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Waterboarding: A necessary evil?

Posted Friday, February 8, 2008, at 10:28 AM

I've got mixed emotions on waterboarding, the torture technique used by CIA interrogators against suspected al-Qaida detainees.

Is pouring water over the cloth-covered face of a strapped-down person inhumane? Yes, in nearly all cases. It's a technique that should never be used by, for instance, local police forces.

The Supreme Court and Congress are against it and the CIA's banned it. The Bush administration still supports it and say they'd approve it in some cases.

But for professional terrorists bent on mass destruction or bringing down a country, the rules change a little.

In extreme, rare, controlled cases, against utter extremists who would torture any of us much more severely if they had the chance, waterboarding may be necessary.

I'd guess the three terrorists who underwent the technique know and may have used a few terror methods of their own. They aren't naive. They're in one of the world's most dangerous and cut-throat occupations.

And I suspect those terrorists knew the U.S. wasn't going to actually drown them.

But I'm not exactly thrilled by the defensive attitudes of Vice President Cheney and the U.S. Justice Department, who are strongly against any investigations into U.S. use of waterboarding.

Bush "made the right decisions for the right reasons," Cheney said. "And would I support those same decisions again today? You're damn right I would."

Cheney seemed to me to be more concerned about politics. After all, Bush and Cheney have candidate John McCain to back.

And it's notable Cheney made the statement on the same day that withdrawing candidate Mitt Romney said if he stayed in the primary it would "...make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

Just be glad they didn't turn Cheney loose with a weapon near any suspects. There would be too much risk for the interrogators, let alone the suspects.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

The problem I have with the any interrogation techniques, including Waterboarding, is that you can gather false information. I would tell you want you wanted to hear just to stop the torture. No matter how "evil" these suspects are, they will eventually break and tell falsehoods to make it stop.

And is anyone concerned that McCain has promised even more wars and torture? Just curious...

-- Posted by Disturbia on Fri, Feb 8, 2008, at 11:35 AM

Actually I'm not concerned about McCain and torture. He has come out pretty strongly against using any type of torture methods including waterboarding. It's not an academic discussion with him. He's been on the receiving end of it.

-- Posted by Tim Baker on Fri, Feb 8, 2008, at 12:55 PM

I'm not worried about McCain and waterboarding either, b/c he won't win the nomination... which means he won't win the presidency either!

But all those in favor of waterboarding, just jump on in and be a victim of that and all torture techniques then once you have nearly died b/c of the treatment, please tell us how humane and necessary it is. Most of those "terrorists" aren't really terrorists, I suggest our leaders who advocate this complete ignorance of the Geneva Convention should be made to undergo the same treatment they dish out.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Fri, Feb 8, 2008, at 5:26 PM

I believe that one can gain necessary information without torture. Gaining the trust of your captives is the best way to garner information. I think makning your captives believe that you hold the key to their freedom and hold their best interests at heart can go further than torture. I think that torture only results in unreliable information as the subject of torture will only say what is necessary to alleviate the pain and discomfort of the procedure.

-- Posted by volfanatic on Fri, Feb 8, 2008, at 8:19 PM

"We don't torture people in America and people who say we do simply know nothing about our country." - George W. Bush [Interview with Australian TV - October 18, 2003]

"One thing is for certain: There won't be any more mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms." - Bush [press availability in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 12, 2004]

"Our enemies didn't adhere to the Geneva Convention. Many of my comrades were subjected to very cruel, very inhumane and degrading treatment, a few of them even unto death. But every one of us -- every single one of us -- knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies, that we were better than them, that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or countenancing such mistreatment of them." - John McCain, Republican US Senator

____ This sums it up ____

"Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management." - Edward Kennedy

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Fri, Feb 8, 2008, at 10:07 PM

I wonder what accusations we will hear after the next September 11th, that we did not do enough to prevent it?

I believe Mr Cheney was actually NOT being political, but just speaking his convictions to protect people from terrorism. I would expect no less.

To my knowledge, none of us are experts on this, nor privy to intimate details so we are all stating an opinion and should not represent it as fact.

I would not want an innocent person being waterboarded, but I would hate even more to pick up the body pieces of a neighbor or loved one.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Feb 9, 2008, at 8:00 AM

Finally, a voice of reason! Thank you, Steve!

-- Posted by Rhebea96 on Sat, Feb 9, 2008, at 12:00 PM

I don't want to pick up the body pieces of a loved one either, instead we are picking of remains of DEAD SOLDIERS in the WRONG country... and doing exactly what we condemn other nations of doing..

