Is waterboarding torture?
Seems like waterboarding is in the news these days. There seems to be some debate about whether it is torture, or just some extreme interrogation technique. In fact our new attorney general refused to give his opinion on the topic, claiming he had to review classified information before forming an opinion. Too bad I didn’t post on this sooner, I could have cleared this up for him without resorting to classified information. Waterboarding is an interrogation technique that can and does result in lung damage, brain damage, other injuries, and death. Let me repeat that, waterboarding can and does sometimes result in lung damage, brain damage, other injuries, and death. How in the name of f**king God can a technique that can result in brain damage and death not be called torture? What planet is this man on?
Then of course we come to the general issue of torture itself. Are there circumstances where it is OK or even necessary? Torture advocates always make the claim that it is necessary to torture people, since of course some terrorist could be caught just in time to avert some terrible attack if we can only torture him into revealing the location of the bomb he planted. Gee, sounds reasonable, why shouldn’t we torture people if it will save American lives?
Ah, there’s many problems with this argument. The first is that scenarios like this occur in Hollywood movies, not real life. Secondly, this argument assumes that torture works. Um, again, in Hollywood movies torture works. In real life, where we all live, torture is one of the least effective ways of getting reliable information from people. So we should legalize torture so that it can be used in a hypothetical situation that has never occurred and is unlikely to ever occur, even though in the unlikely event such a situation occurred, torture likely wouldn’t work? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Torture is normally used to extract confessions and get people to name co-conspirators. And in that sense torture is remarkably effective. 100 percent effective even. Yes, if you torture someone long enough they will confess and start to give you names. In fact they will tell you whatever you want to hear. Let me repeat that, if you torture someone long enough they will tell you whatever you want to hear. So doesn’t that mean torture is effective? Well, yes, as long as the truthfulness of the confessions and co-conspirators isn’t an issue. Details, details.
Then of course there’s the point that if we torture people, doesn’t that make us the bad guys? Taking the moral high ground means actually occupying the position, not just claiming to be better than our enemies. Still, I guess the attorney general Mukasey can be forgiven. He has to work for an administration where paying off the insurgents in Iraq and turning the country over to them is called “victory,” if he can make that claim with a straight face it’s not much of a stretch to claim that waterboarding isn’t torture. I had a friend years ago who said we live in a world where “right is wrong and wrong is right.” Boy, she sure had that nailed.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image from the Vietnam War is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is a low resolution copy of the original, it is an historically important image, and its use here does not interfere with the copyright holders use of the image. The soldiers in question were court-martialed and kicked out of the Army, times have changed, nu? Credit and copyright: UPI)