Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Latest Whining About Waterboarding

No one has been waterboarded for years now, but terrorist rights supporters are still outraged about the treatment of Al Qaeda leaders like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The latest is an article at Salon.com by Mark Benjamin called, "Waterboarding for Dummies."It's worth a look as a good reminder of the thinking of those who care more about the welfare of known terrorists than U.S. national security.
recently released internal documents reveal the controversial "enhanced interrogation" practice was far more brutal on detainees than Cheney's description sounds, and was administered with meticulous cruelty.
That's something we are supposed to be worried about.
the CIA turned to a special saline solution to minimize the risk of death...The agency used a gurney "specially designed" to tilt backwards at a perfect angle to maximize the water entering the prisoner's nose and mouth, intensifying the sense of choking – and to be lifted upright quickly in the event that a prisoner stopped breathing.
Ok, so they were doing their job. The idea behind torturing someone for information is to extract information, not kill them. You wonder what exactly these people thought the CIA was doing when conducting waterboarding.
The documents also lay out, in chilling detail, exactly what should occur in each two-hour waterboarding "session."
Wow, what a surprise. I guess the interrogators should have just improvised rather than planning out their actions.
"This is revolting and it is deeply disturbing," said Dr. Scott Allen, co-director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University who has reviewed all of the documents for Physicians for Human Rights.
None of it is even a little bit revolting or disturbing. The CIA was taking extensive precautions to avoid accidentally killing their prisoners.
"The so-called science here is a total departure from any ethics or any legitimate purpose.
Nonsense. Attempting to gain information from terrorists for national security reasons is definitely a legitimate purpose.
It just sounds like lunacy," he said. "This fine-tuning of torture is unethical, incompetent and a disgrace to medicine."
What sounds like lunacy is someone complaining that the CIA did its best to keep terrorists alive while they waterboarded them. The ethics are debatable. It was obviously competent, since they didn't kill anyone with waterboarding, and saying it was a disgrace to medicine is just silly emotionalism.
the agency's methods went far beyond anything ever done to a soldier during training. U.S. soldiers

I would certainly hope so. We aren't going to treat enemies the same way we train our own soldiers. When we train soldiers with live ammo, we don't try to hit them as we do with enemies.  Benjamin goes on to give a litany of details about how horrible waterboarding was, and how the CIA took various measures to prevent terrorists from dying. He finishes up with,

The memo also contains a last, little-noticed paragraph that may be the most disturbing of all. It seems to say that the detainees subjected to waterboarding were also guinea pigs.
Of course if you read the section in question, it just stresses that everything needs to be documented. But Benjamin finds that "disturbing."

Nothing about the CIA techniques in the article is particularly disturbing. What is disturbing is that we know any of this information in the first place. The interrogation methods of a secret intelligence organization should be kept secret for obvious reasons. When we have an Al Qaeda leader in custody, by definition we have someone who obeys no laws or rules of warfare, deliberately targets civilians, and openly aspires to slaughter as many Americans as possible -- be they soldiers on a battlefield, or children in a day care center. Such an enemy should be entitled to no rights or consideration whatsoever. I find nothing disturbing about the torture of such an individual, whether the CIA waterboarding techniques, or far harsher torture. What I do find disturbing is the excessive concern for the welfare of such enemies, and the constant attacks on Americans who attempted to protect the country.   


  1. Waterboarding is aggressive interrogation, not torture. This technique has saved countless American lives and those who have caused its demise and are now looking to persecute those who did their duty should be jailed for treason.

  2. Reading the Salon article it's difficult to discern who is America's enemy; the terrorist prisoner or the CIA agent.

    I can't imagine how much morale at the Agency has faltered in recent years. Those who took the most risks are paying for it right now. The question is, when we need the CIA to take another risk, as we inevitably will someday, will there be agents willing?