So yeah, thanks for that "voice of reason"

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Sat, Feb 9, 2008, at 8:27 PM

Soldiers know what soldiers do. It is not a pretty thing nor do I think they enjoy it, but what country is the right country?

Would it be better to be fighting this on our soil? We got a taste of that a few years ago. I believe our fighting men and women seek to avoid that again at all costs.

My family and classmates died in the service to our country. They did what someone had to do to keep us safe at home, so we could exercise our right to disagree, and I think that is what this blog is going to continue to foster, so I will leave it to the rest of you.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Feb 9, 2008, at 9:46 PM

Yes, Steve you are a voice of reason. It's a good thing some of these people weren't around during WWII. After all Germany didn't attack us either, but it certainly was the right thing to do to go after Germany.

Which one of you would not use waterboarding or any other device if it would glean information that would save you or your loved one.

-- Posted by cfder on Sat, Feb 9, 2008, at 10:14 PM

Which one of you would want China or North Korea to march down your streets, blow up your infrastructure and ravage innocent men, women, and children? All because they were trying to invade Russia?

Steve, I like your idea of defending our freedoms, etc. But there comes a point where we have to stop lying to ourselves about who attacked us on 9/11... If we were going after those people, we'd be in Saudi Arabia. I ask you ONE reason, why we aren't there? OIL!!!!!!! They could stop this country on its heels, with one attack on them, our economy would crumble...

It's easy to be for something you've never experienced, it is also easy to be against something that is completely illegal, unecessary, and inhumane! If our country doesn't want to deal with these so called "terrorists" then perhaps we should stop intervening when we aren't asked to, and stop appointing dictators to high positions, and slapping the name "Democracy" on the map...

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Sun, Feb 10, 2008, at 12:15 AM

Yes, Steve you are a voice of reason. It's a good thing some of these people weren't around during WWII. After all Germany didn't attack us either, but it certainly was the right thing to do to go after Germany.

-- Posted by cfder on Sat, Feb 9, 2008, at 10:14 PM

About WWII, Prescott Sheldon Bush (May 15, 1895 -- October 8, 1972) was a United States Senator from Connecticut and a Wall Street executive banker with Brown Brothers Harriman. He was the father of former President of the United States George H. W. Bush and the grandfather of current President George W. Bush.

Harriman Bank was the main Wall Street connection for several German companies and the varied U.S. financial interests of Fritz Thyssen. Thyssen had been an early financial backer of the Nazi party until 1938, but by 1939 had fled Germany and was bitterly denouncing Hitler. He was later jailed by the Nazis for his opposition to the regime. Business transactions with Germany were not illegal when Hitler declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, but, six days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Trading With the Enemy Act after it had been made public that U.S. companies were doing business with the declared enemy of the United States. On October 20, 1942, the U.S. government ordered the seizure of German banking operations in New York City. Roosevelt's Alien Property Custodian, Leo T. Crowley, signed Vesting Order Number 248 seizing Bush's property under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The order cited only the Union Banking Corporation (UBC), of which Bush was a director and held one share, which had connections with a Dutch bank owned by Thyssen. Fox News has reported that recently declassified material reveals that the 4,000 Union Banking shares owned by the Dutch bank were registered in the names of the seven U.S. directors, according a document signed by Homer Jones, chief of the division of investigation and research of the Office of Alien Property Custodian, a World War II-era agency. [5]. By 1941 Thyssen no longer had control over his banking empire, which was in the hands of the Nazi government.

E. Roland Harriman--3991 shares (managed and under voting control of Prescott Bush)

Cornelis Lievense--4 shares (He was the New York banker of the Nazi Party)

Harold D. Pennington--1 share (Employed by Prescott Bush at Brown Brothers Harriman)

Ray Morris--1 share (a business partner of the Bush and Harriman families)

Prescott S. Bush--1 share (director of UBC, which was co-founded and sponsored by his father-in-law George Walker; senior managing partner for E. Roland Harriman and Averell Harriman)

H.J. Kouwenhoven--1 share (organized UBC for Von Thyssen, managed UBC in Nazi occupied Netherlands)

Johann G. Groeninger--1 share (German Industrial Executive, a not unimportant member of the Nazi party)

Thus began the horrible idea of the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX... One of the most dangerous entangling alliances to ever evolve from WWII...

Do you see an interesting trend? Certain people deeply involved with enemies, once considered friends...

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Sun, Feb 10, 2008, at 12:23 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.