out a mission, which would result in fewer casualties.” “This information could allow us to break up a cell some time in the future, and prevent a terror attack, so hook him up.” You can say that about every single bit of data that one could collect from a suspected terrorist or captured enemy soldier.

  45. joe…again, there are always risks to making tough decisions, as none of our options in this matter are guaranteed positive results. I agree that bad information is a risk of more extreme interrogation methods, but I tend to believe that it is what is done with information obtained from detainees rather than how that information is obtained that is important. Sure you can act on bad information and end up in a mess, but you can incorrectly act on, or fail altogether to act on good information just as easily. I’m not trying to stand up as big supporter of extreme interrogation techniques, but when you tie the hands of the people who we have vested our trust in to protect us, I believe our society will be in real danger instead of simply being in moral danger.

  46. Techniques that are more likely to produce bad information are irrational.

    If you’re going to allow behavior that goes beyond moral decency, it is on you to demonstrate its necessity. It is never necessary to increase the chances of getting bad information.

    You want to see some real danger? Go to Iraq. That information from al-Libbi didn’t just put us in “moral danger.” It got a few hundred thousand people killed, almost allowed international jihadists to take over whole swaths of a country, expanded the Iranians’ influence, and oh yeah, convinced us to dial back the efforts to finish off al Qaeda. That’s some pretty real danger right there.

    It is precisely because the stakes are so high that we can’t give in to unreliable interrogation practices.

  47. It may help clarify your positions if you recognize that waterboarding is not simulated drowning, it is controlled drowning. People just don’t think they are drowning, water is filling their lungs. Then they are allowed to expel the water and breath a little, then rinse and repeat.
    It doesn’t do any permanent damage the way almost drowning in any other circumstance doesn’t do any permanent damage. But if the person being tortured isn’t given a chance to expel the water filling their lungs, they’ll die.
    This may or may not cause some who think this is OK because they just think they are drowing, like it is a dream or something, to change their opinion. i suspect not.

  48. In fact, waterboarded CAN do permanant damage to individuals who have undergone it. Read the experiences of POWs from WWII.

    Torture doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because the victim, when broken, will say ANYTHING to get the pain to stop. It doesn’t work because you never know when you actually have someone who knows something or you’ve just gotten someone who got turned in by his neighbor who’s been having a feud with him. Or someone who is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Second, the slippery slope effect: “oh, we’ll only use it in the “ticking bomb” scenario.” Which quickly becomes “oh, we’ll use it when our troops are at risk.” Finally it gets to the case of “I’ll do it whenever I’m feeling sadistic and don’t want to do the actual grunt work of tracking down leads. Easier just to grab some random suspect and torture him.”

    Plus, have you thought that whatever we do, we have absolutely no moral leg to stand on if any other country in the world turns around and does it to us?

    There’s a good, commensense, utilitarian reason why torture has dropped out of standard Western protection techniques: IT DOESN’T WORK.

  49. joe,

    That’s what I thought, too. I wonder how we even came to this debate over what constitutes torture and what doesn’t. Maybe it’s like that famous definition of porn: I can’t tell you exactly what it is but I know it when I see it.

    Acting like barbarians ourselves accomplishes nothing good and shames us. All of us.

  50. I guess I don’t understand why it is that if this technique is all bad and does nothing but screw us over, our top intelligence agency would care in the first place if it is taken away from them. I know the CIA has it’s problems, but I would guess that they know more about gathering intelligence than any of us? I’m sure this comment will get you “libertarians” all fired up, but come on!

  51. Whee. I’m fired up.

  52. This has been a fun discussion…I look forward to butting heads with you all again in the future!!

  53. I guess I don’t understand why it is that if this technique is all bad and does nothing but screw us over, our top intelligence agency would care in the first place if it is taken away from them.

    It’s the administration that’s going to the boards for this, not the rank and file.

  54. For no good reason, Bush is willing to take a major political risk during election season? I know people say he’s dumb, but I doubt even Dennis Kucinich thinks he’s that stupid!

    Joe…I’m glad I haven’t ever gotten into a political conversation with you in a bar b/c we would never leave! I appreciate your passion however even though we obviously view the world differently! I subscribe to “Reason” even though I am not a libertarian because of people like you who though I disagree with much of the time, you guys get me thinking and lead me to further develop my own beliefs! Keep it up!

  55. Since when have George Bush and the Republicans viewed taking the more hard-line stance on terrorism and civil liberties to be a political risk?

    Also, that line doesn’t work very well when you look at how they’re running on the Iraq War.

    BTW, I’m not a libertarian, either. I’m a good old-fashioned liberal.

  56. The problem is that people think America was meant to be a democracy, it wasn’t. Because of this we have gone from libertarian ideas to a nation of centrism, where all political ideologies hit the blender and contradictary laws come into place. Maybe that is why liberals love democracy, because it is mob rule from the masses. It is also no wonder why liberals hate libertarian and conservative minded talk show hosts, they educate the dumb masses into getting them to vote for less government interference.

    Waterboarding is torture, and torture is as ethically wrong as price gouging. But when used at the right time, they both save lives. The important thing is to get the law (just like the crappy Patriot Act) to be used only against non Us citizens. If we could do that, maybe then we will know a lot more from people who commit massive attrocities in the name of Islam.

    Granting the same care that we have in our fellow Americans to foriegn Statist Islamofacist to me, is stupid. These people seek to rule the world. Thankfully, they have never got thier hands on nukes or other WMD’s…. Atleast not yet.

  57. So, how do you ensure that torture will only be used in the most exceptional “ticking-time-bomb” scenarios when lives are at risk?

    Make it illegal and punish anyone who breaks the law.

