Is Waterboarding Torture?


You’ve heard the question umpteen times… Is waterboarding torture?

Perhaps the more pertinent question is, “Do we torture our military recruits and civilian prisoners?

The simple fact is that we use techniques akin to (if not identical to or even worse than) waterboarding on our own special forces recruits. I went to college with a retired Navy Seal, and he described one of the training exercises used on him:

The instructors would seal him in a large drum and fill it full of water leaving just a few inches of air. As long as my buddy would stand on his tip toes and keep his head cocked backward, he could breath in the darkness. If he didn’t keep his act together, he’d start to drown – for real. (The deal was that if the instructors heard thrashing inside, they’d wait a minute, drain the container and drag out the trainee.) Was that torture? No. Extraordinarily uncomfortable and frightening? Absolutely.

Rough interrogation? Screaming? Sleep deprivation? Physical abuse? Welcome to USMC boot camp. (The exercise in which recruits are locked in a shed and forced to endure tear gas is particularly harsh and gross.) But still, it isn’t torture. What’s more, I’d bet dimes to donuts that 99% of all “Devil-Dogs-To-Be” would much prefer being locked in box with a bug than being locked in a shed with tear gas.

And what of harsh treatment where there is no free will whatsoever? Four words: “western civilization penal systems”. But that’s still not torture. (Though being tasered or worse yet stuck in solitary confinement repeatedly would tend to dent one’s karma.)

In short, we need to be very careful about tossing around the word “torture” for a given set of procedures when we as a culture use those exact same techniques (or worse) under a myriad of conditions on our fellow citizens without even conjuring the word. There’s an intellectual disconnect afoot.

No, methinks that those who protest the stuff of waterboarding protest too much. In the case of Nancy “Selective Memory” Pelosi and her ilk, I’d bet the heart of the matter is politics. For others it’s probably unthink – those who put the activities in American prisons and boot camps into a different cognitive box. But there is no doubt, that there is a significant and disturbing bunch who just don’t like America, and will follow virtually any agenda that aids in the self-flagellation for past national sins (both real and contrived), and at the same time swim the “oh so warm” waters of smug intellectual superiority.

Bottom line? Are acts like waterboarding torture? Considering the simple fact that we put many of our own through equal or worse (for whatever reason), of course not. Unpleasant in the extreme for sure, but not torture. And therefore those acts are certainly not torturous as we apply them to an enemy determined to annihilate our entire culture… right down to every man, woman, and child.

Q.E.D.

Alan Speakman

2 Responses to Is Waterboarding Torture?

  1. Burr Deming says:

    If history teaches us anything, it is that most humans will eventually say whatever they have to, no matter what, to stop pain.

    Torture works. It can be relied on for everything the torturer wants. Except truth.

    • Hi Burr,

      Ah, debate via distraction… I love it… Thoughts…

      * I was asking if waterboarding et al is torture, and I made a superb case. You hijacked the issue and dove into the issue of pain. We as a culture do not torture our civilian prisoners or our military recruits, yet we use some of the exact same techniques. If it’s not torture for us, it certainly isn’t torture when applied to terrorists.

      * What we use(d) is not torture. Being placed in a box with a bug is not torture. Ir you want to understand torture look up Col. William R. Higgins or Danial Pearl.

      * But if you want to talk about real torture, it does in fact work… Look at the longevity of regimes like N. Korea and Cuba… it works very well. And if torturing a person doesn’t work, torturing a loved one in front of a person with information certainly does. Saddam and his two demon spawn had great success with such barbarism. (Though they also excelled with such things as car batteries and skil saws.) I believe it was either the VC or the NVA that would slit an inverted “T” in the skin of a FFL prisoner’s back, and then clamp the lower corners of the “T” and slowly skin the man alive. Every time he failed to offer verifiable facts, a bit more flesh was peeled away. Speak truth? Oh yes, brave men spoke absolute truth. (If you care to learn something of real torture, look up the history of the French Foreign Legion.)

      * And even if your crazy assertion that torture doesn’t work was true, the Bush policy of enhanced interrogation did work… Read: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/20/AR2009042002818.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

      * Checked out your “FU” Web site… No surprise.

      * One other thing to think about Burr… Suppose the son or daughter of some power player liberal politician was kidnapped, and the authorities held those with info needed to free the child… Just how long do you think Obama’s ban on enhanced interrogation would last? No seriously, how long would it last? Yeah… That’s what I thought too… Talk? You bet your bottom dollar the culprits would talk.

      Alan

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