There’s been a lot made of waterboarding as a horribly cruel torture that’s way beyond the pale for America to use. Well, a Fox News reporter decided to find out for himself what waterboarding is all about. He subjected himself to the same training that our CIA interrogators get and got waterboarded.
As you’ll see, he didn’t come off the board sobbing, his spirit irrevocably broken. He was mentally nor physically crippled. He demonstrated that waterboarding, when performed consistent to the rules and regulations our interrogators follow faithfully, does exactly what it is supposed to do.
Make no mistake. Waterboarding is harsh. It uses everything we’ve learned about the universal fear each human holds of drowning. It’s not something we use on every Tom, Dick, and Mahmoud that passes through our interrogators’ hands. I would certainly rather we never had to use it. The world would be a nicer place if Islamists weren’t trying to kill us or, at the very least, if captured Islamists would tell us everything they know right off the bad.
But the world isn’t like that and we need to employ people willing to do rough things. I’m amazed that we have managed to refine this technique to the point where it causes not even temporary damage.
More after the jump.
I’m waiting for Congressional Democrats, the ACLU, and the Red Cross to step up to the plate and tell us why this procedure, which we can now see for ourselves, needs to be completely outlawed and conflated to such things as breaking of bones and pulling out of fingernails. Paul Mirengoff thinks that Republicans need to make this a campaign issue and I find it very hard to disagree.
The campaign point is very simple. Waterboarding is not torture but it is a very effective means of getting vital information from people who are trying to murder us. Democrats need to be very precise in telling us exactly why they want to make such a thing illegal. They need to tell us what they think we should use that will be better.
UPDATE: SmallWarsJournal makes a rather impassioned argument that “Waterboarding is Torture…Period”. The post is worth your time to read because it is perhaps the most reasoned argument against waterboarding I’ve yet seen.
I believe it’s wrong on two major points. First, the author makes the common but wrong assumption that if we don’t “torture”, then the folks who capture our soldiers won’t either. We know from hard experience that this is completely wrong. In fact, John McCain, whom the author uses as an example of one who’s been subjected to waterboarding, is a perfect example of how our enemies in wartime don’t give a hoot about our limits on interrogations. We can cite examples going back through two world wars as well. Our “moral authority” does not translate into more humane conditions for our prisoners. It never has and it never will.
The second mistake the author makes is to use the “Well, the Vietnamese used this technique, so it must be torture”. Yes, it’s true that the Vietnamese used waterboarding. So did the Nazis. They also used plenty of other techniques that no reasonable person would say is torture as well. Should we use none of those techniques simply because evil people have used them as well? Our decisions for what constitute torture shouldn’t much take into account what other people have done in other places at other times. Just because the NVAs, Viet Cong, or Nazis did something shouldn’t preclude us from doing them if, after a real discussion, we decide that 1) what we’re doing is necessary, 2) what we’re doing is effective, and 3) what we’re doing is something we can live with after we’ve done it. That is the discussion I don’t think we’re having with any clearness of thought and sense of purpose. It’s time we had that discussion without hyperbole.