    That way, when someone is facing the the difficult decision of whether or not to torture a prisoner in his/her custody, they’ll only do it if they truly believe the benefits outweigh the costs. That is, the outcome they expect to achieve (saving lives), will be more than worth the time they can expect to spend in prison.

  58. Yeah, immagine a guy that uses this torture to find the location of a sleeper cell that was about to blow up a shopping mall. Now immagine this man going to jail for breaking the law. Talk about a public outcry. Maybe that would work. But like price gouging torture is hard to defend on the non-emotional level. Since both sides tend to use it in thier arguments. Then again I am the guy who is for making the death penalty voluntary. Heck you can let them pick the date and which Kavorkian like doctor that they want to hire.

  59. joe…I guess another reason I’m not a libertarian is because when you liberals and my libertarian friends get to ranting about Bush and the Republicans, it’s hard to tell the difference between you guys! I mean that simply in y’alls irrational distrust of the man, and the lack of ability to concede that he or the “neoconservatives” have ever done anything positive.

  60. Some people need to get their sense of outrage under control.

    First of all the US Constitution does not apply to actions taken against non-US citizens by our government abroad. It does apply to US citizens with regard action by the US government and it again generally applies to non-citizens in the US. This is the reason why waterboarding was used outside of the US.

    Second, under the Geneva Convention combatants who are not in an identifiable uniform belongning to a signatory nation state to the Geneva Convention are subject to immediate execution as sabateurs and spies. Most Geneva signatories generally supply Geneva protection to non-signatory states if they play by the rules contained therein. This is the reason why we categorize terrorists as illegal combatants. By definition they are entitled to no rights of any kind under the Geneva Convention. Keep in mind that Geneva was established to provide a set of rules by which nation states conduct war, not as a universal declaration of human rights.

    Third, as a few people have already mentioned on this post it is generally difficult to categorize anything that does not permanently cause physical damage to a person as torture. Without this as a separation of what is torture and what is not torture, the term itself becomes meaningless.

    Forth, some people take the philosophical stand point that torture does not work. It does work. That is the reason why countries do it. The fact that it is unpleasant does not make it unnecessary. In a just government it should be used rarely. Get over it.

    Finally, the idea that this somehow creates resentment in Arab countries is also incorrect. Their governments are willing to do far worse to their own people than we would ever consider. I will give a personal example. A few years ago when working in the Middle East the Abu Gharib scandal broke out. After taking some ribbing from the Palestinians I was working with each of them individually approached me at a different time and asked me the same question: Was that all they did to the prisoners? To which I replied, “Yes.” To which they replied, “Huh.” They couldn’t figure out what was the big deal in the Western media. To those that have a problem with this, I say again, get over it.

  61. AMEN! Peacedog…and with that I am going to bed a God-fearing, free American…thanks in arguably large part to our government’s extremely judicious use of “questionable” techniques to protect our way of life!!!! GOD Bless America!!

  62. It is painfully obvious that the USA is in the business of torturing ‘terrorists’.

    When waterboarding was used by Japanese against Americans the Americans tried and punished them.

    When waterboarding is used by Americans against ‘terrorists’, its, well, its needed!

    What a hypocritical country this is. I wonder why.

  63. OMG – Another Waterboarding article on the internet (as if we needed another one!!)

    As a trained US Army interrogator myself, let me clear up a few misunderstandings here:

    1) Waterboarding was only used THREE times, the last time being in 2003. So it’s really pretty much a non-issue now; chances are, it’s never going to be used again. But if you’re still outraged about it, read on:

    2) It is NOT the same thing as the “water cure” that the Japanese used on US soldiers in WWII! They actually poured water into a victims nose and mouth; there was no protective covering as in the modern method, which made it far more dangerous.

    3) My personal belief is that it is torture, and we should not use it. But considering that it was used on people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, I’m not losing too much sleep over it.

    4) We use it on our OWN soldiers too, to prepare them for enemy questioning techniques. So why is something is acceptable for own soldiers, but not for the enemy? Either ban it altogether, or don’t.

    If you are still confused, there is more info here: http://shieldofachilles.blogspot.com/2007/11/drowning-in-waterboarding.html

  64. Use of Torture is not on the political map. It is just like Illegal vs Legal immigration, Intervention vs. Pacisfism, Abortion, and other things. You can be for or against it as a libertarian. This is why it is actually controversial, where as economic freedom and personal freedom identifiers are how we can label people on thier political belief.

  65. Thanks John Rohan for clearing that up. But, from what I have learned, using waterboarding on Khalid Sheik Mohammed did not attain any useful information. Why shouldn’t we (the US) use torture on our enemies? Well, if we do, we are going against the Geneva Convention, the US Constitution, and from my vantage point, we are condoning torture which, I think means, we have lowered this country to those who we seek to convince that democracy is the right way and what then makes us any better than they are? I think torture defiles our Constitution which is treasonist.

  66. Ben Rushing: I don’t think we are comparing apples to apples here. Conducting torturous behavior is not the same as what is illegal or legal immagration. I sure hope you realize that your family – maybe many generations ago, came to the US – probably on a boat – looking for the American Dream. And the last I read, abortion was not illegal and IMHO does not have any place in government. Oh, and the “other things” you mentioned – what would they be?

  67. It’s easy to pontificate against “torture”. It’s less easy to prevent the Islamofascist psychopaths who seek the destruction of civilization from achieving their aim.

    Thank God that President Bush won in 2000 and 2004. Otherwise there would most likely have been another attack along the lines of 9-11.

  68. Several of our military training exercises are worse than waterboarding. In fact, one training technique called “surf torture” really isn’t much different then waterboarding.

    So are we torturing our troops?

  69. bulbman…DITTO!! Thanks!

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