Thursday, February 07, 2008

Waterboarding is legal, White House says - Los Angeles Times

Waterboarding is legal, White House says - Los Angeles Times:
'Tens of thousands of American Air Force and naval airmen were waterboarded as part of their survival training,' said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 'We don't maim as part of our training. We don't mutilate. We don't sodomize. Those are things that are always bad. . . . Intellectually, there has got to be a difference between [waterboarding] and the others; otherwise we wouldn't have done it in training.'
This waterboarding business troubles me. What is it that makes waterboarding sometimes OK?

That waterboarding is useless, along with all torture (whether waterboarding is torture or not) is almost certainly false.

Maiming, mutilation and sodomy, I agree, are always wrong. Why? They shock the consience? I don't know. Topic for another day. I can think of many ways torturing that would always be wrong. But then, I can think of many tortures that seem similar to waterboarding in that they don't involve maiming, mutilation or sodomy.

How about the intent? Is it not torture if the intent is relatively pure?

Some torture is primarily for intimidation. Jacobo Timerman and a thousand tortured Iraqi bodies in the streets come to mind. In contrast, some torture is performed strictly for interrogation purposes. For some reason I think waterboarding may be effective for interrogation because of the hard-wired responses invoked, and less so for intimidation because it's quick and then over (supposedly), but then what of electricity or drugs?

If waterboarding is permissible, why not electric shock? Maybe because it's not as effective, lacking the same hard-wired responses that waterboarding is supposed to have?

I don't know. I'm still thinking about it, but so far I'm open to the administration's reported stance on waterboarding in the most pressing cases.

1 comment:

jj mollo said...

One of the reasons that waterboarding is considered OK is the fact that we use it on many of our own soldiers as part of their anti-interrogation training. The lastest confession is that we have only used it three times. If that's true, which I doubt, it seems to me to be under control. Extraordinary rendition is another problem, but the biggest problem is mistaken identity. You know that the people who put these policies into action are not necessarily blessed with Solomonic judgment. They make mistakes and then persist in them. I guess there are some clear cut cases where torture benefits our intelligence effort, but I'm guessing it causes more problems than it cures.